A dinner and movie sound swell, or chocolates and flowers, but those options seem too typical and may bring short-term satisfaction. How about the gift of healthy touch?
Why are massages good for you?
Massages have infiltrated the self-care category alongside meditation, yoga, and mindfulness activities. This has led to a booming, yet niche market for natural and organic products that enhance massage experience for individuals that are truly invested in self-care both in a spa and in the comfort of their own home. There are about 80 recognized types of massages that are administered for both personal and clinical reasons, some of the most popular being Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Hot Stone. In the context of giving your partner a healthy touch, the Oxford Dictionary describes massage as the “rubbing and kneading of muscles and joints of the body with the hands, especially to relieve tension and pain.”
According to a 2017 Consumer Survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 19% of adult Americans received at least one massage between July 2016 and July 2017. The demand for spa services in the United States also continued to explode into 2018 with the rise of self-care culture, along with a global spike in spa visits in the past few years.
But, what’s all the hype? Massages are reported to be both psychologically and physically therapeutic. If you’re all about self-care, AMTA research suggests that massages can impact stress levels, reduce anxiety, relax muscles and relieve pain by targeting points of pain, discomfort and tension in the body. For instance, a massage therapist or loved one working their hands into your muscles can increase levels of serotonin in the brain, lessening stress and tension. Massages get a thumbs up from Cardiologist Joel Kahn, MD, who says that if you enjoy massages, you “might be helping your heart and arteries stay healthy and youthful.”
Massages can also help strengthen relationships and improve personal self-care. A study presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference found that couples massages could boost wellbeing for both partners. Massaging your partner can also be a form of showing affection for one another. Being touched by your partner releases oxytocin, aka the “cuddle hormone,” which increases trust. Just ask relationship expert, Emma Merkus, who has made massages with her husband an essential part of her life for over a decade and lists enhanced romance, trust, and positivity as core outcomes.
"Being touched by your partner releases oxytocin, aka the “cuddle hormone” which increases trust." - British Psychological Society's Annual Conference
CUPID-APPROVED MASSAGE TIPS
If you’d like to surprise your partner with an intentional caring massage but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with the best massage tips. If it’s your first time giving (or getting) a massage, it may be intimidating. Remember to be open to the process, relax and breathe.
Importance of setting the tone
Timing is everything and an evening massage session sounds ideal for setting a romantic mood. Before you begin, make sure your space is comfortable and free of any distractions. Dim the lights and play some soft music in the background. Consider creating a soft classical music playlist or perhaps some light R&B. R&B music is usually very mellow and slow, and features a wide variety of intimate love songs. Ensure that your partner has plenty of cushions and soft sheets for comfort and support. You can also light some candles for a still, relaxing experience.
You may not have a massage surface or table available; so, choose a location that is cozy and comforting for your partner, like a bed or futon. One last note, make sure the room temperature is not too hot or too cold to ensure full comfort.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MASSAGE OIL
Yes, massage oil really does matter
Your choice in using massage oil or opting out of using it can make a huge difference. Using massage lubricant reduces friction between your hands and skin and allows you to glide the skin easily and gently. Plus, it shows that you care about your partner’s wellbeing and skin health.
Create a sensory, aromatic experience by using natural massage oil. Using massage oil matters, and the one you use really matters. In fact, the massage lubricant you use can be a hit or miss for the one receiving. Compared with the standard massage oils and creams that are artificially scented and contain harmful ingredients like parabens, natural massage oils do not irritate the skin or make the skin feel greasy because they are plant-based. Massage oils can replenish skin and serve as a natural warming agent. This feels good to the one being massaged because as the oil evaporates, it produces a cooling sensation on the skin. Benefits of using massage oil include improved blood circulation, pain relief, reduction of swelling in the body, and lubricated tissues. The good thing about using natural massage oil is that it contains good-for-you ingredients that can enhance the massage for a long-term healing journey.
