Massage oil is an oil that is suitable for body massage. Now, massage can be done for various reasons, and it is of many types. Different oils are ideal for different kinds of massage. Here we explore the “massage worthy” nature of carrier oils and even some essential oils. Massage has immense therapeutic value. To obtain the maximum benefits from a massage, the most suitable oil should be chosen for that purpose. The most common oils used for massage are olive oil and sweet almond oil. But, there are many more options.
Properties of a Massage Oil
Massage oil should have certain properties which make it suitable to be used during a massage. Some of these requirements should be met absolutely, while others may be relaxed upon.
- Density – A massage oil should not be very dense. It should be pure and generally filtered.
- Viscosity – The oil should have low density. That means the massage oil should flow easily on the skin. It should not be sticky, like honey or sugar syrup. When you apply the oil, it should move along with the hand.
- Absorb in a reasonable time – the massage oil should be absorbed into the skin but not too quickly. You would want the oil to stay there while massage continues and only get absorbed afterward.
- Not too drying – Some oils, like hemp oil, can exert a drying effect. They dry out much quicker than other oils and make the skin feel a tad bit dry. This is desirable in some cases, but not in most types of massage.
- Odor – Oils with unpleasant odor are generally avoided in massage unless needed. To mask the unpleasant odor of otherwise nutritionally good oil, fragrant essential oils can be added.
- Moisturization – how well does the oil seal moisture inside the skin. Oils that moisturize better keep skin hydrated and smooth for longer periods.
- Purity of the Oil – the quality and purity of oil also matter. In general, filtered oils feel better to the touch, as they are more refined. Unrefined oils obtained directly from the cold press may feel a little greasy, which is avoided in a massage oil unless there are other reasons to use it.
Other things to consider when deciding on a massage oil are its cost and side effects. Typically, one needs about 30 ml of oil for a full body massage. So, the cost factor too comes into play. If the oil has strong side effects, then a full body massage with that oil can expose the skin to large amounts of oil, which might be harmful.
What is the Purpose of a Massage Oil?
A massage can be done without oil. But that becomes quite cumbersome. Massage oil is needed to reduce friction between the hands and skin. So, whether it is a regular massage, a deep tissue massage, or a chiropractic massage, including the oil in the session enhances the benefits of that massage.
These are the most well-known and widely used massage oil all over the world. You can choose from one of them.
1. Sweet Almond Oil
This sweet and mildly fragrant oil comes from sweet almonds. It is the most popular massage oil. Sweet almond oil has just the perfect attributes that a massage oil should have. It flows well on the skin, doesn’t get absorbed too quickly, and maintains its oiliness for a long time. It is thin and light. The best thing about this oil is that your hands will love it. The person who performs the massage knows how important it is for the oil to glide smoothly between the hands and skin.
2. Olive Oil
This is the most well-known oil for infant massage. But, one can use it on adults too. Olive oil is a nice massage oil that tends to improve skin’s elasticity and strengthens it. Olive oil has been used in the Mediterranean since ancient times, for young and old alike. Regular massage with olive oil can keep the skin looking younger and glossier. Olive oil tends to make the skin look a bit tanned for some time.
3. Coconut Oil
It is an absolute favorite oil for many people. And it is brilliant for massage. Regular coconut oil solidifies in cold weather. But, one can heat it and apply it to the skin. It is colorless, very light, and absorbs brilliantly into the skin. It is very popular in coastal tropical regions. Coconut oil is very good for people with back acne. It helps in preventing breakouts and doesn’t block skin pores.
4. Grapeseed Oil
Although a little was more expensive than other oils, grapeseed oil makes for good massage oil. It is very light and thin. It feels glossy, almost silky to the skin. This rich feeling is quite different from other massage oils. Grapeseed oil is also very nutritious, as it contains high amounts of linoleic acid. If you need to prepare infused oils, like rosemary-infused massage oil, grapeseed oil is the carrier of choice. It absorbs herbs and their nutrients very well and acts as a vector for transporting them through the skin.
5. Sesame Oil
The oil obtained from sesame seeds is highly prized in Ayurveda. According to Charak Samhita, one of the most ancient Ayurvedic texts, sesame oil is the best oil for the human body. It has great nutritional value and strengthens the body’s structure, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Ayurveda recommends daily massage with sesame oil, a process called Abhyanga. It is a superficial massage done with warm oil.
6. Jojoba Oil
It is a haven for people with skin problems and acne breakouts. Jojoba oil resembles the human sebum ( body’s natural oil ). As a result, it is less oily. It is not that excellent for massage, but great for people with acne problems. It is not at all comedogenic, therefore poses no risk of clogged skin pores.
7. Apricot Kernel Oil
Very similar to almond oil in properties, but it is costlier.
8. Sunflower Oil
It a rather inexpensive oil that can be used for body massage. It flows well on the skin, is moderately thick. It is good for generating traction with hands, which is ideal for chiropractic massage.
9. Wheat Germ Oil
The oil of wheat germ is very thick and dense. It is not conducive to massage. But adding some coconut oil or grapeseed oil makes it suitable for massage. Wheat germ oil is often used in conjunction with rosehip seed oil. Wheat germ oil and rosehip seed oil forms a powerful antioxidant combination that protects the skin from all kinds of free radical damage. Wheat germ oil is the best source of Vitamin E on the planet, among oils.
