How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body hair?

A place for students to post their questions and concerns.

Moderator: squash_blsm

Post Reply
aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body hair?

Post by aloha_student » Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:41 am

Hello - I'm a new student at massage therapy school and I'm seeking the advice of those more experienced than me. There's a student in my class who is extremely sensitive about his body hair, especially on the back. He doesn't deliver his feedback in a productive or polite manner, which leads me to believe it really does hurt and ruins the massage for him, but by the time I put enough lotion on to make him happy about his hair, I can't get any pressure whatsoever because I've lost the ability to use body leverage instead of just muscling it. I was thinking this past time I should have gone ahead with the lotion but lowered the table a notch from where I usually work (he's also a big guy), but at my school it's about memorizing and performing sequences, not solving problems, so I would have gotten in trouble for stopping the massage to fix the table. I also get complaints from this student that there's no continuity to my massage because I'm always stopping to add more lotion - help!

Here's my questions:
1. Is there any way to see these guys coming? None of the other guys in my class make a peep about their body hair but I'd like to know when it's going to be an issue so I don't give men a painful massage. Is there any body type or anything else that gives you a heads-up? He's really not very nice about this so it would be nice to be able head off this kind of reaction before I get it from a client.

2. How do you deal with the issue of too much lotion? He can't even handle me running my fingers along his back with no pressure (for example, the return from a gliding stroke) unless there's lots of lotion.

3. Have you gotten to the point where you can apply lotion without breaking the continuity of your strokes, or do you stop for a moment when you need to apply more lotion? One of my sources of pride has been that I can pump mid-stroke and move from stroke to stroke without stopping, but maybe that's beginner's naivety?

Thank you!!

User avatar
pueppi
Registered Member
Posts: 5887
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Texas / The Lone Star State

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by pueppi » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:06 pm

I only have a moment, but one thing that jumps out at me...

Try using something like a jojoba oil. You can use as much or little as you like, and it won't soak in quite as fast as some of the lotions out there. I find a little goes a long way, and I can use more on hairy bodies to create better glide that lasts. Also, make sure you have a very high quality lotion/oil/product. It makes a huge difference in delivering your bodywork.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through valleys tinkling with bells...
Houston Massage Therapy - Advanced Massage Therapy - Lucas & Lucas, LLC

Jonathan
Registered Member
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 3:59 pm
Location: california

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by Jonathan » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:23 pm

1. Sounds to me like he's one of those people that would holler about being hung with a brand spanking new rope. Do other students also receive cruddy feedback? I'm betting they do. My back is somewhat hairy and I have never noticed any hair pulling. I'm also guessing that he knows he is yanking your chain, I would not worry about it. 2. "Too much lotion"; When receiving in classes I hated too much lotion, in my hair and in my linens. I swear there were times I could wring lotion out of my linens. I wore my hair in a fairly long pony-tail and greasy hair went out in the 50's. Besides, it feels awful. Glide versus grip/pressure is always a compromise. Jojoba oil is good at this (small amount goes a long way). 3. No way your hand can be in two places at once. A holster with a pump bottle is about as quick as you can be but you can maintain contact with the other hand. I have seen people who use cream place some extra in a glob just above their wrist for quicker access. Work on people as you would like to worked on and you'll gather it all up pretty soon and gain confidence. We all started at the beginning, too.
live & let live

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:18 pm

Thank you! Both of you mentioned jojoba oil so I'll definitely experiment with it. Do you usually put your oils in a pump? I haven't used oils yet. Jonathan, you are probably right about yanking my chain - my teacher gave me a doom and gloom speech about all my male clients leaving after blaming me for burning their hairy skin when she heard my classmate complaining so I got a little nervous :(

User avatar
pueppi
Registered Member
Posts: 5887
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Texas / The Lone Star State

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by pueppi » Mon Aug 10, 2015 6:09 pm

I juse Jojoba in a pump. I really love my Oakworks Lotion Holster.

And, here is a great thread on Jojoba: Jojoba Oil Revisited

While you are testing things, you can probably buy a small bottle of jojoba at your local health food store. I was pretty "anti-oil" for a long time, but Jojoba was the perfect thing for when I went through a rough patch of eczema (and over the psst few years now, I have adopted it for most of my bodywork) unless, I feel the need for lotion. I expect someday I will return to lotion, as I do prefer to work with it. But for now, I am happy with the Jojoba. :)

I prefer Natural Formulations Golden Jojoba, which is fairly thick as far as Jojojba oils go. I've been using it since 2011 and I go through a shade over 1 gallon per year. (I re-order 1 gal. each Aug./Sept. and this year will be my 5th gallon I will have ever ordered from them. In this time, I only had one batch that was a little "earthy-smelling; in 2013). It is e xpensive, but I feel it is worth it.

