It may sound counter-intuitive, but many oils are actually good for your skin and can even help control breakouts. Essential oils, which are often added to massage oils and used in aromatherapy, can be used for the treatment of acne and other microbial infections. According to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, chamomile, clove, and rose oils exhibited effective antimicrobial activity. Especially if you’ve recently experienced a breakout, your skin condition may improve if you request a massage oil with any of these essential oils added.
Some of the most common massage oils use coconut oil or olive oil as a base, and may have other essential oils added. Coconut oil and olive oil are rich in Vitamin E and help moisturize your skin. Coconut oil also has been used historically for cosmetic and antimicrobial purposes, and is considered beneficial for nearly all skin types.
Massage therapy itself can improve the condition of your skin, and also promotes relaxation and reduces stress. This may improve your skin tone and condition, particularly if you find that your skin tends to flare up when you are stressed out. Try a relaxing Swedish massage every other week for a couple of months and see if you notice a difference. Studies show regular massage can decrease anxiety and lower many side effects attributed to generalized anxiety and stress. Reducing your stress level can also improve your immune system, and this may contribute to a lessening in skin sensitivity.
If you have particular allergies or other skin sensitivities, mention them to your massage therapist when you schedule your session – especially if you’ve had an allergic reaction to any substances that may be used as ingredients in massage oils. Your massage therapist will be able to recommend the best massage oil for your particular skin. Making sure you’re well-hydrated before and after your massage is also important, as your therapist won’t have to use as much oil to lubricate your skin.
Massage therapists also use creams or butters, although these heavier products tend to be more quickly absorbed by the skin and may cause you more difficulties than a lighter oil would. You may also want to do a small patch test to see how your skin reacts to the oil before using it for a full massage.
 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/
 Massage Magazine: “The Massage Lubricant You Use Really Does Matter” https://www.massagemag.com/the-massage-lubricant-you-use-really-does-matter-86285/
 Examine.com: “Coconut Oil” https://examine.com/supplements/coconut-oil/
 Western Journal of Medicine: “Massage therapies” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071543/
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