When you’re working with clients with sensitive skin or allergies, knowing which massage oils to use can make the difference between a blissful massage and a miserable experience for you and your client.
Every so often you may encounter a client with sensitive skin or allergies. How should you handle these situations, and how can you know which massage products to use on their skin?
Most likely you already ask about allergies and sensitive skin on your client intake form. But if the client hands you the form at the beginning of the massage session, it won’t do you much good to find out that the client requires nut-free massage oil and all you have on hand is an almond-based oil.
A better idea is to ask new clients about allergies and sensitivities when they call to set up an appointment. Even though you request this information on your form, it’s helpful to know beforehand what the client’s specific needs are. The client may forget to mark sensitivities on the intake form. Asking this question twice shows that you care about their needs, and it lessens the chance of the client forgetting to report an allergy. The extra effort may save you from running into problems later on if the client’s skin reacts to your standard massage oil.
For clients with sensitive skin, use unscented, hypoallergenic massage oils or creams. If the client is allergic to nuts, use a nut-free alternative such as jojoba or grapeseed oil. Ask the client what lubricants they have used successfully before and that they know are safe to use on their skin. If the client is unsure, try using jojoba or grapeseed oil, as both of these oils are considered non-allergenic for virtually all skin types.
Keep in mind that each individual’s skin may react differently, so test the lubricant in a small area and wait several minutes to check for a reaction before using the lubricant on a larger area. Clients with ultra-sensitive skin may feel more comfortable bringing in their own oil for massage. Use only as much massage oil as necessary and wipe off any excess oil with a warm, damp cloth.
Always keep a bottle of fragrance-free, all natural massage oil on hand for clients with sensitive skin. You may even want to replace your standard massage oil with an all natural one. Natural and organic massage oils enrich the skin—both for your clients and for you as the therapist. Your skin is in constant contact with the lubricants you use every day. Don’t neglect the quality of your massage oil. Your skin will thank you for it.
Lubricants aren’t the only concern for sensitive clients. Scented linens and detergents with harsh chemicals can also irritate the skin. Wash your massage linens with natural laundry detergent—no synthetic preservatives, toxins, bleach, or fragrance added. Air dry your linens, if possible.
The more care you take in choosing natural products that enrich the skin, the happier your clients’ skin—and your own skin—will be.