Which natural body oils do you find have the safest ingredients and best fragrance disclosure? This investigation is a tough look at how the conventional and natural industry deals with fragrance disclosure inside skincare products. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest green beauty makeup tested for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals,” safest shampoos & conditioners, & safest anti-aging creams, now join us for a trip down the body oil aisle where ingredient disclosure isn’t always strictly adhered to. We’ve ranked products based on the safest ingredients and fragrance disclosure.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links. Mamavation does our best to provide you with accurate information, but we do not have any control over products reformulating and changing after we have ranked them. So please make sure to do your own research as well.
Table of Contents
Basics of Body Oil
Body oil products are meant to mimic your own natural body oils to help prevent dryness and dry skin. These products are typically applied right after you shower to slightly damp skin. Body oils help lock in moisture within the skin’s barrier in order to keep your skin feeling moisturized without that greasy feeling. Body oils are also used for stretch marks, wound healing, sun damage, scars, eczema, acne, & psoriasis.
It’s important to remember to apply body oil products before your skin is dry and not after or it won’t work the same and you’ll feel greasy afterward. Lotions are a bit different because they penetrate the skin deeper, whereas body oils simply focus on the upper regions of the skin. There is no right or wrong here, it’s all personal preference.
Mamavation evaluated the ingredients of close to 150 body oil products looking for ingredients that are linked to cancers, hormone disruption, or irritated skin. We’ve gone through our process and at the end of this post we present our best selection results and recommendations.
Ingredients in Body Oil You Want to Avoid
Not all ingredients inside body oils are helpful to your hormonal health. After evaluating close to 150 body oil products, we noticed some toxic trends. Here is a list of ingredients you’ll want to avoid when purchasing products.
- Undisclosed Fragrance — “Fragrance” is either made from petroleum (synthetic fragrances) or botanical raw materials (natural fragrance) or both. It can also contain ingredients like solvents, stabilizers, UV absorbers, preservatives, phthalates, and dyes. These types of chemicals vary in toxicity. But there is lots of mystery surrounding “fragrance” in personal care products. Companies that make perfume buy chemicals from other companies called “fragrance houses.” This means it is possible for a brand to not even know the fragrance chemicals inside their own product. However, as companies and states are moving toward fragrance ingredient disclosure, this is slowly starting to change. (You can make a difference here by only purchasing from brands that are doing 100% ingredient disclosure to help!) The biggest problem is the mystery because no one has any idea what is inside the word “fragrance.”
- Phthalates: Phthalates are another class of ingredient that is also hormone-disrupting and found in most conventional skin-aging products. Phthalates are commonly used as a solvent (a liquid that can dissolve other substances) and fixative (a substance that can help the fragrance last longer on the skin) inside fragrances. The most common phthalate inside fragrance is diethyl phthalate (DEP) and it’s considered toxic by the Toxic Substances Portal of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The trade name of this chemical is also known as neantine, peilatinol A, and solvanol, but you are very unlikely to see these names on an ingredient panel. Phthalates are linked to health impacts like obesity, and hyperactivity in children, and the kicker is infertility in men by degrading sperm quality. (In other words, wearing fragrances with phthalates around young boys is a problem.) In fact, phthalates are so problematic to male fertility, they are being restricted in places like China. Phthalates, although worse for men, is also problematic for women.
- Parabens: These are very harsh preservatives used in many personal care products that may lead to hormone disruption because they mimic estrogen. The European Union banned these chemicals in 2012. The most controversial study found traces of five different parabens in the tumors of 19 out of 20 breast cancer patients. Make sure to avoid: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, & isopropylparaben. Unfortunately, some brands have trace amounts of parabens.
- Petroleum / Mineral Oil: Petroleum-based products are considered cancer-causing in general. They can also cause skin irritation from rashes and have been linked to cancer.
- Harsh synthetic scents: Butylphenyl Methylpropional (also known as Lilial) & hydroxymethylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyde are harsh synthetic scents that are linked to moderate to high toxicity concern in humans, irritability, developmental toxin, and endocrine disruption.
- Natural Scents Banned in Europe: Some brands use natural scents that are banned in the European Union based on how likely people will be allergic to this compound. One example of that is Peru Balsam, which is a natural chemical coming from a special tree found in Peru. The Balsam of Peru is extracted from the Myroxylon pereirae tree. This natural chemical cross-reacts with other fragrances and a positive reaction occurs in around 50% of patients with a fragrance allergy.
