Monday, 4 May 2009

Massage Oils - How to Make a Perfect Blend

Massage oils are a great way to enhance the beneficial effects of a massage therapy, they are looked as a must for a massage therapy session. The massage techniques have evolved in order to accommodate the use of oils. Choosing the right products, making a good blend that doesn't spoil in time might be a difficult task without the proper information.

There are a few reasons for using oils in a massage: facilitate the gliding over the skin thus avoiding superficial irritation, nourish the patient skin and promote health and absorption of the essential oils through skin and lungs.

A massage oil is usually a combination of two or more oils. The combination contains at least a base oil, the carrier, and one or more essential oils (aromatic oils). The base is an oil with a high skin penetration potential. The essential oil is chosen for its therapeutic effects and it is based on patient's need.

The carrier is a vegetable oil. When buying a carrier we have to search for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils. These two extraction methods ensure the oil is not polluted with solvents and is not degraded by high temperatures processing.

Most of the carrier oils can be stored in the sealed bottle for long periods. Once in contact with the air it starts the oxidation. If kept in dark containers at low temperatures the oxidation is slowed down. However some oils will deteriorate if stored in the fridge, check with the producer the proper storage conditions.

The most popular carrier oils are Grape-seed oil and Sweet Almond oil. Grape-seed oil is a very light oil and is very easy absorbed by the skin. Sweet Almond oil is very reach in vitamins with high therapeutic value.

Another excellent base is Olive oil because of its therapeutic qualities but is not very popular because of its strong fragrance.

Some other great base oils are: Apricot kernel, Avocado, Jojoba, Coconut, Hazelnut, Peach kernel, Sunflower.

Wheat-germ oil is an excellent adjuvant to any base because of its antioxidant properties. Wheat-germs oil added in proportion of 15% to any other base will prevent it to go rancid. Wheat-germs oil is a sticky oil so use it cautiously in your combinations.

The aromatic oils are plant extracts, (from flowers, roots, seeds, etc), with therapeutic properties. The aromatic oils are very concentrated and they are only used in combination with a base. The concentration should be about 3% essential oil in a base. Adding too much aromatic oil could irritate the patient skin as some of these are very potent.

Most of the aromatic oils are volatile, some of them will simply disappear in minutes if you forget the container open. As a general rule you have to keep them in sealed dark containers at low temperatures.

Each essential oil has its own healing properties. It is very important to know what these properties are in order to avoid harm. Using them improperly could worsen certain conditions.

Buying essential oils is a difficult task because of the lack of regulation in the industry. Very often your aromatherapy oils contain chemicals, fragrance enhancers, solvents to multiply the content, or oils extracted from similar plants but with different properties. None of these are marked on the bottle.

You can follow these guidelines when you are buying essential oils:

  • Look for therapeutic-grade oils, sometimes it's marked on the bottle;
  • Look for the scientific name of the plant, as sometimes the same common name of a plant could cover different botanical varieties;
  • Check if the plants were grown organically or wild-crafted - these are the best plants.
  • Check the reputability of the producer and question your supplier about their products.
  • Know that aromatherapy oils are not essential oils. Aromatherapy oils are usually a blend of essential and carrier oils or other components.

Use your smell, sometimes you can detect a problem product only by smelling it.Some excellent essential oils and their properties are:
Chamomile - anti-inflammatory and sedative,
Eucalyptus - respiratory problems, flu, skin infections;
Frankincense - helps the intellect;
Lavender - good sedative, heals burns, mood enhancer;
Lemon - antiseptic, lowers blood pressure and good for skin conditions; it is extremely volatile;
Peppermint - digestion, flatulence, flu;
Pine - antiseptic, very effective treating respiratory problems;
Rose - aphrodisiac and mood enhancer, very expensive oil.

When you blend your massage oil take in consideration the following facts:

  • Carrier oils go rancid and essential oil oxidize so make only what you use.
  • Massage oil has to be warm when you use it that will accelerate the alteration of your blend.
  • Your clients are different and have different needs, ask them what they like. Get feedback about the oil you use on your patient and don't use the same blend on all your clients.
  • Never use mineral oils, they are not absorbed by the skin and sometimes they can be harmful.
  • Do not use more than 3% to 4% of essential oil in your blend.
  • Avoid pre-blended massage oils if you are not sure about the date of fabrication, and exact content.
  • Avoid blending too many oils, simple is more effective.

Every person has their own preferences when it comes to essential oils, and that is based on their affinities and needs. Show your patient a sample of oil each time they come for a massage and note in their file what they like most.

My personal favorites are Frankincense, Lemon and Lavender. Frankincense has an important spiritual component while Lemon oil creates an oasis of freshness and intensifies all your senses. Lavender creates invisible bonds between people of opposite sex.

For a more complete list of massage oils visit my Massage Oils page

Dorian is a Complementary Medicine therapist who is involved in promoting touch as a life changing instrument. He is contributing with articles at

You can also check the online Massage Manual, part of the promotional campaign at the same address.

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