Essential oils are the backbone of aromatherapy and are used to enhance well-being, uplift mood, and alleviate pain. However, any other form of massage can also benefit from essential oils.
In this post, we inform you about the exact effect of the most popular scent oils and show which plant is suitable for which application. Our lexicon is accompanied by tips and tricks from aromatherapist Heike Klein. She explains how to choose the right scent and what to consider when working with essential oils.
We answer the following questions in this post:
Which oils relax?
Which oils alleviate pain?
Which oils uplift mood?
How are essential oils dosed?
What to consider when storing?
1. Which oils relax?
For many, massages are primarily relaxing and allow your clients to unwind, forget, and let go for a moment. Massages are a wonderful way to physically and mentally relax. Pressure and stroking movements release tension, leaving your client feeling strengthened and rested when they leave your studio.
If your client desires relaxation and regeneration, you can choose one of the following plants.
Lavender is native to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean and is known for its scent and vibrant colors.
As early as the 11th century, the plant found its way into the monastery gardens of the Benedictine monks and, with its scent, provided mental clarity, soothed restlessness, nervousness, and anxiety, and resolved confusion.
During a gentle massage, the essential oils of lavender unfold the charm of Provence. According to scientists, the effect of lavender can be traced back to the ingredient linalool, which is also found in other essential plant oils such as thyme and lemon balm. This activates certain receptors in the brain that promote relaxation.
Expert tip from Heike Klein: "Instead of an essential oil, you can also place lavender branches in your studio. In addition, I recommend customers who complain about sleep problems to put a lavender sachet on their pillow. These can be easily made, and the scent promotes falling asleep."
Bergamot is a citrus plant that has been cultivated in Italy since the mid-17th century. The climate here is ideal for the growth of the trees. Bergamot oil was already used in 1714 in the oldest perfumery in the world, Johann Maria Farina, to create their famous Eau de Cologne.
The scent of bergamot has a relaxing and calming effect on the mind. A study from 2015 has shown that a massage with bergamot oil has a higher effect on physical relaxation than a massage without oil.
It is believed that bergamot oil has a calming and relaxing effect due to its content of bioactive compounds such as limonene and linalool. Through the inhalation of the scent of bergamot oil, these compounds can act on the limbic system in the brain and have a calming effect on the body and mind.
That chamomile has a calming effect is certainly no surprise. Who hasn't turned to chamomile tea during a particularly annoying cold? But even those who are not a fan of the brew can still benefit from the plant.
It is believed that chamomile oil has a calming and anti-inflammatory effect due to its high content of chamazulene and bisabolol. The use of chamomile oil in massages can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote deeper relaxation.
Expert tip from Heike Klein: "Chamomile oil is excellent for pregnancy massages. Some essential oils are potentially harmful here, but chamomile is a good choice for mother and child when diluted. As long as they make sure to use small amounts, you can give expectant mothers a wonderfully soothing break. The oil relieves tension, anxiety and back pain."
Jasmine originally comes mainly from the Himalayas, southwestern China, and the Indian region of Kashmir. The Asian plant is often grown as an ornamental shrub and rounds off many perfumes. But the positive effects of jasmine oil have also been known for centuries.
It is believed that the calming properties of jasmine oil, similar to lavender, are due to the chemical compounds contained in the plant, especially linalool. Linalool has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Jasmine has an intense, honey-like, floral scent. The captivating sweetness brings the lightness of summer to every massage studio.
2. Which oils alleviate pain?
As you can see, finding the right essential oil for a relaxing massage is not difficult. But which plant helps when it pinches and pulls? With the right oil, you can loosen muscle tension, relieve back pain, and promote circulation.
Teas, ice cream, candies, dish soap, and toothpaste. Peppermint is a true all-rounder that has snuck into every aspect of our lives over the centuries. So why not also in massage practices?
Peppermint oil can contribute to pain relief during a massage. It contains menthol, which has a cooling effect and thus reduces inflammation and pain. When applied to the skin, peppermint oil promotes circulation and reduces muscle tension. There is also some evidence that peppermint oil may be helpful for headaches and migraines.
Expert tip from Heike Klein: "Some people are allergic to peppermint oil, even in diluted form. Be sure to rule out this risk before starting the massage."
Eucalyptus comes from the subtropics of Australia and eastern Indonesia. As trees, they form forests, and as shrubs, they resemble European heather. Today, the plant is mainly known as the main food of koalas and a popular ingredient in cough drops and cold baths.