- Harsh Preservative Combos — Although sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are safer preservatives used by lots of natural products, when you combine them it’s excessive in personal care products. Our advisors do not recommend this specific mixture of preservatives. It’s okay to have sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate by themselves. We are also approving phenoxyethanol in small quantities for adults, but not for children. Another harsh preservative would be benzyl benzoate.
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole ) & BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): These ingredients are known hormone disruptors that are linked to liver damage. They are another example of harsh preservatives.
- Ethoxylated Ingredients — Ethoxylated ingredients are generally of low concern on their own. However, they can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4- dioxane, reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. They may also be linked to organ toxicity and reproduction toxicity.
- Polysorbates: Polysorbates are another type of ethoxylated ingredient we wanted to tell you about. They are widely used surfactants in biopharmaceutical formulations and also used as an emulsifier in cosmetic creams, lotions, hair sprays, & skin-aging creams, etc. In other words, it is used to help mix oil and water. Polysorbates are not problematic on their own, but when they used for cosmetic reasons, they are treated with ethylene oxide. Products treated with ethylene oxide frequently have traces of 1,4 dioxane which is a carcinogen.
- Cyclopentasiloxane: This ingredient is not harmful to humans, but it is harmful to the environment.
- Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A): This ingredient when applied to the skin in the presence of the sunlight has been known to speed up the development of skin tumors and cancer. It’s not recommended to put on a product with this ingredient and then go out into the sun.
Complete Fragrance Disclosure is Scarce in the Body Oil Aisle
Fragrance disclosure in the United States is getting better but still has a long road to transparency in comparison to our friends in the European Union. From our perspective, we have seen (1) a very blatant lack of fragrance disclosure, (2) mild lack of fragrance disclosure, and then (3) total transparency. Some brands are being very transparent (and losing market share unfairly), while other brands are still operating in the shadows (possibly unknowingly) and picking up market share that may not be deserved. Don’t worry, we will explain.
Some Brands Use “Fragrance” to Stand for Many Undisclosed Chemicals
The worst type of fragrance disclosure is no disclosure at all. For those brands, you’ll see the word “fragrance” or “perfume” and those words can hide hundreds of chemicals as “trade secrets.” As we said above, any brand that does not disclose fragrance chemicals can be hiding all sorts of nasties in the formulation like solvents, stabilizers, UV absorbers, preservatives, phthalates, and dyes. These types of chemicals vary in toxicity.
Some Brands are Only Disclosing “Natural Fragrances” or “Essential Oils”
You also have brands that are claiming their “essential oils blends are proprietary” and will not tell you what is inside the fragrance at all. That’s problematic for many reasons having to do with allergens and sensitivities. Brands that do not disclose specifics on fragrances do not really want to serve savvy consumers or consumers that have chemical sensitivities. If they cared about that consumer, they would serve that consumer with more transparency.
Some Brands Do Not Disclose Chemicals Like Linalool, Limonene, or Geraniol But It’s There
So what’s the deal with the fragrance chemicals linalool, limonene, and geraniol? These fragrance chemicals are derived from natural sources like citrus plants but can be irritating to the skin for some people based on animal studies. However, it’s important to understand that just because you don’t see them on the ingredient panel doesn’t mean they are not in your product. How is that possible? It’s the difference between American labeling standards and European Union labeling standards. The brands that have decided to sell in the European Union (or have decided to be very transparent) have adopted European labeling standards, which include disclosing natural fragrance chemicals like linalool, limonene, and geraniol even when they come from natural sources.
Mamavation noticed a widespread lack of disclosing these fragrance chemicals among brands when we compared more than 150 products. Even brands that are disclosing “essential oils” would have to disclose if these chemicals were naturally in the fragrance at all on a European Union label. This makes American brands not following these labeling standards look “cleaner” than ones that are selling in Europe.
Our thoughts are some brands may not even know they have these fragrance chemicals present in their formula while others are aware and just deciding not to declare in that way because they want the market share that is ignorant to this issue. We will point out in our investigation which brands are using European fragrance disclosure labeling standards vs. American fragrance disclosure labeling standards in our recommendations for you.
In addition, here are the essential oils that are most likely to cause irritation for sensitive skin:
- tea tree
- Jasmine absolute
Fragrance Disclosure: Understanding the EU Perspective
I’ve said the quiet part out loud already in this investigation by telling you that European labeling standards can look more problematic at first glance, but are not. The natural industry loves to glorify some words over others, but the truth is if they are playing by American rules, you won’t really know what you are getting.
