Show Your Love with Aroma Massage

February is the month of love, and what better way to show your love for someone (or yourself!) with the gift of massage. An age-old practice, massage can reduce stress; increase relaxation; reduce pain, muscle soreness and tension; improve circulation, energy and alertness; lower heart rate and blood pressure; and improve immune function.[1] The therapeutic properties of essential oils are a perfect complement to the benefits of massage. Aroma massage combines both inhalation and topical absorption of essential oils, making this a powerful healing modality.

In Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice,[2] Jane Buckle cites several studies on the dermal absorption of essential oils, with some essential oil constituents ending up in the bloodstream in as little as 10 minutes and being stored in the skin for up to 72 hours. The practice of selecting and blending essential oils for an individual goes back to the 1950s, when Marguerite Maury pioneered aromatherapy massage and the concept of the “individual prescription.” This custom blend of essential oils can be left to penetrate the skin long after the massage has ended, thereby continuing the therapeutic benefits of the massage.

When applying essential oils to the skin, a carrier oil must always be used to avoid irritation and to ensure even distribution. A 1.5% dilution is perfect for a full-body aroma massage, otherwise the scent can become overwhelming. In The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils,[3] Julia Lawless recommends going up to a 3% dilution for certain ailments that require stronger dilution. In this instance, the massage should be localized to the area of complaint or a hand or foot massage rather than a full-body massage. Pour your carrier oil into a small dish or cup then add the essential oils that you have selected, being mindful of each oil’s dermal maximum. Aromaweb is a great online resource that cites Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition,and is a quick and easy website to verify safety information.

The sky is the limit when blending for massage, as long as you are within safe dilution ratios for topical application and are working with an adult who is not pregnant or breastfeeding. To maximize the benefits of the massage, select essential oils that will do double duty by addressing more than one complaint. For instance, lavender has both sedative and anti-inflammatory constituents and would therefore benefit someone having difficulty sleeping due to achy joints. The Stillpoint Aromatics website has a useful tool for selecting essential oils by therapeutic properties. Take note of each essential oil’s scent profile and, if possible, choose a base, middle and top note for a well-rounded blend.

While the essential oil blend is the star of the massage oil, we cannot overlook the supporting role of the carrier oils. Carrier oils also have their own unique benefits. Many registered massage therapists choose coconut oil for their massage oil as it washes easily from linens and has little to no fragrance. However, there are many other skin-loving carrier oils that provide the right amount of slip for a massage including avocado, olive, jojoba, and shea oil.[4]

While it is best to select and blend the massage oil for an individual session, here are a few examples of massage oils for common complaints and requests:

Achy body blend:
20 mL of any carrier oil(s)
2 drops black pepper (Piper nigrum)
2 drops marjoram (Origanum majorana)
1 drops frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

Belly blues blend:
20 mL of any carrier oil(s)
2 drops sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)
2 drops cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
1 drop ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Relaxation blend:
20 mL of any carrier oil(s)
2 drops mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
2 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
1 drop vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)

Setting the mood (inspired by Salvatore Battaglia’s recent blog post)[5]:
2 drops FCF bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
2 drops jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum)
1 drop sandalwood (Santal spicatum)

Have fun experimenting with different carriers and blends of essential oils, and spreading the love!


[2] Buckle, Jane. Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, Third Edition. 2015. Page 18.
[3] Lawless, Julia. Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. 2013. Page 52.


About the author: Shannon Bachorick completed her aromatherapy certification studies in 2016 and went on to become a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional® and Registered Aromatherapist®. She has been on the board of directors of the CFA since 2019 as Research Director and Communications Director. She practises in Regina, Saskatchewan, and is the founder of Santéssence Aromatherapy. 

Photo credit: Elina Fairytale from Pexels