The 10 Best Massage Oils
This wiki has been updated 36 times since it was first published in April of 2016. You can save on a costly salon visit by pampering your partner in the comfort of your own home with these relaxing massage oils. Featuring an array of fragrances to suit any preference, and coming in hypoallergenic formulations, there's something on this list for everyone. We’ve even included options appropriate for the professional masseuse or spa-based practitioner. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 12, 2020:
The oils we've picked out are aromatic, moisturizing, and facilitate the massage process. Unlike lotions and creams, they can be worked into the skin over an extended period of time rather than simply applied and allowed to set over a few minutes (though you can use these as simple moisturizers if you desire). There is a wide range of scents to choose from, so you don't have to worry if you have a sensitive (or particular) nose. You'll find favorites like lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile here, as well as less-expected fragrances like ginger and almond. There are individual bottles as well as multi-packs and even a gallon-sized option to meet the needs of everyone from amateur masseuses to spa professionals.
In terms of updates to this list, Elemis De-Stress and New York Biology Rosemary are the new additions to the list, included for their popularity among masseurs across skill levels. Unfortunately, SpaMaster Essentials Superior and Now Solutions Comforting have been removed due to quality complaints and availability concerns. If you're more interested in diffusable and/or wearable fragrances, essential oils may be more along the lines of what you're looking for.
Cocon de Sérénité Relaxing Containing a combination of lavender, sweet orange, and geranium extracts, this formula is truly a feast for the senses. It's a good choice for individuals who suffer from dry, flaky skin, and it may even help soothe sore muscles and achy joints. loccitane.com
SheaMoisture Body This option includes nourishing organic ingredients such as orchid extract and, of course, shea butter. It's never tested on animals and doesn't contain any artificial fragrances, which is more than can be said for many beauty products on the market. vitaminshoppe.com
Soap Cherie Natural This unusual oil arrives as a solid in the form of a candle. All you have to do to access its massage potential is light it, wait for five minutes, then apply the melted portion to your skin. It's crafted to reach a peak temperature that is warm and soothing — never uncomfortably hot. qvc.com
Massage, Body, Or Aromatherapy Oils
While each of these oils seems to have a lot of overlap, they are, in fact, very different.
You've probably walked into a friend's home, loved the scent, and had her tell you it's coming from aromatherapy oils. But then you've also likely had an aromatherapy massage and thought, "Are they using the same oils my friend had sitting on her kitchen counter?" And what about regular massages? They use body oils, but how do those differ from aromatherapy ones? While each of these oils seems to have a lot of overlap, they are, in fact, very different. You don't want to accidentally use scent aromatherapy oil for a massage because it will likely be far more expensive than you hoped for, or ineffective. Likewise, you don't want to use body oil to add a nice smell to a room — you'll be waiting a long time to notice anything. Let's go over the important differences in these oils.
Aromatherapy oils feature essential oils, which are extracted from parts of plants. They have myriad benefits, from relaxation and opening up the airways to loosening muscle tension. There are two ways to soak up the benefits of these oils: through the skin via a massage or bath, or through the olfactory system via a humidifier or diffusers.
As you can see, aromatherapy oils can be a form of body oil, but you don't want to grab the first aromatherapy oil you see and douse it on your body. Those made for massage are typically diluted in another type of oil called a carrier oil, like almond or grape seed. This makes the oil more affordable per ounce since you'll need a lot of it for massage purposes. Meanwhile, aromatherapy oils meant for humidifiers or diffusers are typically undiluted. They come in very small bottles, but you only need a tiny drop of the stuff to reap the benefits.
Body oils and massage oils differ mainly in how much carrier oil they feature. Both of these products are a combination of carrier oils and essential oils. Body oils will be heavier on the carrier oils because these are better absorbed by the skin. They also leave your skin feeling soft and well-moisturized. Massage oils will have a higher essential-to-carrier oil ratio because essential oils glide better across the skin, which is obviously beneficial for a masseuse. One can use body oils to perform massage, but will likely have to reapply more frequently than if they used massage oils because the skin would keep soaking it up.
The Benefits Of Massage
Keeping a quality collection of massage oils in your home could help you get into the age-old and beneficial practice of massage. Almost everyone could use more massages in their life. Those receiving acute care after an injury, surgery, or episodic illness could greatly benefit from regular massages. One study found that patients in the acute care unit of a hospital reported their average pain level had dropped by nearly 50 percent after just a 30-minute massage.
The same research found that blood pressure levels and heart rate were lowered in elderly individuals after a massage.
If you live with an elderly individual who needs regular care, incorporating massage into this person's daily routine could make typically trying tasks, like administering medication or performing various treatments, easier. Extensive research has found that giving elderly individuals a massage can decrease agitation and make them less likely to resist help from their caretakers. The same research found that blood pressure levels and heart rate were lowered in elderly individuals after a massage.
Massage can also reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Massage releases serotonin in the body, which can alleviate headaches. Giving a person a foot and hand massage during a migraine can also relieve some pain, because it draws blood away from the head and to the extremities, taking away some of the pressure that comes with a migraine. Receiving deep tissue massage around the base of the head, the neck, the upper back, and the shoulders between migraines can also decrease the frequency of these debilitating headaches.
How To Choose A Massage Oil
There are many massage oils to choose from, so just consider when and how you'll be using yours before making your choice. If you're a professional masseuse with clients who will need to wash off immediately after a massage, or if you're simply someone who can't stand the feeling of greasy skin, look for an oil that rinses off easily with water. There are plenty of options that don't leave your skin feeling sticky but still boast deeply hydrating properties. If you don't want to smell like a massage parlor all day, you can also choose a scent-free massage oil.
There are plenty of options that don't leave your skin feeling sticky but still boast deeply hydrating properties.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want a hypoallergenic massage oil. Those are also a smart choice if you'll be using your oils for erotic massages and applying them to more sensitive areas. If you need oil for a variety of massages, from relaxing to rejuvenating ones, you might want a variety pack that features different essential oils. Some especially helpful oils could include lavender-based options that could work wonders on your nervous system, and lemon-based varieties that can boost your energy. Regardless of the type of massage you're performing, make sure your oil glides smoothly across the skin so your palms don't get stuck on dry patches.
When you're planning the ultimate relaxing evening, complete with bath bombs and a glass of wine, there are some massage oils that perfect for use in the tub. In fact, bathtub massages can be some of the best because the steam from the water will lift the essential oils up into your nose, so you'll take them in through your skin and olfactory system for a deeply soothing experience. Some oils boast a few added benefits, like those that can relieve an itchy, dry scalp or strengthen your nails. So, you can put a few drops of those in your bath for a complete at-home spa day.