Massage and Body work, whether performed by a professional or at home, is a powerful way to relax, rejuvenate, and promote overall well-being. Central to this practice is the choice of medium, with lotions, creams, and oils being the most popular options. Let’s explore the uses for each one of these along with what makes them distinct from one another in application, and sensation.
Lotions are a popular choice for body work due to their lightweight, non-greasy texture. They are water-based and typically contain a combination of water, oils, and an emulsifying agent. Lotions are easily absorbed by the skin, making them an excellent option for massages that require frequent reapplication.
- Lightweight and non-greasy.
- Easily absorbed by the skin.
- Suitable for a wide range of massage techniques. (physiotherapists often choose our Bath and Body Organic Lotion which is incredibly popular and has a great price point)
- Does not spill and washes out of sheets amazingly well. It is also easy to transfer from a larger container to smaller container.
- Hydrating and nourishing for the skin.
- Feels cool to the touch and can be a great choice in summer and warmer weather. This is the same for creams.
- Often the more affordable option.
- Contains a higher water content, which may require more frequent reapplication.
- May not provide enough glide for deep tissue or prolonged massages.
- May feel cool to the touch especially in winter months. This is the same for creams.
Creams are thicker and more emollient compared to lotions. They are a blend of water, oil, and an emulsifying agent, with a higher oil-to-water ratio than lotions. Creams provide a good balance between glide and grip, making them ideal for deep tissue work and specific muscle targeting.
- Provides a good balance of glide and grip.
- Suitable for deep tissue and targeted massages.
- Nourishing for the skin, offering a more intense moisturizing effect.
- Longer-lasting than lotions, goes on as a lotion but has the staying power of an oil.
- Feels cool to the touch and can be a great choice in summer and warmer weather. This is the same for lotions.
- If you like oil but don’t like stained sheets or spilled oil in the treatment room, cream is a great option. Our Bath and Body Organic Restructuring Crème or our Sacred Earth Vegan Massage Crème are two of our best-selling options. Many clinics and individual practitioners use this medium with great results.
- Can be slightly heavier on the skin compared to lotions.
- May leave a residual feeling on the skin after the massage.
- May feel cool to the touch especially in winter months. This is the same for lotions.
Massage oils are a classic choice, known for their exceptional glide and nourishing properties. They are composed primarily of carrier oils, which can be derived from various plant sources, and may include essential oils for added therapeutic benefits. Oils are an excellent choice for relaxation massages and those seeking a luxurious, sensory experience. Certain techniques or modalities such as hot stone massage and cupping therapy require the use of thinner lower viscosity / gliding oils.
- Provides excellent glide for a smooth, flowing massage.
- Offers deep moisturization and nourishment for the skin.
- Allows for a more sensory experience due to the aromatic properties of essential oils.
- Suitable for a wide range of massage techniques.
- Variable weight of the oils and viscosity allows therapists to choose their oil blends depending on the glide they require for their techniques. For example castor, olive, hemp seed, coconut and other nut oils tend to be heavier. Whereas grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, almond, rice bran, Non-GMO organic Canola oil, jojoba, fractionated coconut oil and other processed oils will be lighter in weight, scent and colour. Processing oils for commercial purposes of uniformity is called RBD (rendered- bleached and deodorized) and these oils can be much lighter on the skin and have no scent or colour.
- Be sure to wash out the linens with unscented laundry soap as quickly as possible after a massage to avoid build up in the massage table linens.
- Most professionally formulated oil blends are non scented. Aromatherapy or Essential oils can be added to these formulations to enhance the sensory experience for the recipient.
- Oils can also be heated prior to application which can elevate the comfort and sensory experience of the recipient.
- Our favourite oils are the Oil Blend from Sacred Earth Botanicals 100% Organic and our Bath and Body Balancing Oil. These are very popular and have many nutritive properties.
- Can be more difficult to control in terms of application and absorption rate.
- May leave a greasy residue on the skin.
- Can stain sheets and build up in linens used for massage if proper laundry actions are not taken:
- Don’t store soiled linens while waiting to wash a full load.
- Do not leave soiled linen in a hot car trunk or exposed to sunlight
- Occasionally use a degreasing agent in the wash to super rinse the linens being frequently used. We recommend our Kleen product or you can try any home remedy found on YouTube or by Googling😊
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil is a specialized form of coconut oil that has undergone a process to remove the long-chain fatty acids, leaving behind only the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This results in a clear, odorless, and lightweight oil that remains in liquid form at room temperature. Fractionated Coconut Oil, in recent years, has emerged as a versatile and beneficial addition to the bodyworker’s repertoire. In this article, we’ll delve into the nuances of this type of formulation and explore the unique qualities of fractionated coconut oil.
- Non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin.
- Long-lasting glide, making it suitable for extended massages.
- Odorless and hypoallergenic, making it ideal for sensitive skin.
- Rich in antioxidants and nourishing properties.
- Excellent for hot stone massage and cupping therapy (gliding the cups).
- Perfect neutral carrier oil for custom blending aromatherapy and essential oils.
- No mess or poor hygiene that is associated with using coconut oil in its solid form.
- No need to heat it to keep liquid at room temperature like other coconut oils.
- We recommend buying our Sacred Earth Fractionated Coconut oil an organic product that goes a long way.
- May not offer the same level of deep moisturization as other oils.
- This is a processed product however; it can be bought in an organic version.
- The cost, due to processing, is one of the highest priced massage oils on the market.
Gliding with Gel
Gel is a popular massage medium used by therapists to facilitate smooth and gliding movements during massage therapy sessions. It is a semi-viscous substance that comes in various formulations, often designed specifically for massage purposes.
- Gel has a smooth and gliding texture, making it easy to spread evenly over the skin. This can enhance the flow and continuity of the massage strokes.
- Many massage gels are formulated with moisturizing agents that can help hydrate the skin. This can be particularly beneficial for clients with dry or sensitive skin. However, note that often these formulations are not from naturally sourced ingredients.
- Gel tends to leave less residue on the skin compared to some oil-based mediums. This can make it easier for clients to get dressed after the massage without feeling excessively oily.
- Gel is typically less greasy than oil, which some clients may prefer. It allows for a more comfortable post-massage experience without feeling overly slick.
- Unlike some oils that can stain clothing or sheets, massage gels are less likely to leave noticeable marks on fabrics.
- There are hypoallergenic gel formulations available, making them suitable for clients with sensitive skin or allergies.
- The good news is ViVi Therapy carries an organic version of a Gel by Sacred Earth Botanicals that defies the usual or typical formulation. It is very poplular and worth a try if you are interested.
- Gel may absorb more quickly into the skin compared to oil. This means that therapists may need to reapply it more frequently during the massage.
- For certain massage techniques that rely on friction, such as deep tissue massage, gels may not provide as much resistance as oil. This can affect the therapist’s ability to effectively apply pressure.
- Gel formulations are often created using chemical ingredients that most clients would not want on their skin.
Choosing the right medium for body work is a personal preference that depends on the desired outcome, technique, and individual client needs. Lotions, creams, and oils each have their unique qualities, providing a diverse range of options for both professionals and home massagers. The emergence of fractionated coconut oil as a versatile option further expands the possibilities, offering a lightweight, hypoallergenic alternative for a variety of massage styles. Experimentation and understanding the specific benefits of each medium will ultimately lead to a more personalized and effective body work experience.
Have any questions? Need samples? Drop by our store (1976 Oak Bay Av.) or request for us to add them to your next shipment/order!
Looking for other opinions? Here is a reddit thread of Massage Therapists discussing the topic!