Great Massage Oils for Relieving Stress

One of the best ways to relieve stress and do away with tense muscles is getting a massage. In addition to that, massages also provide several health benefits naturally. It can be done by a professional, in a spa, or even at home. What’s best about a massage is that it can make people feel better and helps the body to function better in a non-invasive manner. 

For many years, the kneading and applying of pressure on different parts of the body have been employed in different cultures as a method of healing. Today, massage is not only used as a mode of therapy by as well as a means of relaxation. When you are thinking about how to destress yourself in an instant, you can call an affordable massage service to comfortably enjoy a massage at home. 

But when getting a massage, it is also important to learn about the ins and outs of giving a safe and effective one. When giving a massage, there are various products that can be used, and these include massage oils, which are often essential oils with their own beneficial effects on the body. If you are wondering what the best oils are for a massage that can relieve your stress, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you more information about great massage oils for relieving stress.

The Benefits of Massage

man getting a massage

In addition to providing relaxation and managing your aching muscles, there is more to a massage that you can get. According to a review published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, moderate-pressure massage was able to reduce depression, heart rate, and anxiety and has promoted a relaxation response. 

Massage is also connected to decreased cortisol activity and activity in the brain involved in stress and emotion regulation. Aside from these scientifically backed benefits, massage can also encourage people to get their much-needed and well-deserved me-time amid their busy schedules.[1]

Types of Massage

woman getting a massage

There are various types of massage that you can try. Below are some of the popular massages that are often offered by spas and other massage establishments:[1] 

Swedish Massage: This is probably the most common type of massage. It helps in releasing muscle knots through kneading, deep circular motions, and long strokes.

Shiatsu Massage: This type of massage originated in Japan. It involves the use of palms and thumbs pressing against specific points of the body rhythmically, especially those areas of tension.

Reflexology: This type of massage is best for those who are iffy about letting someone rub all over their bodies. It’s because it focuses on the pressure points of the feet and hands. It also does not use any oil.

Hot Stone Massage: This type of massage uses heated stones that are strategically placed on various parts of the body. 

Deep Tissue Massage: This type of massage uses more pressure and deeper strokes. It is best for those who have sore and tight muscles.

Sports Massage: This is a great type of massage for people who play sports regularly. It focuses on muscles that are often used by athletes. Aside from providing relief, it may help prevent injuries and increase flexibility.

Aromatherapy: This type of massage is similar to Swedish massage, but it is combined with the use of essential oils. The oils help improve psychological well-being, which we will discuss further in this post.

The Role of Oils in Massages

different essential oils in bottles

While using oils is not absolutely essential in massages, it’s a highly recommended practice. The oils provide a lubricating effect between the hands and the rest of the body, without which you could risk skin tears and pain.

What’s more, the right kind of oils will give several benefits to the skin and body, soothing inflammation and reducing pain as well as stress. The usual practice is to add a few drops of essential oil into a base oil such as coconut, sweet almond, or jojoba oil.

If we want to give or receive massages that truly help in reducing stress, we need to read up on the kinds of essential oils to be used. We’ll discuss the role and background of essential oils first and then move on to the most effective options.

We get essential oils from a variety of flowers, leaves, roots, and even the bark of trees. These could provide a natural means of relieving stress and tension, which may otherwise have an adverse effect on our health. If someone feels stressed out all the time and doesn’t want to take medication for it (or if the medication doesn’t seem to work), they might want to consider a massage with essential oils. This will help them gain short-term or even long-term relief if they stick with the massaging practice.

Best Massage Oils for Stress Relief

If you are planning to get a massage, you can increase its benefits by making use of massage oil for stress relief. Did you know that scents can have a powerful effect on the part of the brain that regulates our stress response by immediately triggering physical reactions?[1] There are several essential oils that are believed to be most effective at relieving stress. But they target stress in different ways. Therefore, we should know what we are aiming for. Below are some of the best massage oils that you can use for stress relief:

Lavender Oil

lavender oil in a bottle

In aromatherapy, lavender oil is one of the most popular. It is prized for its calming effects on the body and mind, as well as its ability to lessen anxiety. Therefore, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a base oil for your massage is one of the ways to achieve calmness, relaxation, and a good sleep afterward. 

