Wait—are showers the new baths? Showers used to be a purely utilitarian affair where you get in, scrub, shave, and get out—all in 15 minutes, tops. But a few tub mainstays have been rebranded as shower staples (shower salts, sinus steamers, and body conditioner, for starters). Personally, I’m all for making showers more of an event. Enter: massage bars. They’re solid moisturizer bars made with shea butter and other nourishing ingredients that can be used in the shower to relieve tension and soothe achy muscles.
Because we love a good Lush copycat, these DIY massage bars are made with the same all-natural adzuki beans as their version for a gentle and natural massage. And they include calming magnesium, soothing vegetable butters, and a blend of essential oils to help tackle everything from sleeplessness to muscle pain.
What is a Massage Bar?
A shower massage bar is a solid bar made from nourishing vegetable oils and something that creates bumps or beads on one side, perfect for relaxing tense muscles and relieving tension. Simply hop in the shower and let the buttery bar soften in your hands for a few seconds before gently gliding over your skin.
Make sure to target any areas of muscle tension, pain, or fatigue with the massaging “beads.” Then, use the smooth side to soothe the skin and replenish moisture.
Skin Benefits of a Shower Massage Bar
A shower massage bar is a great way to give your bod a much-needed boost—thanks to a combination of massage, aromatherapy, and nourishing oils.
1. Relieve tension and improve relaxation
Not to sound like a broken record, but a massage is a great way to relax the body and mind. An in-shower massage can help reduce stress, alleviate muscle tension, improve circulation, and even improve sleep quality. Whether you opt for a full-body massage or simply target a few pressure points, massage can be an effective way of promoting relaxation of the nervous system [source].
2. Soothe tired, achy muscles
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body that’s often used like a mustard bath to alleviate muscle aches and pains. For those who suffer from soreness after a long day or an intense workout, magnesium is often used to reduce inflammation and promote relaxation.
3. Nourish skin and replenish moisture
Our skin needs nourishment and moisture to look its best, and soothing vegetable butters are a great way to get both. Rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, body butters will heal inflammation [source] and give you softer, smoother, and more hydrated skin.
4. Improve circulation
Massage is one of the oldest forms of natural healing, thanks to its ability to improve blood flow and circulation. A regular massage is said to help boost energy levels, improve sleep quality, and reduce pain and anxiety [source].
5. Decrease the appearance of cellulite
By increasing circulation and breaking down fat deposits, massage has been used to help smooth out dimpled skin. This can leave the skin feeling smoother and firmer while also reducing inflammation and improving the overall texture.
How to Make Massage Bars
If you’ve ever made shower scrub bars, then you can make a massage bar. All you need are a few body butters, some beeswax (carnauba wax, if you’re vegan), essential oils, and a mold. A lot of massage bars require a special mold to give the bar its shape, but we believe in using what you’ve got.
While we chose dried adzuki beans (like the famous Lush version) to give these bars a massaging effect, you can use any dried beans you like. Just make sure to choose small beans that won’t clog your pipes, or use a shower strainer to keep large chunks from going down the drain.
Lush Massage Bar Recipe
—1/2 cup cocoa butter
—1/2 cup shea butter
—1/4 cup beeswax (or carnauba wax)
—1 tablespoon jojoba oil
—2 teaspoons magnesium flakes, finely ground
—144–216 drops of essential oils for a 2–3% dilution (see below for different blends)
—1/4 cup dried adzuki beans
Step 1 | Melt the oils and butters
Combine the cocoa butter, shea butter, beeswax, and jojoba oil in a small bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring often.
Step 2 | Add the essential oils and magnesium salts
Grind your magnesium salt in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder (and make sure to clean it out well). Once the butters are melted, add the ground magnesium salts and essential oils. Stir to combine.
The magnesium salt won’t dissolve entirely, leaving you with a somewhat gritty texture. You could also switch out the jojoba oil for magnesium oil. But as long as you’ve ground the salt as finely as you can, that should be fine. Avoid leaving any large chunks, as they may scratch or irritate your skin.
Step 3 | Place the beans in the mold
Scoop some beans into your mold. You don’t need a lot—just enough to cover the bottom of each cavity.
Step 4 | Pour the melted oils into the mold
Slowly pour the melted oils into your mold, being careful not to disturb the beans. Tap the mold on a hard surface to get rid of bubbles and ensure that the oils have thoroughly coated the beans without leaving any air pockets.
Step 5 | Let cool for a few hours
Set the mold somewhere it won’t be disturbed, and let the bars cool completely. To speed things up, feel free to place the mold in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 6 | Remove the bars from the mold
Once they’ve cooled completely, remove each bar from the mold. Wrap the bars in wax paper to prevent sticking, and store unused massage bars in an airtight plastic bag.
