Real talk: Aside from a fresh cut and blowout, one of the best parts about going to the hair salon is the scalp massage during a shampoo session. When a pro rubs out the tension from your neck and head, it feels amazing. But, unlike a full body massage, a scalp massage is easy to recreate at home. From hair growth to reducing stress, there are plenty of reasons to give yourself a scalp massage on all the days in between salon visits. Here’s how and why a scalp massage should be a regular part of your hair care routine.
The Benefits of Scalp Massages
It promotes hair growth.
Simply put, scalp massages help promote blood circulation, which stimulates hair follicles and healthy hair growth for all hair types when done correctly and consistently. One study showed that participants who performed four minutes of scalp massage a day for about six months showed increased hair thickness. “Massaging the scalp daily for a minimum of 4 minutes will relieve tension and tightness while improving blood circulation. Other research has shown that simple scalp massage has helped improve scalp health and helps to decrease hair [shedding],” says Kerry Yates, trichologist, hair expert, and founder of Colour Collective.
It promotes relaxation.
You don’t need us to tell you that a massage is relaxing! In the same way we hold tension in our jaw or shoulder muscles during times of stress, your scalp, hairline, and neck also become sources of carrying tension. Some studies show that massaging your scalp increases mental health by helping you feel relaxed and relieving strain though enhanced blood circulation.
It can reduce headaches.
The American Massage Therapy Association says scalp massages can be an effective therapy for those who suffer from tension headaches. Generally, massages are believed to increase serotonin (a.k.a. the hormone responsible for making you feel happy) and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone).
How to Do a Scalp Massage
- Step 1: One of the best times to do a scalp massage is in the shower before your shampoo.
- Step 2: Apply Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Serum with Niacinamide — an AHA/BHA-based scalp serum that removes excess oil, product buildup, and dead skin — to your scalp.
- Step 3: Start massaging your temples and the sides of your heads with circular motions. “Using your fingertips — not your nails so you don’t scratch your scalp, which can permanently damage hair follicles. With light to medium pressure, work your fingers in a circular motion from the front of your head to the back,” says Yates. Make sure to use a gentle touch: “Wet hair is super fragile so avoid too much pressure and any hair-pulling. Excessive force can lead to broken strands,” she says.
- Step 4: Massage for at least four minutes to get the most out of your massage and to make sure you get your entire scalp and give the serum enough time to penetrate. Rinse and follow up with shampoo and conditioner as usual.
Tip: Your fingers should do the trick, but if you’re looking to level up your scalp massages, “grab a scalp massaging brush without any hard plastic at the tips that can potentially scratch and irritate the scalp,” says Yates. Silicone scalp massagers (sometimes referred to as shampooing brushes) and gentle enough to use on the scalp without potential damage. (Try: Briogeo Scalp Revival™ Stimulating Therapy Massager, $6.97, COMFIER Cordless Hair Scalp Massager, $36.98, or GloPRO® Scalp MicroTip Attachment, $55.) There are also electric massagers that do all the work for you. Sanitize it between uses to avoid clogging your scalp.
Who Should Avoid Scalp Massages
Keep in mind that if you’re suffering from a condition leading to hair loss or thinning such as alopecia, scalp massages may not necessarily be the answer to your problems. In this case, consider consulting with a trichologist or dermatologist specializing in scalp conditions to provide you with better guidance. There are other treatments such as scalp microneedling that have been found to be effective for patients suffering from mild to moderate alopecia.
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