Among the most common reasons for a client to consult a massage therapist are for relaxation or stress relief. These may be two of the main benefits of most bodywork appointments, but there are several byproduct perks to hands-on healing as well.

For instance, improved circulation, greater range of motion, higher quality and quantity of sleep and better posture may all come along with a great massage therapy session, in addition to utter relaxation and reduction of stress. In much the same way that your own hands provide myriad benefits to the bodies and minds of your clients, so too can your massage cream bring more than one perk to the table.

The first aspect most massage therapists search for in a massage cream is a texture or consistency that works well with their own style of hands-on healing. This will be the first and main benefit of the massage cream—for both you and your clients—for it will help you apply your massage skills in the most effective way possible.

Once you know what you’re looking for in terms of consistency, the foundation of a great massage cream, it’s time to begin picking out the byproduct benefits. For example, if you tout your massage practice as earth-friendly, then it will be important to choose a massage cream that contains ingredients not grown or manufactured in a way that may harm our planet.

If this is the case, search for massage creams made with organic ingredients, meaning they were grown without the use of harmful pesticides or farming practices. In addition, look a bit deeper to be sure these organic ingredients were processed in a way that suits your eco-friendly values as well.

Another added perk of a massage cream may be its ability to enhance your hands-on skills, with ingredients that can help achieve each client’s goals for a particular bodywork session. For instance, if a client presents with severe muscle aches and pain, you may choose to use a massage cream that contains pain-relieving elements, such as Arnica montana or menthol.

Another example of such a situation would be a client who specifically requests a relaxation massage. In this case—which is likely quite common—you might want to select a massage cream with ingredients that are reported to induce relaxation and decrease stress, such as lavender or Roman chamomile essential oils.

Then again, if your client knows he or she will need to be awake and alert following a massage, you would likely reach for a massage cream that contains uplifting elements, such as geranium or lemon essential oils.

In addition to enhancing the particular mood of a bodywork session, massage cream may also be selected to suit the strictly physical needs of a client. A client with dry skin, for instance, may benefit from a massage cream known for its deeply hydrating qualities.

As you can see, there seem to be massage creams to suit nearly every style of bodywork and nearly every client goal. First, choose the massage cream that best fits your hands-on style, then search for those creams that contain the added perks for your practice.

—Brandi Schlossberg