A deep, relaxing massage is one of life's most luxe treats — especially with a fancy oil that makes your muscles melt.
While massage therapy itself consists of the manipulation of muscles and lymph nodes through professional pressing and rubbing techniques, massage oil itself is designed to make a massage session relaxing and restorative.
They are also hydrating—protecting your skin's barrier and retaining moisture, in addition to reducing friction between your skin and the hands of the masseuse. Some oils, like essential oils, can even calm the senses and melt away muscle tension and pain.
Cooler still, the best massage oils have longer-lasting skincare benefits - they’re deliciously scented, immaculately formulated, and leave your limbs feeling super soft and nourished.
Not sure where to start when it comes to investing in nature's best elixirs? WH called upon some of the UK's leading aromatherapists who reveal their ultimate guide to massage oils...
What are the benefits of massage oils?
Massage oils are designed to make you feel relaxed and restored, many have hydrating properties and work to protect the skin's barrier, in addition to reducing friction between your skin and the hands of the masseuse.
'When using essential oils in massage you not only receive the physical benefit of the massage itself, for example increasing circulation and stimulating the muscle fibres and lymph flow, but you also get the emotional benefit from the fragrance of the essential oils,' explains Neal’s Yard Remedies Fran Johnson, Aromatherapist and NYR Formulator.
What is the best oil to use for a body massage?
This all depends on how you want to feel after your massage and what time of day you're having it. Aromatherapy Associates Global Director of Education & Wellbeing, Christina Salcedas advises: 'For an evening treatment, you'll want to use an oil with ingredients like Ylang Ylang, Camomile and Vetiver that work together to encourage a peaceful night's sleep.'
But perhaps you're looking for a morning boost. In that instance, Christina suggests incorporating refreshing essential oils such as Grapefruit, Rosemary, Coconut and Jojoba. These, she notes, are not only invigorating but are also nourishing for your skin.
What oils are the best to use with your partner?
Massages are not only great at soothing aching muscles but they're also great at boosting intimacy with your partner.
Many studies have been done linking touch and intimacy, the general takeaway from many of them is that 'the language of touch is universal,' says marriage councillor, psychotherapist, and Wright Wellness Centre co-founder, Rachel Wright. 'Massage is something that you need to be comfortable receiving, so it's inherently communicating intimacy,' Wright explains.
When it comes to giving yourself or your partner a massage at home you'll want to use oils such as Coconut or Sweet Almond to enhance your sensual experience.
Aromatherapy Associates Global Director of Education & Wellbeing, Christina Salcedas suggests 'introducing their Revive Evening oil, it's a beautiful oil for couples as it contains natural aphrodisiac Ylang Ylang to get the evening started.'
What massage oils do professionals use?
If you're booking in for a massage with Neals Yard, who have therapy rooms all over the UK Charlie McCorry, Head of Therapies at Neal’s Yard Remedies tells WH: 'Our therapists will use a base massage oil which could be almond, grape-seed or coconut and then we'll add essential oils to suit the individual needs of the client.' So, you'll be getting a bespoke oil for your treatment based on your needs and wants.
The most important thing with professional oils is that they need to be blended correctly in order to be most efficient. Let's face it: There are so many massages oils out there, and a lot of them aren't great for your skin. Here's our roundup of some of the best massage oils on the market so you can finally relax knowing your skin is in good hands.
16 best massage oils to try now
1. Best massage oil after a workout: The Organic Pharmacy Arnica Massage Oil
Relive fatigued, sore muscles and aching joints with this warming oil that uses both Arnica and Ginger to soothe and relax. Want an insider tip? Arnica oil is a star player in the lineup for its natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits.
2. Best massage oil to aid sleep: Weleda, Lavender Relaxing Body Oil
Trouble sleeping? This oil helps soothe your senses and unwind tensions thanks to the organic lavender extracts, sweet almond and sesame oil. Massage in, breathe deeply and relax.
3. Best massage to energise: Neals Yard Remedies, Geranium and Orange Massage Oil
This calming massage oil is a blend of uplifting essential oils in a nourishing base to restore your skin’s natural vibrancy.
