Massage Lubricants: Which One Should You Use?

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Oil, lotion, cream, or gel? It’s a simple question with no right or wrong answer. But if you’re a professional massage therapist, it’s an important question to ask. Your final decision will take into account everything from client preference to budget to scent to skin sensitivities to massage modalities to your own comfort and ability to get the job done.


What’s the difference between massage oil, lotion, cream, and gel?

When it comes to massage, we use lubricants to enhance the “glide” of our hands across the skin, while at the same time giving us the “grip” we need to maintain contact. The different types of lubricants discussed here offer different ratios of grip-to-glide, mainly depending on their ratio of oil to water or other liquid additives.

Oils are just that: oil. There’s no added water or other liquid additives to change the texture or consistency. Oils are often slicker than other lubricants, offering more glide than grip. Oil can be slow to absorb into the skin, which makes it cost-effective, but it can also leave a greasy feeling that can be unpleasant to the client. Additionally, oil can drip and stain clothing, towels, and sheets.

Creams are a semi-solid emulsion of oil and liquid. They are thicker than oil, giving more grip for a professional massage that needs to work deeper tissue. They tend to be absorbed into the skin more quickly than oil, but quality products like Free-Up Massage Cream are formulated so that a small amount still goes a long way during a massage.

Lotions are also a blend of oil and liquid, but with a higher percentage of liquid. They absorb quickly into the skin and need lots of reapplication to maintain consistent lubrication. A low-cost lotion can thus be more expensive in the long run than higher-priced creams.

Gels are most similar to creams as far as consistency goes, but are usually oil-free. They absorb quickly into the skin, like lotions, making them less suitable for professional massage than oils and creams. Gels are transparent and often colorless.


Which type of massage lubricant is best?

As mentioned at the start, much of your decision will be based on personal preference and your own particular needs. In general, either a massage oil or quality massage cream is easier to work with than lotions or gels. Consider oil if you perform a style of massage that uses a light touch (and if you don’t mind the mess). Otherwise, for deeper tissue massage, look for a cream that will give you a good balance of grip and glide.


Consider Free-Up Massage Cream

Professional massage therapists rely on Free-Up for the excellent contact it provides between the hand and skin. It’s not too slippery, with just the right amount of friction for superb tissue perception. There’s no oily mess, but with its slow absorption rate, a little goes a long way.

Free-Up Massage Cream was created by professionals for professionals. It’s hypoallergenic, bacteriostatic, and contains no beeswax or nut oils. Rub a little between your fingers to see why professionals rely on it every day for its “exceptional, fantastic, and powerfully effective” feel.