Cutting Costs Could End Up Costing You Money
A massage practice can be expensive to start, and as a business owner you may be tempted to cut corners—but the quality of your massage lubricants is not something you should ever sacrifice to save money. In the long run, using lower-quality creams, oils or lotions will affect the level of satisfaction experienced by your clients during massage therapy sessions; it may even cost you money in the form of lost clients.
A Professional Finish
One pitfall novice therapists sometimes fall into is using vegetable oils, olive oil or cheap lotion as a massage lubricant. This may seem, on the surface, less expensive than purchasing professional massage products—but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Food-grade oils and inexpensive hand lotions can leave clients feeling greasy, dry or even sticky—and no one likes to leave a massage session smelling like a tossed salad, especially if they have to return to work. Professional-grade massage products leave clients’ skin feeling moisturized and healthy, reducing the need for business clients to shower before returning to work.
Nonprofessional products can also result in a sub-par therapeutic experience, since watered-down lotions or overly thick oils may diminish the therapist’s ability to diversify the techniques used during a massage session. Professional products provide versatility in terms of texture, workability, glide and absorption, allowing therapists to choose a product most appropriate for meeting therapeutic goals.
Lower-quality products are often non-hypoallergenic and may contain synthetic fragrances instead of essential oils and higher-quality ingredients found in professional massage products. In addition, low-quality products often require frequent re-application compared to those intended for professional use, which have been designed to account for such variables as dry skin, body hair and massage technique.
Less Work on Laundry Day
An added benefit of using professional products is they are structured to wash out of linens easily, while vegetable oils, nut oils and cheap lotions are not. This often results in stained linens, which are unsightly and can be expensive to replace.
The Downside of Cheap
Ultimately, although massage lubricants account for a small portion of the cost of doing business, ensuring they are high-quality is one of the most important decisions a therapist can make. The real cost difference between professional products and lower-quality products is insignificant when adjusted for each massage session, especially when one considers the difference it can make in the client’s experience.
In the long run, professional massage products are actually more cost-efficient, last longer, have a nicer end-feel for the client and more effectively facilitate the therapeutic goals of massage therapy sessions—all resulting in a more satisfied client.
How to Choose a Lubricant
For therapists who have limited experience with the variety of massage products available, choosing an appropriate product can be a daunting task. Knowing when to use oil compared to a lotion, crème or gel may require a bit of research.
The first step to choosing products for your massage practice is to experiment with as many as possible. Test the oil, crème, gel or lotion to see if you like the way it feels and smells. If you don’t like it, chances are your clients may feel the same way.
Additionally, when choosing massage products keep in mind some clients may have allergies or sensitivities to scents. Try to avoid products with strong aromas or synthetic ingredients; and if using a product containing nut oils, be sure to rule out nut allergies before using it on a client.
Professional massage products are specifically designed to maximize the benefits a client receives from massage therapy sessions.
Consider Your Massage Session Goals
Many professional products have such ingredients as essential oils, vitamins and nutrients that have both esthetic and therapeutic properties.
For example, a therapist who does deep-tissue work may find it beneficial to use a product containing arnica to help stimulate circulation and ease bruises.
Depending on the type of massage techniques offered, you may need a product that provides more glide compared to stick, or vice versa. For example, neuromuscular therapy requires more friction to affect the fascia, whereas Swedish massage requires more glide to facilitate techniques like petrissage and effleurage.
By choosing products that make clients feel comforted and nurtured while simultaneously facilitating the intended goals of the massage session, therapists are investing in both themselves and their clients.
Invest in the Best
It’s important to take into account that even though you may save a few dollars by buying lower-quality products, you may not be saving money in the long run. This principle applies not just to massage lubricants, but to a variety of massage products and equipment.
When considering professional purchases, bear in mind that clients will know when a therapist is using low-grade products because it results in an inferior experience. An incident that could potentially leave the client dissatisfied with the services rendered may even result in that client booking elsewhere.
By researching, testing and investing in quality products, from lubricants to bedding to tables, therapists demonstrate their commitment to providing the highest level of service possible.
Those who go the extra mile and treat their clients well are rewarded through word-of-mouth recognition when clients speak highly of the services they received to their friends, relatives and co-workers.
Jean Shea is founder and president of BIOTONE, a provider of professional massage therapy and spa body-care products. Shea serves as chief product formulator for all of BIOTONE’s offerings and is involved in many industry initiatives to further the knowledge and benefits of massage therapy in education and health care.