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There’s no lack of choice when it comes to massage lubricants for your spa or massage practice. You can choose between a range of massage oils, lotions, cremes and body butters and gels. Personal preference is one of the criteria. So is the type of massage modality. Some modalities are better suited to cremes; others work best with oils, lotions or gels. Here’s a guide to understand the differences to help you choose the most appropriate lubricant.


Oils

For most massage therapists, oils are a fundamental tool. When a massage requires smooth, long motions – such as in Swedish massage – or you are massaging a large area; oils work the best. They glide on easily and take a long time to be absorbed into the skin. This means you won’t need to use a lot of product and you can work without stopping to apply more. Among the various types of massage oils, natural oils are derived from plants and vegetables; other oils come from nuts or seeds or are essential oils. The consistency of oils varies, too. Some oils like sesame are thick; others like jojoba are relatively light. Because massage oils have a long shelf life, buy large quantities at one time to keep costs down.


Think about client allergic reactions. You’ll want to check with clients before using something with a strong scent or from nuts. Also consider that oils with minerals or alcohol deplete the skin’s nutrients.


Whatever you decide to use, be prepared with heated, moist towels to remove excess since oils can leave the skin feeling greasy, Water dispersible oils are easier to remove.


Lotions

Massage lotions combine oil, water and a thickening agent. Lotions are best used for deeper, more controlled bodywork, such as deep tissue or sports massage, where grasping muscle and tissue is involved. However, since lotions easily absorb into the skin, they provide less glide than oils and require more reapplications.


Lotions are less greasy than oils and don’t leave a film on the skin or stain sheets or clothing. If your client won’t have time to shower after a session, a lotion might be the best option.


Cremes and Body Butters

Higher oil content makes cremes and body butters thicker than lotions. Because of their thickness, they require less reapplication and offer better glide than lotions, but not better glide than oils. Body butters and cremes also help smooth and hydrate the skin.


Gels

Massage gel is a thickened form of oil blended with vegetable wax so it can easily spread without running or feeling greasy. Gels have excellent glide for use across a range of massage modalities.


BIOTONE offers products in all categories. You can purchase a trial size of many of our lubricants to find out which one suits the modalities your offer and your personal preferences.