The Skinny on Massage Oils

Massage is one of the most relaxing gift you can give a loved one. Whether he or she is stressed, sore, or just had a long day, nothing says “I love you,” like a slow, luxurious massage. Massage oil is a great alternative to pricey lotions that can be overpowering or irritating to sensitive skin. Not only does it require less product than lotion, it is also a great option for those concerned about using organic products on the skin.

Massage oil is made of at least one of a group of light, easily absorbed oils including sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil, sunflower oil, and fractionated coconut oil. These oils can all be used on their own as massage oil, or can be blended with any number of essential oils to add an aromatherapy element to the massage.

The Carrier Oils

Sweet Almond Oil

One of the most common and readily available of all of the massage oils, sweet almond oil is a slower absorbed lubricant and almost scentless. A 4oz bottle, which should be enough for twenty massages, costs around five dollars. Sweet almond oil should not be used by those with allergies to nuts.

Jojoba Oil

A slightly more pricey option for massage oil, but jojoba oil has benefits that other oils cannot match. Jojoba’s antibacterial qualities make it a great option for those concerned about blemishes and breaking out. It is thinner than most other oils so those who are used to lotion will have an easier time transitioning to massage oil when using jojoba oil.

Grapeseed Oil

The least expensive and most common of all the massage oils, grapeseed oil is available almost anywhere and is as light as sweet almond oil. Some people have an aversion to the light smell of grapeseed oil but when blended with essential oil the smell is masked sufficiently.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Very similar to sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil is a good alternative for those who have nut allergies. Apricot kernel oil blends smoothly with essential oils without leaving any trace of a base smell and goes on skin light and greaseless.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is especially good for beautifying the skin. It is easily blendable with other oils, but has a shorter shelf life so be aware that if you do not use it often it will spoil.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

A rather expensive oil, fractionated coconut oil is as light as other oils, but does have a scent that some may find displeasing. Still, when mixed with heavy essential oils, the smell can be complimented.

The Essential Oils

Essential oils are a group of very concentrated oils made from the distilled flowers, leaves and roots of various plants. They can range in price from the cheap lavender and lemon oil to the very pricey ylang ylang and dragon’s blood essential oils. Essential oils are best bought from reputable vendors as “blends” and “fragrance oils” have popped on the market as a cheap way to trick the buyer into buying something that is not a true essential oil.

Essential oils should be further studied before use on skin. Know what oils you are sensitive to and in what potencies. Some essential oils, such as cinnamon and peppermint will burn the skin and should not be used for massage oils. Others must be heavily diluted. No essential oil should be used directly on the skin without first being mixed into a carrier oil.

Lavender Oil

One of the most common essential oils for massage therapy, lavender has long been used as a calming scent to help induce relaxation and sleep. The smell is strong and can be overpowering if used in its highly concentrated form. Try adding ten drops to eight tablespoons of your carrier oil and balancing it with a citrus or earthy scent such as lemon or patchouli oil.

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood oil is expensive, but a worthwhile investment if you plan to make your own massage oils. It is a base in many perfumes with its earthy, woodsy scent and is a good compliment to lavender as it has similar properties of calm and well-being. Due to its price and rich smell use only three or four drops per eight tablespoons of carrier oil.


A strong, musky oil, patchouli is best blended with lighter floral or spicy oils to balance it out. It is not overpriced by any means, but it should be used with caution because it can quickly overpower a blend and ruin the batch.


True jasmine oil can be hard to come by in certain areas, but “blends” are a common replacement. While it is completely safe to use “blends” be aware that you are paying for more readily available essential oils blended to smell somewhat like real jasmine oil. The price should reflect this. Jasmine has a bright floral scent that blends will with sandalwood and ylang ylang oil. Use a five or six drops as a compliment to other essential oils in eight tablespoons of a carrier oil.

Dragon’s Blood

Dragon’s blood essential oil is made from the resin of the dragon palm. It can be incredibly expensive in some areas running about ten dollars for just a few milliliters. It is characterized by its blood red color, but its punky fruit and floral smell is often reproduced in less expensive blends. It blends well with most other floral essential oils as well as earthy tones such as sandalwood and patchouli.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang essential oil, much like Dragon’s blood, is expensive, but it is a very potent smooth, floral smell. Use one or two drops as it is one of the most overpowering floral smells and not always easy to come by.