4. Best massage oil for dry skin: Votary Hydrating Body Oil
This delicate oil packs a hydrating punch. A cocktail of gorgeous ingredients make up this all-natural blend. Sunny Bergamot with its antibacterial properties, Mandarin oil works to hydrate the skin for a brightened and even complexion. Black cumin seed oil is deeply moisturising and restores a youthful look and vibrancy to your skin.
5. Best dry massage oil: Typology Botanical Oil Organic Hazelnut
Hazelnut oil is rich in Vitamin E and oleic acid, not only is this packed with skincare benefits making it the perfect massage companion. But it's a dry oil, meaning it penetrates the skin quicker than a normal oil and leaves behind no greasy finish.
6. Best relaxing massage oil: Elemis De-Stress Massage Oil
Melt away tension and any aches with this de-stressing oil. The relaxing synergy of pure rosewood, melissa, marjoram, geranium, rosemary, lavender and chamomile soothes the mind and harmonises the body. We'll take two please!
7. Best massage oil for winter: Rituals The Rituals Of Hammam Massage Oil
If an autumnal cold has left you feeling achy and tired then reach for this bottle of soul-soothing magic. The warming properties of natural eucalyptus help to ease a stuffy nose while argan oil leaves skin replete with moisture and muscle tension reduced.
8. Best massage oil for lymphatic drainage: Clarins Contour Treatment Oil
Clarins Head of Training, Marie Schmid uses the Clarins Contour Body Oil to give lymphatic drainage massages to her clients. 'They are helpful due to their plant extract benefits, aiding in blood and lymph circulation and skin tightening and the overall aromatherapy results,' she says.
9. Best massage oil to use as a couple: Coco de Mer Roseravished Massage Oil
A heady sandalwood scent lifts the spirits, while delicate rose offers aphrodisiac properties to invigorate and arouse - a great one for couples to use together!
10. Best organic massage oil: Bamford B Silent Organic Body Oil
Unwind after a long day with this deeply relaxing oil containing St John's Wart, Lavendar and Camomile all known for their relaxing properties. A sumptuous non-greasy, easily absorbed body oil to help you relax.
11. Best calming massage oil: Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Oil
Who doesn't love the calming smell of rose? This floral oil works wonders at providing a moment of calm whilst also hydrating and soothing the skin.
12. Best candle based massage oil: Lelo, Flickering Touch Massage Candle
Made from all-natural soy wax, this candle melts down into a soothing pool of massage oil, that has been formulated with shea butter and apricot kernel oil to nourish the skin. The rich, spicy scent of black pepper and the warming, fruity scent of pomegranate will leave you feeling instantly relaxed.
After blowing out the candle, the wax reaches the perfect temperature for application on to the skin.
13. Best massage oil for babies: This Works Baby Sleep Massage Oil
If you want a pre-bedtime massage oil that's safe for bubbas, this is the one for you. It contains a blend of lavender, camomile and sweet almond oils that give off a deeply relaxing scent. Plus, the nourishing oil can be massaged directly into your baby's skin as part of a comforting bedtime ritual. Aaaaaand relax.
14. Best massage oil for de-stressing: Neom Organics Real Luxury De-Stress Body Oil
This multi-tasking body oil is infused with lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood essential oils, to help soften and hydrate skin while alleviating feelings of stress. The result? Beautifully soft skin and a deeply calming effect on the mind and body.
15. Best massage oil for sensitive stomachs and IBS: Aroma Active SOS Stomach Massage Oil
Relieve uncomfortable stomach pangs through the power of aromatherapy with this ultra comforting massage oil. Metal massage balls help to distribute product and evenly massage the area in gentle clockwise motions, while peppermint, palmaros and lemon help to uplift the senses.
16. Best massage oil to alleviate lethargy and flu-like symptoms
Re-energise and strengthen the skin and mind with this uplifting massage oil. It's packed with eucalyptus, juniper berry and ginger, known for their restorative benefits. Plus, peppermint, cinnamon and frankincense help lift feelings of listlessness, while a base of sweet almond and grapeseed work to boost a sluggish metabolism and alleviate blocked sinuses.
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