Sombra vs Biofreeze – A Massage Therapist’s Guide

We all know how hard it can be to get clients to use ice at home. If you have ever used analgesics in your office, had them used on you, or sold them in your office, you are most likely aware of the industry leader in cryotherapy – Biofreeze. Sombra’s use and visibility has grown over the past years, especially among massage therapists. The other day I posted on our fan page link –and asked whether fellow colleagues preferred Sombra or Biofreeze? Out of all two responses, one was undecided and one was for Sombra. I decided to give Sombra a try and get some samples.

I contacted Sombra. For $7.00 (cost of shipping) they send massage therapists this sample pack:

• 5 g packet of Cool Therapy Pain Relieving Gel (2)
• 5 g packet of Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel (2)
• 2 fl oz of Instant Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
• 1 fl oz bottle Natural Gel Oil
• 1 fl oz bottle of Therapeutic Lotion
• 1 fl oz jar of Natural Massage Crème
• 1 fl oz jar of Cool Therapy Pain Relieving
• 1 fl oz jar Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel
• 1 brochure

I contacted Biofreeze, for $0.00 they send massage therapists:

• one 5g packet of Biofreeze
• 1 pamphlet

If you sell their products, I believe they send you up to 100- 5g samples per month.

I will attempt to compare apples to apples here. Biofreeze is commonly listed as a type of cryotherapy and pain relief so I will compare that to the Sombra Cool Therapy Pain Relieving gel.

Sombra – Active ingredient – Menthol, USP 6.0% (External Analgesic)
Biofreeze – Active ingredients – Natural Menthol USP 3.5% (Cooling Pain Reliever)

Sombra Inactive Ingredients – Aloe vera extract, carbomer, decyl polyglucose, deionized water, grapefruit seed extract, green tea extract, lemon peel extract, queen of the prairie extract, rose water, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (preservative), vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, yucca extract.

Biofreeze Inactive Ingredients – carbomer, FD&C blue #1, FD&C yellow #5, glycerine, herbal extract (Ilex paraguariensis), isopropyl alcohol USP, methylparaben, natural camphor USP (for scent), propylene glycol, silicon dioxide, triethaolamine (TEA), purified water USP

The verdict


Like Soothing Touch, Sombra also hails from the “Land of Enchantment” –New Mexico. (Here is my recent review of Soothing Touch) It does not have the widespread availability of Biofreeze and can be more difficult to find, but many massage suppliers do carry it. It comes in jars and a roll-on. It has a lemon scent, but still has underlying medicinal scent that many analgesics have, including Biofreeze. It contains no artificial colors, fragrances, or alcohol. What I really liked is the fact that the “gel” is actually a lotion. From a massage therapy stand point this is great. It allows you to massage it on and work a little if need, not too long though, it does absorb quickly.


Performance Health, Inc. is the maker Biofreeze and Thera-Band products. They are based out of Ohio, the first state to regulate massage therapy. Biofreeze has been on the retail shelves of many chiropractors and massage therapists for years. I know of a few local pharmacies which carry it now. It is widely known and clients commonly ask where they can buy it. Biofreeze absorbs quickly, very quickly. It has no workability, which is great and ideal in certain circumstances. It is perfect to apply at the very end of a massage. It comes in tubes, wipes, a roll-on, and spray.

As far as actual pain relief performance, I feel they are about even. I prefer the ingredient list of Sombra and really liked its workability. Overall, Sombra has a variety of products with the massage therapist in mind. If you have not given them a try, get out $7.00 or order some from your massage product supplier.

Ivy Hultquist
Advanced Massage Techniques – Massage Therapy Continuing Education

About Ivy Hultquist

Thank you for reading this post! In addition to writing here at Massage and Bloggywork, I write specifically about barefoot massage at, as well as teach massage continuing education at Advanced Massage Techniques.


Connect with me: +Ivy Hultquist, Twitter, or Facebook


  1. Steve Slusher says:

    What retain store in the 92109 area can I find the sombra bio-freeze product?

  2. As a tennis professional and a sports trainer, I can say that I use both Biofreeze and Sombra (both cool & warm therapies) but, I MIX Biofreeze and Sombra together and it is absolutely fabulous! For tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, and other muscle strains, it works wonders.

    I like Super Blue Stuff as well – it works very well on inflamation and muscle sprains/strains.

    I also recently started using Penetrex and it is really good. It has MSM/DMSO which really works well on muscle injuries.

    Both Sombra, Biofreeze and Penetrex are available online. Just GOOGLE the brand and you will find multiple websites where they can be bought

  3. my 5yr old granddaughter has recently be dianoised with benign hypermobility syndrome and I had someone memtion the Sombra lotion and I was wondering if this might help with her pain?

  4. Carl Seaton says:

    I’ve had repeated problems with urticaria (hives) and I find that Sombra Cool Therapy has been great for giving quick relief. My wife’s doctor introduced us to Sombra for treating the pain that accompanies diabetic neuropothy which worked very well for her.

  5. Thank you for your opinions. As a physical therapist and running coach, I have been using and recommending Sombra for years. Like you, I like the workability of it, and I think it has a longer lasting effect. I actually like the smell of it.

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