When you think of surefire stress relievers, a trip to the spa is likely at the very top of that list. And while it may not be in the cards right now, experts insist that a five-minute at-home massage with a calming hair oil or a calming shampoo can provide many of the same benefits—at a fraction of the cost. “There are so many acupressure points on the head,” says legendary Palm Beach, Florida holistic aesthetician Tammy Fender, “so let those pleasant sensations guide you—it should feel so good.”
Pure bliss aside, there’s another compelling reason to get in there and give your scalp a good rubdown—it can actually help you grow super-strong hair and avoid hair breakage. If that sounds too good to be true, don’t simply take our word for it. We’ve got the science to back it up—read on to get, ahem, ahead on the benefits of scalp massage for hair.
Are there benefits of scalp massage for my hair?
Yes—we wouldn’t lie to you. In fact, one small study published in the medical journal Eplasty found that subjects receiving regular scalp massages showed an increase in hair thickness and certain growth-promoting factors. “The act of massaging may result in an increase in thickness of the hair follicles,” explains New York City dermatologist Arash Akhavan, M.D. “It’s also believed that a mild stretching of cells in the root of those follicles is what led to the release of these growth factors.”
What’s more, the simple act of massaging your noggin increases the circulation of nutrient-rich blood to the area, which is necessary for the follicles to produce hair, says Jason Emer, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist practicing in West Hollywood, California. Not to mention the fact that a good scrubbing helps to rid the scalp of follicle-clogging residue from styling products and dry shampoo, which, if allowed to build up, may contribute to hair thinning and loss.
Can I massage my scalp every day?
All of our experts respond with a resounding “yes,” but insist that you can still see the results in your hair by massaging at least three times a week. But bear in mind that this is a commitment—you’ll need to keep at it for three to six months to notice a difference, suggests Akhavan.
When should I massage—and what should I use?
Our experts suggest that massaging in the shower while your hair is already wet is your best bet. (Dry hair and hands can potentially cause pulling of the hair, resulting in traction of the follicles, damaging them, suggests Akhavan.) Try massaging while you’re washing your hair with calming haircare like a hydrating or CBD shampoo instead of, say, while conditioning. Why, you ask? You want to really get in there and cleanse your scalp anyway—and conditioner is best when used on hair lengths, not necessarily sections close to the root, and may clog follicles if worked too deeply into the skin of your scalp.
Another option: Work a CBD oil into your hair after conditioning and then begin massaging. Fender is a big fan of allowing the oil to absorb into the scalp before beginning the massage to replenish and nourish the skin there (wash your face, shave, or lather up your loofah while you wait). “Sometimes I’ll do this at night,” Fender adds. “It’s so soothing.” And for an extra boost of exfoliation, consider investing in a scalp scrub or scalp massager.
OK, so how do I give myself a scalp massage?
It’s pretty simple, actually. Fender has mastered the technique through years of working at her famed Palm Beach spa: Using the finger pads of both hands and starting on either side of the crown of your head, massage in circular motions, moving toward the front of your head, down either side of the head toward the temples, and then back in the direction of the nape of your neck. Repeat for three to five minutes. You can leave the oil in your hair overnight to nourish and soften or rinse it out.
And, there you have it: The why, when, and how of proper scalp massage. Now, go forth and get in touch with your roots.