Whether you get a massage from a professional therapist at a spa or are being treated to a massage at home from your partner, massage oil allows hands to glide smoothly over your skin. A massage without oil can produce friction, which can feel unpleasant and defeats the object of it all. There are plenty of oils, lotions and gels to choose from. From being packed with vital vitamins and intensely hydrating benefits, massage oils can enhance your massage in many ways. But there are issues such as allergies to think of. Knowing the differences between massage oils can help you choose the best one for your situation.
A popular choice in Southeast Asia and in the Mediterranean, this nutty oil is rich in vitamin E, proteins, potassium and zinc which make it beneficial for the heart, skin and hair.
This light oil is usually used in beauty products to reduce inflammation, and balance and nourish the skin, which is particularly useful if you have oily or hormone reactive skin. Apricot kernel isn’t greasy and can be used on any skin type.
This tree-based oil is incredibly nourishing and hydrating. For years, Moroccan argan oil has been used to treat skin infections, rashes and bug bites. Rich with vitamins A, E, anti-oxidants, linoleic acid and omega-6 acids, argan oil is extremely healing and also reduces inflammation.
Often used in cosmetics and perfumes, arnica oil is known to reduce swelling due to bruises and sprains, decrease pain, soothe acne and even act like an antibiotic. Arnica oil is rich in fatty acids and studies have found it to have an antibacterial effect.
Rich in fatty acids such as oleic acid, avocado oil is very good for the heart, reduces cholesterol and improves skin condition. It is also high in lutein, a carotenoid that benefits the eyes and reduces the risk of common eye diseases such as cataracts. Studies have found that avocado oil extract can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Made from the rind of the citrus fruit bergamot, it’s a popular component in many perfumes and for flavouring black tea (bergamot in black tea is also known as Earl Grey!). As for the oil, components in it like alpha pinene and limonene act like antidepressants by creating feelings of joy, energy and stimulation as well as boosting blood circulation.
This plant-based oil, made from the seeds of the borage plant, is excellent for treating a variety of skin disorders, including eczema and dermatitis, arthritis, PMS and ADHD. It is also great for reducing stress, pain and swelling.
Known as one of the best kept beauty secrets, castor oil is high in vitamin E and omega-6, which stimulate blood circulation and hair growth. Suffers of brow balding, sparse eyelashes and split ends, rejoice! Castor oil is known for making hair more lustrous. It’s also excellent for reducing skin inflammation and signs of ageing as it stimulates collagen and elastin.
Extracted from the cedar wood tree, this essential oil is extremely medicinal. It can relieve symptoms of seborrhoea (seborrhoeic eczema), inflammation, redness of the skin and relieves spasms. It has antiseptic properties and can be used a health tonic to improve the body’s systems and metabolism.
Coconut oil is an extremely popular choice because of its versatility. It can nourish the hair and skin, help with digestion, boost brain function and even be used as a substitute for cooking oil! Its great scent and moisturising properties make it perfect for reducing cellulite and stretch marks.
This rich cream has a distinct chocolate aroma. It needs to be blended with other oils or used only for small areas as it’s so heavy in texture. However, it’s extremely moisturising and excellent for reducing the appearance of scars, stretch marks and cellulite.
Made from the leaves of the evergreen eucalyptus tree, the essential oil possesses antiseptic qualities so it’s great for treating burns, cuts, sores and abrasions. It’s also a great salve for insect bites, stings and respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis and bronchitis.
This Somalian oil is known to stimulate the nervous system, relieve stress, fights wrinkles, soothes indigestion, reduces appearance of scars, wounds, stretch marks and acne.
Typically extracted from the seeds of wine grapes, grapeseed oil is loaded with powerful antioxidants. It’s commonly used for skin repair thanks to its antiseptic and healing properties. Studies have suggested that the oil can help treat and even prevent cancer.
Extracted from the jasmine flower, this essential oil has antidepressant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, sedative and antispasmodic properties. Its pleasing scent is known to lift mood, actively fight depression, stimulate production of endorphins, prevent infections, fade scars and stimulate libido. As well as this, it’s highly stress relieving and treats insomnia.
Extracted from the nut of an indigenous American shrub, jojoba oil is a fantastic moisturiser due to its unique waxy nature which is similar to the sebum that’s produced by our skin glands. Jojoba oil is great at healing acne, controlling oily skin and treating eczema.
