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:
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 entirely of the linens. 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 thereof)
I prefer products with no scents added, 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.
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.
While the 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 into 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:
Sacred Earth Lotion
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. Soothing Touch also produces excellent products.
Buy Sacred Earth Lotion on Amazon
Buy Soothing Touch Massage Lotion on Amazon
Biotone Advanced Therapy Gel
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
Buy Bon Vital Naturale Massage Gel one Amazon
Pure Pro Ultra Oil
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.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
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.
Bon Vital Organica Cream
I have tried and loved many of Bon Vital’s products. The Organica cream 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
Soothing Touch Versa Creme
Soothing Touch produces many excellent massage products. Their Unscented Versa Creme is in my top three favorite massage creams. Not only is it an excellent product, but it is typically priced well below other professional massage creams. I often can find a gallon for $29.
Buy Soothing Touch Versa Creme on Amazon
Sacred Earth Botanicals Cream
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 on my massage table. 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
Do you have any opinions? What’s your go-to product stocked beside your massage table? Let me know in the comments below!
My name is Kassidy Hudgins and I am a current student at Greenville Technical College in SC. I am enrolled in the Massage Therapy program and I am currently taking on volunteer clients outside of class. I am trying out some different lotion brands before I commit and buy in bulk and was looking into your products! I would love to sample some of your massage lotions if that is something you could assist with. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you soon!
I do not have any samples 🙂 But some companies have samples for free or small fee (which is usually worth it).
Hello, thank you for this fabulous information. I have been using Soothing Touch Versa Unscented Massage Creme for years and I love it! However, I have recently noticed a change in the product. It is thicker and dryer and also stains my sheets. Have you noticed this?
I have purchased the Sacred Earth cream and I’m super excited to use it! What dispenser with pump would you recommend to use?
Their pump is good. I have not tried others.
Thanks for sharing such a great article.
Hi. I hate oils and oily lotion so I want to get a non greasy lotion to take with me that massage therapists will be okay using on me. Any suggestions? Thanks
Hi, I’m on this site because I’m trying to find something new to use in my practice. But for 16 years, I’ve used Epicuren lotions. My clients do love them, especially because they come in different scents. I find them to be rather concentrated, so sometimes i’ll just use their unscented and then some of the scented one my client chooses. I love the consistency of the lotions. I was using them at the spa I worked at for years, and then would buy the jugs to use at my private office. Anyway, I might still go with them, but I’m a little tired of the scents after all these years. But…my clients aren’t! Anyway, hope this helps.
I think “Biotone Gel” is the best thing to use on your face.
But “Oil” is way cheaper and effective too.
Biotone Advanced Therapy Massage Gel
Bon Vital’ Naturale Massage Gel (with jojoba)
In your opinion which product is qualitatively the better product?
The Bon Vital is considerably cheaper but I am scared this may indicate an inferior product
Great post thanks for the advice. My girlfriend is in school to be a massage therapist right now and I wanted to surprise her with a set of massage mediums. Not sure which modality she is looking to do but I thought it would be nice to get her a little bit of everything and decide for herself on which she likes best. So far from your post I can tell that she should stay away from scented for the flexibility. What other recommendations would you make for someone like her? And where could I find samples of the products that you’ve recommended or is it just best to get small size bottles from their sites? Any other information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
massage therapy ajax
Coconut oil would be the best massage oil. I have been using it for regular massage and it works really fine.
I am looking for a non- oil based massage lotion or cream for massaging my daughter who is on oxygen ventilation.( oil is prihibited for massaging because of possible fire hazard when oxygen is given after massaging)
Can I try Sacred Earth lotion or cream for that purpose? Are they ok if oxygen is given after massaging? No fire hazard?
Will appreciate your opinion.
Hi! Unfortunately, I do not know enough about O2 ventilators. I would hate to give you incorrect info. Sacred Earth would have oil in it. I would talk to an OT or PT about other options. Best wishes
Hi. I just have a quick question. What would you consider to be the thickest cream that you have? I need something extremely thick
I really think Sacred Earth is the thickest and easiest to work with.
Thank you for sharing
I am a Massage Therapist i Fort Mcmurray, Alberta
and I actually don’t have my ideal product to use in my massage practice place yet .
right now i just use organic massage oil and its work pretty good
I am in the process of gathering some monthly stock information for a massage therapy clinic. How much LOTION does a typical massage therapist go through per month? How often do you reorder a gallon?
Hi Pamela, It varies from therapist to therapist due to modality and preferences. And even the time of the year. I go through more cream in the winter than I do in the summer. I work part time and go through a half gallon of cream in about 3 months.
