Choosing Your Massage Oil

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Choosing Your Massage Oil

There are a few basic things required to give a good massage, and one of the most important is the type of oil that you use.

Many people who do not practice massage therapy professionally, give little thought to the oil that they use. You may have a favorite lotion or oil you use for your beauty routine and never consider anything else. This article will attempt to provide you with some options and things to consider.

Why Not Regular Lotion?

Typically, the lotion that you buy at the drug store is water based. The important thing to consider when giving your massage is how your hands can glide over skin. If you are using your typical lotion or cream, you will find that it quickly dries out, and will not provide the glide you need.

The second concern with regular lotion is that they usually have dyes and fragrance in them. By way of example, when I first began my massage practice, I had a very small budget. I purchased a cocoa butter lotion and mixed it with olive oil to help with the glide. It had a nice scent and worked well for my massage sessions.

One day, I was out with my friend at a club, and I was under a black light. My hands lit up with fluorescent color from the dyes in the lotion I was using. It was horrifying to me! It was the perfect illustration of the problem with your typical lotion. It may be fine for occasional use, but remember that your skin absorbs everything you place on it, so choose your lotion with care, and try to limit dyes and perfumes.

The Takeaway:

  •  Too much water for a good glide.
  • Dyes that absorb in your skin.
  • Fragrances that may cause irritation.


Jojoba is a wax that is commonly used in massage therapy. It is one of the closest lubricants to your natural skin oils that you can get. It is also fairly readily available in your drugstores, although you may find a better deal on Amazon (click here to find jojoba oil). 

Choosing your massage oilThe other nice thing about jojoba oil is that you can easily mix your favorite essential oils to help enhance the massage experience. Additionally, it does not leave your massage client (or partner/friend) with a greasy feeling, since it is a wax. 

If there is a drawback to jojoba oil, it is mainly that it is a bit more expensive than some of your other choices. You will need to decide if the benefit of this high-quality option is worth the cost.

The Takeaway:

  • Close to natural lubrication. 
  • Easy to mix with essential oils.
  • Non-greasy feeling.
  • Pricier option.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a favorite of mine for many reasons. I eat it, cook with it, and use it as a moisturizer. I love how it is completely natural and fairly easy to find. It's a great option if you need something in a pinch. 

Choosing your massage oilFirst, there are two options with coconut oil. What you ultimately settle on will have more to do with your goal. Coconut oil can be purchased as either natural or fractionated

Natural coconut oil is solid when it is cooler than about 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). What is good about natural coconut oil is that retains many of the health benefits including: 
  1. Lowers Cholesterol
  2. Weight Loss Aid
  3. Moisturizes Skin
  4. Better Brain Function
  5. Kills Bacteria, Viruses, And Fungi 
This makes it useful for many purposes, and you may have it readily available in your home already. 

Fractioned coconut oil has had the fat removed from the oil. This makes it always in liquid form, and thereby easier to massage with and mix with essential oils. It is also a less expensive alternative. The drawback is that it lacks the health benefits of natural coconut oil. 

Finally, coconut oil, while a wonderful choice of massage oil, can leave the client feeling a bit greasy. You may want to use the oil sparingly so it can be absorbed into your client's skin. If not, you may want to have a towel available for after the massage.

The Takeaway:

  • Natural Coconut Oil (click here to purchase)
    • Health Benefits
    • Readily available
    • Solid when cool, so may be more challenging to massage with.
    • Cannot mix with essential oils when solid.
    • A bit more expensive than fractionated oil.
    • Greasy feeling if too much oil is used.
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil (click here to purchase)
    • Easy to mix with essential oils.
    • Greasy feeling if too much oil is used.
    • Fewer health benefits.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been overshadowed somewhat by coconut oil, but still retains an excellent choice for massage oil. Like coconut oil, it is readily available in stores, and you usually have it already in your kitchen.
Choosing your massage oil

Additionally, like coconut oil, there are many health benefits for your skin including:
  1. Antioxidant content
  2. Vitamin content
  3. Antibacterial effects
  4. Moisturizing effects
Olive oil is available in both regular and extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil has been lightly processed and retains more of the health benefits. It also is a bit thicker than regular olive oil.

Like some of the other oil choices, olive oil is very easy to mix with your favorite essential oils. 

The drawback to olive oil is the heaviness of it, which will leave your clients and your sheets somewhat greasy. Fortunately, due to the thickness and glide of it, a little goes a very long way. 

The Takeaway:

  • Health Benefits
  • Readily available
  • Greasy feeling if too much oil is used.
  • Easy to mix with essential oils.
  • More affordable 
Massage Cream

If you want a non-greasy option, massage cream may be your way to go. This is especially useful if you are giving a therapeutic or sports type massage. 

Massage cream is very thick, so a little goes a very long way. It is an excellent choice for spot work. Due to the thickness, though, it is a bit more challenging to add essential oils.  

Massage cream is not as readily available as many natural oils, and you will need to find an online retailer of massage products or Amazon. I have placed a link here to a sample of massage cream that I have used and recommend (Bon Vital' All Purpose Massage Creme). 

The Takeaway:

  • A bit more expensive than oil.
  • Will need to order from a retailer or specialty store.
  • Excellent glide.
  • Cannot easily mix with essential oils.
  • Not greasy.

    Massage Lotion

    Massage lotion is another good choice if you will be practicing massage on a regular or professional basis. It is typically less greasy, so clients tend to like it. It is also available in bulk sizes. 

    I also like massage lotion because you can add a couple of drops of essential oils to your massage bottle to infuse it before use. It does not mix as readily as oils, but it will accept the blend.  

    As with massage cream, you will need to find a retailer that sells it. Here is a link to one that I have used in my practice and recommend: Bon Vital' Original Massage Lotion.

    The Takeaway:

    • A bit more expensive than oil.
    • Will need to order from a retailer or specialty store.
    • Excellent glide.
    • More difficult to mix with essential oils, although it can be done.
    • Not greasy.

    In Summary

    The choice of oil that you use in your massage will depend upon many factors such as availability, cost, and personal preference. There is no right or wrong. I have provided the pros and cons of the various types that I have used over the years, and I hope this has been valuable in making your decision.

    * Note: this article contains links to products that I have used in my massage practice. If you purchase through these links, I may receive compensation. 

    What massage oils have you used successfully? 
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