The 12 Best Massage Oils of 2021

Wind down with our top picks for this self-care must

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Healing for the body and soul, massage therapy can help reduce inflammation, muscle tension, and pain. It can also improve blood circulation, posture, mobility, sleep, and overall mood. While a regular spa visit might not be in your budget, a quality massage oil can help you reap the benefits of massage therapy at home.

Massage oil is designed to make a massage session relaxing and restorative. It's also hydrating—protecting the skin's barrier and retaining moisture, in addition to reducing friction between your skin and the hands of the masseuse. Some oils, like essential oils, can even calm the senses and melt away muscle tension and pain.

“Choosing the ideal massage oil is individualized to both the masseuse and the person being treated,” says Annie Chiu, MD, board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist in Manhattan Beach, CA. She recommends looking for a nut-free oil or an oil blend without scent that can be customized to fit a person's needs.

Whether you're new to massages or you're more of a massage junkie, finding the oil that suits your skin type and needs is key to experiencing all of the benefits of massage. Here are the best massage oils on the market.

Our Top Picks
This ultra gentle, non-greasy oil is safe for sensitive skin, delivering antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The budget-friendly pick is ideal for those with sensitive skin and is appreciated for its smooth glide and slow absorption.
The warmup and recovery tool every athlete needs in their bag, this oil gradually heats up and has anti-inflammatory properties.
This odorless, one-ingredient massage oil serves multiple purposes and is ideal for those with sensitive skin.
Apricot kernel oil is a nut-free alternative that’s gentle enough for those with easily irritated skin.
For anyone struggling with chronic dryness, this pick is packed with fatty acids to help rejuvenate and hydrate skin.
The luxurious scents of chamomile, vetiver, and ylang ylang calm the mind and body for a restful night’s sleep.
Its vegan formula is ideal for people of all ages, including those with eczema and allergy-prone skin.
Relax your mind and brighten your mood with this refreshing blend of citrus and mint that provides the ideal glide.
This hypoallergenic, three-ingredient formula features a lush lavender scent and hydrates skin without leaving it sticky or greasy.

Best Overall: Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil

Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is a gentle, non-greasy option with a long shelf life. Free of additives, fragrance, and alcohol, this 16-ounce cold-pressed version comes with a pump for easy application.

The lightweight oil easily absorbs into the skin without leaving you feeling greasy. Yielding antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it's ideal for those with sensitive skin—including those with acne or eczema. Featuring a nutty scent, jojoba oil can be used as a makeup remover, hair and scalp conditioner, moisturizer, and as a carrier oil for essential oils.

Best Budget: NOW Solutions Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is a popular choice among massage therapists for its semi-oily texture. Unlike highly absorbent oils which need to be reapplied often, sweet almond oil is slower to dissolve—allowing for long, fluid, tension-releasing strokes. 

Promoting a healthy glow, this 16-ounce bottle of fragrance-free almond oil is great for those with sensitive skin. Plus, it's made with expeller-pressed almonds, meaning it won't clog pores and it's safe to use on the entire body. While safe for most, it should be avoided by those with nut allergies.

Best Warming: Weleda Arnica Massage Oil

Popular among athletes and physical therapists, the Weleda Muscle Massage Oil helps muscles warm up and relax after strenuous workouts. It's made with sunflower seed oil, olive oil, and arnica extract, and gradually heats up to deliver a warm sensation when rubbed into the skin.

Arnica has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for anyone battling an injury. Additionally, this dermatologist-tested oil blends arnica flowers and birch to relax muscles while promoting skin elasticity and firmness. Unlike some massage oils, it's lightweight, non-greasy, and it smells like lavender and rosemary.

Best Natural: MAJESTIC PURE Fractionated Coconut Oil

Majestic Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil is made with 100-percent coconut oil—staying in liquid form to easily absorb into the skin and hair. Rich in antioxidants, it's gentle enough to soothe sensitive skin without clogging pores or causing irritation.

The oil can also be combined with essential oils for the ultimate aromatherapy experience. Odorless and non-greasy, it's handy for other cosmetic and household purposes as well.

Best Nut-Free: Sky Organics Pure Natural Apricot Oil

For anyone with a nut allergy, apricot kernel oil is a stellar choice due to its rich source of vitamins E, A, and essential fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acids. Cold-pressed from the fruit's kernel, apricot oil helps retain the skin's elasticity while promoting moisture and softness.

This lightweight, fragrance-free oil is gentle enough for sensitive skin while absorbing quickly for a mess-free massage. Available in an 8-ounce bottle, the Sky Organics Apricot Oil is free of parabens, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, mineral oil, petrolatum, and dyes.

