Olive Oil in Massage and Reflexology

Olive oil comes from the fruit of the Olea Europaea trees. Organic olive oil consists mainly of oleic acid, with smaller quantities of other fatty acids such as linoleic and palmitic acid. More than 200 different chemical compounds have been detected in olive oil with high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds that have antioxidant properties than vitamin E. These phenolic compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory properties when used on the skin, and when included in the regular diet. In addition the oil is very mildly astringent and antiseptic. Unsurprisingly olive oil has been used in skincare, haircare, and massage, in the cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East for millennia.


When applied to the skin, olive oil has a detrimental effect on the integrity of the epidermis and disrupts the skin’s barrier function. This is due to the relatively high level of acidity of the oil. This disruptive function means that the oil is best used topically in very small quantities - when used on its own. Research has shown that we can use this disruptive effect on the barrier function of the epidermis to our advantage, by blending olive oil with other oils that are also beneficial to the skin. This blending has a strong positive impact on the effectiveness of olive oil itself, and also of the other oils. With this method olive oil effectively acts as a carrier for other plant oils, enabling or improving the penetration and absorption rate of these oils into the skin. 


The absorption rate of olive oil itself is medium to slow, and the oil will leave an oily residue on the skin. Pure olive oil can be used for massage but it is quite heavy and fatty. Many clients and therapists also find the odour somewhat strong and objectionable. Using too much olive oil on the skin, such as when it is used neat as a massage oil, can also lead to clogging of the pores.


Research has shown that prolonged exposure to pure olive oil (without it being blended with other oils) induces mild erythema in adults with and without a history of atopic dermatitis. In addition, this exposure has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis. When used on the scalp and hair caution should be taken as dandruff is made worse by the application of olive oil.


In conclusion olive oil offers many potent benefits for use in massage, reflexology, and skincare – but these benefits exist primarily when used in combination with other oils.


Flying Wild balms for massage and reflexology are handmade with certified organic olive oil blended with other oils, butters, and beeswax - to provide perfect balanced treatment mediums that benefit you, and your clients.


From Bee to You,