We've come a long way in applying materials to the skin while doing massage therapy. Hog's lard, powder, olive oil, and liniment are just a few of the materials that have been used in massage. Olive oil was believed to ease pain. Liniment was used to increase circulation. I'm not certain what the lard did other than being used to oil the skin. Some of these, such as powder, are still being used today.
Now it has been my experience that clients without allergies usually do not have a preference in what is used during their massage. However, I keep a variety of lotions, oils, and creams handy.
My clients, who used to swear by an old standby, Tiger Balm, have become a little bit more sophisticated, and now request oils containing arnica for pain relief. A few clients with a lot of body hair prefer oil also. Grapeseed and jojoba are light oils used for massage and are both good for moisturizing the skin. Now and then I will get a call for natural or organic oil, one with no artificial ingredients, and there are many of these products available. Please don't request mineral oil which is a by product from the production of gasoline from crude oil. Enough said.
So what's the difference between lotions and creams? Creams contain more oil, while lotions have higher water content. So creams usually have a thicker consistency than lotions. When massaging the face, I prefer a light lotion. However, my personal preference is for creams when doing full body massage, usually those with arnica and ivy extract as ingredients. Arnica is wonderful in helping to relieve pain and inflammation of muscles. The ivy extract is an antibacterial. It also has ingredients that help other compounds to be absorbed by the skin. It's not unusual then for ivy to be found in many massage creams. I think clients enjoy the creamy, lush feeling of massage creams.
Ask your massage therapist about the different oils, lotions, or creams that they use. Be adventurous and try oil if you have always gotten lotion during your massage. Remember that bringing your own is also an option.
1403 Pemberton Road, Suite 104
Richmond, Virginia 23238