A large number of people who work in the field of massage and bodywork seem to back the idea of feeling good naturally—avoiding invasive procedures or prescription drugs when possible. In other words, massage therapists and bodyworkers believe in the use of healthy touch for boosting well-being in a natural way.

It’s no surprise, then, that most practitioners of healthy touch prefer to keep most elements of their daily work in the all-natural arena. That means avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals in the session room.

You may be wondering what synthetic chemicals could be involved in hands-on healing in the first place. There are several facets of a typical massage or bodywork practice that should be evaluated in terms of all-natural appeal.

First, consider the manner in which your linens are laundered. If it’s important to you, as a practitioner of healthy touch, to “walk the walk” when it comes to promoting a more natural lifestyle, then you may wish to make sure your linens are laundered without the use of synthetic chemicals, including artificial fragrances.

Next, take a look at any candles you burn in your session room or practice space. Many candles are made with petroleum, which may not be considered as pure as beeswax. It’s also important to note whether these candles are scented artificially or if they contain natural essential oils.

Finally, take a long look at the ingredient label on your favorite massage cream. Massage cream coats your clients’ skin, as well as your own hands and forearms, on a regular basis. Therefore, finding a massage cream that fits your notion of natural may be one of the most important steps toward harmonizing your practice with your own beliefs and ideals.

If you are one of the massage therapists or bodyworkers who wants to avoid synthetic ingredients, start by making sure your massage cream does not contain parabens, which are used as preservatives in products ranging from makeup and shaving cream to shampoo and moisturizers, including certain massage lubricants.

These preservatives aim to protect such products from a broad range of microbial growth, but there is a reason many massage creams specifically exclude parabens from their ingredients. These chemical preservatives have been linked to health issues, such as breast cancer and estrogenic activity.

The most common parabens used in consumer goods are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. They usually are used in combination in order to provide the right level of preservation with the least amount of parabens.

Fortunately, consumer goods are required by law to declare ingredients on the label, and parabens are fairly simple to identify by name, for they usually include the word “paraben” itself.

On top of avoiding massage creams that contain parabens and other synthetic chemicals, you may wish to select only those creams that comprise organic ingredients if your notion of natural extends to growing and manufacturing methods.

A small amount of research into each massage cream you’re considering should yield information on where that cream’s ingredients come from and how they’re processed into the product you see on the shelf.

—Brandi Schlossberg