Oil vs. Lotion – The Great Debate

December 20, 2010

When given a choice during a massage between oil or lotion (or body butter), many clients wonder if there is a difference.

The first consideration is skin sensitivity. If a client has nut allergies or other skin sensitivities it is important to note that on the intake form. Many spas use nut oils or automatically incorporate essential oils into a service, so good communication will ensure the right product is used.

Oil is more emollient, offering the therapist more glide over the skin which is particularly good during Swedish massage (like milk + honey’s Lux Massage). Since it does not absorb quickly, it does not have to be applied repeatedly and is easier on the therapist. Oil is also beneficial in rejuvenating dry skin after a summer in the sun or a winter in heated rooms. That same luscious moisturizer may not be a great choice if a client has to return to the office or is going directly to a nice dinner.

Lotion, on the other hand (no pun intended), is often used specifically for therapeutic techniques including myofacial work or other structural integration techniques where more friction in needed. If a client is particularly hairy, however, lotion tends to get caught in the hair making it challenging for the therapist and possibly, uncomfortable for the client. Again, if a client wants to avoid feeling ‘greasy’, then lotion is the way to go.

At milk + honey, we offer a choice of oil or super-hydrating body butter in all of our massages. We recommend that you try them both and see what you prefer!

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