The Best Oils, Lotions, Creams, and Gels for Massage Therapy

Over the years I have tried quite a few oils, lotions, creams, and gels for massage. I have tried everything from virgin coconut, shea butter, nutri-this and arnica-that, and blended a few of my own recipes.

Today I set out to compare and discuss some of my favorites in my quest for the perfect massage product.

First, I base my decision on these factors:

  • Ingredients

  • I prefer organic ingredients, but I do not lose sleep if a couple non-organic ingredients make their way into a bottle. I would love to use cold pressed, unrefined, natural oils. Naturally they would be the best choice for clients and me. However, they tend to have a nutty odor and texture that clients find quite unpleasant.

    Most natural (unrefined) oils do not wash out of the linens that well.  When oils do not get out of linens and are put in the dryer, the risk for fires increases. Then I have to use more “degreasing agents”, which will go into my septic tank, yard, garden and then into the creek behind my house. In general, I opt for good quality products that also easily wash out of my linens.

  • Scent (or lack there of)

  • I prefer products with no scent, or a very faint scent. This is a request often shared by my clients. Unscented products allow you to incorporate aromatherapy based on clients’ individual preferences. Lemon essential oil today, Sandalwood next month.

  • Consistency

  • All massage therapists are familiar with the terms absorption, glide, grip, slip, and drag. Your preference is most likely determined by the modality you practice (deep tissue, light/relaxation, sports, stone, etc). I primarily practice deep tissue and ashiatsu massage; slip is undesirable for my modalities.

  • Price

  • While price is a factor, I put it pretty far down on my requirements.  Sometimes, but not always, quality costs more. I know my clients appreciate that I put a lot of effort choosing a great product to put on their skin. Massage products are on YOUR skin all day; choose the best quality products.

Here are a few of my favorites over the past decade, and I have saved the best for last:

    Lotions

  1. Sacred Earth Lotion

  2. The fact is most clients prefer lotion. If you have ever used massage oils, then you have had clients ask, “Do you have lotion, I do not like the oily feeling on my skin or hair after a massage”.

    Lotions do not leave the residue oils do. Lotions are mostly water, and this is why they absorb quickly (sometimes too quickly for practitioners). You may find yourself going back to your bottle pump and buying gallons of lotion more frequently other massage products. Their makeup is also why they tend to wash out of linens and carpet better than oils. In my section on creams, I will talk a little more about why I like Sacred Earth Botanical’s products so much.

    Buy Sacred Earth Lotion on Amazon

    Gels

  3. Biotone Advanced Therapy Gel

  4. Biotone offers a wide variety of products for massage professionals. Think of a massage gel as a massage product hybrid. It is not quite an oil, but not really a lotion or cream. I found product this worked better for relaxation massage, but it is very usable for deep tissue work.

    Buy Biotone Advanced Therapy Gel on Amazon

    Oils

  5. Pure Pro Ultra Oil

  6. Years and years ago Pure Pro sent me a 0.3 ounce sample of this oil. It is very light, almost too light at times. I never remember a client complaining about the oily feeling associated with oils. It was economical and a very little went a long way. It has virtually no odor, and washed out of sheets easily. It was nut-free and chemical-free before most other common massage products on the market were.

    Buy this oil at Purepro.com

  7. Fractionated Coconut Oil

  8. There are many positive things about using an oil for a massage. Oil warms to your hands and stays warm on the client’s skin. Lotions and creams can cool quickly and leave a client feeling a bit cool on the table. Base, fixed, or carrier oils are great for an aromatherapy massage. Essential oils blend quickly with oils and do not require vigorous mixing like lotions or cremes. Oil will require less applications and a bottle will last a longer than lotion.

    What are the negatives regarding oil? Oil has more slip during a massage and this is sometimes a issue with modalities where more drag is desired. Some oils can stain sheets, clothes and carpet. And as I mentioned earlier, clients may dislike the oily feeling on their skin after a massage. Generally the more natural an oil, the more likely it keeps all its wonderful healing properties, including its often undesired oily consistency and odor. If you decide to use oil, ask your clients first.

    There are many light oils available which will not leave clients feeling oily.

    Fractionated coconut is my favorite oil for a massage. It is not the most natural oil available, but it seems to be the favorite with my clients over the years. It is light, unscented and makes the perfect base for adding essential oils.

    Buy Fractionated Coconut Oil on Amazon

    Cream or Cremes

    When I started practicing Ashiatsu, I needed the long-lasting workability of an oil, but very little slip. I switched to creams for practical reasons.