Best for Dry Skin: Kneipp Safflower and Olive Body Oil

Supercharged with hydrating fatty acids, Kneipp Safflower and Olive Body Oil deliver moisture to dry, chapped skin. Safflower oil includes linoleum acid, which rejuvenates damaged skin, and olive oil is rich in antioxidants that help defend against environmental elements and inflammation.

The Kneipp oil also contains grapefruit peel and sunflower seed oil that absorbs into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. Vegan and free of toxins, parabens, phthalates, silicones, mineral oils, artificial colors, and fragrances, the oil can be used to diminish the appearance of stretch marks and scars.

Best Relaxing: Aromatherapy Associates Relax Body Oil

Designed to aid in the creator’s struggle with insomnia, Aromatherapy Associates Relax Body Oil delivers a delicate blend of highly concentrated chamomile, vetiver, and ylang-ylang that helps quiet the mind and prepare the body for a restful night's sleep. 

Highly absorbent and lightweight, this oil infuses skin with hydration, and when dispersed throughout the night, it releases a tranquilizing aroma. Aromatherapy Associates Relax Body Oil is vegan and free of synthetic fragrances, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), and petrochemicals.

Best for Sensitive Skin: California Baby Calming Massage Oil

The California Baby Calming Massage Oil is an ultra-gentle massage oil—ideal for those suffering from eczema, allergies, or sensitive skin. It's made with a vegan blend of certified-organic canola oil, safflower oil, and evening primrose—and despite the brand name, it's recommended for both babies and adults. 

Featuring a French lavender and clary sage aroma, the non-greasy oil quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving you feeling moisturized. It's gluten-, soy-, oat-, dairy-, and nut-free, and it's crafted with natural, calming ingredients. It's also free of mineral oils, petroleum-based ingredients, and synthetic fragrances.

Best Citrus: Brookethorne Naturals Renew Massage Oil with Essential Oils

Spice up your routine with an invigorating blend of citrus essential oils. Crafted with sweet almond, grapeseed, and jojoba oils, this moisture-rich formula provides the ideal glide for all types of massage therapy. 

Brookethorne Naturals Renew Massage Oil is infused with a stimulating burst of citrus and mint that relaxes the mind and body. Formulated with a blend of tangerine, sweet orange, pink grapefruit, key lime, lemon, and mint, the oil is designed to leave you feeling revitalized and pampered. It's also made in the U.S.A. and is free of parabens and preservatives. 

Best Lavender: Maple Holistics Sensual Massage Oil with Lavender

This blend of almond, jojoba, and lavender oils nourishes and softens skin for a luminous glow. It's enriched with fatty acids and vitamin E, which provide the body with non-greasy hydration. The Maple Holistics Sensual Massage Oil comes in a 16-ounce bottle and it delivers a floral scent made from pure lavender essential oil.

In addition to its antibacterial properties, jojoba oil is a smart choice for those with acne-prone skin. The oil is crafted without silicones, sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, additives, or harsh chemicals, and it can actually help reduce the skin's natural oil production.

Best Splurge: ELEMIS De-Stress Massage Oil

Harnessing the power of touch and aromatherapy, ELEMIS De-Stress Massage Oil provides both physical and mental relaxation through its blend of hand-picked essential oils and a nourishing, sweet almond oil base.

It delivers a unique host of benefits, thanks to scents of rosewood, melissa, marjoram, geranium, rosemary, lavender, and chamomile essential oils—calming your mind, body, and senses. The fragrance of the oil lasts for hours after application and the lightweight texture leaves you with a silky smooth feel.

While free of artificial colors, parabens, SLS, SLES, DEA, and mineral oils, ELEMIS does not recommend this oil for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Best for Aromatherapy: Badger Aromatherapy Oil, Lavender with Bergamot & Balsam Fir

Aromatherapy can add a new dimension to your at-home massage. By incorporating a few drops of essential oils to a carrier oil, an aromatherapy massage can promote relaxation, enhance one’s mood, and even support pain management. 

This oil delivers a blend of lavender oil, rosehip extract, sea buckthorn extract, bergamot oil, ginger oil, ginger extract, rosemary verbenone oil, balsam oil, and calendula extract.

Plus, it's packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, and jojoba oils. The lightweight oil blend is USDA Certified Organic and petrolatum-free and is free of artificial ingredients, fragrances, dyes, parabens, GMOs, and synthetic materials.

Final Verdict

Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil (find on Amazon) is a high-quality massage oil that won’t leave you feeling slimy, greasy, or smelly. It’s non-comedogenic, won't stain clothing, and it's beneficial for all skin types.

For active individuals, the warming properties of Welda Arnica Massage Oil (find on Amazon) could be a good choice. It helps ease soreness from an injury or a tough workout, and it's infused with arnica and birch—an anti-inflammatory blend that helps relax tense muscles while promoting healthy, firm skin.