When companies gear up to start selling in Europe, their ingredients need to be communicated in a very specific way to satisfy the regulators in the European Union. In our opinion, this is a very good thing. What it does is pull the cover off the natural fragrance industry so you can peek inside a bit more and get a more accurate description of your fragrance. But the bad part is all your personal care products are going to sound a bit scarier when you read the ingredient label.
As a rule of thumb, the European Union requires the disclosure of particular chemicals that are relevant from the perspective of allergens and sensitivities. Natural essential oils that contain citrus or other types of botanicals and florals present these issues. This is why you will see these brands having to disclose scents like linalool, limonene, and geraniol because they can be irritating for people.
Here are 26 ingredients that would be irritating to someone sensitive or allergic and would need to be disclosed according to European standards. Lots of these chemicals are naturally present in other ingredients.
- Amyl cinnamal
- Cinnamyl alcohol
- Alpha-hexyl innamal
- Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (Lyral)
- Alpha-amycinnamyl alcohol
- Anise alcohol
- Benzyl alcohol
- Benzyl benzoate
- Benzyl cinnamate
- Benzyl salicylate
- Butylphenyl methylpropional
- Methyl 2-octynoate
- Alpha isomethylionone
- Evernia furfuracea (tree moss extract)
- Evernia prunastri (oakmoss extract)
Natural Ingredients You Want to See in Body Oil
There are so many ingredients we found in body oil blends that were great, so we decided to list some of the best ingredients. This is not an exclusive list of all the acceptable ingredients, but just a list to provide you with some sanity. The ingredients that would be required to have deeper EU disclosure or are highly irritating, are marked with an *.
- Jojoba oil
- essential fatty acids (like omega fatty acids)
- sweet almond oil
- olive oil
- seed oil
- Rosehip oil
- Argan oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- sunflower oil
- coconut oil
- Vitamin C*
- Vitamin e oil
- Citrus based extracts*
- Other floral based extracts*
- Other botanical-based extracts*
As you noticed, it’s not so much the base oils, but the fragrances that are added to the base oils that would require a disclosure from the EU. Generally speaking, it’s the floral, botanical, or citrus ingredients that present the most problems with allergens.
Other Mamavation Investigations on Personal Care
If you like the content we produce on Mamavation, we have so much more for you to see in terms of personal care products, food, and other consumer products you bring into your home. Check all our product investigations here.
- Body Lotion
- Hand Cremes
- Anti-Aging Creams
- Soap & Body Wash
- Liquid Hand Soaps
- Nail Polish
- Face Wash & Moisturizers
- Hair Styling Products
- Leave-In Conditioners
- Hair Dye
- Dry Shampoo
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Shampoo Bars & Conditioner Bars
- MLM Companies
- Dental Floss
- Toilet Paper
- Head Lice Treatment Products
- Hair Relaxers
- Peel-Off Facial Masks, Sheet Facial Masks, & K-beauty Facial Masks
- Beard Oil
- Self Tanning Products
- Contact Lenses
- Period Underwear
- Sanitary Pads & Incontinence Pads
Mamavation’s Investigation on Body Oils
Mamavation took a look at the ingredients of about 150 body oil products and ranked them based on ingredient safety and fragrance disclosure. We’ve done our best to navigate this industry and make sense of it for most consumers, but we wanted to be transparent about how we reached these conclusions. We did not email every single brand on this list to ask them if they were using ingredient language from the EU. We made those assumptions based on the language they were using and what they were disclosing. This is what the vast majority of consumers would do so we felt this was fair.
Not Our Favorite Body Oils
These brands have one or more ingredients from our list above such as undisclosed fragrances, parabens, banned natural ingredients in the EU, or harsh preservatives.
- Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil
- Annmarie Coconut Body Oil (Peru balsam)
- BLUH Alchemy Active Relief Body Oil (Peru balsam)
- Farmhouse Fresh Swell Being Hemp Relaxation Dual-Phase Body Oil
- Farmhouse Fresh Quinsyberry Botanical Body Oil
- Hume Supernatural Dry Body Oil – Amber Woods
- Indie Lee De-Stress Body Oil
- Indie Lee Energize Body Oil
- JR Watkins Body Oil Mist Coconut & Honey
- Kopari Golden Aura Body Oil
- Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil
- Neutrogena Body Oil
- NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Florale
- ODE Verde Feather-Light Hydration Body Oil
- One Love Organics Botanical C Body Oil
- OSEA Undaria Algae Body Oil
- SheaMoisture Daily Hydration Body Oil
- The Sanctuary Signature Body Oil
Better Body Oils
These brands are likely using essential oils or other types of natural essences in their fragrances, however, they are not disclosing their origin. This isn’t necessarily dangerous unless you have allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients. These products may also contain canola, soybean oil, or soy lecithin which is likely from genetically modified sources.
