I always thought that one of the best parts about going to the hairdressers was the scalp massage they give you when they shampoo or apply a conditioning treatment to your hair. More often than not, I find myself almost nodding off, it feels so relaxing.
But it is only a few years ago that I read about giving yourself a scalp massage and thought about having a go. And I have to say it feels pretty good too. Though I think it is still better when someone does it for you, it’s great to be able to do this whenever you like.
Scalp Massage Benefits
- stimulate blood circulation in your scalp, which will increase blood flow to your hair follicles and help keep your scalp and hair healthy
- help distribute natural oils from the pores or (optionally) oils you use in your massage over the scalp and hair roots to reduce dryness
- relieve any tension you have in your forehead and scalp and help get rid of headaches, caused by tension
- induce a feeling of relaxation by promoting the production of endorphins and serotonin and you’ll feel calmer as a result
- aid a feeling of well-being and improves mental function by calming and relaxing the mind
- reduce aches and pains over the whole body by stimulating acupressure points in the head
A dry scalp massage is great because you can do it yourself anywhere, whether you are at work, relaxing at home or sitting in traffic getting stressed out. And you can massage your head too whenever you shampoo or condition your hair without adding much extra time and still get all the benefits.
Scalp Massage For Hair Growth
One of the benefits of scalp massage is often believed to be hair growth or prevention of hair loss but you’ll see that it is absent the list above. Although you’ll definitely increase blood flow to the hair follicles making your hair healthier and therefore less likely to break off prematurely, there is no confirmed evidence according to the Belgravia Hair Loss Clinic that you can reduce hair loss or stimulate growth. That’s a pity, though it is still worth the effort to get a healthy head of hair especially if you want to grow long hair!
How to Massage Your Scalp
There are various techniques you can use to give yourself a good massage. One such method, the Indian head massage technique goes back as far as 5000 years and requires training in ancient Ayurvedic techniques but here are a couple of easy scalp massage techniques that work very well whether you want a dry massage or to use oil on your hair. You can also use inexpensive tools like those below to massage your scalp.
Quick Scalp Massage Without Oil
This is a great technique to do anywhere and with no need to shampoo your hair afterwards to get rid of the oil. It is a combination of a pressure technique to stimulate acupressure points together with a massage that has a more stimulating effect the scalp. If you are short of time you can do either of these techniques without the other and if you have a bit more time you can also include the scalp tugs movement from the “massage with oil” section.
Find somewhere quiet to sit where you can focus on what you are doing for a few moments without distractions to get the most benefit out of the massage.
Start at Your Forehead
Place your hands on your forehead with the fingers gently spaced apart but meeting in the center, thumbs to the side. Press with your fingers and release.
Move Over Your Head
Move your fingers up over the center of your head once inch at a time, pressing and releasing until you get to the nape of your neck.
Move Your Fingers and Repeat
Now return your fingers to your forehead but this time so that they are placed one inch a part (half an inch from the center line) and continue pressing and releasing with your fingers at this distance apart over the whole head. Then return to the forehead and this time make them two inches apart and continue in this pattern, moving the fingers further apart each time, until you have covered your scalp.
At this point switch to a more directly stimulating massage. Start at the front of your hair at the hairline and move your fingertips in tiny circles so that you move the skin beneath the hair over the skull bone. Move the fingers over the scalp massaging in this way section by section until you have massaged your whole head, front to back and then each side of your head.
Massage Technique with Oil
When massaging your scalp with oil, you get the therapeutic benefits of the oil itself as well as the massage. You will find your fingers glide more easily when you use oil but on the downside you do end up with an oily head and you will need to wash your hair afterwards.
Choose and Prepare Your Oil
You can use very basic carrier oils (olive oil or almond oil would be good low-cost choices available everywhere) or try something a little more special like a coconut oil scalp massage. Coconut oil has some powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal properties which are great for helping to keep your scalp healthy. It is solid at room temperature and needs to be warmed up by placing the jar in a basin of hot water like a bain marie and this warmth is also beneficial to the whole process. You can also warm the other oils in this way too.
If you have a scalp condition try adding a couple of drops of essential oil to the main oil you use.
- chamomile or lemongrass for oily hair
- rose or sandalwood for dry hair
- tea tree or lavender for dandruff
- peppermint or rosemary for hair loss
- cedar wood or tea tree for an itchy scalp
Massage the Hair Line
Place your finger tips along the hair line at your forehead and use small circular motions to gently move the skin around in tiny circles over the underlying bone. Move your fingers around your head until you have massaged around the whole hair line.
Grasp handfuls of hair between your fingers keeping your hands close to the roots at the front of your hair and firmly tug the scalp forward and back. Then do the same over the rest of your head, grasping sections of hair and giving sharp tugs.
Oil Your Scalp
You can either dip your fingers in the oil every time you move to a new section of your scalp or pour the oil into a shallow bowl or saucer and immerse cotton wool in the oil so that it is damp but not dripping, then dab the oil all over your scalp rubbing it lightly in with your fingers before you begin. I prefer the latter method as this means that you can massage without interruption.
Massage Your Scalp
Start by using your fingertips in a vigorous backward and forward motion all over your scalp as if you were applying shampoo. Cover all your scalp from your forehead to the nape of your neck and the sides of your head. This should take at least 2 minutes. Now use firmer pressure and use small circular motions with your fingertips to give a pressure massage to your scalp, covering your whole scalp and taking at least 2 minutes for this part as well. Then perform the scalp tugs motion again.
Leave the Oil in Your Hair if Possible
Wrap your head in a warm towel and leave the oil for around 10 minutes or much longer if you can (overnight if you have dry hair). Then give your hair a thorough shampoo to remove traces of oil and condition as usual.
Shampoo Scalp Massage Brush
As an alternative to your fingers you can use a special brush designed to stimulate the scalp. These are available at very low cost so they are well worth trying.
Most scalp massage brushes like the Babyliss Scalp Massage Brush pictured here can actually be used wet or dry but they are commonly used in the shower when you are washing your hair.
You hold these brushes in the palm of your hand and use the thick plastic bristles rather than your fingertips to massage your head, moving the brush in a circular motion while lifting it now and again to avoid tangling the hair.
They give you similar stimulation of the scalp and accompanying benefits to manual massage without resulting in aching fingers and they can also help distribute shampoo or conditioner over your head if you use them in the shower.
The rounded ends on the bristles are important as this means you do not tear or damage your hair.
Another Low Cost Scalp Massage Tool
Believe it or not, this is a great scalp massager tool. Although it looks quite fierce the metal prongs have rounded plastic ends and the metal “legs” are slightly flexible so that when you apply it to your head with a little pressure, the smooth tips glide over your scalp and stimulate it. It is like having many fingers in action at once.
Most people love it – the reviews say “just try it and you’ll be won over”. Though I like the ease of just using my fingers and not having to use a tool, after reading the buyer reviews here on Amazon I am getting one of these to have a go myself.
How Often To Massage Your Scalp
As often as you have time for! If your scalp is in poor condition, try and massage it once a day, otherwise as often as you can and want to, but once a week is enough to make a difference.