Scented or unscented?

October 27, 2014  |  3 comments

I offer clients the choice of scented or unscented products in their massage and foot reflexology treatments. Yet we ask clients to avoid wearing scented products when they come to see us. Is that fair?

Why I use essential oils

Scent powerfully affects the nervous system. Our olfactory memories can be some of the earliest and longest lasting memories we form. Introducing a scent that pleases a client also soothes their nervous system. With pleasure comes a sense of comfort and well-being, which is why many people utilize bodywork.

When a client says yes to scented oil, I let the client sniff it. Just as a welcome scent can enhance a bodywork experience, an unwelcome scent can be stressful to the nervous system. Scents can awaken unpleasant memories or just rub someone the wrong way. I prefer to discover that reaction before applying the oil.

The aromatherapy products I use are pure, organic essential oils. They dissipate quickly after use. Enough clients say yes to them and enjoy their benefits that I have chosen to offer them upon request.

While we don’t sell products here, I’m happy to tell clients who ask where they can purchase the products. A client favorite is Badger’s Ginger Deep Tissue Massage Oil, which has both aromatherapeutic and topical benefits.

Peppermint oil in a foot treatment feels cooling and refreshing. Though evidence of results is varied, some say peppermint oil helps relieve conditions from headache to irritable bowel syndrome. Ginger, fir, and other oils can feel warming. And they just smell good.

Sensitivities to scent

Our client intake form includes a checkbox to indicate whether we should avoid using scented products.

Yesterday my client checked that box. Scented products can cause this client to develop contact dermatitis (skin rash from touching something). So while I use no scented products on this client’s skin, being in my treatment room where scented products had been used is fine.

For clients who are much more chemically sensitive, Chris’s treatment room is scent-free.

Why do we ask clients to refrain from wearing scented products?

Many scented products are strong-smelling, long-lasting, come from sources we wouldn’t want to expose ourselves or our clients to, and/or contain ingredients we want to avoid.

Plus Chris and I have our own nervous systems to consider. I also enjoy all the scented oils I offer clients. We ensure that each client gets the desired scent or lack thereof, and that way everyone is comfortable.

Before we had that policy, clients would sometimes come in smelling of perfume or soap so strong we could almost taste the scent, and it lingered here for hours afterward.

It’s simplest and safest to request that clients arrive unscented.

What about you?

Do you prefer scented or unscented bodywork treatments?  If you like scents, what are your favorites — and least favorite?  What are experiences you’ve had related to scent?