Ask the Experts


By Kristin Coverly and Mark Lees, PhD
[Ask the Experts]

It feels like my massage therapist uses more parts of her hand and arms than just her thumbs when she’s working on me. Why?

Massage therapists use many different body parts during a session to perform techniques, including fingers, thumbs, knuckles, forearms, elbows, the full palm, the heel of the hand, and a soft fist. We do this because it’s better for our own body to use a variety of “tools.” If we used our thumbs for every stroke of every massage, we’d quickly get injured. Another reason is that each of these body parts feels differently to the client, elicits a unique depth of pressure, and can facilitate more effectively certain techniques. For example, a forearm stroke from your neck to your low back feels smooth and broad, covers a wide area of the back, and works the more superficial muscles. An elbow stroke along the same line will feel like more specific pressure targeting a smaller area of muscle, and it may feel like deeper pressure (the therapist can control the sharpness of their elbow and the depth of pressure by changing the angle of the elbow joint and how much they lean into the stroke). Experience this difference yourself by first doing a forearm stroke along your thigh, and then do the same with your elbow. If you’re ever curious about what part of the body your therapist is using, please ask. We’d be happy to show you!

Kristin Coverly, LMT, is a massage therapist and the director of professional education for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

I have sensitive skin that reacts to everything! What are the main things I should be aware of when purchasing makeup products for my face?

Just like any topical agent, makeup can affect the skin—not only in appearance, but also in potentially improving or worsening skin conditions. The main makeup issue with sensitive skin is to make sure products have been thoroughly dermatologist-tested. Fragrance-free is also important, as fragrances are the number-one allergen in cosmetics. Generally, sensitive skin does well with light mineral powder foundation, which can help cover redness without looking like heavy coverage makeup.

Mark Lees, PhD, MS, CIDESCO, is a skin care educator, product developer, therapist, and author.