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16 Of The Best Essential Oils for Massage | Soothing Scents

lavender rosemary and thyme in bowl - best essential oils for massage

Aromatherapy is a wellness practice where you breathe in or apply essential oils to the skin to get their many beneficial properties. Essential oils are made up of concentrated extracts from herbs, flowers, and trees and have proven health benefits. In fact, studies have shown that aromatherapy is effective for reducing anxiety and improving sleep to name a few benefits. 

Needless to say, massages done with essential oils are more effective. But with all of the essential oils to choose from, how do you know which to use for your next massage? Below we cover the best essential oils for massage and tips on how to use them more effectively. 

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massages utilize a mix of essential oils and a carrier oil because a small amount of essential oil goes a long way. The patient inhales the scents while absorbing the beneficial properties through their skin for a doubly calming effect. If you’ve gotten a massage anytime in the last few years, chances are you’ve experienced this for yourself because aromatherapy massage is almost standard practice these days.  

Beyond being relaxing though, here are a few of the most prominent perks of aromatherapy massages: 

Stress Relief 

Essential oils can reduce stress with a domino effect of improved sleep. Inhaling the soothing properties of certain essential oils can help your body relax deeper which also helps the massage therapist loosen those tight knots. 

Improved Blood Circulation 

Massages on their own are great for improving blood circulation. Adding essential oils assists with improving circulation and stimulating nervous system functions. 


Aromatherapy massages don’t just provide physical benefits.  Essential oils, like the ones from the citrus family, can add mood-boosting qualities to your treatment. 

Soothing Tired and Stiff Muscles

All massages are beneficial for sore and tired muscles. But you can kick it up a notch by adding aromatherapy which has been shown to aid in the treatment of pain

Best Essential Oils for Massage

lavender with stones and lavender oil

There are various options to choose from for aromatherapy massage. Different scents provide calming, decongesting, energizing, and uplifting effects. Below are our top choices for massage therapy: 

Top 16 Best Essential Oils for Massage

The oils listed below are all excellent options for aromatherapy massage.


Basil is an essential oil used for massages because it has antibacterial, antioxidant, and antifungal properties. Partnered with its sweet smell, basil is an excellent choice for your next massage. 


Bergamot is one of the best essential oils to use for massages. It soothes the skin and reduces stress. It can also help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

A study using bergamot and lavender oil had patients reporting they felt calmer and more relaxed. 


Opt for the calming properties of cedarwood oil in your next aromatherapy massage, especially if you struggle to sleep. 

Cinnamon Bark

Cinnamon bark essential oil is linked with anti-inflammatory properties. A warm spicy scent puts you at ease and allows you to enjoy your massage. 


Coriander essential oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-oxidative activities that make it great for use in aromatherapy massages. 


Eucalyptus is known as a purifying and cleansing essential oil. Its strong scent makes it one of the best essential oils to use for massages because it clears the sinuses and allows for deep breaths. 


Inhaling frankincense helps to soothe coughs and deepen breathing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that make it one of the best essential oils for massages. 


The smell of geranium oil is rejuvenating. The topical application improves circulation and acts as an astringent. It is also known to reduce the negative symptoms of PMS


Chamomile is known for its soothing properties. You can also use chamomile essential oil topically to help treat eczema


The spicy scent of ginger makes this an invigorating essential oil to use in massages. It has anti-inflammatory properties that boost the benefits of massage treatments. 


Lavender is a popular scent used in massage therapy for its soothing properties. It’s a useful oil to incorporate into your wellness practice if you have trouble sleeping. It also serves to provide pain relief. 


Add lemon essential oil for an invigorating massage that will leave you feeling rejuvenated. The citrus scent stimulates nerves in the brain that wake you up. 


Similar to lemon oil, orange essential oil is an invigorating scent to add to massages. 


Peppermint essential oil helps to relieve pain spasms and arthritic problems. It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, making it ideal for use in massages. 


Rosemary essential oil has more benefits than just improving memory. It is also known to help alleviate depression and anxiety. Rosemary also has anti-spasm properties, making it perfect for massage therapy. 


