Which Are The Best Massage Oils?
When you give a massage, your hands need to be able to follow the contours of your client and glide over their skin without dragging. There are a large number of massage oils that can lubricate the skin and assist the smooth flow of your hands and fingers.
If the person being massaged has an aversion or allergy to the oils you propose to use, then it is quite acceptable to use something as simple as corn-starch, which is fine and smooth.
Cornstarch (cornflour) can be found in most kitchens, so if you have decided to do a massage without prior planning, this can serve the purpose well.
Talcum powders are too coarse for rubbing successfully and several contain zinc to which some people have allergic reactions; for these reasons they are not the most effective medium for massage.
Mineral Oils As A Massage Medium
Certain baby oils are mineral-based. While many masseuses use mineral-oil-based products, these have been known to clog pores. It is therefore preferable to use a cold pressed vegetable oil base as this is absorbed into the skin as a nutrient. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin.
If you find yourself without the correct oils, olive or sunflower oil are acceptable substitutes, as are in fact any vegetable oils found in the kitchen. Most of these oils can be purchased at your local health food store.
Do beware that certain oils have different qualities. Mustard oil, for example, which is sometimes used in Ayurvedic massage, is hot and it is not advisable to use this on someone who is feeling hot or has a hot temperament.
Carrier Oils And Essential Oils
As the name implies, carrier oils are so called because they act as a vehicle to carry essential oils, specifically distilled aromatic oils, which are used widely in aromatherapy. Essential oils are produced by microscopic glands found in the petals of flowers, tree bark and the skin of various fruits.
Each oil has a complex chemical make-up as well as individual characteristics. When blended, the different chemicals combine to produce a distinct aroma with a specific property, e.g. uplifting or relaxing. Used for their therapeutic properties, essential oils are becoming increasingly more popular with the massage professional and layperson.
They have been proved to enhance a relaxing treatment and are used to treat particular ailments.The massage medium, that is, the carrier oil is also often called a base oil. Because the amount of essential oil used is minute (generally between 1-2 per cent of a mixture), the term base oil can apply to the carrier oil alone or to the mixture of the carrier oil and the essential oil.
For a full body massage one can safely assume that 50m1 of base oil, that is, the combination of a carrier oil and essential oil, will be sufficient. Having said that, however, there are variations — if the person being massaged is very stressed, there is a good chance that the skin is drier than normal and that it will absorb more than 50m1 of carrier oil. A person with a lot of body hair will also absorb more oil than one with little body hair. For purposes of this book 50m1 is appropriate, but it is advisable to adjust this quantity accordingly.
Some Essential Oils
- Sweet Orange
- Black Pepper
- Clary Sage
Blending Of Massage Oils
When blending oils, consider using a dark or colored bottle such as the beautiful blue or brown ones used years ago for medicines and are now fortunately once again widely available. Blend your oils in small amounts to avoid them becoming rancid, and store them in a cool, dark place making sure the bottles are tightly sealed to prevent oxidation.
Put the required amount of carrier oil in the bottle and then add the amount of essential oils you have chosen so as to give you the correct proportion. For every 50m1 of carrier or base oil, add 1-2 per cent, or a maximum of 18 drops, of essential oil.
Choices Of Massage Oils
There is a wide selection of carrier oils to choose from and one can blend these as desired. Some of the more popular and easily obtainable carrier oils are:
- Almond oil is the carrier oil most commonly used. It is a little heavier than grape-seed and therefore more economical.
- Avocado oil is an emollient, rich, skin-feeding oil, which is excellent for use on someone with dry skin and is also suitable for the mature skin of the elderly. It can be blended with other carrier oils.
- St John’s Wort oil is a very well-known massage oil and is used for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Grapeseed oil is fairly light and fluid. It has healing properties and is not sticky, and thus helps the hands to glide over the skin.
- Coconut Oil is widely used for massage due to its health giving and excellent moisturizing properties for clients of all ages.
- Wheatgerm oil is also a very rich oil, and has anti-oxidant properties which is of help if one intends to mix a large quantity of oils. This property also assists in preserving the mixture.
- Sesame oil is used extensively in Ayurvedic massage, but if there is any suspicion that the person being massaged is allergic to nuts or seeds, it is advisable to use one of the many other oils available. If you have nothing else at your disposal use olive oil, which is easily absorbed into the skin and has some excellent therapeutic properties.