August 29 2014

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Beauty Etiquetter: Putting On The Pressure During A Massage


Beauty Etiquetter is a new column on Beauty Counter in which we address your beauty protocol predicaments with candid advice from industry experts and those in the know. To submit a question, email

The Quandary: What’s a nice way to tell the spa masseuse that she’s not using enough, or too much, pressure during a massage?

The Expert in Residence: Mathilde Thomas, founder of Caudalie skincare and Vinothérapie spas

The Advice: “Even though you might feel awkward telling the masseuse to change her pressure, she really does want to know what you’re thinking. A good masseuse should ask you how deep you’d like to go at the start of the treatment, before you get undressed. Try to give her a specific guideline, such as, ‘I’d like the pressure to be a four on a scale from one to ten.’ Then she should check in with you after the first one to two minutes of the massage. If she hasn’t, speak up then—I find it’s easier to say something sooner rather than later. Just keep it casual with a comment like, ‘Can you put in a bit more (or less) pressure?’ Don’t explain or apologize, as that will make things awkward. Also, if you find yourself in a situation in which the technique isn’t to your liking time and time again, you might be booking the wrong types of treatments—deep-tissue-inspired massages, for example, will always be a bit firm, whereas Swedish-style ones tend to be gentler. So ask the receptionist to give you the details before you book. And if you simply don’t feel comfortable saying anything after the treatment is under way, you can ask the front desk on the way out to put a note in your file for the masseuse to use more or less force the next time. That way, you can get exactly what you want without any worry of being impolite.”

Photo: Courtesy of Caudalie

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