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Selecting the Right Massage Oils for Your Therapies

December 04, 2016 4 min read

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Selecting the Right Massage Oils for Your Therapies

 

When shopping for massage oil things can get a little confusing. There are so many to choose from, and it can be tough to know where to start. Most courses will tell you the basics about oils and let you experiment with one or two, comparing them to lotions, creams and sometimes even powders; it seems to remain the case, though, that oils are the preference with most therapists/ Many will have a stand by option such as a lotion for clients who request it, perhaps because they have allergies to certain oils and don’t want to take their chances. It can be a good move to stock a small selection of different types of oil, but this can be a little trickier for mobile therapists on the move a lot who don’t want the hassle of carrying unnecessary bulk or weight around with them.

Whether you choose to stock one, three or even five, it is still important to know the differences between and benefits of each one. If you’re offering clients a selection, they may well ask you questions that you aren’t able to answer otherwise. Most oil suppliers will offer nut and seed based oils, as well as olive oils. Vegans – and anyone who is concerned with animal welfare for that matter – might be unpleasantly surprised to learn that some oils on offer are made of animal products. One example is emu oil, which is derived from the adipose tissue of certain types of emu, namely the flightless Australian Dromaius Novaehollandiae. There are a surprising amount of questionable animal products in many high street beauty products, and most people are blissfully unaware of them. Lanolin is a good example, and although its commercial description is not going to give away the basic facts, it’s really just grease taken from the hair of sheep. Personally (and I would guess that I’m not alone in this) I wouldn’t want to smear anything of the sort onto my body.

Ethics aside, there are scented or unscented creams, solids and liquids, some medicated, some not; there are carrier oils, essential oils… most of which are perfectly useful and acceptable products to use in massage therapy, but one of them alone is not necessarily going to suit every eventuality. To ensure you get the best oil to complement your particular type of massage therapy, take into consideration the following factors:

Know the oil’s consistency

The more dense, heavy oils like olive oil are best suited to lighter massages such as Swedish or relaxing massages. This is because the absorption rate into the skin is much slower than some other oils. They work well with sweeping, repetitive movements and mean that you don’t have to lubricate repeatedly, interrupting the massage. Lighter oils like grape seed (as well as some creams) are ideal when your massage is likely to be a much heavier one, like deep tissue massage therapy. Such oils are absorbed into the skin much faster; the result of this is that the therapist has more control and can apply the necessary pressure without slipping. Some medicated massage oils have been infused with menthol, arnica, or other extracts so that pain and inflammation is reduced. This can increase the efficiency of your massage when treating sports injuries.

Consider the clients’ skin types

 

Some of your massage clients will like the aromas and benefits associated with scented massage oils, but this may well turn off others completely. Such strong smelling oils are certainly a little more risky - some clients could be either allergic or sensitive to strong fragrances so for professional use it is wise to choose something scent-free. You can always mix oils according to individual preferences if you have been trained to do so. It is always sensible to be cautious with essential oils – good courses will instruct on this so that students are aware of the dangers and prohibitions of working with essential oils unqualified. Aromatherapy practitioners should be fully trained in all essential oils uses and will carry out in-depth consultations with clients in order to avoid potential contraindications caused by mixing the wrong oils – or balance of oils – together.

 

Consult properly and avoid activating allergies

It wouldn’t be good practice if we didn’t check out our clients’ contraindications. Nut allergies are common (as are allergies to some flower extracts). If your client has had a history of nut allergies, you should be steering well clear of almond oil.  It would be wise to make sure that you have some form of hypoallergenic oil in your kit for those times when a client with skin sensitivity books in. For these people, it is better to avoid medicated oils. If the client has irritated skin then certain oils such as the light and relatively scent-free jojoba (or vitamin E, which is much heavier) may be good for calming irritations; however, dependent on the mix ration with other oils, these can dry up quickly so they should be mixed carefully with longer-lasting oils.

Consider your client’s onward plans

Using heavy oils that transfer to the clothes and end up in the client’s hairline aren’t necessarily going to be the best choice if they’ve said they’re going back to work that afternoon, for example. If you offer showering facilities it shouldn’t be a problem, but checking with the client will show them that you are concerned with the smaller details.  

What is your favourite go-to oil, and do you keep (or carry) a selection at all times? Here at Massage Warehouse we feel that keeping oils simple is best, or using professionally pre-mixed oils that have been tried, tested and reviewed by peers so that you can trust their efficacy. There are some lovely combinations on the market. We’d like to hear about which ones work for you!


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