Health & Beauty

Massage Etiquette 101: 8 Common Questions, Answered

Beautiful black woman getting massage

Although massages are supposed to be relaxing, many people are unsure of the proper etiquette. Should you shave your legs? Should you chat with the massage therapist? Just how naked are you supposed to be? To deliver some peace of mind, we talked to Shannon Merten, a licensed massage therapist who works out of her home, about the dos and don’ts of massage etiquette.

How Much Do You Tip a Massage Therapist?

There are no definite rules on how much money you should tip your massage therapist. Some spas have no tipping policies, so it’s always helpful to ask ahead of time. But given that you were happy with the service, 15–20% of the total amount is an appropriate tip for a massage.

How Clean Should I Be?

Showering that day is preferable.

Merten explains that this is not just because it’s more comfortable for the therapist. When your skin is clean, it will better absorb the lotions and oils used during your massage.

Should I Shave My Legs Beforehand?

Not shaving is fine.

“This is an often brought-up topic,” Merten says. “Not shaving for a few days or even weeks is no reason for hand-wringing…I can’t even tell the difference.”

What Kind of Information Should I Share With My Massage Therapist Before My Massage Begins?

Share what’s applicable.

In order to get the most out of your massage, Merten recommends being as specific as possible with your health history. Definitely tell your therapist about any major ailments or issues you are having at that time. Information about your daily activities can also be helpful—for example, are you an avid runner? Do you often travel for work? The more your therapist knows, the better she’ll be able to customize your experience.

Should I Get Totally Naked?

Undress to your comfort level.

This is an area where Merten lets the customer take the lead. “I inform my clients that they can undress to their comfort level, and that they will be draped for the entirety of the massage.”

If you’re having lower-back issues, though, consider the benefits of being in the buff: “I recommend removing underwear because a glute massage is essential for these types of ailments. And if you’ve never had your glutes and hips worked on, I highly recommend it. There are so many thick muscles in these areas, muscles that hardly ever get attention, and they all criss-cross and cause serious lower-back and hamstring issues.”

During My Massage, Should I Be Quiet or Make Small Talk?

Whatever makes you most comfortable!

“If they’re asking questions or bring[ing] up a topic, I will answer or join in. If they’re quiet, I remain quiet. I think some people get nervous, so they may be a bit chatty.” According to Merten, most clients make small talk for the first 20–30 minutes, then zone out for the remainder of the massage.

How Do I (Politely) Let a Massage Therapist Know That What They’re Doing Doesn’t Feel Good?

Communication is key.

“I would rather my clients leave happy and satisfied than not, so if [the therapist] is doing something that is not enjoyable, a good ‘that’s a little too much pressure’ or ‘that area is too sensitive to be worked on’ should get you satisfying results,” Merten says.

What Do I Do If Something Happens?

Seek assistance.

While using your deal voucher, if you experience any unwanted behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, contact the local authorities for immediate assistance and notify us of the situation as soon as possible.

If you’d like to talk with a trained professional about your experience, the number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.

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