Eucalyptus oil can contribute to pain relief during massages. It contains compounds like eucalyptol, which have anti-inflammatory effects. When applied to the skin, eucalyptus oil can help promote circulation and reduce muscle tension. Eucalyptus oil also has a cooling effect, similar to peppermint oil, which can help with pain.
Eucalyptus oil is often used for colds and respiratory illnesses, as it loosens mucus and congestion in the airways. During a massage, eucalyptus oil can also help ease breathing and relax the body.
Note: Like with peppermint, some people may be allergic to eucalyptus oil.
This shrub not only goes well with potatoes. In ancient times, rosemary was already considered a medicinal herb and was associated with the goddess Aphrodite. How does rosemary oil help with massages?
Rosemary oil contains compounds like rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, which have anti-inflammatory effects and can thus contribute to pain relief. The oil promotes circulation, reduces muscle tension, and has a refreshing effect on the entire body.
Rosemary oil is also often used for digestive problems and to relieve headaches and migraines.
Expert tip from Heike Klein: "There are different types of rosemary oil. For muscle relaxation, I recommend Spanish rosemary. However, for lethargy or circulation disorders, North African rosemary is better suited. This has a higher cineole content, which also helps with colds and infections."
3. What scents lift the mood?
When feeling down, sad, or stressed, a massage may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the right aromas can be helpful even in this scenario. With invigorating scents and dynamic massage techniques, energy and overall well-being can be increased.
Citrus scents such as orange, lemon, and grapefruit contain essential oils that can have a stimulating effect on the mind. These oils help reduce mental exhaustion, improve concentration, and enhance mental clarity.
In addition, citrus scents can evoke positive memories and associations. The fresh, zesty aromas remind us of summer in Italy, warm days in Turkey, and holidays in India.
The plant, native to Indonesia, is known for its sweet-smelling flowers. Ylang-ylang has traditionally been used to treat asthma, stomach aches, and high blood pressure, and for good reason. The essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
The mood-enhancing effect can be attributed to the main components, Linalool, Germacren-D, and Benzylacetate. The sweet, floral scent calms the mind and energizes the soul.
The essential oil is extracted from the dried leaves of the plant. It has a woody-herbal, balsamic scent. Mixed with massage oil, patchouli can strengthen nerves and alleviate fatigue.
These positive effects can be attributed to several of its components. The patchouli alkaloids are compounds that have a mood-enhancing effect, while alpha-bulnesene has a relaxing effect.
Expert tip from Heike Klein: "If customers complain about eczema, acne, or enzymes, I recommend skincare products that contain patchouli oil. It not only counteracts inflammation but also promotes wound healing. Patchouli is definitely one of my favorite secret tips!"
The scent of sandalwood evokes memories of cold winter days in front of the fireplace and hot teas at your favorite café. Humans have valued sandalwood for over two thousand years. In India, it's even considered "vegetable gold," and every sandalwood tree is automatically owned by the state, no matter where it grows.
Mix a massage cream with sandalwood oil for a relaxing, calming effect. The alpha-santalol and beta-santalol in sandalwood oil can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a positive, light mood. Additionally, the oil can relieve cramps and has antibacterial properties.
4. How should essential oils be dosed?
Despite their pleasant aromas, essential oils should be used with caution to avoid skin irritation and other negative reactions. Follow these guidelines when dosing essential oils:
Carrier oil: Essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil, such as almond, jojoba, or avocado oil. A safe dosage is typically 1-2 drops of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
Strength of the essential oil: Some essential oils are stronger than others and require a lower dosage.
Age and physical condition of the person: Essential oils should be used with caution and possibly further diluted when used on children, older people, or people with sensitive skin.
Type of massage: Higher dosages of essential oils can be used during a gentle relaxation massage than during a deeper, stronger massage.
Safety guidelines: Always follow recommended safety guidelines when using essential oils. For example, some oils should be avoided during pregnancy or certain medical conditions.
We recommend doing comprehensive research on the topic to avoid health risks.
5. What should be considered when storing essential oils?
To preserve their effectiveness and shelf life, essential oils must be stored properly.
Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dry place protected from direct sunlight and sources of heat.
Essential oils should be kept in well-sealed, light-resistant containers to protect them from air and moisture.
Essential oils should be stored separately from other materials such as food, medications, or chemicals to avoid contamination.
Essential oils can lose their effectiveness over time, so it is important to check their expiration date and dispose of them accordingly when they have expired.
Here's how Heike Klein stores her essential oils:
"Glass bottles are the best for storing essential oils. I keep my oils in a dark cabinet and sort them by expiration date and application area. Additionally, I label the bottles myself to have an even better overview."