The Best Essential Oil Blends for Massage Bars
Showers aren’t just for the morning. These targeted essential oil blends will make you want to hop in the shower any time of day.
1. Energy-Boosting Blend
If you’re looking for a natural way to wake up in the morning, using energizing essential oils can be a great solution.
—100 drops sweet orange
—50 drops peppermint
—20 drops rosemary
2. Sleep Blend
These massage bars are naturally relaxing. But with a few well-chosen essential oils, you can make ’em even more so.
—30 drops vetiver
—60 drops lavender
—40 drops Roman chamomile
—20 drops ylang ylang
3. Muscle Repair Blend
If you’re feeling sore and exhausted after a long day, some spicy essential oils may be just what you need to soothe and repair tired muscles.
—40 drops cinnamon
—30 drops clove
—50 drops peppermint
How to Use a Lush Massage Bar
1. Wash your body with soap and rinse well
Turn on the hot water, hop in the shower, and lather up as usual. Since the tub can feel kind of slick afterward, I prefer to use massage bars toward the end of my shower. That way, I can hop out quickly without slipping. But the order in which you perform your shower routine is up to you.
2. Soften the massage bar
Hold the bar in hot water for a few seconds to soften it slightly. These bars are made to melt, so don’t overdo it or the bar might disintegrate. A few seconds is all you need!
3. Rub the bar directly onto skin
Using light pressure, massage the bar directly into your skin. As the body butters melt, the beans will become more pronounced, giving you a more enjoyable massage. After massaging your entire body, make sure to focus the beads on tender or tired areas that need a little extra TLC.
4. Rinse off and pat skin dry
You don’t need to wash your skin again if you don’t want to (although you certainly can if you’re not a fan of oily skin). Simply hop out of the shower, towel off, and allow the oils to moisturize the skin.
5. Repeat once a day
Use your massage bar daily to hydrate your skin and relax muscles.
How to Store Massage Bars
Storing your massage bar properly is essential for prolonging its shelf life. Place any new, unused massage bars in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator. As for used massage bars, place the leftover bar in a lidded soap container and store it in a drawer or closet to prevent meltdowns.
Massage Bar FAQs
Massage bars and lotion bars have similar ingredients but serve different purposes. Massage bars have a raised, bumpy texture that helps improve circulation and relieve tension. Meanwhile, lotion bars are meant to coat the skin in nourishing oils, which boost moisture and nourish the skin.
Nope! You’re free to use massage bars in the bathtub if you want. Or you can simply warm the bar and rub the melted oils over dry skin to get the same effect.
Moisturizing your body in the shower is an easy way to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. After washing with soap, smooth the moisturizer over wet skin, massaging well. Let the oils sink in for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water. Pat skin dry to lock in remaining moisture.
Yes, using oil-based bath and body products in the shower can clog the drain if left unchecked. To prevent clogs, use a pipe-safe drain cleaner about once a month to break up any oily buildup.
Massage Bar with Magnesium
- 1/2 cup cocoa butter
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup beeswax or carnauba wax
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
- 2 teaspoons magnesium flakes, finely ground
- 144–216 drops essential oils for 2–3% dilution (see above post for different blends)
- 1/4 cup dried adzuki beans
- Silicone mold
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Combine the cocoa butter, shea butter, beeswax, and jojoba oil in a small bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring often.
- Grind your magnesium salt in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. Once the butters are melted, add the ground magnesium salts and essential oils. Stir well.The magnesium salt won’t dissolve entirely, leaving you with a somewhat gritty texture. You could also switch out the jojoba oil for magnesium oil. But as long as you’ve ground the salt as finely as you can, that should be fine. Avoid leaving any large chunks, as they may scratch or irritate your skin.
- Scoop some beans into your mold. You don’t need a lot, just enough to cover the bottom of each cavity.
- Slowly pour the melted oils into your mold, being careful not to disturb the beans. Tap the mold on a hard surface to get rid of bubbles and ensure that the oils have thoroughly coated the beans without leaving any air pockets.
- Set the mold in a place it won’t be disturbed, and let the bars cool completely. To speed things up, feel free to place the mold in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Once they’ve cooled completely, remove each bar from the mold. Wrap the bars in wax paper to prevent sticking, and store unused massage bars in an airtight plastic bag.
1. Boyd C, et al. The impact of massage therapy on function in pain populations—a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: Part II, cancer pain populations. Pain Med. 2016. 2. Lee YH, et al. The effects of heat and massage application on autonomic nervous system. Yonsei Med J. 2011. 3. Lin TK, et al. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2018.5
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