"Compared with the standard massage oils and creams that are artificially scented and contain harmful ingredients like parabens, natural massage oils do not irritate the skin or make the skin feel greasy because they are plant-based"
Don’t harm your loved one – keep it natural
Keep in mind that you may be unaware of what types of ingredients are safe to use on your partner’s skin. Massage therapist, Debra Kizilcan, suggests steering clear of any products that contain parabens. Parabens are a group of synthetic compounds used in cosmetics as preservatives to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, but research studies show that parabens may actually be harmful to the body and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. The non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reports that the greatest concern with parabens is that they disrupt hormone function. In this case, increased levels of estrogen may lead to increased risk of breast cancer. However, there’s still limited information on the harmful effects of parabens and they have been used in beauty products for decades. With the shift in natural beauty, we’re seeing a rise in “paraben-free” products.
Another harmful ingredient found in some massage creams and oils is sulfate. Sulfates are detergents that are added to products to produce a lather and remove excess oil and dirt. For instance, perhaps you’ve noticed the ingredient “sodium lauryl sulfate” on the back of your shampoo bottle used to effectively cleanse hair. If sulfates are stripping dirt and oil from your hair, they are stripping the natural oils from your face and body when using cleansers and body washes, causing dryness. For those who have sensitive skin, sulfates can clog pores and cause acne, or in this case, ‘bacne'.
Use a natural essential oil-based massage oil
We recommend the use of natural, essential oil-based massage oil as opposed to other options because of the natural, aromatherapeutic ingredients included. And your partner will likely thank you for the sensory experience. Consider investing in a high-quality, natural massage oil option for an aromatherapy massage, like Way of Will’s 03 Soothe and Cool, which contains vital plant-based nutrients designed to relax the skin and muscles and improve skin hydration and suppleness. The title speaks for itself - this massage oil provides a soothing and cooling sensation to affected areas, allowing your partner to unwind and relax. The Jojoba carrier oil used in the 03 Soothe and Cool is not greasy and has antibacterial properties that also fairs well for people prone to back acne. Mixed with Peppermint, German Chamomile, and Lemongrass essential oils, it’s a healthy, aromatherapy paradise.
MASSAGE OIL DIY
Carrier oils + aromatherapeutic essential oils = match made in heaven
Most massage therapists use carrier oils like coconut, avocado, and jojoba to allow their hands to glide the skin without effort. Massage therapists recommend the use of some carrier oils, like fractionated coconut oil because it’s light, non-greasy and ideal for smaller hand strokes. Apricot Kernel is also a favorite since it’s rich in Vitamin E and is naturally absorbed into the skin. But, when carrier oils are combined with aromatherapeutic oils like Peppermint and Lemongrass, “massage takes on a remarkable synergy that dramatically enhances the massage session.”
For the DIY lovers, you’re in luck! Check out our Muscle Therapy Carrier Oil made with Rosehip Oil (an amazing source of vitamins A, and omega 3 and 6) and Oat Oil (rich in antioxidants and ideal for soothing and conditioning irritated and itchy skin).
You can use 1 teaspoon (5ml) of the Muscle Therapy Carrier Oil alone for the ultimate deep-tissue massage, or mix it with 5 drops of your favorite Way of Will essential oils. For soothing tense muscles, our suggestion is to mix 1 teaspoon of Muscle Therapy with 5 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil to relieve pain and improve circulation; Sweet Orange Essential Oil as a natural hydrating and uplifting agent; or Grapefruit Essential Oil to relieve tension and alleviate mental fatigue.
Get the ball rolling
Operation Cupid’s Massage is all set and good to go. You’ve set the tone and have your natural massage oil on hand. Next, look into whether your partner prefers lying down or sitting upright on a comfortable chair. If you want to create a more sensual experience, explore your partner’s body slowly using massage oil to find the erogenous zones, or the areas that have heightened sensitivity. When the body’s erogenous zones are stimulated, they may produce a sexual response.