We’ve all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”—but why stop there? In addition to tasting great, lemon can also do a body good, according to experts. Before using a lemon-infused massage product, therapists should understand the potential beneficial properties of this versatile ingredient.


Benefits of Lemon

You may already be aware of the benefits of eating lemons or drinking lemon juice; lemon has a positive impact on the digestive system, according to Wendy Dearborne, master aromatherapist and massage therapist, and these benefits also exist when lemon essential oil is diluted and used topically.”

Lemon, she said, can play a major self-care role in detoxifying the body because it supports healthy liver function. It can also help the immune system fight illness. “Because it has excellent antiseptic properties, lemon is a good choice when trying to combat a contagious outbreak, like flu,” Dearborne added. 


Spa Products with Lemon

Dearborne said that in a spa setting, lemon-infused products, such as those produced by soaking lemons in alcohol, oil or some other carrier, can be used in aromatherapy body polishes, foot and hand treatments and aromatherapy body massage sessions that emphasize “cleansing and clarifying both mind and body.”

“Lemon-infused products can also be used … for clarifying and detoxifying body wraps and as an aromatherapy color bath treatment,” she said. Dearborne reminds therapists that the scent of lemon in a steam room or client relaxation room can enhance the massage therapy session experience.

“Lemon essential oil can be uplifting and stimulating, but can also have the opposite effect and can be calming, which may help with mental fatigue,” said Jean Shea, founder and president of BIOTONE, which offers spa products containing lemon. “It can also increase the skin’s luster.”


lemon essential oil for massage sessions

Lemon and Mood

Waterfalls Day Spa in Middlebury, Vermont, offers a’chromatherapy™, a patent-pending spa treatment that uses color aroma, images of nature and visualization to restore balance and wellness, according to owner Sara Daly.

“We use lemon essential oil in massage oil as part of our a’chromatherapy line of products. The a’chromatherapy yellow massage oil is an uplifting essential oil blend that bursts into your senses like a ripe citrus peel,” Daly said. “This synergy awakens the mind and clarifies the spirit. Lemon is a positive, mood-boosting scent.”


Invigorating Boost

Massage products that contain lemon essential oil can be good for the spirit as well as the body. Stephanie Lauren Brown, a holistic skin care therapist and ayurvedic medicine practitioner, said that lemon tends to elevate one’s mood and produce an invigorating effect on the brain.

“It can increase alertness and concentration. Therefore, lemon would be great to use in a body scrub treatment meant to stimulate circulation, lymph movement and increase energy,” she said. Lemon oil also contains a high amount of Vitamin C and citric acid, which is an exfoliant, ideal for body scrubs.



A Few Precautions for Massage Sessions

Although lemon can provide several benefits when used in a massage session, therapists should exercise caution under certain circumstances.

“Lemon may irritate clients with sensitive skin or with mild skin conditions present like eczema,” said Dearborne.

Clients should also use caution going out in the sun when using lemon products. “The chemical composition of lemon contains bergaptene or bergamotene, which amplifies the UVA and UVB on the skin,” Dearborne said. “This is what makes lemon-infused products phototoxic or causes skin sensitivity when in direct sunlight.”

She advises therapists who include lemon essential oil in a massage blend to use no more than a 2 percent solution, particularly if your client will be in direct sunlight within 12 hours of application. 

As always, take note of clients’ personal preferences. “Make sure that your client likes the smell of lemon, as that can have a negative psychological effect [if they don’t],” she added.


Twist of Summer

Whether you choose a lemon-infused massage cream or offer a refreshing lemon-themed spa add-on, this powerful ingredient can add a fun twist of summer to your menu of services.


About the Author

Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human-interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. Hanlon has written several articles for MASSAGE Magazine and massagemag.com, including “If You Want to Make More Money, You Have to Learn to Sell.”