Oils, Creams, or Powders
Using a lubricant allows your hands to glide easily when performing the massage strokes. There are many different types of lubrication, each with a distinct purpose for use in a specific way. Experiment with a variety of products to find what you like best.
Whether you use oil or cream when you massage will depend on what you like as well as what the recipient prefers. Some people like the feel of a heavy cream sinking into their skin while others adore the feeling of warm oil as their skin drinks the healing properties. Some conditions respond better with the use of an essential oil applied in small diluted quantities. Whatever you use, remember, what is important is how good the massage and the products you use feel on the receiver.
Oils provide a smooth, friction-free medium that allows you to massage large areas easily. There are many different types of oils: some are natural vegetable- and plant-based oils; others are essential oils; while others are made from nuts or seeds. Choose oils that nourish the skin, rather than oils that contain alcohol or mineral oil, because these rob the skin of nutrients.
Always check with your receiver to see if she has any known allergy or skin condition. Often folks are aware of what products they can or cannot use. Discuss the contents of the massage medium before applying it. When in doubt use a hypoallergenic product, or ask the recipient to provide the lubricant.
Make sure you are aware of your receiver's tolerance to fragrance and nut-based products. A good basic oil is natural jojoba oil, which can be used alone or with essential oils. It does not spoil and generally does not cause any reactions. Another bonus is that jojoba does not stain the sheets or your clothing.
Using Creams and Lotions
Creams and lotions are thicker than oil, with less gliding ability. Lotion absorbs easily into the skin, whereas cream needs more rubbing before the skin soaks it up. Both of these massage mediums are easy to use and are less greasy than many oils. Cream may be easier for you to use when you want to work deep in the muscle. Cream and lotion are both good to use on the face or any area where oil is not preferred. Cream also works well on regions that are hairy, like calves and backs, because the hands are able to glide easily and the cream keeps the areas moist.
Powder reduces the friction when massaging, but it is not as good as cream, lotion, or oil. Powder is good to use on oily skin or when the recipient does not want any oil or cream on his or her body. A receiver with excessive body hair or an eruptive skin condition, like acne, is better served with the use of powder. The best powder to use is a cornstarch- or other natural-base powder made from plants or grains, because these are less likely to clog the pores.
Whatever you use to provide lubrication, always apply the medium to your hands first and then to the body. Do not put the oil, lotion, cream, or powder directly on the body because the cool sensation will be jarring to the recipient. Pour, shake, or scoop the lubricant into your hands, gently warming it first, and then apply it. You can have fun trying the different massage media, experimenting with everything, deciding what you like best, and practicing on yourself and others.