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Tripsavvy's Editorial Guidelines Anitra Brown Updated 06/26/19 Share Pin Email damircudic/Getty Images Aromatherapy massage is a popular item on a spa's menu. In this type of treatment, fragrant therapeutic essential oils are used to activate healing properties in your body. Whether you need to relax, ease muscle tension, or clear out the remnants of a cold, essential oil added to a carrier oil can help alleviate most symptoms. The next time you're traveling and pop into an upscale spa, opt for an aromatherapy massage for a special spin on the traditional rub-down. Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images Essential Oil Massage 101 In a simple Swedish or deep tissue massage, the therapist glides over your skin with an oil or cream that has no scent. In an aromatherapy massage, however, the oil also contains an essential oil (or a blend of essential oils) derived from plants. Essential oils penetrate the body through the skin, creating multiple benefits beyond just their nice smell. They affect your mood, alleviate pain, detoxify your body, and ramp up your immune system, depending on the oil used. In an aromatherapy massage, essential oils are mixed with a carrier oil like sweet almond, jojoba, or grapeseed. Therapists will then add a couple drops of popular essential oils—like lavender, peppermint, bergamot, rose, or geranium—to the mixture they use in your massage. More sophisticated spas create their own custom blends ahead of time—using up to five oils in a mixture and naming their signature oils for their various effects. A relaxing aromatherapy massage might include oil infused with lavender or bergamot, while peppermint and eucalyptus may be used to soothe sore muscles. After your massage, if you like the oil blend used, you may be able to purchase it at the spa's store. Gregor Schuster / Getty Images Choosing Your Scents At the beginning of your treatment, the therapist will invite you to smell various blends, describing the essential oils each one contains and their effects. To narrow down your preferred blend, consider which scent resonates with you, as well as what effect you want to achieve from your massage. You can choose something that is relaxing, balancing, or invigorating, based on how you want to feel when you're done. After you choose the oil, your therapist will leave the room, allowing you to disrobe and lay (usually face down) on the table. An aromatherapy massage usually starts with three deep inhalations of the oil you chose, because that's the quickest way to get it into the body. These three breaths also help you relax and become present in the moment. Sometimes, therapists will start with a head massage so that you continue to smell the scent as it's being worked into your body. Destination Kohler Therapeutic-Grade Oils Essential oils consist of volatile, highly concentrated plant extracts, derived from leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins, and flowers. Make sure your therapist is using therapeutic-grade essential oils, instead of store-bought varieties. Therapeutic grade oils are higher quality than commercial-grade oils (used in food products or sold in health food stores) and are steam distilled, without the use of chemicals. These oils can also be used in hydrotherapy baths, facials, and body treatments. Synthetic "essential oils," on the other hand, will not have the same therapeutic effects. Fragrances that are made from chemicals lack the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Many scented creams have synthetic fragrances in them, so just because it has an "aroma" doesn't mean it's an aromatherapy oil. But most spas and independent massage therapists are highly knowledgeable and experienced, so it's unlikely they'll use a sub-par product. Still, it's good to know before you book an expensive treatment. Relaxation Massage Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit The Most Popular Spa Treatments The 11 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens of 2021, According to Dermatologists The 10 Best Hand Sanitizers for Travel of 2021 The 12 Best Natural Sunscreens of 2021, According to Dermatologists The 9 Best Tanning Oils of 2021 The Coolest Cannabis-Inspired Spa Treatments in Colorado The 11 Best Travel Toiletries of 2021 The 10 Most Popular Forms of Massage The 11 Best Sunscreens of 2021, According to Dermatologists The Sweeter Side of Body Scrubs A Cannabis Massage is a Must For Your Denver Visit Spas in the Southeastern United States The 9 Best Sleep Masks of 2021, According to Frequent Travelers The 9 Best Bug Repellents of 2021 Why You Should Get a Body Treatment at the Spa What Is a Body Polish, and Why Do You Need One?