We have to admit, the best part about getting a haircut is the scalp massage that often comes with a shampoo. But your hairstylist isn’t only giving you a quick head massage just because it feels good. (That's a bonus.) There are also benefits of a scalp massage for your scalp and your hair that your stylist knows all about.
Unfortunately, it’s probably unrealistic to hit up a hairstylist or even a massage therapist to get regular scalp massages. That’s why we enlisted Philip B., hair and scalp expert, to tell us how to do our kind of massage therapy right at home. Keep reading to learn all about the benefits of a scalp massage.
About the Expert:
“A scalp massage is motions of gentle pressure applied to the scalp from the forehead to crown to nape of the neck through the hair to the skin surface for both physical and sensory benefits to mind and body,” Philip B. says. This can be for literally 30 seconds or a full 30 minutes, with your fingers or with a massaging tool—they all have healthy-scalp benefits.
You know that relaxing feeling that comes from a scalp massage? That’s your stress hormone lowering as the blood circulation goes to your scalp. “Scalp massage helps boost circulation, oxygenation and increases blood flow to the hair follicles,” Philip B. says. “It also reduces stress and promotes relaxation, releasing muscles and overall scalp tension, lowering our stress levels—a bonus in self care.”
“Scalp massage also supports penetration and nourishment for the scalp and keratin protein strands of hair,” Philip B. adds. You can use a scalp or hair oil, like PHILIP B. Rejuvenating Oil or OUTRÉ BY USE ME Hair Oil, or even an essential oil, such as lavender oil or peppermint oil. (Just do a patch test with any essential oil to ensure no irritations.) They’ll all nourish your skin and help products absorb that much better.
Have a flaky or oily scalp? In addition to dandruff shampoos and dermatologist-approved treatments, a scalp massage can help. “Scalp massage helps to soften and move sebum, our scalp's food, farther from the scalp and roots to help nourish and coat the dry, brittle, or damaged hair.” Too much sebum can cause flakes, so massaging that down and into the hair moves those oils to any dry strands and away from the skin.
Whether you’re dealing with hair loss or just want thicker hair in general (who doesn’t), a scalp massage can help boost hair growth. “The papillary dermis has connective tissues that require blood flow through the vessels that activate hair growth so moving oxygen and blood to the area helps with the anagen growth process,” Philip B. explains. “The follicle bulb and our hair strands are made of a keratin protein. Circulation of blood flow and nourishment to the skin and scalp help to support the strength, structure and appearance of hair.”
A scalp massage might not make your hair grow overnight—we wish—but it “ensures that we have elasticity, strength at the root as the hair grows and overall healthier and better-looking hair growth,” Philip B. adds. Though, if you’re struggling with hair loss for any reason, such as stress or alopecia, speak with your dermatologist about additional treatments.
Addicted to dry shampoo? Same. Luckily, a scalp massage can help break up product build-up and remove the icky stuff. “Massage in general helps to move toxins and things like environmental pollutants, product build-up or smoke that collect on the scalp and hair strands,” Philip B. says. And it’s not just product build-up. It can also help remove plaque build-up from conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Ensure your hands and nails are clean before massaging even your own scalp.
Scratching your head with nails might feel good but it’s not actually good for your skin, Philip B. says. “For those with sensitive scalp they can be too harsh,” he adds. “From a happy scalp grows healthy hair.”
Chances are, you’ve seen almost every hair care brand launch their version of a scalp massage tool as of late. Philip B. says they all can be all effective, so it’s a personal addition to your massage technique. “Silicone massage tools can be used for a flexible metal ‘octopus’ which covers pressure points and entire areas of the head and scalp with each motion,” he says.
Philip B. says a scalp massage only needs to be 10 minutes, so even if you don’t have a lot of free time, you can find a moment for self-care.
“Gently with finger inside pads of the fingertips is all that is needed in a medium pressure in circular motions,” Philip B. says. “A few small circles or seconds per spot and move on section by section.” Be extra careful if your hair is wet because the strands are more delicate and be sure to “avoid areas if there are active abrasions and/or active acne.” he adds. Those with sensitive skin will also want to err on the gentle side.
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