Aromatherapy massage

Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Therapy Directory Content Team

Last updated 3rd January 2023 | Next update due 2nd January 2026

Aromatherapy can be added to many massage types to enhance the experience. During an aromatherapy massage, your therapist will utilise essential oils, diffusing the scent and/or using oils on the skin itself. Here we’ll explore what aromatherapy massage involves, its benefits and what to expect in a session.

What is aromatherapy massage?

An aromatherapy massage is a massage that incorporates essential oils into the process, usually by diffusing them in the room and adding them to a carrier oil for the massage. Aromatherapy can be added to many massage types, but if you see someone simply advertising ‘aromatherapy massage’ it is likely to be Swedish massage. 

Swedish massage is also known as classic massage and it uses various techniques to relax muscles and calm the mind. Aromatherapy can therefore really enhance the work being done here. Other types of massage that can incorporate aromatherapy include deep tissue massage, hot stone massage and Indian head massage. 

The main aim of aromatherapy massage is to relax you and encourage mindfulness. Different oils can be used, depending on your preferences. For example, certain oils can be used if you want deep relaxation and others if you want to feel energised. By inhaling the scent and absorbing the oils from your skin, you’ll reap the benefits. 

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy that uses essential oils (made up of plant extracts) which are thought to have certain properties and benefits. The aroma from the essential oils can be inhaled, or the oils themselves can be applied to the skin (after being added to a carrier oil) to enjoy these properties. 

Here are some examples of different scents and effects.

  • Lavender, chamomile, geranium and sandalwood can encourage relaxation.
  • Tea tree oil, eucalyptus and peppermint can clear the mind and aid decongestion.
  • Lemon, jasmine, ylang ylang and neroli can help to lift mood and energise. 

Your massage therapist will have a range of oils and will be able to make a blend, depending on what you’re looking for. 

Benefits of aromatherapy massage

Like other types of massages, there are many benefits of aromatherapy massage, including the following. 

Reduces stress and anxiety

The aim of aromatherapy massage is to relieve stress and tension, both physically and mentally. This is done through the combination of massage and essential oils. While the massage works to ease physical stress, the aromatherapy element can help you mentally wind down. Studies have also found that aromatherapy massage can be beneficial to those being treated for cancer, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Relieves pain

If stress and tension cause pain or if you live with a chronic pain condition, regular massage can help. The techniques used release built-up tension and encourage circulation to aid healing. If you experience menstrual cramps, a study has found massage with rose oil can help. 

Improves sleep

Thanks to its ability to reduce tension, ease stress and relieve pain, it’s no surprise that massage also aids deep sleep. Certain aromatherapy oils can be used to enhance this experience, supporting sleep and helping you drift off more easily. 

Is aromatherapy massage safe?

For most people, aromatherapy massage will be safe, but some may experience an allergic reaction to the oils. If you’re worried, be sure to speak to your massage therapist. If you’re pregnant, there are certain essential oils that should be avoided, so be sure to mention this to your therapist. If you’re in any doubt about whether or not an aromatherapy massage is safe, consult your doctor. 

What happens during an aromatherapy massage session?

As with other massages, to start with you’ll have a consultation to discuss your medical history and what you hope to gain from your session. Here you can discuss any allergies or conditions you have, as well as talk through any scent preferences. 

Your massage therapist will use a blend of essential oils that’s right for you. The massage itself will depend on the type of massage you’re having, but if it’s a Swedish massage, it will be light to medium pressure, focusing on any areas of tension. 

During the massage, you should feel relaxed and at peace. If you experience any discomfort, be sure to let your massage therapist know so they can adjust their pressure. 

Once the massage is done you can get dressed - you may notice residual oil so it may be best to wear clothes that can be easily washed. You may want to enjoy a warm shower after, to remove any residual oil. Try to avoid any strenuous activity after your massage. If you can, enjoy a relaxing evening in, drinking plenty of water and getting an early night to make the most of the effects of your massage. 

If you’re ready to book an aromatherapy massage, you can use our search tool to find a massage therapist

Disclaimer: At Therapy Directory we verify that massage practitioners have qualifications and insurance, or membership of a professional body, associated with massage only. We encourage you to check they have the specialised skills required to offer aromatherapy massage specifically.

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