If you want to incorporate the physical and emotional benefits of aromatherapy into a massage session, you may wonder where to begin.
The top essential oils are not necessarily the best oils to have on hand in a massage practice. You may want to buy every essential oil, but a serious investment in essential oils is not cheap!
I narrowed this list to ten and changed my mind several times Here is my pick of ten of the best essential oils for massage, and just a few reasons you should consider keeping them by your massage table.
- Vanilla Absolute or CO2
- Tie: Grapefruit or Lemon
Imagine the flack I would receive if I left lavender off the list. I would be blacklisted from the aromatherapy massage community. Honestly, I almost left it off intentionally, just for fun. However, it is too valuable to even joke around about. Lavender is incredibly powerful.
Lavender is an adaptogenic/balancing oil; it does what the body needs it to do. It is very effective for pain relief, insomnia (that is how I dropped chamomile from the list), and stress.
Most clients have a “take or leave it” attitude about lavender, so it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Make sure you buy true lavender and not spike lavender, lavandin, or lavender fragrance (which is not even in the same ballpark!).
Buy Lavender Oil on Amazon – Lavender Lavandula angustifolia – 10 ml
Buy Organic Lavender Oil on Amazon – Organic Lavender -Lavandula officinalis- 10 ml
Honestly, I can say mandarin is one of my favorite essential oils. It has a subtle floral aroma for a citrus oil (less sweet than tangerine). This particular oil is extremely gentle and very reasonably priced. It is not as therapeutic as neroli or petitgrain, but a great substitute considering the price of neroli.
Mandarin may useful for scar tissue, anxiety, or insomnia. It is gentle enough to use with children, or just for adding a light, citrus aroma to a blend.
Buy Mandarin Oil on Amazon – Mandarin Oil- 10 ml
Frankincense is considered a precious essential oil for a reason. It is often used for grounding, to deepen breathing, soothe coughs, aid in meditation, and just for relaxing. It has anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties.
Frankincense makes a good base for blends and smells great on its own. For and easy blend, try it with a drop of lavender.
Buy Frankincense on Amazon – Fraernkincense (Boswellia carteri) Oil- 10 ml
Vanilla is pretty low on the therapeutic level, but it smells absolutely divine. Most people enjoy the aroma of vanilla.
It makes a lovely addition when combined with other essential oils. Just add a couple drops to lavender, mandarin, sweet orange (smells like a sherbet pop!), or jasmine for a luxurious addition to a blend. Your clients will thank you. Your pocketbook, not so much.
Vanilla is extremely hard to find. It is often added into essential oils blends for its wonderful aroma. Adding it to citrus oils is my favorite thing to do with Vanilla.
Bergamot is a versatile essential oil with a pleasant, spicy citrus aroma. It is often used to relieve feelings of depression, improve mood, or aid in fighting addictions (including food).
Bergamot is photosensitizing, meaning your clients should be instructed not to go out in the sun or tan after use. Sun-safe or BF-free bergamot is available.
Buy Bergamot Oil on Amazon – Bergamot Oil- 10 ml
Geranium makes a wonderful middle note to hide in blends. Why hide it? It is not that fantastic on it own in my opinion, but it has great therapeutic benefits.
If your massage clientele is mostly female, then geranium is an oil you should have on hand. It can be helpful with menstrual-female issues, including menopause. Like lavender, it is an adaptogenic (balancing) oil. It is frequently included in skincare products because it is a great tonic for the skin.
Buy Geranium Oil on Amazon – Geranium (Bourbon) Oil- 5 ml
You may be surprised at the number of clients that will really enjoy the warm, sweet, wood-like scent of sandalwood. It is a good base for blends, but again works well as a single note. Traditionally it is said to be helpful with coughs, anxiety, depression, or stomach/digestive complaints.
Buy Sandalwood Oil on Amazon – Sandalwood (Australian) Oil- 5 ml
During cough and cold season, it is a must to have eucalyptus on hand. Not only does it help ward off germs, it eases chest and sinus congestion.
There are many, many types of eucalyptus (E. smithii, E. globulus, E. citriodora), so investigate the type you are buying and review the benefits and contraindications.
Buy Eucalyptus Oil on Amazon – (E. globulus) Eucalyptus – 10 ml
Peppermint is a treat for tired feet, cooling for athletes or hot flashes, and stimulating for the mind. Additionally, many find it helpful for breathing and focusing.
The scent is intense; a little goes a long way.
It is not as gentle as many think it is. Use sparingly with adults and never use with children.
Buy Peppermint Oil on Amazon – Peppermint Oil- 10 ml
Sorry, I could not decide, so you can choose one. It is a matter of personal preference.
Both of these essential oils are invigorating, fun, and fresh. Additionally, both are said to boost circulation, help fight colds, banish oily skin, and combat feelings of depression or fatigue. These oils smell just like you are cutting up a grapefruit for breakfast or slicing a lemon for tea.
They are great top notes for blends and very gentle. Like most citrus oils, they are photosensitizing. Remind your clients to stay out of the sun for the day.
It is not easy choosing just ten essential oils.
Most of the above links are to Eden’s Garden essential oils on Amazon. These are wonderful essential oils without the added costs you see with MLM essential oil companies. Eden’s Garden essential oils are very affordable and have excellent reviews. You can see their full selection here: Edens Garden Essential Oils on Amazon.
Looking for the best base, fixed, or carrier oil/lotion for your essential oils? Here is one of my most popular posts on this site all about massage creams, lotions, oils, and gels.
Adding Aromatherapy to your massage practice
No matter what massage modality you practice, even medical massage, clients really appreciate pleasant aromas. Using aromatherapy and essential oils is a natural and easy way to keep your clients coming back.
If you are new to aromatherapy, you’ll want to learn in more detail about the benefits and contraindications of aromatherapy and massage.
I have put together a 6 hour continuing education course detailing the use of aromatherapy specifically for massage.
The course details 15 common essential oils, teaches proper dilution and blending techniques, and includes tips on introducing aromatherapy to clients.
You can learn more right here.
Which oils should you buy?
I do not endorse a particular essential oil brand or company. Over the years, I have bought essential oils from just about all of them. And some oils are better than others. Paying more, does not mean you are getting better oils. Unfortunately, there are essential oil companies that like to make up terms like “therapuetic, medical, heavenly grade”. These terms that really can be confusing and misleading for consumers.