7 Therapeutic Oils for Massage Therapy

Apr 12, 2016

The therapeutic benefits of massage can be emphasised even more when using the right oils. Massage oil reduces the friction between the hands and skin, for that delicious sensation of sliding and gliding. It also moisturises the skin and, depending on the oil used and desired effect of the massage, can also give therapeutic benefits. Choosing the right oil can be the difference between an average and excellent massage.

At Discover Massage Australia, we recommend using MYO5 Natural Massage Oil, which is a natural pharmaceutical grade white oil that can offer the skin moisturising and soothing benefits. The oil doesn’t stain, is light and easily absorbed, and non-allergenic.

If you’re interested to learn what other oils are available, however, read on for a guide on some of the most common oils used in massage.


Sweet almond is one of the most popular massage oils, and most masseuses will carry a bottle or two of this pale yellow oil with them. It has a pleasantly mild scent, and a nice texture for smooth gliding massage motions. It’s also a light oil that won’t require frequent application.

Also non-allergenic, sweet almond oil is a great all purpose choice of massage oil, in terms of both benefits and price. It’s rich in minerals and vitamins like vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium, and zinc. Skin loves this nutritiously beneficial hypoallergenic oil! It’s also a great base ingredient if you’re looking to add a few drops of essential oils.


You can choose to buy coconut oil in its pure or fractionated forms. The latter is a lighter, less greasy version of the thick white paste you may see for sale in jars in your supermarket. It’s made this way by removing the long-chain triglycerides. Regular coconut oil also works, you just need to warm it up in your hands a little bit first.

Many masseuses love coconut oil as it doesn’t stain sheets or towels like some other oils. It has a delicious fragrance and is also easily absorbed on the skin for a supple, freshly moisturised feeling. It’s a great choice for people with skin conditions like acne or sunburn as it won’t clog pores.


Grapeseed oil leaves the skin feeling glossy and soft. It has many nutritional benefits for the skin thanks to its high content of linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids. Grapeseed is the carrier oil of choice for many people who prepare their own oil fusions. Not only is it basically fragrance-free, but it also absorbs very well and can help to transfer the benefits of essential oils through the skin with ease.

While a little pricier than many other oils, there is a distinct silky feeling after a grapeseed oil massage. It’s excellent for undiluted use or for creating a variety of therapeutic oils.


This is another great massage oil for people with sensitive skin. Jojoba oil is close in makeup to the body’s own natural sebum, and so it doesn’t exacerbate acne and other skin conditions. Jojoba oil also has antibacterial properties that can help reduce redness and rashes.

The oil is so light and silky that it is quickly absorbed into the skin. This is beneficial if you’re looking to add essential oils or herbs to your oil, but it does also mean that you’ll have to reapply this slightly pricier option a little more often than others.


This natural oil has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Thought to strengthen the body’s structure, the oil traditionally is massaged into the skin after being warmed. According to Ayurveda, sesame oil is used for nourishing and detoxifying the body through the skin. You can also prepare a mix of grated ginger infused gently into warmed sesame oil as a natural remedy for rashes and bug bites.

While the medicinal benefits of sesame oil massage are strong, it does have quite a heavy scent that may not appeal to all people. Most people tend to prefer more subtle or flowery scents in their massage oil over the nutty fragrance of sesame oil.


Also occasionally sold as prunis armeniaca seed fixed oil, this is another popular option amongst masseurs. Like sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil has a pale yellow colour, light texture, and sweet fragrance.

What sets apricot oil apart is its high list of benefits for the skin. It is extremely rich in vitamin E, A, and essential fatty acids. It may be a little more expensive than popular oils such as sweet almond, but the high content of vitamins will also give it a long shelf life. Apricot kernel oil is also a great alternative to almond oil for those with nut allergies.


This rich oil has a host of benefits for the skin but can be quite intense in texture. Made from pressed avocados and deep green in colour, this heavy oil is packed full of vitamins A and D, as well as lecithin, potassium, and chlorophyll. It can offer healing benefits that combat both bacteria and signs of ageing.

It’s about double the price of your standard sweet almond oil, which is why you often see it used mixed with a lighter base oil. This also combats the greasiness of avocado oil and makes it more suitable for people who are prone to breakouts.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.