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How to choose the right massage oil lotion creme or gel

How to Choose a Massage Gel, Lotion, Butter or Cream for your Treatments

Lotions, creams, body butters, gels, essential oils, blends... There are so many different products to choose from when offering professional massage at your spa or clinic

How do you choose a massage gel, lotion or butter?

Do you know which ones to use for your individual clients? We try to answer some of these questions and recommend products that are a great addition to your clinic.

You may have your own preferences when it comes to massage lotions, creams, and gels. Your clients may also have their own. But as an RMT, you must know which product to use in which situation. It is good to know which lubricants are perfect for deep tissue massage, which oils won’t stain your sheets, which lotions are lightweight, and which creams are nourishing. After all, they exist in different varieties for their own unique uses and functions.

Massage Gels – extra lightweight and non-greasy

You may already know massage gels have a watery consistency (unlike oils, creams, and body butters). They glide well on the body, providing great workability for therapists. Since many massage gels are oil-free, they are non-greasy and leave the skin silky smooth.

Did you know that gels are a wonderful choice for sports massage and deep tissue work? They also offer amazing benefits for neuromuscular, and trigger point modalities. That's why they're so popular among athletes. Gels are also great for use on specific areas of the body, especially tight muscles.


Most gels are also non-staining – that is why they are loved by RMTs. They are a good choice for maintaining the longevity of massage table sheets and other linens.

Gels are an excellent choice during the hot summer months when your clients are physically active. Therefore, they prefer a massage that is lightweight and non-greasy. After all, they don’t want to step into the sun after a massage and feel all sweaty and greasy.

Massage gels are also great for hairier bodies as they are non-sticky and don’t clump body hair. However, gels are not great at blending. If your client is looking for a relaxing massage that uses essential oils, massage oils are a better choice. Water-based massage gels do not mix well with essential oils.

Massage Lotions - lightweight and quick absorbing

Massage lotions are lightweight. Like gels, lotions have a liquid consistency and absorb well into the skin. They are nourishing, and leave little to no oil residue on the skin. Compared to massage gels, lotions are slightly oily, or greasy. However, they are not greasy enough to leave much residue on skin or on massage sheets.

Most lotions are generally water soluble. Massage therapists can expect a gentle friction when working on the body. Massage lotions are a great choice for deep tissue massage, while delivering moisture to the skin. They are are excellent choice for normal to slightly dry skin.

Much like gels, massage lotions are a great choice in the hot summer months for their highly absorbent and lightweight properties.

Massage Creams - Middle Ground between Gels and Butters

As the name suggests, massage creams are usually thick, rich, and concentrated, compared to massage gels and lotions. They aren’t as thick as body butters but not as lightweight as gels and lotions either. Creams hold the middle ground when it comes to massage products.

Creams allow therapists to get a great grip for controlled strokes and deep tissue work. At the same time, they offer the glide of oil, so are an excellent choice for a full body massage. Creams are also a popular choice when you are looking at moisturizing and deep nourishment for the skin.

Massage creams can also be used on their own or blended with a variety of essential oils. Pick your favourites — lavender, peppermint, etc, — for a luxurious aromatherapy experience. A point to remember is that creams do not pump. Always use Tongue Depressors to apply cream.

Massage Oils - Rich, Oily, Aromatic with Health Benefits

Oils are a must-have supply for all massage therapists. Not only do oils help you provide amazing massages, they make the patient’s experience more pleasant as well.

The right oil lubricates skin enough to allow for proper amount of friction and pressure. Oils can also be skin-nourishing and hydrating.

Massage oil also has several health benefits. Apart from a stress reliever, oils also help to reduce pain, muscle soreness and tension. They are also known to provide relief from anxiety, headaches, lower back pain and other aches and discomforts.

Oils – Many Types and Varieties

Massage oils consists of two main categories – carrier oils and essential oils.

Carrier oils are cold pressed vegetable oils derived from the fatty portion of plants, usually from the nuts, kernels or seeds. People use these oils to dilute essential oils and other oils prior to topical application.

Their purpose is to carry the essential oil onto the skin, hence they are known as carrier oils. RMTs often use carrier oils on their own, or blend them with other products to create their own unique glide and therapeutic properties.

Essentials Oils – Pure and Concentrated

Essential oils are super-concentrated oils that have amazing aromatherapy properties. Pure essential oils have cleansing properties, too. They purify the air when used in diffusers.

You can use essential oils for pain relief. Both immune-boosting and mood-enhancing, the use of essential oils is rapidly growing. Use them in your home, at the spa, and for a variety of therapeutic benefits. Select your favourites from our own line of BodyBest Pure Essential Oils. We also offer highly sought after Poya Essential Oils and SacredEarth Essential Oils.

Apart from carrier oils and pure essential oils, there are massage oil blends that are specially formulated for professional massage. These offer amazing health and wellness benefits for muscle relaxation, sleep therapy, stress, and headache relief.

Although massage oils are deeply relaxing, some people are not very keen on using them as they have to deal with the sticky after effects. Some oils can also stain massage table sheets. Be careful of spilling them on the floor as they can be very slippery. As a therapist, you should be prepared to treat oil stains. Read our blog on how to take care of your massage table sheets.

Body Butters - Slather away

Massage butters or body butters are the creamiest, among all massage therapy products. Their consistency is similar to that of the butter we eat. They are rich in natural fats and carrier oils. Butters remain solid or semi-solid at room temperature, melting into a liquified, oily state when warmed up by body heat.

Use body butters for hydrating dry and cracked skin

Therapists use body butters to moisturize, lubricate and nourish the skin, especially dry and irritated skin. Some butters are fast-absorbing. Others may leave a slight oily barrier, depending on skin type and formulation. In terms of workability, massage butters are known to provide added glide.

It goes without saying that massage butters are an amazing choice for dry and cracked skin – especially during our long Canadian winters. They create a barrier on the skin, protecting it from cold and wintry conditions.

Patients can also benefit from massage butter’s rehydrating and reconditioning properties.

Since butters are very oily in consistency, they are perfect for therapeutic massages, like deep tissue massage. They provide the perfect amount of lubrication to massage deeply without rubbing the skin raw.

Massage butters can also be used on their own, or blended with a variety of essential oils. You can pick your favourites — grape-seed and sweet almond oil, etc, — for a luxurious aromatherapy experience.

Unlike lotions, body butter won’t absorb completely into the skin. This means the lubrication of body butter will last longer through the massage without the need for reapplication.

Some spas and many dermatologists recommend using body butter on your lips, hands, elbows, legs, and feet daily for general skin care.

For more details, read our blog on Massage Butter vs. Massage Cream: When to Choose a Massage Butter

What’s your take on how to choose massage gels, butters?

Each of these massage oils, butters and creams have their own unique properties and benefits. You can pick and choose according to your needs and preferences and those of your clients. We hope you now know how to choose a massage gel, lotion or butter according to the season and the different needs of massage therapy.

We will be excited to know which products you enjoy the most In your spa and which ones are your absolute favourites.

*Body Best makes no claims or recommendations about the medicinal benefits of the products listed in this article. Seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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