Based on a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the participants who inhaled a lavender aroma before being stressed performed better compared to those who only inhaled a placebo aroma. According to another study, using a 3% lavender oil spray on clothes was found to be effective when it comes to reducing work-related stress for three to four days.[2]  

Lavender oil can be bought in various aromatherapy products, which include massage oil. You can also enjoy the soothing scent of lavender in various ways, such as by sipping lavender-infused herbal tea, which you can buy in a lot of natural-food stores.[2]

Rose Oil

a bottle of rose essential oil

After lavender essential oil, rose essential oil is the most common choice for stress relief. Many believe that it can relieve depressive feelings, panic attacks, anxiety, feelings of grief, etc. It might even help to soothe those who are suffering from a shock of some kind. What’s more, rose essential oil also has the additional role of uplifting our mood. When used as part of massage oil, it can help in boosting mental strength, making the person feel confident, happy, and at peace.

According to a 2009 study, when rose oil was applied topically, it significantly reduced blood oxygen saturation, systolic blood pressure, and breathing rate. The participants of the study also reported feeling more relaxed after the oil treatment. There was also a study in 2014 that involved 100 pregnant women who found that rose oil lowered their anxiety levels during delivery.[3]

Vanilla Oil

a bottle of vanilla essential oil

There’s a reason why vanilla is a popular scent in many body washes and shower gels. The vanilla essential oil will help to soothe the mind, regain clarity in thinking, and even act as a natural antidepressant during a massage.

The scent of vanilla is also a natural sedative, which will help you relax and get your mind off every day worries. If nothing else, the smell is a comforting one and might even remind you of ice cream and other treats that you’ve enjoyed since childhood.

Frankincense Oil

a bottle of frankincense essential oil

Frankincense brings an exotic kind of scent with it, especially if you’re used to Western culture. It promotes a sense of inner peace, calmness, and relaxation. If you’ve been experiencing headaches or labored breathing due to stress, this is the kind of massage oil that would likely help you the most. Frankincense essential oil is derived from the Boswellia tree resin and is also known for alleviating anxiety. 

This aromatherapy oil has a sweet, woody scent. There is very little information available about how frankincense essential oil can reduce stress. While there is currently a lack of scientific support for the claim that it can fight stress, adding some drops of other stress-relieving essential oils, like lavender, rose, and orange can help enhance the scent and contribute to the relaxing experience.[2]

Chamomile Oil

a bottle of chamomile oil

We’ve heard of drinking chamomile tea in order to relax after a long day, but we may also use chamomile essential oil as a massage oil for the same benefit.  The scent is flowery, as the oil is derived from chamomile flowers. Its effect is calming and helps to create a peaceful atmosphere. If you’re a victim of overthinking, chronic anxiety, and constant worrying, a massage with chamomile essential oil might be just what you need. It will relieve that stress and tension from all over your body. Afterward, you’ll probably find it easier to drift off into a healing, worry-free sleep. 

There is some solid research behind chamomile essential oil. For many years, it has been used for different ailments and conditions, including anxiety, sleep problems, wounds, pain, and upset stomach. Based on a 2017 study, after 8 weeks, about 58.1% of participants experienced reduced symptoms of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder after using chamomile extract. A different 2018 study discovered that chamomile therapy improved morning cortisol levels and decreased sensations of anxiety.[3] These prove that chamomile oil is indeed great for stress relief.

Bergamot Oil

a bottle of bergamot oil

Bergamot essential oil is the oil that provides Earl Grey tea its signature fragrance. It is also widely used in aromatherapy. The oil is sourced from the peel of a citrus fruit called Citrus bergamia. Bergamot oil may also help to lessen your stress, and it is also great to be used as a massage oil. While research on the effects of this essential oil is fairly limited, there are a few studies showing that the oil may help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Based on a 2015 study, bergamot essential oil may improve negative emotions and fatigue and lower saliva cortisol levels. However, if you wish to use it as a massage oil for stress relief, make sure that that is combined with a carrier oil, such as avocado, jojoba, or sweet almond, before applying it to your skin. It’s because it can be irritating to the skin and make cause dermatitis in some people.[2]

Ylang-Ylang Oil

a bottle of ylang-ylang essential oil

Ylang-ylang is a yellow, star-shaped flower that grows on the Cananga tree. The tree can be found in countries like Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and some parts of Australia. The essential oil is derived from the ylang-ylang flower. Its sweet floral aroma is great, especially when you need to rest and relax but are not looking for a sedative effect.[3] This makes it great to be used as a massage oil.

