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Caring for your skin (Posted on October 27, 2012)


What’s the one tool a massage therapist uses most?

The instinctive answer would be “the hands,” and this makes sense. In school we learn to massage with the hands first, and only later move on to forearms, tools, and possibly feet. There are workshops, books, and DVDs about how to take care of your hands. Who wouldn’t want to make sure they’re in the best shape possible?

But there’s a better answer to this question, even if it’s less often addressed. The tool a massage therapist uses the most is the skin. A little information can go a long way in protecting the skin of our hands (and arms, and feet). Caring for your skin can mean the difference between a fulfilling career and a frustrating one.

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction to allergens and irritants, which commonly looks like red, puffy, flaky, or itchy skin. If you’ve ever had a rash from poison ivy, you know what contact dermatitis looks and feels like.

Outside of nasty vegetation, contact dermatitis is commonly caused by harsh soaps and cleaning agents, as well as other chemicals. Luckily, most products for massage don’t include these kinds of extremely harsh chemicals, but many do contain more mildly irritating ingredients.

For those with sensitive skin, just the presence of some of these ingredients is enough to cause a skin reaction. But even massage therapists who normally don’t react poorly to the various chemicals in their lives can develop contact dermatitis when it comes to their massage products. How come?

Massage lotions and creams are designed for clients. These clients might spend an hour a week or an hour a month in contact with these products, which might not be enough to cause a reaction unless they have particularly sensitive skin. Massage therapists, however, might spend 10, 20, or 30 hours with their hands in their massage products. And it’s this large amount of exposure that increases the risk of a reaction in the skin.

How to avoid contact dermatitis

Reading the ingredients on some massage products can be like trying to parse a spell from a Harry Potter book. Generally speaking, if you don’t understand what an ingredient is, don’t be afraid to ask! A quick internet search can also tell you if an ingredient has been known to be irritating to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to stay away from all but the most pure and soothing ingredients.

All Pure Pro products are developed with sensitive skin in mind. You won’t find ethoxylated ingredients like octyl palmitate (also called ethylhexyl palmitate) or products with an extremely low pH, both of which can take their toll on the skin over time.

Seed oils like grapeseed oil and apricot kernel oil are the gentlest and most nourishing for sensitive skin, and are the best choice for people who’ve suffered from skin irritation due to massage products and cosmetics in the past. Ourultra water dispersible massage oil is also very gentle, with a lighter feel. If you need a lotion rather than an oil, our hypoallergenic massage lotion is as mild as they come.

Remember, knowledge is power.

If you ever need to know more about one of our products or the ingredients we use, let us know how we can help you! The more you learn, the more empowered you’ll be to make the right decisions for yourself and your clients. Remember: your wellbeing is truly in your hands.

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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