And, if you are interested in my favorite lotion, I use the Natural Formulations Sunflower Deep Tissue lotion. :)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through valleys tinkling with bells...
Houston Massage Therapy - Advanced Massage Therapy - Lucas & Lucas, LLC

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:12 pm

Thank you for your help, pueppi! I appreciate all the links and I'll give your suggestions a try.

User avatar
maestra
Site Admin
Posts: 3886
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2003 3:24 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by maestra » Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:51 pm

Back when I was doing mostly private practice I went with an Oil Gel (Lotus Touch).
But for the last almost 9 years I've been an employee in a spa where we use Coconut Oil.
I did have one client many years back who said it felt like he was being exfoliated with his own body hair... well when I heard that then I made it a point to be more generous with the oil. (Client was hairy but also had dry skin and was fair/sensitive.) We got that resolved and he & his wife were good clients for many years.
So yes, changing products can be a good thing. Some companies used to send out sample product for you to try. Even if you had to pay for it, it might be worth while.
And I'm just going to put this out there because I work in spa... Um.. has he considered waxing? LOL
We have quite a few guys that come in for a back, chest or upper arm wax.
The reason I mention this is.. well, he knows the body hair could be an issue. He could just grab a razor and take care of it before he gets there and save you both the pain.
BTW, Aloha aloha_student... which island are you going to school on?
“Try to be like the turtle -- at ease in your own shell” - Bill Copeland

User avatar
Breathe
Registered Member
Posts: 1989
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by Breathe » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:56 am

Yep, jojoba is the only thing I would use for a hairy client. Here's the reason it works so well: Jojoba is a plant ester, not actually an oil, and as a lubricant, is one of the closest things in the plant kingdom to mammalian sterols, some of which comprise the skin's natural oils.

In comparison to oils like almond oil, jojoba will not get tacky as you work it. And I've never found a lotion that was adequate for heavy body hair. Another great thing about jojoba is that the excess wipes off easily with a hand towel when the massage is over. Lotion does not, it stays greasy even when you wipe yourself down. Bonus for you: it washes out of your sheets with hot water and detergent, no special laundering necessary.

I think it's really, really good that you are inclined to believe that this student is truly experiencing discomfort that ruins his experience. I also think this is a terrific learning opportunity for you on adaptation. Can you arrange some out of classroom practice with this person?

Here's what I've learned about hairy people (and I come from a "sasquatch" family, plus have a disproportionately high number of hairier than average clients):

Long strokes: work in the direction of the majority of hair growth. Forget what you know about stroke direction, if the hair direction is toward the flank, angle your hands and your strokes in that direction, align your fingers in the direction of hair growth whenever possible. If the hairs are perpendicular to your fingers, you'll catch a lot more and tug on them. If the body hair (on the back) grows in a big swirl, choose the largest end of the swirl and make that your primary direction of long strokes.

Start out with more oil than you think you'll need, and concentrate initially on long, medium pressure strokes for distribution of your oil. If you do end up with too much oil, you can remove some of the excess with one long swipe from a hand towel.

Flatten out your finger pads. FLATTEN OUT YOUR FINGER PADS. I can't emphasize this more strongly. If your massage tends to be a bit "pointy," it will be really hard on body hair.

Don't rub too lightly, especially on strokes that cross the hair growth pattern. Think of ruffling a cat against the direction of fur growth and how much that bothers them.

Don't use long push/pull motions (as in, don't run along hair growth, then pull back against hair growth.)

When doing deep tissue/spot work, your best techniques are going to be those that sink in.

Recognize that your routine classroom swedish is not a good option for guys like this (sensitive skin/sensitive follicles,) and while you're in school you may have NO good options. But you can have a little conversation. It might go like this: "Are there any methods that have worked better in the past for you? Please let me know if I'm tugging on your body hair, so I can adjust my angle." If you have time to have the conversation beforehand, talk about how you know that some of the techniques you are required to practice are not a great option for him, and you will try to go slow and not have to repeat those motions too many times. Ask if there are any students in particular that do not tug on his body hair when they work on him, and ask if you can arrange a time to observe what they are doing that's different from your technique. If he winces during a session, there's nothing wrong with asking: "Hair pulling or tension spot?"