This Hawaiian nut oil is a natural moisturiser. Containing essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, it can soothe dry skin and help heal wounds. Historically used by Polynesians to protect babies’ skin, kukui nut is a very popular massage oil.
Extracted from the lavender plant, this essential oil has a very pleasant aroma. It’s known for its ability to relieve stress, pain, treat the scalp and skin, boost blood circulation and help with respiratory problems. Lavender essential oil is popular for massages and aromatherapy. Several studies have backed up lavender’s role in reducing stress.
This fresh scented oil is known for its cleansing and nourishing benefits. Lemon can flush toxins from the body and is often used to stimulate lymphatic drainage. Because of its perky scent, lemon is also used to boost vitality and rejuvenate energy.
This lightweight oil is made from the macadamia nut. High in fatty acids including omegas 6, 7 and 9, it’s extremely moisturising and can regenerate dull skin without making it greasy. Macadamia oil has also been proven to slow down signs of ageing and can improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks and cellulite.
This plant-based essential oil is very popular for its antiseptic, cephalic, digestive, laxative, sedative and cordial benefits. Marjoram can reduce pain from colds, fevers, inflammation, muscle overexertion and headaches. It is said to help cure spasms and prevent sepsis, making it helpful in treating external and internal wounds. Marjoram oil will stimulate cognitive function, improve blood circulation and stimulates lymphatic drainage.
Melrose is a combination of tea tree, niaouli, rosemary and clove essential oils. Together, they work to reduce blemishes, kill bacteria, fight infection, boost digestion, relieve headaches and stress. Melrose oil can help a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, acne and warts.
For a millennia, myrrh oil has been used to promote a youthful-looking complexion and soothe the skin, especially when it’s irritated. Its hydrating properties make it an excellent moisturiser and it’s also diffused to promote emotional balance and lift mood.
This seaweed-based gel is colourless, odourless and uniquely slippery. This slippery texture makes it ideal for the masseuse to use her body to massage over and stimulate the receiver. Being packed with nutrients from the sea, nuru gel is extremely moisturising and beneficial for the skin.
Olive oil can be used to soothe sore and inflamed skin. It’s rich in fatty acids, which makes it excellent for skin and hair care. However it’s quite a heavy substance so is rarely used in aromatherapy, but it’s often added to a blend for a massage.
This leaf-based oil has been a staple in the perfume industry for year, thanks to its distinctly musky scent. It’s also popular for therapeutic purposes as it’s been proven to help relieve anxiety, depression and lift mood. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and is even mildly sedative.
Derived from the peppermint plant, this oil is said to help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and tension headaches. When used during a massage, peppermint can stimulate the brain and improve cognitive function, as well as lift mood due to its fresh, bright scent.
The oil can be used as an antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral and aphrodisiac. It’s known to fight depression and boost self-esteem. Its pleasant scent reduces stress and anxiety while also being excellent for raising libido.
Rosemary essential oil is used more in hair care than skin care, but it’s known to have antiseptic qualities that make it excellent for treating eczema, dermatitis and acne. When regularly used during a massage, it can be very toning, relieve dryness and give skin a healthy glow.
This essential oil is a popular and excellent choice for body massages. It helps to relieve strained muscles, stimulate the immune system, treat acne and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Sandalwood has a pleasant scent, so it makes it effective in relieving depression, stress and even building confidence.
This rich and creamy butter has great hydrating benefits for scars and dry skin due to being rich in vitamins A and E. Made from the fat of the nut of the African Shea tree, shea butter has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains several essential fatty acids which contribute to its healing nature.
Well-known for its antiseptic properties, tea tree oil has been proven to kill various strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi. It’s very popular in beauty products such as facial washes, nail creams and shampoos. It’s also a popular massage oil choice due to its anti-inflammatory benefits which soothe redness.
Rich in vitamins A, B, D and E, fatty acids, iron and calcium, wheat-germ oil is excellent for reducing skin damage, promote healthy collagen formation and an even complexion. Wheat-germ is best used as part of a blend because of its strong smell. Mix with jojoba, sandalwood or patchouli to boost its skin-healing effects.
Known for its fragrant smell, ylang ylang is useful for reducing stress, anxiety and anger. Many aromatherapists use the oil to promote happiness, gratitude and a balanced flow of energy throughout the body. Ylang ylang is also considered an aphrodisiac and has been proven to combat acne and oily skin.