Hope this helps!
Hi my name is Vicken and I am massage therapist in Armenia. I have been using earth sacred for few years, I love it but it’s to expensive to bring it to Armenia. each bottle cost’s me with shipping $120. My wife is using Vaseline advanced repair body lotion the other day I massages her with it and it was very nice feeling. I saw the cost it was very reasonable would you recommend this product for massage therapist.
Vasoline is petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of oil production. It contains mineral oils and paraffin wax. Most massage therapists in the US steer clear of this product. It can cause breakouts and clog pores. But, I would not see myself paying $120 to ship either? Can you get other food grade oils in your area easily? Those would be more natural.
Use of proper massage oils during massage therapy is really important. Thanks guys for breaking it down really well. Actually massage oils are some of the most therapeutic oils that we have. In case you need something really cool to reinvigorate your muscles, use of coconut or olive oils is one of the very best options. I have used so many different oils on my clients for the last decade that I have been a professional massage therapist and trust me, nothing quite counts like a great aromatherapy session when combined with cool physical massage therapy. Remember however that some people don’t quite love perfumed oils.
I am excited to try some of these products! Thank you for the article!
Thank you for providing this information about the best oils, lotions, creams, and gels for massage therapy. It is good to know that scent matters. If the product smells too strongly it can distract from the service. Something to consider would be to apply lotion daily to increase the quality of your skin.
I love the Tui Massage Waxes. They are originally from New Zealand and we can get them in the UK. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find them in Canada. Trying to find something else instead as I don’t want to pay the import charges. but they will be a very hard product to beat.
Thanks, Sara! I have never heard of them. I will keep my eye out. I already checked Amazon. No such luck there.
I LOVE Pure Almond Oil. It relaxes me with its feel and smell. I don’t use anything else. The best place I have found to buy it is Bulk Apothecary. Does anyone know of anywhere else?
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?
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.
Thanks! I will check out Sacred Earth products then… Namaste… Chanti
I know this thread is old, but just a note – last time I ordered massage supplies online, I asked for any samples they might have and they sent me probably 30 different samples, (like the size you would get for sample creams/cosmetics at a drug store from 5ml to 30ml). They sent me samples of the entire BonVital line and a handful of different Biotone, Sacred Earth and CryoDerm. It’s worth asking instead of trying to get through litres and litres of ones you don’t prefer.
Living in Canada, and in Alberta in particular, winters get dry and cold turning people into sponges for lotions. I tend to use oils more in winter (also warmer on the client’s skin) and more lotion in the summer.
All that said, I always turn back to the Soothing Touch line, specifically the Muscle Comfort Cream. The stuff in the tub lasts longest, but the lotion in the jugs is great too. It’s a little more expensive, but a good investment.
It is an old post, but it is one of my favorites. I do updated it, but most of my favorites have stayed my favorites. My current jar is Soothing Touch unscented Versa Creme. Such a good buy! I will have to try the muscle cream. Thanks for the recommendation!
I love the muscle comfort cream by soothing touch it is very lightly scented but smells wonderful. I also love the Muscle comfort oil to add to the cream for the scent and workability. The oil is very fragrant so I only use a small amount and it lasts a long time.
Does anyone know where I can find ” heat activated emu oil w/ glucosamine” . A friend gave me some a few years back and it gets REAL hot. I have tried about everything for my sore back and neck muscles but nothing really gets hot like that stuff. I would love to know if any of you all know of a product that truly gets hot?
Thanks so much for your advice!
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
I really hope you like it! Stop back and let me know your opinion after you try them out.
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.
I have never tried the Zen products. I am always up for trying something new.
I agree about the holster problem. I have one that I made and has Velcro to fasten around the bottle. I need to make a tutorial on making one soon. I also have a 6 ounce cream bottle with a pump that I can refill. That bottle fits in a standard holster.
Wonder if this would work: http://www.ebodylogic.com/15ozholster.html it even looks like a bottle of Sacred Earth in the pic…
Great article. Thanks for the useful information.
costa rica spa
Hello Excellent info Thank you for posting! I’ll be back often
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
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.
Thank you Connie! We will be adding two new classes soon: Pediatric Massage Therapy and Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage.
Have discovered your website via bing the other day and absolutely love it. Continue the good work.
I am working on a post for nys transfers niw. Hopefully it will be done soon. New York has a few other options I’d you do not have 500 hours, bUT most of those are based on how many years you have been licensed in another state and your other educational experience.