One key to lasting success as a massage therapist is to offer each client an unforgettable massage. This statement is fairly obvious, but the ways in which one can make a massage memorable may be much more subtle. Aside from high-quality hand skills and an ability to communicate with clients, offering a spectacular session seems to come down to details.

From the soft texture of sheets that line the table to the music that floats forth from the stereo speakers, every element of the massage experience should combine to create the ultimate session. One incredibly important detail is the massage cream you apply to your client throughout the massage.

You may have your own favorite massage cream, in terms of glide and consistency, but that does not necessarily mean it will make for a memorable massage. However, by embellishing your massage cream with a few drops of essential oil, or by purchasing a massage cream with these oils already added, your client could leave the table with added satisfaction and a lovely, lingering scent.

As you attempt to determine what type of essential oil you would like to add to your massage cream, or what type of scented cream you would like to purchase, it’s important to know the effect that various scents can have on the body and mind.

Fortunately, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) has produced a list of the “Top 10 Essential Oils,” which offers a great starting point for massage therapists hoping to add more scents to their sessions.

In terms of stress relief and relaxation—two common goals among massage therapists and their clients—several essential oils make NAHA’s Top 10 list. Among these are:

  • ylang ylang, which is also said to relieve muscle tension and act as an antidepressant.

  • geranium, for results that are both relaxing and uplifting.

  • lavender.

  • lemon, which is also uplifting.

  • clary sage, which is also said to help with insomnia.

  • Roman chamomile, which may also help alleviate anxiety.

For treating headaches, muscle aches and digestive disorders, NAHA recommends peppermint essential oil. To boost the immune system, relieve muscle tension and ease respiratory problems, the organization lists eucalyptus on its Top 10 list. For mental stimulation, as well as stimulation of the immune system, try rosemary.

These are but a few examples of popular essential oils that you may choose to add to or purchase within your massage cream in order to add another dimension—aroma—to your next bodywork session.

If you choose to have an array of essential oils or scented massage creams on hand, you may even be able to tailor each session’s scent to a specific client’s needs, such as mental stimulation accompanied by relaxation or relief of muscle tension along with an immune-system boost.

However, be sure you do your homework on how to use essential oils if you choose to add them to massage cream on your own. It is important to use the right amount of these powerful extracts.