Features a nutrient-rich formula. Offers fast-acting, deep-tissue pain relief. Essential oils include almond, lemon, and lavender. Contains no artificial ingredients. Pleasant scent.
May leave skin feeling oily for a while.
Warms up in hands to provide more stimulation and comfort. Has a long shelf life when stored properly. Comes in a 16-ounce bottle, making it long-lasting. Has a pleasant and light almond and lavender scent. Absorbs well into skin.
Doesn’t come with a pump-top.
This oil is gentle enough to be used on even sensitive skin. Has a pleasant but light scent that isn’t overpowering. Oil warms up quickly in hands. Doesn’t absorb into skin too quickly. Has a thin consistency but it’s greasy.
Cap is prone to leaking.
Oil has a pleasant vanilla scent. Does not feel greasy and absorbs well into skin without being too thick in consistency. Has an easy-to-use pump top for simple dispensing. A small amount of this oil goes a long way. Makes skin soft.
Oil doesn’t warm up in hands the same way other oils do.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Massage oils are a must-have accessory for any massage. Whether you’re giving a massage to yourself or a loved one or receiving one from a professional, a good massage oil allows hands to glide over the body without friction. A scented oil can also create a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere.
Before you decide on a massage oil, there are some factors to keep in mind, like the type of massage the oil will be used for. You’ll want a different oil for a deep-tissue massage than for a Swedish massage. Also, consider skin sensitivities, fragrance, the weight of the oil, and ease of application. Ultimately, you want an oil that will enhance the massage without making skin too greasy.
Our buying guide covers everything you need to consider when shopping for massage oils, including how much you should pay. For our five favorite oils on the market, see the matrix above.
Different massage types are better suited for different massage oils. You’ll want to use heavier oils for a lighter massage. A Swedish massage, for example, is meant to relax the body with long, gliding strokes toward the heart. Avocado oil and olive oil are ideal for low-friction massages. A heavier massage oil won’t absorb as quickly into the skin, making it easier for hands to glide smoothly over the body.
A deep-tissue massage, on the other hand, is high-friction. Meant to treat chronic pain and aches, a deep-tissue massage stimulates muscles and connective tissue. Since it’s more intense than a low-friction massage, there’s often some discomfort involved. A lighter massage oil will absorb into the skin quicker, so you won’t have to worry about hands slipping off the body during deep work. Coconut oil and grapeseed oil are well-suited for high-friction massages.
Skin irritation can spoil an otherwise pleasant massage experience. Those with sensitive skin should keep an eye out for hypoallergenic massage oils with light or no scent. You may also want to avoid any nut oils. Organic and virgin oil products are purer and typically free of additives. Try a massage oil with a jojoba or grapeseed oil base to lessen skin irritation.
Allergy tests are critical, so remember to dab some oil on a patch of skin to see if there’s any reaction before committing to a more extensive massage. A patch test is a smart idea for anyone, even those without sensitive skin.
For those without sensitive skin, scented massage oils lend a nice ambience to your massage experience. Natural scents are pretty common with massage oils, such as sandalwood, lavender, chamomile, or mint. Some oils, such as coconut, already have a light scent. You can always opt for an unscented oil and add various essential oils as desired. Some essential oils will even enhance the massage oil’s properties. Peppermint oil, for example, is great for pain relief.
For body massages, a bottle with a pump is ideal. That way you won’t have to worry about bottles slipping out of oily hands or fumbling with a top in the middle of a massage. Many massage oils on the market come with a pump. Other massage oils have a flip top or screw top. If you’re set on a particular massage oil with a screw top, you can always buy a pump separately.
Massage oil heaters: Therapist’s Choice Oil/Lotion Bottle Warmer with Auto-Temperature
If you’re a professional or give massages frequently, a massage oil heater is a good investment. Some use a simple flame, while others are electric heaters, like this one from Therapist’s Choice. Its auto-temperature control heats bottles to 140°F and then automatically shuts off.
Massage oil holsters: EarthLite Massage Bottle Holster
A massage oil holster holds massage oil bottles and is worn around the waist. It’s very handy for professionals. We like this holster from EarthLite, which is adjustable and available as a single or double holster.
Essential oils: doTERRA Family Essentials Kit
You can add essential oils to any plain oil base. Just be sure the massage recipient’s skin won’t react negatively to the potent essential oils. This set from doTERRA has every essential oil you might need, from lavender to frankincense.
Massage oils vary in price depending on the purity of the product. The majority of massage oils fall between $6 and $35.
Like with essential oils, you get what you pay for. Massage oils in the $6 to $10 price range come in smaller amounts – 30 milliliters is common. While there are bargains to be found, you’re more likely to find non-virgin, non-organic oils that may or may not include fillers.
You should have no trouble finding a high-quality massage oil in the $10 to $20 range. Mid-range massage oils usually include pumps for easy use and are packaged in amber bottles for optimal storage.
Massage oils over $20 may come in large quantities, be formulated with organic ingredients, or have extra benefits, such as anti-aging or pain-relief properties.
Q. Should I use a massage oil or massage lotion?
A. Whether you use a massage oil or massage lotion all comes down to preference. Oil, of course, is slippery and can cause accidents if you’re not careful. Lotions are more likely to contain synthetic chemicals, and they take longer to warm up than oils.
Q. Does massage oil clog pores?
A. That depends on whether or not the massage oil is classified as comedogenic, which means likely to clog pores. Jojoba oil and grapeseed oil, two common massage oil bases, are low on the comedogenic scale. Avocado oil, unfortunately, can clog pores.
Q. Will massage oil stain my clothes?
A. There is a risk of massage oil staining fabrics, and every oil can leave a greasy film. If you can, take a shower to wash off the massage oil after your massage.
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