spa aromatherapy with gerbera flowers essential oil brushEvery massage you perform has a goal.

The goal may simply be to help your client relax; but if you work with clients who have back pain or conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, your goal will often be to relieve pain. You can use exfoliation and creams as part of an overall treatment that achieves your goals.

Stages and Tools

Angie Dubis, a massage educator based in San Diego, says choosing the correct tools for each step of the treatment is important. For example, “Exfoliation can be done with a product, with a dry brush or with a loofah. It is considered the preparation stage,” she said.

After the preparation stage is the treatment stage. This includes the application of mud or seaweed. The final step is the finishing stage and includes the application of a finishing cream.

The tool you choose will depend on both your goal and your client. “A person with osteoarthritis may find some scrubs too rough. You always want to consider the intent of the therapy, identify the goals and choose the best tools,” Dubis said.


Each step of the treatment is important. “Exfoliation removes the top layer of the skin, so of course it is more absorbent,” said Dubis. Because it is extra-absorbent, the creams you choose may have more of an impact than at other times.

If the goal of the treatment is to help moisturize dry skin, choosing a cream that contains lavender will have greater impact following preparation and treatment, according to Dubis.

When the goal is pain relief for inflammation, creams that contain glucosamine may be the optimal choice. “It really depends on what you are trying to do,” said Dubis.

Technique Matters

In addition to choosing the best tools for each stage it is equally important to consider the technique you will use in light of the goal of the therapy, Dubis said.. “You should always choose the right tools and technique to meet the goal of each treatment,” she said. Every client is unique.

Communication with your client will help you determine which technique will work best, what sort of exfoliant to use, what the treatment stage should consist of, and which creams will be most beneficial to use in the finishing stage.