The smell of thyme essential oil has calming properties. Studies have shown that thyme essential oil extracts show diverse antiviral activity against such viruses. It’s a popular choice during flu season. 

How to Use Essential Oils for Massage

Follow these steps for a great massage session:

  1. Pick your partner 
  2. Establish a relaxing atmosphere
  3. Choose your desired essential oils
  4. Combine with a carrier oil 
  5. Warm the oils up in your hands
  6. Enjoy!

Essential Oil Massage Guide

essential oils and leaves on wooden table

For a massage session that targets specific body parts and their associated aches, follow the tips below.

Back Massage

Back pain affects eight out of ten people at some point in their lives. Luckily, back massages reduce pain and muscle soreness, reduce stress, and improve circulation. 

Some of the best essential oils for back massages include peppermint, ginger, chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary.

Foot Massage

A foot massage boosts your circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system, allowing your body to heal better. 

Some of the best essential oils for foot massages include eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and lemon.

Hand Massage

We store a lot of tension in many parts of the body we frequently use, including our palms. Those that suffer from arthritis in the hands should consider an aromatherapy massage to help relieve joint pain. 

Some of the best essential oils for hand massages include eucalyptus, ginger, and frankincense.

Head Tension Massage

If you suffer from migraines, headaches, or sinus tension then an aromatherapy massage could be the relief you need. By stimulating the lymphatic system, head and face massages can help you breathe clearer and relax the muscles of the face. 

Some of the best essential oils for head tension massages include peppermint, rosemary, lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus.

Neck and Shoulder Massage

Neck and shoulder tension is all too common. This is especially true now that many of us work at desks all day. Take the burden off with a relaxing massage using essential oils to further calm your senses. 

Some of the best essential oils for neck and shoulder massages include chamomile, ginger, lavender, and rosemary. 

Post-Workout Massage

Speed up your recovery time post-workout and reduce muscle tension and soreness with a therapeutic massage. 

Some of the best essential oils for a post-workout massage include lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, and peppermint.

Scalp Massage

Scalp massages can help thicken hair and reduce dandruff. Boost these beneficial properties by incorporating essential oils into your massage treatment. 

Some of the best essential oils for scalp massages include cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint, and lavender.

Aromatherapy Massage Tips

Speak with a doctor first to get a professional opinion on which options are suited for you. Be mindful if you have other health conditions, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. 

Choose which essential oils you include in your massage treatment based on your personal needs. Also, take your preferences into account. Essential oils have varying benefits, but it’s not going to be relaxing if you dislike the aroma. 

A patch test is when you apply a small amount of massage oil to a small area of the skin and give it time to see how your skin reacts. When trying out a new oil from an essential oil kit, do a patch test first. Always use a carrier oil with any essential oil you’re testing. 

After your massage, remove excess oil by taking a bath with Epsom salts. An Epsom salt bath provides further relief to those sore muscles and helps to reduce any blemishes that may appear on the skin. 

Also, eating before getting a massage can make it uncomfortable. Eat something light so that your stomach isn’t stuffed but also isn’t growling throughout the session. 

Aromatherapy Massage Risks and Considerations

Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness. Research on the benefits of essential oils in massage therapy continues to expand. However, essential oils should be used with care and caution. 

Essential oils are potent and can cause skin irritation without a carrier oil. Combine essential oils and carrier oils like jojoba or almond oil to ensure they’re properly diluted. Otherwise, an undiluted oil can leave a burning sensation or rash on the skin. 

Allergies or sensitive skin may result in allergic reaction symptoms such as: 

  • Hives 
  • Redness 
  • Itchiness
  • Rash 
  • Swelling 

The Bottom Line

With so many options, it can be overwhelming walking into a spa and get asked which scent you prefer. With this list of the best essential oils for massages, you don’t need to stress out about it — and isn’t that the whole point of a massage? 

Massages with essential oils can help to soothe stiff muscles, relieve stress, and improve overall mood and energy. If considering trying essential oils at home, check out Soothing Scents’ essential oils and explore our website for more information about aromatherapy! 

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