His complaint of "no continuity" due to you consulting your lotion pump repeatedly is a legitimate one. But I think it's one you can overcome by switching off lotion to jojoba. (Jojoba in pump bottle tip: pump very slowly. If you are zippy when you depress the pump top - like lotion - it will be like the rocket pad at Cape Canaveral.) If you can't find jojoba near you, or if it's cost prohibitive, sunflower oil also turns out to have some nice topical barrier properties for working with body hair, although it is harder to get out of the sheets, and will leave the client feeling greasy.

Here's the good thing: if you develop decent technique, particularly IRT respecting the direction of hair growth, MOST men with significant body hair will not have any sensitivity issues anywhere except possibly on the upper chest.

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:49 pm

maestra wrote:And I'm just going to put this out there because I work in spa... Um.. has he considered waxing? LOL
We have quite a few guys that come in for a back, chest or upper arm wax.
The reason I mention this is.. well, he knows the body hair could be an issue. He could just grab a razor and take care of it before he gets there and save you both the pain.
BTW, Aloha aloha_student... which island are you going to school on?
LOL, believe me, the whole class wishes he would wax :)

I'm on O'ahu at the Kailua school. Kind of wish now I'd gone with KCC but live and learn! I see your honu - did you work on the islands? Aloha!

User avatar
maestra
Site Admin
Posts: 3886
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2003 3:24 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by maestra » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:00 am

Aloha aloha_student,
Thanks for your reply.... yeah love my little Honu photo. He was such a cute little guy. LOL
I photographed him in 2011 at the Maui Ocean Center. I was on Maui for some continuing education at the time.
I have family that have lived on Maui since 2005.
I have some FB friends on Oahu... I haven't been to Oahu since I was a child though.
I hope you figure out a way to help the hairy clients. Keep in touch and let us know what you try and what ends up working best for you.
I think we all deal with it ocassionally.
Hope we can be a source of encouragement for you as you complete your initial massage education.
Aloha nui loa! - M
“Try to be like the turtle -- at ease in your own shell” - Bill Copeland

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:36 pm

Breathe wrote:
Here's the good thing: if you develop decent technique, particularly IRT respecting the direction of hair growth, MOST men with significant body hair will not have any sensitivity issues anywhere except possibly on the upper chest.
Thank you for all of the great information - I've recruited some hairy guys to try out the jojoba on since we can't use oil at school. It's a lot of work adapting to this fellow, but since my long-term goal is to work with athletes and dancers, I assume I'll have many hairy male clients and I appreciate you getting me starting in making the adaptations. Desert Essence offers smaller bottles for a low price which seems good for trying it out - do you have any experience with whether or not that brand has a strong odor?

Just wondering - how do you do the returns on your long glides, so as not to be pulling against the growth of the hair? Skip it? You are right, I have noticed that the lighter I go against the hair, the more upset he gets. For some reason, on the strokes that don't use lotion he doesn't seem to feel it. For example, our routine has vibration along the erector spinae with a light return and no lotion and he doesn't complain, but he hates the return on the back gliding with lotion.

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:40 pm

maestra wrote: Hope we can be a source of encouragement for you as you complete your initial massage education.
You are, absolutely! Mahalo nui loa, and I hope to be able to return the favor as I gain experience over the years.

jdcan
Moderator-S.S.S
Posts: 1068
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:07 pm
Location: Anchorage, AK
Contact:

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by jdcan » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:12 am

The cream sold at deeptissue.com works good for Swedish and Deep Tisssue, has no chemicals and washes out of sheets easily. Some MTs put a little on their arm for quick access for reapplication.

User avatar
pueppi
Registered Member
Posts: 5887
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Texas / The Lone Star State

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by pueppi » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:13 pm

aloha_student wrote: Desert Essence offers smaller bottles for a low price which seems good for trying it out - do you have any experience with whether or not that brand has a strong odor?
In 2009, when I was just getting used to Jojoba, I purchased the Desert Essence Jojoba Oil and it had no smell. I don't know if they use the same consistency as back then, but I really liked it at the time.
aloha_student wrote:...he hates the return on the back gliding with lotion.
This is a great way to learn how to work with what a client likes (or doesn't like). If he doesn't like the return, then I would just skip it (the return stroke, that is).

Perhaps, if you are using both hands on both sides of the back (I expect you are in the basic swedish class), then you may wish to keep one hand on one hip (end of stroke) and raise the alternate hand off of the body to return it to start before bringing the second hand back to the starting postion. This may create a feel of a more complete and full contact, instead of raising both hands off of the body at the same time before returning to your start point.

