Ask the Experts


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

What kind of training do massage therapists receive?

While many massage therapists specialize in a particular type of massage once they start practicing—orthopedic, pain-relief, prenatal, spa treatments, sports, etc.—massage therapists study a wide variety of subjects to prepare to work safely and effectively with clients and their bodies. While the number of total hours may vary—programs are typically 500–1,000 hours—most curriculums include in-depth training in several types of massage, anatomy, physiology, pathology, palpation, ethics, adaptations for special populations, sanitation, and business. And our education doesn’t stop there! The majority of massage therapists take continuing education courses after graduation to enhance their knowledge and skills. If you’re curious about your massage therapist’s training, please ask. I’m sure they would be happy to tell you more about the training that gave them the knowledge and skills to do what they love!

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


My esthetician says I should be using a toner on my face. I guess I didn’t ask enough questions about why. Can you fill me in?

Many clients do not understand the purpose of using a toner. Toner helps remove residue left from your cleanser and makeup after preliminary cleansing; if your toner contains a humectant/hydrator (most do), toner application is the first step of hydration after cleansing. The most important function of a toner, though, is lowering the pH of the skin surface, which helps stop the action of the cleanser (which generally has a bit higher pH). Most importantly, recent research indicates that keeping the skin at a lower pH helps prevent skin inflammation that can cause the formation of breakdown enzymes that destroy collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid in the skin. This is especially important in older skin.

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