Choose Your Oils
Not only do massage oils help hands glide over skin smoothly and make it easier to work out knots, but depending on the oil you choose, there are also a host of benefits to reap. Here are four of the best options. A note on buying oils: Be sure to opt for the cold-pressed, organic variety, which will retain the most antioxidants.
1. Jojoba Oil
Frequently added to cosmetics and beauty products, jojoba oil is actually a wax that comes from the seed of the jojoba plant; a small shrub native to North America. But there’s nothing wax-like (read: greasy) about it—this moisturizing product glides on smoothly and won’t clog pores. In fact, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, jojoba oil is frequently used to treat back acne and eczema. Unlike some other oils, jojoba doesn’t need to be diluted and can be applied directly onto the skin, where it is easily absorbed. It also makes a great carrier oil; combine it with grapeseed and avocado oils for an ultra-soothing blend or mix it with sweet almond and coconut oils for a fragrant treat. Another bonus? Jojoba oil is odorless and won’t stain your sheets.
Buy it ($8)
2. Sweet Almond Oil
Thanks to its nourishing qualities (it’s high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids) and easy absorption, almond oil is a popular choice among massage therapists. It’s also relatively inexpensive, although its pale-yellow color can stain sheets. Opt for oil that’s extracted from the sweet almond tree (instead of bitter almonds) for a pleasant aroma but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be used by or on people with nut allergies.
Buy it ($7)
3. Apricot Kernel
Allergic to nuts? Give apricot kernel oil a try. It has a similar texture and color to sweet almond oil and is just as easily absorbed into the skin. Packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, plus omega fatty acids, apricot oil helps nourish and soften skin. This sweet-smelling oil is slightly higher in price than its nutty counterpart, although thanks to its high vitamin E content, it has a longer shelf life than many other oils.
Buy it ($12)
4. Avocado Oil
This fruit is your favorite toast topper, but did you know that the oil extracted from avocado can be used on your skin? Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E, avocado oil is particularly nourishing for parched skin. Green in color (so be careful with your sheets), this oil is quite heavy on its own, which is why it’s typically mixed with lighter massage oils like apricot kernel or almond.