One of the most prevalent motivators among the massage, esthetics and bodywork graduates I have met is the desire to work in an environment where they have the opportunity to heal others through touch. But the art of healing requires more than a pair of skilled hands (or in the case of some modalities- feet). It actually starts right at the basics- the moment where you have to decide which product or products you would like to use during your service. The right products can help you turn a good spa service into a memorable experience your clients will return for as often as they can.
The key lies in knowing where to start.
Choosing the Right Formulation
Let’s start with the basics: Should you choose a lotion, oil, cream or a gel formula?
First determine what kind of service you will be performing, which will determine what level of “glide” or “slip” you need to perform your strokes.
Oil formulas will provide you with excellent glide, allowing you to cover large areas without having to reapply multiple times during the service. They can be highly moisturizing, but be mindful that some clients may prefer formulas that feel a bit lighter on the skin. Some oils can leave a light layer on your client’s skin post treatment, so be aware of how much you use during the service. A little goes a long way. While searching, also look for water dispersible formulas, which can be easily washed out of your linens.
Looking for something a bit lighter in texture? Try a lotion, which has a lighter feel than oil and absorbs quicker into the skin. These formulas are great for services that require slightly deeper bodywork; however, the lighter texture may result in a few more applications during your service.
Creams are very popular formulas because they are ultra rich and usually very nourishing, while giving you better glide than lighter lotion formulas. Be mindful though that since these formulations are ultra rich, a little goes a long way here as well. This principle applies not only to massage creams for the body, but also for facial massage creams as well. Facial massage creams are important because they are specifically formulated for the delicate skin on the face and décolleté. Massage creams intended for use on the body will sometimes congest the pores when the product is worked into the client’s facial skin, resulting in dreaded breakouts.
Gel formulas provide great glide without leaving behind a greasy feel on the client’s skin. They are very versatile products that can be used in all sorts of treatments, even hot stone massages. They are also great formulas to have on hand for clients with a significant amount of body hair. The gel will allow you to cover the surface area without dragging on the hair itself.
Massage balms are relatively new to the market, and are great tools for treating areas like the feet (which is a wonderful add-on to any spa service) or even for deeper tissue work to help your clients achieve deeper relaxation. Just be aware that many balm formulas are too thick to be squeezed out of tubes or pumped out of bottles. Spatulas and treatment bowls are necessities if you plan to use a balm as the product will have to be “scooped” out prior to each service.
Body Butters are ideal finishing products, especially after any sort of exfoliation service. Look for vitamin-packed formulas that will hydrate and nourish the skin. Butters are also great to sell in small retail sizes at your guest checkout area. Suggest that clients purchase a body butter to continue pampering their skin before their next spa service. You can also gift body butters during special occasions or as a special incentive for repeat guests.