What to Look for in a Massage Oil

Type of Massage

When considering a carrier oil, it's important to choose one that's best suited for the given massage technique. Low-friction techniques—like Swedish massage—call for heavier oils like olive oil, which is denser and slower to absorb into the skin. High-friction techniques, such as deep tissue massage and sports massage, are best suited with lighter oils like grapeseed oil, which absorb into the skin faster, providing more control over one’s speed and pressure.

Timing

The time and place of a massage matters when it comes to choosing the proper oil. If you’re squeezing in a 30-minute massage, ask for a lighter oil as it tends not to stain clothing nor leave skin feeling greasy. If you're having a leisurely spa day, a heavier, ultra-moisturizing oil may be better—knowing you can take a shower after.

Fragrance

Many massage oils produce a scent from either the oil itself or from added essential oils. For some, essential oils can provide additional benefits like relaxation, reduced anxiety, pain relief, and improved mood. For those with sensitive skin, Dr. Chiu suggests finding a fragrance-free carrier oil and adding essential oils for supplemental benefits.

Allergies and Skin Sensitivities

If the person receiving the massage has any allergies, sensitivities, or skin conditions, some oils should be avoided. In general, Dr. Chiu urges patients to avoid massage oils containing parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), as these ingredients can dehydrate and irritate the skin.

Additionally, she notes that those allergic to latex might be sensitive to avocado oil or shea butter and that those with a nut allergy should opt for something like apricot oil instead. When in doubt, perform a patch test a couple of days before using a new skincare product.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best massage oil for relaxation?

    Essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, bergamot, and camomile have all been touted for their calming properties. Lavender in particular has the longest track record for its relaxation-inducing benefits. One study demonstrates that participants who inhaled lavender oil had a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature—all indicating a decrease in autonomic arousal.

    While the benefits of essential oils are still being studied, they are not a cure for all issues and may affect each individual differently.

  • Which oil is best for a body massage in winter?

    The colder months can make skin dry, cracked, or itchy—also disrupting the skin's natural barrier. To replenish and restore your skin's moisture, you can incorporate hydrating oils that deliver vitamin E, antioxidants, and fatty acids.

    Dr. Chiu favors argan oil because it helps the skin retain water and strengthen its elasticity. She also recommends safflower oil because it's rich in linoleic acid, which plays a role in preventing dehydration and retaining moisture. These oils can also be added to other carrier oils for an extra boost of hydration.

  • What is the best massage oil for sore muscles?

    For a muscle-soothing rub, choose your favorite carrier oil and then add ingredients to achieve your desired benefits.

    Arnica—derived from a flowering plant—is commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation, and helps heal bruises and wounds. The Weleda Arnica Massage Oil (view at Amazon) is a good option (when mixed with a carrier oil or lotion).

    Birch essential oil— found in the Weleda Arnica Massage Oil—possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that stimulate circulation and help reduce joint and muscle pain. Formulated with a blend of mint and citrus, the Brookethorne Naturals Renew Massage Oil (view at Amazon) relaxes overworked muscles.  

  • Which oil is best for a foot massage?

    In addition to decreasing pain, relieving tension, and improving circulation, foot massages have proven beneficial for both mental and physical health. Several studies have indicated that subjects reported improved rates of blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rates after receiving a foot massage.

    A foot massage should be conducted with a carrier oil, along with additional ingredients to target your specific needs. Arnica, CBD, eucalyptus, and peppermint oil decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain.

    Some people enjoy a warming massage oil as it can help the oil penetrate the skin and further relax muscles and tissue. To do so, either safely heat the oil or use a natural warming formula like the Weleda Arnica Massage Oil (view at Amazon).

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Emily Stone researches and reviews products for Verywell Fit and Verywell Health. As a health and wellness writer, Emily is all about clean, green skincare products. She favors Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil (view at Amazon) as it’s super gentle and hydrating. 

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Massage therapy research reviewComplementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2016;24:19-31.

  2. Al-Obaidi, J.R., Halabi, M.F., AlKhalifah, N.S. et al. A review on plant importance, biotechnological aspects, and cultivation challenges of jojoba plantBiol Res 50, 25 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40659-017-0131-x

  3. Sayorwan W, Siripornpanich V, Piriyapunyaporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Ruangrungsi N. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activityJ Med Assoc Thai. 2012;95(4):598-606.

  4. Jirayingmongkol P, Chantein S, Phengchomjan N, Bhanggananda N. The effect of foot massage with biofeedback: a pilot study to enhance health promotionNurs Health Sci. 2002;4(3):A4-A4.