Choosing the Right Carrier Oil for Aromatherapy Massage
One of the most common questions I see among newbie home product-makers in the aromatherapy community is about safer essential oil dilution. These are great questions because they open the door to thinking about aromatherapy education, and a lot of free information is already out there regarding safer essential oil use for students and those just experimenting. It’s a blessing to be part of a community so concerned about safety.
One question I don’t hear often from newbies in aromatherapy is what carrier oils to use. In a sense, this is great! It means we are more concerned with safety first. At the same time, it means we have a lot of room to grow with thinking creatively about the complete product we’re creating. In this post, I’ll provide a few insights into some of my favorite carrier oils.
When you start looking to buy massage carrier oils in bulk, this is one you’re going to see widely available. Sweet almond has a soothing, light, almost vanilla-like fragrance which some clients will prefer to the heaviness of something like jojoba.
Sweet almond is an emollient, which indicates it is great for moisturizing skin. I’ve also found that this is a great carrier to use when clients are asking specifically for aromatherapy massage because its subtle fragrance allows essential oils to become the dominant olfactory experience of the oil.
Like sweet almond, apricot is an emollient and easy to acquire in bulk. Apricot retains a bit more of a yellowish color tone than sweet almond, which may be off-putting to some clients, but this can be easily remedied through appropriate presentation.
Apricot is one of the carrier oils I associate with healing. When clients complain of itchy skin, chronic pain, or fibromyalgia attacks, this is one of the oils I reach for. I even use it on myself when I’m experiencing fibromyalgia flare-ups. As far as aromatherapy goes however, I don’t generally mix too many essential oils with apricot. There’s so much healing power in the carrier already, this isn’t really the space to showcase blends, although adding to that healing with one or two specific notes may be indicated depending on the work you are doing.
Calendula Infused Olive Oil
I count calendula infused oil as my other go-to healing oil. This is the carrier I always reach for when blending oils for personal use. It’s easy enough to infuse at home using olive oil and calendula petals either purchased, grown, or foraged. Like apricot, it’s a healing oil already on its own, but may be used as a carrier for one or two essential oils like tea tree as needed.
Traditionally, calendula is associated with regenerative qualities. It is thought to be a skin and cell healer, a good remedy for bug bites, and relief for other skin conditions.
This carrier is widely available through most multi-level marketing essential oil providers. You may even find that in some proprietary essential oil blends, coconut oil is already blended in!
In my experience, coconut oil is one of the more slippery carrier oils. Because a little goes a long way, it’s great for massage and stronger or less diluted aromatherapy applications to the body. Coconut oil is also thought to be occlusive and an emollient, making it great for moisturizing skin. If you are doing aromatherapy bodywork where many essential oils are to be applied directly to the skin, this is a great go-to carrier for clients who do not have skin sensitivities. Coconut can really make your oils sing.
If you’ve gone to massage school, this is probably the standard oil you were first introduced to. Its thick enough to provide a degree of friction, and is also thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties which perfectly complement the art of massage.
If you’re going to make an aromatherapy blend specifically for massage therapy, this is the blend I would start with. It’s got the best qualities massage therapists look for, and it’s going to set up your aromatic work to provide the greatest complementary action to bodywork.
Of course, dozens of other oils are out there. Feel encouraged to experiment with blends using different carriers and bodywork styles to find the oils that work best for you!
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Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org