- $95 for 60-minute couples massage ($190 value)
Massage Oils: Reducing Friction and Imparting Vitamins
No matter how skilled a massage therapist’s hands are, the type of oil they employ can make all the difference. Check out our rundown of massage oil’s myriad varieties.
By itself, massage oil serves a single purpose: to provide a slick, smooth surface to ease the strain on therapists’ fingers as they work muscles with long, gliding strokes. But any given oil also has unique properties—from its texture to its aroma—that complement the already beneficial effects of massage. Although some therapists may choose to use olive oil or a petroleum-based lubricant, many of the most effective oils hail from vegetable seeds. Here’s a look at some of the most popular types:
Sunflower oil: Produced by compressing sunflower seeds, this oil has two primary benefits: its wealth of vitamins A, B, D, and E helps soothe bruises and skin disease, and it has a non-greasy feel.
Jojoba oil: Also prized for its non-greasy consistency, jojoba oil is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s actually a liquid wax produced from the seeds of the jojoba plant—a shrub found in the southwest United States and Mexico. The oil doesn’t block the pores or trigger allergies, making it especially safe for sensitive skin.
Apricot-kernel oil: This oil quickly penetrates the epidermis, delivering moisturizing unguents and vitamin E to skin cells while leaving a nutty aroma. It tends to be one of the more expensive massage oils, making it a relatively uncommon sight.
Sweet almond oil: A cost-effective alternative to apricot-kernel oil, this yellowish oil hails from sweet almonds—as opposed to bitter almonds, from which cooking oil and amaretto are made. Almond oil is generally suited to any skin type (though people with nut allergies should avoid it, of course) and may help soothe chapped lips and dry skin. Although it doesn’t penetrate skin as deeply as other oils, it acts as an excellent carrier for essential oils used in aromatherapy.