Essential oils are natural products with a complex composition. Terpenes are the most common class of chemical compounds present in essential oils. Terpenes and the essential oils containing them are widely used and investigated by their pharmacological properties and permeation-enhancing ability. However, many terpenes and essential oils are sensitive to environmental conditions, undergoing volatilization and chemical degradation. In order to overcome the chemical instability of some isolated terpenes and essential oils, the encapsulation of these compounds in nanostructured systems (polymeric, lipidic, or molecular complexes) has been employed. In addition, nanoencapsulation can be of interest for pharmaceutical applications due to its capacity to improve the bioavailability and allow the controlled release of drugs. Topical drug administration is a convenient and non-invasive administration route for both local and systemic drug delivery. The present review focuses on describing the current status of research concerning nanostructured delivery systems containing isolated terpenes and/or essential oils designed for topical administration and on discussing the use of terpenes and essential oils either for their biological activities or as permeation enhancers in pharmaceutic formulations.