- Alteya Bio Damascena Rose Otto Radiance Body Oil
- Burt’s Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Body Oil
- Burt’s Bees Nourishing Baby Oil
- Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Oil
- Eminence Apricot Body Oil
- Farmhouse Fresh Blushing Agave Organic Body Oil
- Free + True Body Prophet All Over Creamy Serum
- Honest Facial Oil
- JR Watkins Body Oil Mist Unscented
- Neal’s Yard Remedies Mother’s Massage Oil
- Neal’s Yard Remedies Detox Toning Oil
- Olga’s Organics Breathe Body Oil
- Olga’s Organics Relax Body Oil
- One Seed Yuzu & Vanilla Elixir Body Oil
- Osmia Night Body Oil
- Pipette Baby Oil
- Weleda Arnica Massage Oil
- Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body & Beauty Oil
- Wildflower Beauty by Jessica Body Oil Spray – Muscle Refresh
Best Body Oils
These Body Oils are coming to you in two different categories based on disclosure of fragrances: (1) Using lax American fragrance disclosure practices and avoiding disclosure of linalool, limonene, and geraniol even if they are technically present OR (2) Using European fragrance labeling standards which use the scientific taxonomy of plants and forces disclosure of linalool, limonene, and geraniol when present. When we came across products that wouldn’t matter at all, we left them alone. The brands and products that are marked with an * are brands that use American labeling standards. Products not marked with an * are either using European fragrance labeling standards or this wouldn’t matter based on the ingredients. Ingredients that don’t matter are based on oils and do not have floral, botanical, or citrus nodes. These differences don’t change the safety of the product. What we are trying to do is show you the differences in labeling practices within the industry and how a similar product can look different based on how they decide to disclose.
Safest For Sensitive Skin: (Basically base oils with subtle or no fragrance & some single oils)
- Aura Cacia Organic Hemp Seed Oil
- Best Of Nature Almond Body Oil
- Best of Nature Apricot Body Oil
- Biossance 100% Squalane Oil
- Evereden Soothing Baby Massage Oil
- Everyday Oil Baseline (unscented)
- Heritage Store Organic Castor Oil
- Heritage Store Castor Oil
- *Honest Organic Body Oil (Sensitive)
- Maude Organic Oil No. 0 (Fragrance-Free)
- Mustela MATERNITE Stretch Marks Oil
- Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Pure Baby Oil
- Now Liquid Coconut Oil (Pure Fractionated)
- Now Solutions Sweet Almond Oil (Organic)
- Now Organic Jojoba Oil
- Nuez Acres Pure Pecan Oil
- Pura D’or Organic Apricot Oil
- Pure Haven Mom & Baby Body Oil (Organic)
- Pure Haven Geranium Lime Body Oil
- Pure Haven Comfort Oil
- Pure Haven Sleepy Body Oil
- Pure Haven Pure Sunshine Firming Body Oil, Limited Release
- Shine Naturally Macadamia Nut Oil Body Spray
- Spark Naturals Rosehip Seed Oil
- Verdana Organic Golden Jojoba Oil
Safest For Everyone Else: Includes Fragrance Extracts & Oils
- 100% Pure Organic Rosehip Oil (Use discount code “MAMAVATION20” for 20% off products!)
- 100% Pure Intensive Facial Oil (Use discount code “MAMAVATION20” for 20% off products!)
