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Massage and Oils

by Wendy Mackay MIAAMA

Massage and Oils

Massage is a healing therapy involving manipulation of the body's soft tissues. Massage can soothe muscle aches and pains, encourage relaxation, stimulate the circulation of blood and encourage the flow of lymph. Massage also has beneficial effects on the skin as well as calming and uplifting the mind.

There are numerous styles of massage but essential to most forms of massage (most but not all) is the selection of an appropriate massage oil. While used primarily for lubrication, the oil selected can also have benefits for the skin, as well as assisting the massage itself.

When selecting an oil for massage, each therapist or masseur will have their own set of criteria. But some things to consider are -

The style of massage - the amount of slip and grip required

The client's skin type - dry or oily, how hairy they are (absorbs more oil), any sensitivities or allergies.

The purpose of the massage - whether the massage will be improved or enhanced by the addition of appropriate essential oils. Eg calming oils such as lavender for a relaxation massage

If using essential oils, take into account the aroma preferences of the client.

The needs of the masseur - your own aroma preferences, any skin conditions or potential reactions.

Choosing the most appropriate oil and in the correct amount, should give you the slip and control necessary to carry out the massage while leaving your client with smooth soft skin that is not overly greasy.


Massage oils can be as simple as a single carrier oil such as -

Sweet Almond - very moisturising, rich in EFAs and vitamins A & E.  Light both in odour and colour and while it is suitable for all skin types, is particularly useful for dry or sensitive skin.

Apricot Kernel - similar to Sweet Almond oil chemically, but with a wonderfully light consistency and aroma making it particularly suitable for facial massage and treatments.

Grapeseed Oil  -  a light, gentle, emollient oil with a low odour and good penetration.  Readily absorbed by the skin and carries a low risk of allergy. Especially popular with professional massage therapists.

Jojoba Oil - not an oil , but a liquid wax,  with natural moisturising and healing properties and suitable for all skin types. Like grapeseed oil, it is not a nut oil so very suitable for those with sensitive skin.

Macadamia Nut Oil - a thick oil recommended for mature or very dry skin due to its high levels of palmitoleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid not found in most oils.

These oils can be used singly or in combination and may benefit from the addition of other oils such as -

Evening primrose oil - rich in EFA's and in particular GLA, it is very moisturising and rejuvenating, softening and smoothing the skin.  It is particularly useful for excessively dry skin or for mature skin.

Rosehip oil  - high in EFA's and vitamin C. Emollient and readily absorbed into the skin and is particularly useful for mature, dry or damaged skin.

Wheatgerm Oil - renowned for its high content of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, as well as fatty acids and is particularly useful for dry or mature skin.

Essence of Wellbeing also produce a range of blended massage oils with and without the addition of essential oils, so whether you prefer a single oil, an unscented blend or wish to experience the benefits of massage with essential oils, there is something to suit.

One of the basics of rules of aromatherapy is that they must be diluted to be applied to the skin.

You can choose a massage oil already including essential oils ( Essence of Wellbeing have a range of these oils, from "Relax" ideal for relaxation massage to "Sports" which is ideal for deeper or sports-related massage. )

Making your own massage oil is another option to capture the wonderful benefits of using essential oils. Massage oils can also be used as body oils, as a way of moisturising and protecting your skin in a similar way to a body lotion.


To Make a Massage Oil

Equipment and ingredients -


The method of making each of these oils is the same.  Add the essential oils to the bottle first , then  top up with the carrier oil. Screw the cap on firmly then shake gently until combined. Lastly add a label on which you have noted what the blend is for, the ingredients used and the date it was made. Most blends made this way will keep for at least 3 - 6 months if  kept in a cool dark place.

You can keep them in the fridge in hot weather if you like.

FAQ:-  We are sometimes asked if our massage oils are "washable". So-called washable or water soluble oils have dispersants added to them.  Although these are reputed to be skin friendly, we at Essence of Wellbeing have some across a large number of therapists that are unable to use them due to skin reactions and sensitivities, sometimes only emerging after long periods of use. For this reason we have chosen to keep our oils as natural as possible by not including any of these dispersants in any of our massage oils. Now the benefits of washable oils are usually only in the laundering of towels and linens used for massage. The trick is to use a hot wash for your towels with a good detergent to remove the oil. If you use a cold wash the oil may remain in the fibres. If you have a commercial laundry to take care of your towels, they will most probably use a very hot wash anyway and the oil will not be a problem.


(This information is meant as general advice.  Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist for advice on your specific situation.)

Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and a member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy along with her husband David is the Founder and Director of Essence of Wellbeing. Essence of Wellbeing is dedicated to the best in Aromatherapy and Pure Natural Skin Care and is located in Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.

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