Providing each client who relaxes onto your table with a customized massage therapy or bodywork experience is one of the best ways to ensure that client keeps coming back for more of your hands-on pain relief and relaxation.

There are many ways to tailor a massage or bodywork session to suit a client’s needs, and they all begin with communication between the touch practitioner and client. Once you have seen the same person several times in a row, it should be fairly simple to know what that client likes and to easily ask what he or she needs.

However, for first-time clients, it’s important to have them fill out a background questionnaire, detailing any issues they’d like you to work on, as well as any spots that should be avoided, allergies and other concerns. In addition to surveying this questionnaire, ask the client what he or she is expecting to get out of the massage or bodywork session.

Armed with this information, you can begin to give a session suited to the individual. One component of this, which many massage therapists may not consider, is the massage cream you choose to use. Obviously, if a client states she is allergic to a certain substance, you will want to make sure the massage cream you use does not contain that ingredient. Along the same lines, if a client is sensitive to fragrances, you will want to avoid scented lubricants, along with other forms of aromatherapy, in the practice space.

Less apparent are the different ways massage creams can enhance a particular client’s experience on the massage table. For instance, if you notice a client has dry skin, you may want to reach for a massage cream packed with powerful moisturizers. Look for such ingredients as avocado, sunflower and carrot oil, all of which add a moisturizing punch to massage cream.

In addition, a massage cream that contains such ingredients as jojoba oil, shea butter and sesame oil should be loaded with vitamins A, E and F, which may help rejuvenate and moisturize dry skin during and after a massage.
Another common scenario may be a client who is concerned about her facial skin, in which case you may wish to use a specialized massage cream when you work on this area.

Massage creams made for the face differ from overall creams in that they include special ingredients for this more sensitive skin, and these ingredients often offer look-good, feel-good benefits.

For instance, a facial massage cream may contain ingredients that help firm and soothe skin, increase collagen and elastin, and help repair damage—all while you massage stress from the face.

Examples of such ingredients include CoQ10, for collagen and elastin; vitamin K, to reduce the appearance of small veins; and vitamin C, to soften wrinkles and fine lines. In addition, silky emollients and natural botanicals, such as peach, pineapple and mango extracts and enzymes, can create noticeably smoother, softer skin on each client’s face.

—Brandi Schlossberg

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