Essential Oils, Lotions, and Powders
Reflexology doesn't use much gliding, sliding, or rubbing; therefore, a lubricant is not necessary. It is simply supplementary. A pinch of product before the session may help with movement if the feet are excessively dry or sweaty. If you choose to do this, it is recommended that you apply this to your hands rather than the feet to be worked. You have a wide variety of products to choose from including essential oils, lotions, and powders.
Whatever you choose to use on the feet, always apply it liberally after the session. In Europe, where it is very clear that reflexology is not a massage, reflexologists do use products before, during, and after sessions. However, here in the States, using lotion, oil, or powder indicates massage only. Recognizing the practice of reflexology and massage as separate modalities is ongoing at this time.
The use of essential oil in reflexology has grown in importance over the past few years as practitioners recognize the healing properties of aromatherapy. The practice of aromatherapy can trace its roots to ancient cultures worldwide. Just as reflexology has evolved, so has the use of aromatic oils.
Research has shown the medicinal value of these oils. The scientific research dealing with essential plant oils began in France during the late 1800s. Like many famous stories in history, an accident proved the value of aromatherapy — an accident and a reflex! René-Maurice Gattefossé, a chemist, burned his hand during research. He reflexively plunged his hand into a vat of lavender oil. Not only did his pain lessen, the healing process was quicker.
A guideline for aromatherapy is to understand that less is more. Do not overuse; a drop of pure oil goes a long way. Remember to check with your receiver for any known allergies. If you have any questions about essential oil use, consult a professional aromatherapist.
The myriad of oils available may be confusing. A rule of thumb is to look for organic oils, those that have been prepared and infused without alcohol. Generally, essential oils are packaged neat, then mixed with carrier oil for safe dispersing. The label should read “100 percent pure,” which means it is not blended, or “100 percent natural,” which indicates there are no synthetic additives. However, commercially produced oils may use alcohol. Read all labels before buying any individual or combination oils and stay away from additives.
Everywhere one looks, lotions for feet can be found. Magazines teach you how to make your own, retail stores stock several different kinds, specialty stores carry their own blend, and catalogs allow the consumer to buy herbal lotions, essential oil lotions, even lotions for aches and pains. Specific aromatic oils used for relaxation may be included in the lotions you purchase, either in a blend or singly. Lotions come in all colors and scents and have a thicker texture than essential oils.
Peppermint and lavender are often the scents used in lotions since they contribute to relaxation. Lotions that contain tea tree oil are good for antifungal and antibacterial use. Generally the use of lotions is preferable, as the incident of reaction is far less with lotions than with pure oils.
Most practitioners find a cream they resonate with and use it exclusively. Some reflexologists make their own lotions or combine essential oils in their homemade creams. Generally, oils, creams, lotions, and powders are not combined in a session. Most work with just one consistently since it is used at the end of the treatment.
Powders assist in absorption. If your hands or the receivers' feet are sweaty, sprinkle some powder on your hands and go to work! Cornstarch, talc, and alum are all used as a base for powders. The roots from certain underground plants are ground into powder, and the use of these products will not clog pores. The more natural the powder the better, but good old baby powder works just as well.
The purpose of the powder is to allow the treatment to move along without interruption — a free transition from one reflex to another. Often powders are scented, which lends an aromatic flavor to the session. Powder applied at the end of a session may be used more liberally than at the beginning of the treatment.