We are affected so strongly by scent; they say it’s our most primitive sense. When you have your eyes closed during a massage, relaxing or stimulating scents make the touch seem…touchier. But you have to be careful about what scents to use.
Get yourself an aromatherapy book and head to a very reputable health food store. You don’t want to use artificial fragrance oils. Also, some natural oils are too harsh to use on the skin. Tell the proprietor your massage goals and they will help you make a custom concoction. When I used to live near a real crunchy health-food store, they taught me never to put anything on my body that wasn’t food-grade. So, you’ll want to mix the scent oils in a base oil … you should NEVER use full strength scent oils on the body. Your base oil should be a nutritious nut or vegetable oil, eg sesame, almond, olive, apricot. Even these can be customized for your needs, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Essential oils make all the difference! Of course, like you said, it shouldn't be too overpowering. High-quality botanicals make for wonderful aromatherapy blends so I try to stay away from establishments that tend to use cheap, high-fragrance products in their massage.
Our more primitive scent is touch, not scent. All the other senses spring from touch.
I rarely put essential oil on a client's body, because many people have allergies or sensitivities about which they are unaware. Instead, if I plan on using them, I will use an aroma lamp that will put the scent into the air.
But also, the scientific research into essential oils is proving to be disappointing about their usefulness, so I remain skeptical about their use.
So they are a mixed bag: they smell nice for some people, but they don't really do much beyond that.
Interesting point, Paul. You should never put pure essential oils on a client's body, of course--all the massage therapists I know use botanical blends that are all natural. Of course, you need to check with your client before going that route at all, but I can say for myself that I actually really like aromatherapy products and feel that they DO make a difference when it comes to my state of mind; of course, that could be purely psychosomatic. I also like your idea of using an aroma lamp, however, especially when it comes to dealing with allergies and sensitivities.
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