How to Give a Sensual Massage That’s Actually Hot and Nice
Here’s exactly what to do—and not do—to pull off a sexy, relaxing back rub.
If you’re seeking new ways to feel close to your partner, you might be wondering how to give them a good sensual massage to help you connect. (And a downright sexy massage offers even more opportunities for intimacy.) Horny touching, including massage, causes our brains to release oxytocin, a.k.a. the “love hormone”, so an erotic massage is the perfect recipe for bonding, relaxation, and arousal—possibly even a better sex life.
Read on as experts share how to give a sexy back massage to turn on both you and your partner—and maybe set the mood for more.
Talk to your partner about what their dream massage would look like.
There’s no one way to give an erotic massage, so before you pump up the Marvin Gaye and break out the “good” massage oil, ask your partner what they’d like to get out of this experience—and share your own desires too.
“The ‘why’ of the massage should dictate the ‘how,’” Barbara Carrellas, an AASECT-certified sex educator who teaches erotic massage, tells SELF. So: Are you and your partner seeking connection, or maybe novelty? Are you wanting to take some pressure off of your sexual performance? Are you having trouble getting out of your own head and looking for new forms of foreplay? Do you just think their back is hot and want to love up on it a little? Find out!
Once you’re clear on the “why” behind your sexy massage, decide together how you’d like it to feel. “Erotic massages can be therapeutic, relaxing, stimulating, healing, sensual, sexual, kinky, or whatever other intention you set,” Carrellas says.
Check in about where and how your partner wants to be touched and if there are any no-go zones, AASECT-certified sex therapist Amanda Pasciucco, LMFT, CST, tells SELF.
You should definitely ask whether your partner wants the massage to include overtly sexual contact. “Each person likes to be touched in a different way,” Pasciucco explains. “Some people love the adrenaline of just going toward the genitals, while many others enjoy long, slow strokes to build up anticipation.”
Make your surroundings feel sexier.
Use dim lighting, a playlist featuring gentle music, and candles to create an ambiance that helps your partner feel relaxed, Pasciucco says. (Just make sure the candles are securely placed far from the massage zone—catching your hair on fire would kill the mood.)
One of the best—but often overlooked—massage tips isn’t about what you set up, but what you get the hell out of sight at home. Pasciucco suggests removing any potential distractions from the room, like pets, phones, piles of laundry, and family photos (you probably won’t want your relatives staring you down while you zealously knead your partner’s butt cheeks).
If this kind of traditional massage setup feels slightly corny to you, Pasciucco suggests leaning into the cringe. “Making your bedroom look like a temple of love might not be your norm, but do it anyway,” she says. Trust that once you’re squeezing your partner’s thighs, you’ll probably both be too turned-on to feel embarrassed—and until you get there, it’s okay to laugh a little too.
If you just can’t get past the corniness of candles and soft music, there are plenty of other ways you can set the mood. “While some people like candles, soft music, and feathers, others like dark dungeons, floggers, and being ordered to get on the massage table,” Carrellas says. There’s no one perfect way to do this: The vibe of your sexy massage should feel personal to you and your partner! Let your imaginations tell you what a “good massage” should look like.
Pick an oil that’s up to the hot task at hand.
Your most important massage tool is lotion or oil, since this will help your hands glide more easily along your partner’s body, Pasciucco notes. Just make sure you review the ingredients first, especially if either of you has skin allergies or fragrance sensitivities.
Since this is a sexy massage, chances are there might be some genital-touching involved either during or after the rubdown. If you’re planning to use this same oil externally on your partner’s junk, you’ll need a fragrance-free oil, as scented products (including essential oils) can irritate the urethra (where pee comes out). Soothing Touch’s nut-free massage oil, Sliquid’s Escape massage oil, and Now Solutions’ massage oil are all excellent options.
For any vaginal penetration, you’ll want an all-natural oil to avoid irritation or infection. Vagina-safe options include coconut oil, hemp seed oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil, as the Cleveland Clinic notes. Keep in mind that using oil inside the vagina can increase the risk of developing a yeast infection, according to a UCLA study, so if your partner knows their vagina doesn’t respond well to oil or if they’re not sure, clean your hands after the massage and switch to lube when you’re doing hand stuff.
If you think your massage might lead to sex involving safer sex barriers, like condoms, make sure you use only water-based or silicone lube for any between-the-legs action and thoroughly wash your hands before handling barriers. Since oil degrades latex, getting massage oil on a latex condom or dental dam can prevent your barrier from doing its job.
Finally, make sure any sex toys, or sensations toys like feathers, paddles, and floggers, that you plan to use are easily accessible, too, so you don’t have to fumble around with slick hands.
Sensual massage techniques.
Take it slow.
Have your partner lie flat on a bed face-down or face-up, depending on the areas you’d like to focus on. They can be partially dressed or fully nude—whatever feels most comfortable.
Once your partner is situated, find a position for your own body that you won’t mind holding for a while. You can sit beside your partner, pull up a chair next to the bed, or—if you want to heat things up right away and this works for both of you—straddle your partner while you oil up your hands and prepare to caress their stress away.
Massage techniques can and should vary based on what your partner’s into, but here are some rules of thumb about sensual touch: If you’re planning on giving a full-body massage experience, start by gently kneading your partner’s shoulders, adding more massage oil as needed, and checking in with them about the level of pressure you’re using. “Erotic massage creates lots of space for communication, so there’s always room for your partner to ask for more or less of any touch,” Carrellas explains.
Rub your partner’s back and limbs (or whatever part of the body they like) with circular motions, or with long, smooth strokes along each muscle using your palms and the whole lengths of your fingers and tips of your forefingers. “Touching with your whole hand feels like an embrace,” Carrellas says. “You can use this technique to glide anywhere on your partner’s body without lifting your palm.” Another one of the best sensual massage techniques: Use your thumbs in areas where your partner wants more pinpointed pressure, like on the arches of their feet. If your hands need a rest, throw in some kissing or licking, if that’s your partner’s thing. (If they don’t mind oil in their hair, go ahead and stroke it—just ask first if you don’t know.)
Once your partner is feeling relaxed, ramp up their arousal by stroking and rubbing erogenous zones, like their earlobes, chest, butt, and inner thighs, before venturing between their legs, if that’s something you’re both down for. A sexy massage doesn’t have to end in genital stimulation—“an erotic massage should with pleasure, which doesn’t necessarily mean an orgasm,” Pasciucco says. But if you and your partner want your massage to get a little spicier, go for it! Sensual massage can feel incredible on your partner’s whole body—not just their back.