If you don’t feel like fighting for a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day, consider a night in — perhaps think about giving your partner a massage, even. It’s certainly more restorative than jostling for a table. “Part of getting a massage is about the ambience and being able to relax and let go,” says Lara Katsman, a massage therapist at Haven Spa in Soho. And the first thing you think of when it comes to massages is the oil. To find the best oils and lotions for massages, we spoke to massage therapists about the best ones you can find. Just don’t forget about creating ambience, too, says Katsman. Towels and eye masks help, as do “things like candles or diffusers with your favorite smell, a heating pad, music, and handheld massage tools.”
Massage oils and lotions
Massage therapist Lisa Veyka and Eva Carey, the national community director at Zeel, a network of on-demand massage therapists, both recommend L’Occitane for its massage lotions and oils. “L’Occitane sells a wonderful almond massage oil,” she says. Still, Veyka cautions to always check the ingredients of any product to make sure neither you or your partner has any sensitivities or allergies to them.
Carey also recommends oils and lotions from Bon Vital. In terms of determining whether to use a massage oil or a lotion, she says it’s a matter of personal preference: “Most people with drier skin, especially this time of year, will often appreciate oil. But there are definitely people that don’t care for the feeling and prefer a lotion, which tends to not be as slick.”
As far as lotions go, Carey recommends ones from Biotone’s Herbal Select line: “It has a gentle scent but provides enough glide to moisturize the skin. It’s not greasy and is hypoallergenic. It’s one of my personal favorites.”
Try Biotone’s foot therapy lotion if you’re intimidated by the prospect of giving a full-body massage. “The easiest place to start if you’re a beginner is probably your feet,” says Katsman. “With pressure points and so many little muscles to target and the fact that our feet hold us up all day, what better place to start? Begin by sitting in a comfortable position and apply pressure with thumbs at the heel of the foot and move forward in a slow progression to the front of the foot.”
Kaylee Hoekman, a massage therapist on the Zeel network, suggests trying CBD-infused products: “CBD massage is really popular right now and I like to use Lord Jones products.” This body lotion provides a cooling sensation on contact and contains two milligrams of CBD per pump. Lord Jones makes a body-oil version as well.
Carey recommends lotions from Red Flower “because they are plant-based and paraben-free.” She also suggests choosing a scent that both partners will enjoy.
If you want to try an edible lotion, Shunji Moriwaki, manager and partner at Ease NY, recommends this chocolate body butter from Lulu’s Chocolate: “It is organic, raw, and vegan. It’s even edible and has a gorgeous aroma that makes the couple feel very special. And it is very good for the skin, too.” Ease NY will offer it as an option during its massage sessions through Valentine’s Day.
Another popular edible option is coconut oil, according to Michiko Takatani, owner of Neo Tantra Orgasm. This edible massage oil from Honeydew is made from almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E. “It would be perfect for Valentine’s Day,” says Takatani, “but regular coconut oil for massage is good, too.”
Takatani also recommends using personal lubricants and notes that Astroglide makes an organic one that can also be used as a massage oil.
Other massage accessories
“Most massage therapists that you will speak with tend to prefer to use their hands over tools to perform a massage,” says Carey. “I think you can hurt people sometimes with some of the electric stuff unless you know what you’re doing.” Still, tools can be helpful for the amateur therapist.
To up your massage game, Katsman suggests trying T Spheres, aromatherapy-infused massage balls. “They’re easy to use for beginners,” she says.
Carey also reminds us that scalp massages can be very soothing: “We hold a lot of tension there. Think back to when you get a great shampoo, when you’re getting a haircut. Spend three or four minutes on the scalp; it’s just very relaxing and feels great.” A scalp massage should be performed dry, with no oils or lotions. Carey even thinks using the tingle-inducing wire head massager isn’t a bad option. “But if you’re trying to have a connection, I think hands are better,” she says.
As for where to set up the massage station, Carey recommends avoiding the bed: “Doing a massage on a bed really diminishes the amount of pressure that the client feels because the mattress is taking all of that impact. I would recommend putting down two or three blankets on the floor to create additional cushion.” A pilates mat or anything thicker than a yoga mat could also work.
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