Oils, Lotions, Gels or Creams…what medium should I use?

Massage Sports


Oils, Lotions, Gels or Creams…what medium should I use?

There are so many choices as a massage therapist as to what product to use during treatment. Is oil better on dry skin? Is lotion better for sport massage? Does gel absorb too quick? Scented? Unscented? How do I deal with hair? Do ingredients matter? Many of these questions and more, are consistently asked by almost every massage therapist at some point in their career. There is an abundance of information to consider so how does one really decide? Are these questions something we as therapists need to consider or does it just come down to personal preference on any given day?


Here’s a few things to think about:


Viscosity is measurable and important for the outcome the therapist is working towards. Oils and Lotions are a lower rating. Gels and Crème’s rate higher. Although the relationship between viscosity and glide are distinct, one would believe that a higher rated viscosity in a product would glide less when in fact gels for example have a high glide rate overall. Is glide alone important in it’s thinking or is it directly related to absorption rate?


Absorption can depend on product ingredients as well as the amount of moisture present in the skin of your hands as well as the skin of your client. The absorption rate in oils seems to be less than the others which can result in less need for one treatment which in turn means less money spent over time. However, Oil may leave the client too greasy to return to work or a sporting event. Does that mean a higher absorption rate is better for these situations? Not necessarily.


Is there a right or wrong response to any of the above? Consider not only the various products but the amount of ingredients that go into these products. What are you as a therapist trying to accomplish? What does your client prefer? If you really think about it, personal preference and client preference are key. Don’t be scared. Try something new today!


Article By

Joanne Baker RMT


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