Ylang-ylang essential oil may have some benefits for patients with high blood pressure, according to a preliminary study. A 2012 study demonstrated that inhaling the aroma of an aromatherapy blend, including ylang-ylang essential oil, decreased blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.[2]

Clary Sage Oil

Clary Sage Oil

Clary sage is a flowering herb native to the Mediterranean basin. Its essential oil is best suited to address stress as it can have an effect on cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This makes it a good massage oil due to its stress-relieving properties. 

Based on a 2014 study, clary sage oil was effective at decreasing cortisol levels. It also produced an antidepressant-like effect for menopausal women when inhaled. Before applying clary sage oil, make sure that you dilute it first to avoid skin irritation.[3] 

Lemon Oil

a bottle of lemon essential oil

The lemon essential oil comes from the leaves of the lemon plant. According to preliminary studies, it has sedative and anxiety-reducing properties, making it a great massage oil for stress relief.[2] Lemon essential oil is also a natural mood lifter and stress-reducing oil. It has a bright aroma and a lot of properties that can contribute to a positive mood.[3] 

A 2018 study found that mice’s dopamine levels were affected by the lemon essential oil. A study conducted in 2005 also found that lemon oil significantly enhanced the attention level, cognitive performance, concentration, and mood of students during the learning process.[3]  

Lemongrass Oil

bottles of lemongrass oil

If you are searching for natural relief from anxiety and stress, the use of lemongrass essential oil as a massage oil may help. It is an oil sourced from the lemongrass herb. When its scent is inhaled or when it is applied to the skin after combining it with a carrier oil, it is believed to promote relaxation and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. 

While there is limited research on how effective lemongrass oil is, a 2015 study found that participants exposed to lemongrass essential oil had a fast reduction of anxiety and tension. They also recovered fast from an anxiety-inducing situation, in contrast to the participants who inhaled a control aroma or a placebo.[2] 

Orange Oil

a bottle of orange oil with fresh orange

Based on research, inhaling the sweet aroma of orange essential oil may help alleviate anxiety and help people relax. According to a different study, people who inhaled sweet orange essential oil did not experience a rise in anxiety or tension when confronted with an anxious situation.[2] These make orange oil a great massage oil for stress relief. The bright scent of orange oil can also heighten the senses and increase alertness. When it is combined with the calming effect of other essential oils, you will be able to create a balanced mood that is perfect for meditating.[3] 

Yuzu Oil

fresh Yuzu fruit

Yuzu essential oil has a scent that is long used in aromatherapy. It is also sometimes used as a natural solution for stress relief, making it a great massage oil for relieving stress. Based on studies, inhaling the yuzu oil scent for ten minutes can decrease salivary chromogranin A, which is an indicator of stress and sympathetic nervous system activity, and negative emotional stress. 

There was another study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine which found that inhalation of yuzu essential oil decreased anxiety levels in mothers who were caring for their sick children at a pediatric clinic.[2] 

Neroli Oil

a bottle of clary sage oil with fresh leaves

This essential oil has a sweet and spicy aroma, and it is sometimes used to ease anxiety. There are also claims that breathing in the scent of neroli oil can help promote calm and stop excessive worrying, which makes it a great massage oil for relieving stress. 

However, research on the effects of neroli essential oil is fairly limited. But some health centers outside the United States use this essential oil as a sedative. Also, in a 2014 study, improvement in menopausal symptoms in menopausal women was shown, and a decrease in PMS symptoms in university subjects after inhaling neroli.[2] 


There are several ways in which we might get a massage, and not all of them include oils. For instance, you might be interested in a massage chair for your daily or weekly massage. Still, for many people, the whole experience of scented essential oils, a soothing carrier or base oil, and a professional massage can work wonders.

The scent of massage oils can definitely provide a calming experience. They also enhance the state of our emotional brain, which can further balance our breathing, heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, and even hormone levels. Hence, there’s a lot to be said for indulging in a massage that involves essential oil every now and then. The scientific evidence might be shaky, but there’s no harm in experiencing these massage oils for yourself.


[1] Healthy Options, E. (2019, June 1). Best massage oils to destress – healthy options, Philippines: Blog. Healthy Options. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from

[2] Wong, C. (2022, July 22). How to use aromatherapy oils for stress relief. Verywell Mind. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from

[3] Lauron, S. (2022, January 14). Stressed? these 10 essential oils can help. Healthline. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from