Massage Therapy

Using Essential Oils in Massage Therapy


Essential Oils are typically considered a standard ingredient in the massage therapy industry. This does not mean that all masseuses use essential oils when working on their clients, but the vast majority of them either use essential oils in the body rubbing creams and lotions they prefer, or they use them as instruments of aromatherapy while performing the massage; in many cases they do both. In the event you plan on using essential oils as part of your massage practice, then there are some rules, recommendations and suggestions you should be aware of.

Recommendations for properly diluting essential oils should be adhered to at all times. Essential Oils are highly concentrated, especially in the aromatherapy and massage therapy industries. Using them in direct contact with the skin, without diluting them as suggested, could cause undesirable irritation to the customer’s skin, which in turn may result in sensitization of the skin. This, in turn, may lead to legal suits, or at the very least, it may result in the loss of a client and the bad word of mouth advertising that has doomed several small business ventures throughout the course of human history. As a general rule of thumb, each essential oil used should be diluted to the ratio of 15 drops of the essential oil to one fluid ounce of carrier oil.

Essential Oils are used for a number of purposes, one of which is associated with food and beverages. There are several recipes available online, this site included, which call for a number of drops of a specified essential oil to be used in a drink, or as a substitute in a cooking recipe. While the consumption of essential oils can be done, it is imperative that the recommended dosage not be exceeded. It is important to remember that less is more when working with essential oils. They are so powerful that in many cases a 1-2 drops will suffice to create the flavor desired. As a massage therapist who is new to the use of essential oils, it is highly recommended you refrain from discussing culinary recipes that use essential oils. This is a precautionary measure aimed at keeping you out of legal trouble. If a client asks about culinary recipes you may want to refer them to a website, or online resource, for further information.

Essential Oils should be kept away from open flames, and high heat environments. As explained earlier, essential oils are concentrated and highly volatile. They must be stored in dark glass bottles, either amber or cobalt blue, and kept in a cool, dry environment when not in use.

Refrain from using essential oils around the eyes. In the event that accidental contact with the eyes does occur, the recommended procedure calls for flushing the eye with whole milk.

If you will be working with several clients during the course of a single day, then always make sure you wash your hands after each session with a client. You should also wash your hands whenever they come into contact with an essential oil, or the bottle it is being stored in. In fact, you may want to consider using latex or nitrile gloves, in order to avoid coming into contact with a wide variety of oils with your hands. Your skin is full of pores, and your hands are the instruments by which you perform many of the services offered in a massage parlor. Overexposure of essential oils to the skin of the masseuse might cause sensitization, and/or irritation.

Be aware of which essential oils are considered photosensitive. Refrain from using those types of essential oils on clients, especially those who prefer to spend an excessive amount of time in the sun. Photosensitive essential oils may cause skin discoloration and complications for those adversely affected.

Know which essential oils are considered capable of causing sensitization, and refrain from using them in your practice. Sensitizing essential oils may cause skin rashes immediately, or over a long period of time. This is another reason proper dilution parameters are adhered to at all times, whenever working with essential oils.

Expand your intake questionnaire for prospective clients before using essential oils on them. Each and every client has a different chemical make-up, and may respond to the use of essential oils differently; what causes a rash on one person, may have absolutely no effect on the next:

  • Do you have, or have you ever experienced, skin rashes, sensitive skin, or allergies?
  • Are you pregnant, nursing, or actively attempting to become pregnant?
  • Do you suffer from asthma or respiratory ailments?
  • Do you take any blood thinning medication?
  • Do you have high, or low, blood pressure?
  • Do you suffer from epilepsy, or seizures?

A positive response to any of these questions should cause the therapist to conduct specific research on which essential oils to use, as well as which ones to avoid using, for each individual client.

Observe your clients when using essential oils applied topically, or used as an element of aromatherapy. Any negative reaction from a client should result in an immediate stoppage in work. Identify the cause for concern, and then decide upon a course of action. When using essential oils to address emotions, the oils need to smell pleasant, warm, inviting, invigorating, and embracing. If the use of essential oils is being conducted as part of an answer to a physiological situation, such as relieving sore muscles, then the essential oils do not need to smell good in order to work as intended.

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