Decisions, Decisions…

Posted by Massage Therapy on

Standing in front of the shelves of massage supplies, or reviewing information online can be overwhelming.  

  • Do I want a gel or a cream?
  • Coconut oil-based or highly refined mineral oil?
  • Nut-free, scented or unscented, water-dispersible, suitable for aromatherapy?

What it comes down to is: 1) patient needs, and 2) personal preference.

Think about your clientele, and your practice.

  • What are your treatment goals - relaxation, rehabilitation, pain control?
  • Are you using fascial techniques, essential oils, hot stones?
  • Are your patients concerned about having oil in their hair, or it transferring to their clothes?
  • Does anyone have allergies or skin conditions that you need to be aware of?

Now consider your own personal preference.

  • Do you like more glide, or more grip?
  • Spill-proof or easy to apply?
  • Water-dispersible or the type of lubricant that requires a cocktail of detergents to removed oil stains
  • What about your skin, and sensitivities or allergies?


Lotion stays where you put it, and absorbs quickly. It generally is best used for shorter appointment times, or where you want to have less glide and more grip. I also like it for morning and mid-day appointments, as it is much less greasy and more comfortable for the patient. For hot stone, I generally need to add a bit of extra oil to get enough glide.


A traditional choice for good reason - it will cover all your needs. Use less for increased skin friction and heat, more for greater glide. Great for hot stone, aromatherapy, and relaxation massage.   We recommend keeping an 8oz of some kind of pure oil on hand for the allergy-prone. If you only have room for one type of lubricant - oil is most cost effective. However, even the “non-greasy” oils are greasy when used too liberally, and can stain clothing and linens.


A favourite for many, massage gels can be multipurpose. A gel is usually an oil mixed with a wax, resulting in longer-lasting glide. Gels work great for hot stone, all types of Swedish technique-based massage, and can be used in aromatherapy blends if they are completely plant-based. Watch your amounts, as even a gel can be greasy and stain clothing and sheets when used liberally.


A good massage cream will have a solid consistency that melts into a slippery texture and wipes off easily. Glide generally lasts longer than a lotion (and sometimes even oil) without having to re-apply. My personal favourite for mid-day appointments. Works well with hot stone. Also a good choice if you only have room in your budget for one type of massage lubricant.

The choices for massage lubricants keep expanding and changing, as more modalities are added and massage therapy evolves. If you’ve been using the same thing since massage school, please visit our showroom and check out our testers of product. You might find a new favourite!

cream gel lotion oil

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