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The different types of massage oil compared
There are many different types of massage oil you can use for face or body massage, and the choice can be confusing. This article will lay out the different properties of the standard types of base massage oil and so help you decide which is the one for you.
Some of the most widely used massage oils are: olive, almond, grapeseed, avocado, wheatgerm, rosehip and evening primrose. Each of these has its own benefits but some have specific contraindications and so should not be used on certain people.
These are all ‘base oils’, and should not be confused with the ‘essential oils’ used in aromatherapy. Essential oils are specific plant extracts that have been distilled to produce a very pure and potent “plant essence”. In aromatherapy massage one or more of these essential oils are added in very small quantities to to a base massage oil, to produce a specific effect (physical and/or emotional) on the person receiving the massage. Essential oils and aromatherapy are separate topics that will be covered in other articles; here I will compare the just the base oils.
Almond oil is one of the most widely used massage oils as it has a medium consistency and therefore provides good ‘slip’, but it should not be used if there is a history of any nut or seed allergies
Grapeseed oil is a good alternative to almond oil as it has a lighter consistency and is very unlikely to cause any skin reactions or allergies, which means it is a very good choice for massaging babies. Grapeseed, along with almond, is the most common type of massage oil and the ones most likely likely to be offered to you if you ask for “massage oil” in a shop.
Olive oil is very nutritious for the skin; however it is a very thick oil and can be quite sticky to use. Like it is unlikely to cause any allergic reaction and so is good for babies (even newborns), and of course it has the advantage of being one of the cheapest massage oils – just use the bottle you already have on your kitchen shelf!
Avocado is very rich massage oil, and so is best-suited to a more mature skin or a very dry skin. It should not be used on someone who suffers from acne, as it is too rich for their skin.
Wheatgerm oil contains a lot of vitamin E, and is an excellent massage oil to use on sun-damaged skin, as it can help to repair the sun damage and improve the condition of the skin.
Rosehip oil is another massage oil that is excellent for repairing sun-damage and is also good for skin that shows scarring, especially acne scarring. It is however one of the more expensive oils.
Evening primrose is full of phytoestrogens and is a great massage oil for menopausal women. On the other hand it should not be used on any woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, as the high hormonal content could have a negative effect.
So as you can see, the best massage oil to use varies with the situation. If you are just starting out and would like to just buy one base massage oil to start with, then grapeseed is your best bet as it is one of the lighest oils, has a very low allergy rating, and is also an excellent base for essential oils.