Massage & Bodywork

May | June 2014

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Your choice of massage oil affects more than just the ease of performing a technique. Oils can condition, hydrate, and soften the skin, improve skin elasticity, and bring many other benefits to the client. Some oils have anti-inflammatory and pain- relieving properties that make them especially useful in massage. The oils used in massage lubricants usually come from vegetable sources (pressed from nuts or seeds such as avocado and almond), but animal fats such as ghee (clarified butter) are also used. We try to avoid mineral oil and other petroleum products that coat the skin and do not absorb; if they remain on the skin, they do not allow it to eliminate metabolic wastes through perspiration. 38 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 4 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education Lubricants: Understand Your Options By Anne Williams All oils can be classified as saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated fats—most contain all three types of fat, but are classified according to the type present in the greatest amount. For massage purposes, these terms indicate something about the texture and quality of the oil and how absorbable it is. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats, found mainly in animal products, are solid at room temperature and do not absorb into the skin. Whether or not topically applied oils penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream to become available for internal health benefits has been debated. Some studies say there are oils that can do this. 1 Saturated fats, like those found in regular butter and cocoa butter, are poorly absorbed but may still have benefits for the skin. Ghee, for example, is used in ayurvedic medicine to lubricate the skin, promote wound healing, and decrease inflammation. Oils tend to be slippery when first applied but can be used with deeper, slower work as they are absorbed. Because they leave a moderate to heavy residue on the skin, you should provide clients with disposable wet wipes and a clean hand towel so that they can wipe off after a session. Some clients prefer cream over oil because they don't like the oil residue. It's important to use oils that are expeller pressed (also called cold- pressed or expressed) as opposed to oils that are refined (like processed cooking oils). The refining process damages the essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the

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