10. Mustard Oil
This oil, too, can be used as a massage oil. It is pungent and has a sharp odor. It is quite popular in India. Other Massage Oils To try, try out these oils for the massage if you are a little more curious. They also massage worthy.
11. Avocado Oil
It is a thick oil that is yellowish. A special extra virgin oil from a special cultivar of Avocado oil, called Hass, is bright green. This oil is rich in chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments. Avocado oil is great for face massage and hot oil treatments.
12. Kukui Nut Oil
This oil is obtained from the Kukui Nut tree, which is the national tree of Hawaii. Kukui nut oil, also Candlenut oil, is a light, amber-colored oil with excellent emollient ( moisturizer ) properties.
History Of Massage
It comes as no surprise that massage has been practiced even before ancient civilizations. There is evidence of massage activity being performed in most major civilizations, like the Chinese, Indus Valley Civilization, Mesopotamian civilization, Ancient Egyptian, and Greek civilizations. The earliest reference to massage is found in the tomb of Akmanthor, who was an physician in Ancient Egypt. This was around 2330 BC. Massage may have been an integral part of our health care system since the most ancient times.
The Ancient Chinese mastered the art of massage. There are numerous volumes of texts just on the art and technique of massage in China, and they are integrated with the pressure point ( meridian ) notation of Acupressure and Acupuncture. About that time in India, Ayurveda was well developed. The massage was stressed as a daily activity. It was also used in various medical treatments. Many skin diseases were treated by massaging the body and keeping the person on a restricted diet, as Charak Samhita and Susruta Samhita mentioned.
Massage Oils For Special Massage Procedures
There are hundreds of massage procedures all over the world. These procedures may require a special massage oil to carry the therapeutic effect.
- Acupressure – Lavender oil is used in a carrier oil or neat to massage acupressure points in massage.
- Anma massage – Japanese massage technique which does not require any oil.
- Balinese massage – exotic essential oils, like
|Massage Procedure||Oils Used||Properties|
|Acupressure||Lavender oil in base oil||Used to stimulate pressure points and emotional health|
|Anma Massage||none||Vigorous massage done through kneading and tapping|
|Balinese Massage||Cendat, Sampaka, Jasmine oils in carrier oil||Done for mental relaxation and muscle relaxation|
|Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage||none||No oil is used to improve traction|
|Breema Massage||none||Gentle massage done with rhythmic movements|
|Champissage||Jasmine oil and Coconut Oil||Head and neck massage to drive out stress|
|Chua K’a||None||No oil is used, fragrance of myrrh essential oil is preferred|
|Cranioscaral Therapy||Any light massage oil||Stress relieving massage done by applying pressure to cranium|
|Hilot Massage||Coconut Oil||Similar to deep tissue massage used to reduce physical stress|
|Infant massage||Olive oil or Mustard oil||Studies suggest this massage helps to strengthen baby’s muscles and connective tissue|
|Kum Nye Massage||oil is chosen based on person’ health issue||Massage has medicinal importance in Traditional Tibetan medicine|
|Lomi Lomi Massage||Coconut oil infused with Leuki tree||Traditional Hawaiian massage performed all over Polynesia|
|Metamorphic Massage||Essential oils blended in Jojoba oil||Massage performed only on head, feet and hands|
|Myofascial Release Massage||none||No oil is used to enhance grip and traction|
|Reflexology Massage||Lavender essential oil||Done to stimulate reflexology points|
|Stone Massage||hot smooth stones coated in oil||Heat treatment to improve certain conditions|
|Swedish Massage||Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Apricot kernel oil||Famous massage technique with 5 different stroke types|
So, you can see the diversity of massage oils used in special Massage techniques. These are the oils that are best suited, not that they have to be compulsory, as mentioned. The idea is to use an oil that is conducive and supportive to the mode of massage. That is why many massage forms do not use any oil.
Who should not use Massage Oils?
Although it is generally safe and pretty harmless, massage done with massage oil can be risky for these people.
- Heart disease – people with heart disease and cardiovascular problems should avoid oil massages as high in fats.
- Kidney failure – people on dialysis should not go for an oil-based massage.
- Cancer – If you have cancer, avoid such sessions as they may damage the fragile tissues around the cancerous tissue.
- Bleeding disorders – many oils have anticoagulant properties. People at risk of abnormal bleeding due to a disorder should strictly avoid such massage unless the oil doesn’t have any anticoagulant properties.
How to make your herbal Massage Oils At home?
You can also make your aromatherapy massage oil at home. It is simple and so easy; anyone can do it. The only thing needed is a basic knowledge of essential oils, carrier oils, and what kind of aromatherapy oil you intend to make. Is the oil going to be used for mental exhaustion or for relieving physical stress? Here is the procedure for making a massage oil at home.
- Carrier Oil – 4 ounces
- Essential Oil – 4 – 15 drops per essential oil. Strong essential oils, like eucalyptus, need just a few drops. Less strong oils can be added in slight moderation.
If you do not have essential oil, you can use the direct herb to prepare a rosemary-infused massage oil.
- Take 4 oz of a carrier in a glass bottle
- Add your chopped herb or ground spices to this oil
- Let it sit in the sun for one day
Your herb-infused oil is ready. Avoid using carrier oil that goes rancid when placed in the sun. Oils like coconut are stable in sunlight.
1. Massage – University of Maryland Medical Center 2. The effectiveness of relaxation acupoint stimulation and acupressure with aromatic lavender essential oil for non-specific low back pain in Hong Kong: a randomized controlled trial. Yip YB, Tse SH.