Saturday, February 03, 2007

DIY Love: Bath & Body Oils

What can be a better gift than a massage? Perhaps - a massage that is also scented with your lover's favourite scent!
Massage is a relaxing and sensual way to relieve stress and build intimacy. And with the stressful life that most of us lead, this special treat is invaluable - and probably more memorable than anything that comes with a price tag.

Give your Valentine a sensual massage using your own scented massage oil. Blending your own fragrant massage oil will add an extra romance to one of the nicest thing we can give each other – personal touch…

As a base, use a cold pressed vegetable oil that is full of nutrients for the skin, such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and avocado oil. You can also use a combination of several oils to benefit from their unique properties.

My personal favourite is sweet almond oil, which reduces friction during the massage, yet absorbs well into the skin by the end of the massage. It has a very pleasant and light almond scent of its own. Unscented almond oil is a perfect addition for a bath for individuals with an extremely dry and sensitive skin. It will leave your skin soft and nurtured and flexible and with only the slightest scent of sweet almonds. It does, however, go rancid after a few months, so you better use it fast. Adding some vitamin E to the can help prevent pre-mature rancidity though.
Word of caution: Avoid if you (or the massage receiver) is allergic to almonds and/or nuts.

Alternatives to almond oil are:
Sunflower oil, which is scentless, fast absorbing and full of anti-oxidants and fast absorbing.
Sesame oil, which is highly emollient. Use the light sesame oil rather than the toasted dark sesame oil used in Asian food.
Grapeseed oil is also scentless, non greasy and silky-smooth.  The only disadvantage to some is that it is often extracted with a solvent.
Avocado oil is very rich, and might be better blended with other lighter oils such as grapeseed or almond oil if allergy is not an issue; please note individuals that are allergic to latex may not respond well to avocado oil.
And and last but not least -  Olive oil. If you don't mind the intensely fruity scent, of course - which by the way, smells divine when blended with simple citrus scents such as sweet orange oil - you'll hardly need anything else as far as scent goes. Use a food-grade olive oil that is labeled "Extra Virgin". Any other labeling on olive oil might mean it is not truly cold-pressed, or is adulterated with inferior oils.

Jojoba oil is much more expensive and will not go rancid and is also an excellent oil to put on our skin as it resembles the skin’s natural sebum. It absorbs extremely well into the skin and is not as greasy as some other oils. It does not provide quite as much in terms of reducing friction while massaging, because it absorbs quite fast into the skin. That's is why it's better as a skin treatment or in baths to give the skin nourishment and restore moisture.

Another oil that resists rancidity is fractioned coconut oil. It is liquid at room temperature (unlike the non-fractioned coconut oil varieties). Colourless, odourless, lightweight, and non-greasy. It’s a great choice for a massage oil and also doesn’t stain.

You will need up to 2% of essential oils to scent your oil. For an ounce (30ml) of base oil, use no more than 1.5ml (about 60 drops - size of drops varies on the dropper size so note how many drops make 1ml of liquid with the dropper you're using) of essential oils. In many cases, less than that will probably be enough. This will depend on the tenacity of the specific oils, as some are stronger than others. Remember that a massage oil, unlike perfume, is not meant to linger on the skin for very long time – but mostly enjoyed during the massage itself. Therefore there is no need for base notes or fixatives, and the massage oil can be very simple, consisting of as few as 1-6 essences. You can pick your own essences from what you have available to you. Or you can follow the formulas provided below. Some of them call for essential oils that are more difficult to find, and for those I have added a link to where you can get them online. But for the most part - youll find these essential oils in your local health food store or aromatherapy shop.

Fill a clean glass bottle with the carrier oil of your choice (i.e.: sweet almond, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, etc.). Add the essences drop by drop using an eye dropper. Stir with a bamboo skewer. Cap and swirl from side to side to let all the essences blend together.
Let the oils age for a week (unless you are in a real hurry, in which case you can use it the next day).

Well, in this particular case, the manner in which it is served (as a sensual massage) is more important than the container itself. Any clean glass bottle that can be sealed properly would fit. These can be purchased in many aromatherapy stores, or online. The most commonly used is called "Boston Round" and comes in many sizes and colours - clear, amber, cobalt blue or emerald green.

If you are in a particularly crafty mood, you can draw or print your own labels, hand paint the bottle, or dig in the flea markets, garage sales or thrift shops for particularly attractive bottles that will fit your purpose. The sky is the limit when it comes to packaging!
Remember to laminate your labels so that they don't get ruined in the bath or stained by the oil.

Next on the DIY Love series: Love Letters and Valentines

Image: Un Bain Maure - Femme Turque au Bain, No.2 (A Moorish Bath - Turkish Woman Bathing) by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) courtesy of

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