- Agent Nateur Holi (Body) Ageless Body Serum
- *Aura Cacia Bodi Normal to Dry Skin Oil Moisturizer
- *Badger Balm Damascus Rose Body Oil
- *Badger Balm Baby Oil
- *Badger Balm Belly Oil
- Beautycounter Luminous Hydration Body Oil (Citrus Rosemary)
- Beautycounter All Bright Brightening Facial Oil
- *Bello Tallow Time Machine Whipped Tallow (tallow, not oil)(Use this link for an automatic 10% off your first purchase)
- *Bello Tallow Lux Blu Anti Aging Whipped Tallow (tallow, not oil)(Use this link for an automatic 10% off your first purchase)
- *ByKarisse Pure Body Oil
- *ByKarisse Detox Body Oil
- ByKarisse Calming Body Oil
- Carter+Jane The Everything Oil (Body)
- *Chillhouse Have a Chill Day Body Oil
- *Chillhouse Have a Chill Night Body Oil
- *Crunchi Littles Super Serum
- *Detox Mode Altogether Oil
- *DIME The Glaze Hydrating Body Oil
- *DoTerra Yarrow|Pom Body Renewal Serum
- *Earth Mama Organics Calendula Baby Oil (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 20% off products )
- *Earth Mama Organics Belly Oil (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 20% off products)
- Egyptian Magic Skin Cream (a skin cream WITH oil in it)
- EO Body Oil (Calming French Lavender)
- evanhealy Blue Cactus Body Oil
- *evanhealy Vetiver Hinoki Body Oil
- *evanhealy Sweet Blossom Hydrating Body Oil
- *Everyday Oil Mainstay Scent
- *Good Medicine Beauty Lab Lomi Lomi Luscious Body Oil
- *Good Medicine Beauty Lab Holy Wild Deep Forest Body Oil
- *Green Earth Naturals Intense Repair Body Oil
- *Green Earth Naturals Pure & Unscented Body Oil
- *Herbivore Botanicals Hydrating Jasmine Body Oil
- Honest Sink In Body Oil
- *Honest Glow On Body Oil
- *Hume Supernatural Dry Body Oil – Fragrance-Free
- Jason Vitamin E Oil
- *Just Nutritive Body Nutritive Serum
- *LifeSpa Lymphatic Massage Oil
- *LifeSpa Tri-Doshic Massage Oil
- *Living Libations Best Skin Ever – Lavish Abundance
- *Living Libations Breast Massage Oil
- *Max & Me Circle of Protection Body Oil
- Maya Chia The Revitalizer – Beautifying Body Oil
- Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Dry Body Oil
- Neal’s Yard Remedies Women’s Balance Massage Oil
- Necessaire The Body Oil
- *Ooo Oil (Lavender Ladybits Oil)
- OSEA Vagus Nerve Oil
- *Osmia Naked Body Oil
- Pipette Belly Oil
- Plant Therapy Marvelous Massage Body Oil
- *Plant Therapy Sleep Body Oil with Chamomile
- *Plant Therapy Stress Body Oil with Ashwagandha
- *Plant Therapy Nerve Body Oil with Arnica
- *Plant Therapy Pregnant Belly Body Oil with Shea
- Plant Therapy Jojoba Body Oil
- *Plant Therapy Clear Perfection Carrier Oil
- Prima Beyond Body Oil
- Primally Pure Body Oil Trio
- Primally Pure Blue Tansy Body Oil
- Primally Pure Jasmine Body Oil
- Primally Pure Lemongrass Body Oil
- *Province Apothecary Radiant Bath + Body Oil
- Pura D’or Organic Massage Oil
- *Pure Haven Pure Sunshine Body Firming Oil
- Pure Haven Geranium Rose Key Lime Body Oil
- Pure Haven Comfort Oil
- Pure Haven Sleepy Body Oil
- PurO3 Organic Ozonated Olive Oil
- *Rahua Body Oil
- *Reed + Gwen Grounding Dry Body Oil
- *RMS Beauty Body Oil
- *SAFA Rose’ Oil
- SEA-el Moringa Oil (lightweight facial oil)
- *SKiN Apricot Rose Body Oil (Massage, Shower, & Shave Oil)
- *The Ayurvedic Experience iYura Balaayah Black Gram Body Booster
- *The Ayurvedic Experience iYura Shamanri Young-Energy Body Oil (NOTE: Contains Cow Milk)
- *The Ayurvedic Experience iYura Trahnna Heart-Leaved Moonseed Protectionist Body Soother (NOTE: Contains Cow Milk)
- *Toups & Co Organic Citrus Body Oil
- *Toups & Co Organic Blossom Body Oil
- *Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Coconut Body Oil
- True Botanicals Pure Radiance Body Oil
- *VanMan’s Protection Oils
- *Vitality Extracts Helichrysum
- *Vitality Extracts Frankincense Oil
- Viva Naturals Organic Massage Oil (Unscented)
- *Wildflower Beauty by Jessica Bath & Body Oil with Lavender
- *Young Living Cel-Lite Magic Massage Oil