  9. Bon Vital Organica Cream

  10. I have tried and loved many of Bon Vital’s products. This one is my favorite. It is a jojoba and aloe-based cream with no odor, great consistency, organic ingredients and works well with most modalities. Clients like creams because they absorb like a lotion and provide a luxurious feeling. This is a wonderful product.

    Buy Bon Vital Organica on Amazon

  11. Sacred Earth Botanicals Cream

  12. Five years ago a colleague here in Iowa (she owned a massage supply store) recommended Sacred Earth Botanicals to me. She was kind enough to give me a sample, and I was hooked after the first time I used it.

    Hands down, it is the best massage product I have ever used. It is thick (not quite as thick as a butter) and has a pleasant, but natural scent. I love the smooth glide and long-lasting workability. My sheets also look great! It is hypo-allergenic and vegan; it can please the toughest crowd. The company seems to strive for greenness and honesty.  It is not the cheapest product out there, but certainly worth the extra money in my opinion.

    Buy Sacred Earth Cream on Amazon

What are your favorites? Do you have any opinions about the above products? Let me know in the comments below!

~ Ivy

Photo Credit: FoundryParkInn

Comments

  1. Patti says

    1000 Thank yous Ivy!! Loved your share/review of massage lubricants. Last night I was searching the internet for just this informatin on just these products :) I, like you, enjoy doing long slow deep strokes. I have used pure pro ultra and it has many wonderful qualities at a great price, but I am looking for more drag. I am curious about the lotion and cream ease of application. I like to stay physically connected to my clients throughout the massage. Presently, I use oil in a holster w/ a pump. How do you recommend using lotion or cream? I am also doing alot of work in a resort spa so a cost effective lubricant is important, but firslt it needs to be chemical free and organice is important too. Would love to hear what you would suggest, thank you
    Lovingly,
    Patti

    • says

      Good Afternoon Patti – Lotion also works great in a holster and I highly recommend Sacred Earth’s lotion too. I am also a fan of Soothing Touch’s lotions. With that being said, I use cream 99.9% of the time (Sacred Earth’s). They do sell it in a pump, but it IS NOT cost effective. So, I buy it in a jar and spoon out a little into small silicone bowls that estheticians use in spas. That way I can sanitize them in between sessions, it can be transported around my table if needed without spilling, and the cream is readily available when I need it. Luckily with creams-especially Sacred Earth’s, you need not go back very often.

  2. says

    I LOVE Sacred Earth cream and have pretty much switched 100% to it. Probably my only downfall is that it doesn’t fit into any holster I can find. If you know of somewhere online to buy a holster let me know lol.

    My fall back (used to be my number one) is Zen Organics. In fact if you are looking for a nice scented cream their French Lavender and Bergamot creams are divine smelling (my male clients used to ask for the lavender, especially my MMA fighter and Power Lifter lol). It has great glide, stays around long enough for neuromuscular and slow work without being slippery, and absorbs into the skin nicely (clients don’t leave feeling like a greasy mess). It also is nice on the sheets. My only drawback with it is how it ages. Because both Sacred Earth and Zen require such a tiny dab of cream per area my bottles last quite some time, unfortunately if it is too large of a bottle I don’t use it fast enough and Zen gets a little funky looking from the oils separating and getting old (I don’t know how Sacred Earth’s doesn’t do this).

    I still use Zen’s Zero Below on a fairly regular basis which can’t be beat. I swear the stuff has little computers in it, it ONLY seems to get cold where there is a problem (the worse the problem, the colder it gets), but if there are no problems you don’t feel it. Its weird and amazing.

  3. says

    Thank you for all this great information..I am anxious to try the Sacred Earth creams and lotions . I truly believe that it is very important to use only the best ingredients on clients even if it is more costly..Thank you again..I subscribe to your Blog and facebook

  4. Chanti says

    Hi Ivy!

    I don’t know if you are still writing… I love your share on all the different lotions and cremes… Thank you! Have you ever used any products from The Bodywork Emporium people? They were based out of California. They are now out of business and I used to love their massage lotions. It smells incredible and leaves the skin feeling so soft and light. It was the feeling of getting a nice massage and at the same time hydrate the skin so nicely. I have not been able to find something similar. One of my favorite blends was called “Sunkissed”. It has Ylang Ylang, Orange, and Vanilla.

    Do you still love Sacred Earth?

    Best,
    Chantalynn

    • says

      Hi Chanti!

      I just found your comment as I was cleaning out the spam folder. Why it was there, I don’t know. I have never used their products. And now it looks like I will not be able to :(. I am just going through this post and adding a few more details and things that have changed for me in the past few years. And yes, I still have not stopped using Sacred Earth. It is lovely.

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