Sometimes I work simialr to this when I have a large client and I am unable to do a full return with both hands (so I don't see why this wouldn't work with someone you don't want to apply a return stroke on. Other times I will work one side, and then the other, and then do something similar in the event that using both hands is not effective. Alternatively, you could perform returns up the backs of the arms/triceps to the shoulders and start again.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through valleys tinkling with bells...
Houston Massage Therapy - Advanced Massage Therapy - Lucas & Lucas, LLC

User avatar
Breathe
Registered Member
Posts: 1989
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by Breathe » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:00 pm

aloha_student wrote: Just wondering - how do you do the returns on your long glides, so as not to be pulling against the growth of the hair? Skip it? You are right, I have noticed that the lighter I go against the hair, the more upset he gets.
I had to think about this one. :lol: I think I use a similar long stroke with everyone. I don't usually pull back along the erectors. When I do use a big "circular" push/pull, it's like this: standing at the head, hands on erectors starting at upper thoracic, push all the way down to the low back, angle out, then do the return mostly along the sides, wrapping up towards the scapula crossing the teres and mid-traps, back to my starting point at the upper thoracic. (I should draw this on a body figure with little arrows. Ha!)

On a very hairy person, I actually don't use a pull back at all, but a series of alternating shorter pushes that back me up to where I started. This is actually my go-to warm up (and calm-down), even on people who have hair-free backs.

For some reason, on the strokes that don't use lotion he doesn't seem to feel it. For example, our routine has vibration along the erector spinae with a light return and no lotion and he doesn't complain, but he hates the return on the back gliding with lotion.
Interesting. So for him, the lotion is grabby. Did you say what the lotion base is? Now I'm curious to compare it with what I'm currently using, which is fractionated coconut based and also gets a bit sticky. I'm not crazy about it.

aloha_student
Fresh Hands
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:48 pm

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by aloha_student » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:26 pm

Breathe wrote: Interesting. So for him, the lotion is grabby. Did you say what the lotion base is? Now I'm curious to compare it with what I'm currently using, which is fractionated coconut based and also gets a bit sticky. I'm not crazy about it.
We use Biotone Deep-Tissue Massage Lotion, and when I read your post I looked at the bottle - coconut oil is the first ingredient after water, with sweet almond and kukui oils as well. I don't love it but it's hard to tell what is caused by the lotion, and what is just my inexperience. It gets absorbed by most people's skin really fast, which is kind of nice if I accidentally put too much on, because I can do an extra glide and a lot of it's gone already. I'm going to try cream and of course the jojoba oil.

User avatar
Breathe
Registered Member
Posts: 1989
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by Breathe » Tue Aug 25, 2015 7:10 am

Yeah, my money is on the almond oil. AND, I just realized that I've been mixing up massage cream and massage lotion. You're using lotion, I've been talking only about cream. (derp) Frankly, I've never had any success using lotion on anybody. I'm not a heavy product user because I have some tactile issues myself (edging into Sensory Processing Disorder territory,) and can't stand the greased up feel from lotion, even on my own arms. My problem early on was working too dry, which would tug too much on the skin. I still work very dry compared to a lot of MTs, but not "too."

Are you required by your school to stick with Biotone products? We were "encouraged," to use them. LOL. I did better once I switched to the BT Advanced Therapy Creme. I currently use Bon Vital Coconut Creme because the one I was using (no nut oils at all,) is no longer available. When this tube is gone, (or spoiled,) I won't buy it again, it's pretty good, but nut oils...

Ooooh, crowdsourcing here: I'd take suggestions for a massage cream (not lotion,) that's made without any nut oils, no fragrance, and no parabens? I don't care if it has a shorter shelf life. (I should probably break this out into a new thread...)

jdcan
Moderator-S.S.S
Posts: 1068
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:07 pm
Location: Anchorage, AK
Contact:

Re: How to work on men who are ultra-sensitive about body ha

Post by jdcan » Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:28 am

My school also "encouraged" us to use Biotone. Ylang-ylang & Orange Massage cream from deeptissue.com has "olive oil, bees wax, coconut oil, ylang ylang & orange essential oil, vitamin E". I think the lavender has even less ingredients. They do have a light smell. I get sensitive to smells and avoid the detergent aisle at the store and I'm good but if you need no smell, it won't do. OTOH, no chemicals!

Post Reply

Return to “Student Forum”