Scents can add a subtle layer of satisfaction to a session of massage therapy or bodywork, but it’s important to know how to blend certain scents with your hands-on work for the best possible results. It’s also key to know when specific scents should be avoided.

One of the best ways a massage therapist or bodyworker may choose to work with scents is by purchasing a massage cream that has a pleasing fragrance. Of course, a professional hands-on practitioner should never base the purchase of a massage cream solely on how the lubricant smells.

First and foremost, the massage cream one chooses to work with on a regular basis must have a consistency or texture that is appropriate to the touch therapy that is typically performed. The right massage cream should perfectly complement a massage therapist’s hands-on skills and style.

Once you know what you’re looking for in terms of texture and consistency, then you can begin to search for massage creams that please your sense of smell as well. Extracts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and flowers frequently are key ingredients in high-quality massage creams. Many times, these natural elements combine to create a fresh scent.

Other times, manufacturers of massage creams may blend in various essential oils to make for a specific scent that’s pleasing to a majority of bodyworkers and clients. These scents may be crafted to inspire various results, such as relaxation and stress relief or rejuvenation and refreshment.

The kind of massage cream and fragrance you choose should depend on the type of results you hope to give clients during their time on your table. If you are looking to enhance their sense of relaxation, perhaps you will choose a massage cream that contains the essential oils of lavender or ylang ylang. If you are hoping to give clients an energized feeling, you may wish to choose a massage cream that contains such essential oils as rosemary or lemon.

With one whiff of a massage cream, most massage therapists and bodyworkers will know right away if the scent is one they find pleasing, and it is important to take pleasure in the fragrance of any massage lubricant you are working with on a regular basis.

When it comes to fragrances, however, many hands-on practitioners choose to steer clear completely, opting for fragrance-free versions of their favorite massage creams. By choosing to go fragrance-free in the session room, massage therapists and bodyworkers can avoid displeasing any clients who might not like a certain smell, or may even be sensitive to fragrances.

For folks with fragrance sensitivities, even the subtlest of scents can set off a headache, nausea and other unpleasant physical and emotional responses. Therefore, if you do decide to select a massage cream that is scented, it is a good idea to keep a fragrance-free version of the same cream on hand. Be sure to ask new clients whether they are allergic or sensitive to fragrance before you begin the first session.

—Brandi Schlossberg