The way many of us live now, spending hours at our desks and in front of screens, doesn’t have many health benefits. We experience it every time we return from the office with a stiff neck, strained wrist, or shoulders that have migrated to meet our ear lobes.
Our body’s reaction to stress is a complex one, and circular in the way that mental pressure causes physical tension, which in turn can affect us long after the initial reason to be stressed has passed. Those who work with the body will often refer to certain body parts ‘storing’ tension or worry. Whether you're looking for pain relief or a holistic experience, massage offers a powerful way to release built-up tightness. Touch is the first sense that develops in the human foetus, and a massage has the potential to put our concerns into perspective and remind us that we're more than just minds on legs.
Using massage oils helps in getting the right balance between grip and slip on the skin, and the smell enhances the experience by stimulating a second sense that we pay relatively little attention to most of the time. The variety of scents mean you can tailor the massage to your needs, with options ranging from the invigorating to the sleep-inducing.
To give you some inspiration and an overview of what's out there, we teamed up with Lisa de Liema, a London-based massage therapist specialised in the treatment of pain, and have tried and tested a range of oils (with the help of some patient helpers). Here is our pick of the best out there for a range of different needs; from Weleda’s Arnica oil ideal for sports-weary limbs to Alva’s luxurious anti-stress oil for your face, we hope there’s a blend that will help you relax.
Click on the gallery to see the IndyBest buys
10 best massage oils and waxes
10 best massage oils and waxes
1/10 Massage wax: Songbird Woman’s Blend
Massage wax provides great grip, allowing for deep tissue massage. Lisa de Liema, a specialist in the treatment of pain, says: “This is my favourite wax to use. It comes in different aroma blends. You don’t need much and it leaves the skin nice and soft.” £7.99 for 100g, songbirdnaturals.co.uk
2/10 Weleda Arnica Massage Oil
This contains extracts of organic Arnica flower, which has been used to treat muscle strains for centuries, making it ideal for sports massage. “This is the first oil a friend gave to me; it smells great and isn’t too slippy, so you have enough grip when using it,” says Lisa. £11.91 for 100 ml, amazon.co.uk
3/10 Neal’s Yard Aromatic Massage Oil
“For more luxurious and organic oils, go to Neal’s Yard”, Lisa advises. “Their selection is amazing if you would like to create your own oil, or they have ready-made blends. I like this one – a blend of geranium, lavender and marjoram – it smells really comforting.” £12.50 for 100 ml , nutriscentre.com
4/10 Tisserand Detox Massage Oil
Made with 95 per cent organic ingredients, this oil leaves you feeling cleansed and refreshed after your massage. It contains juniper oil, thought to have purifying properties, along with detoxifying lemon oil. £8.50 for 100ml, escentual.com
5/10 Aroma Natural Massage Oil
Aroma Natural make their own organic oils at their farmhouse base in Norfolk. This blend is designed to improve your sleep and the calming smell of lavender will make your massage a relaxing one. £6.50 for 100ml, aromanatural.co.uk
6/10 Éminence Apricot Body Oil
If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, try this by the Hungarian organic brand. It’s light, sweet smell means you can walk straight out of the door after your massage, unlike with some headier oils. It looks pricey, but the bottle is more than twice the size of most. £21 for 240 ml, theskinsmith.co.uk
7/10 Aqua Oleum After Dark
Jasmine is known as ‘the queen of the night’, as its fragrance is stronger after dark. Its oil is said to have anti-depressant and euphoric properties. aqua oleum’s After Dark has a deep, sensual scent which is deliciously mysterious. £7.75 for 100 ml, aqua-oleum.co.uk
8/10 Bodhi Ginger Brew Deep Tissue Massage & Body Oil
For a home spa experience, try this warming oil designed to relieve muscle aches. With plai, galangal, ginger and turmeric, its spicy fragrance will fill the room and restore your senses, helping you recover from your day. £28 for 100ml, beautybay.com
9/10 Janjira Therapy Massage Candle
This luxurious candle made of soybean and coconut oils creates a lovely atmosphere for a massage. Light the candle to melt the wax, then blow out the flame and pour out the liquid oil. The warmth of the wax adds to the relaxing experience and allows better absorption into the skin. £34, janjira.co.uk
10/10 Alva Anti-stress Oil
We often forget that we have muscles in our face and that we carry a lot of tension there. Facial massage is said to stimulate the removal of toxins and improve mood, and it is easy to do it yourself. Alva anti-stress oil is a concentrated face oil for the sensitive skin, and is perfect for the job. £32 for 30 ml, alvanaturalskincare.co.uk
The Éminence Apricot Body Oil is the perfect pick-me-up for both your skin and mood. If you’re looking for a deep tissue massage, Songbird’s massage wax will give you the grip that you need. For an all-round relaxing experience, try Janjira’s Therapy Massage Candle - fun for whoever is giving the massage too!