Scalp Massage, Does It Cause Hair Growth, Other Benefits & How To Do It
Simple pleasures are often pleasurable because they benefit us in some way. An afternoon walk in the sunshine gives us vitamin D, some needed movement, and a break from our workdays. A facial rolling routine gives us a moment of pause at the end of the day - as well as improves overall skin appearance. A filling, fulfilling snack nourishes us and keeps us satiated and energized till our next meal. And now I'm going to make the argument that scalp massages should now be added to your list of your favourite simple pleasures.
Now, before you stop me with, but aren't scalp massages a bit more indulgent than simple? Well, perhaps you're equating scalp massages solely with something you get in the salon - or at the end of a full-body version. When, in fact, you can actually very easily give yourself one right at home in under a few minutes with nothing but your fingers and a dab of oil that you have on hand.
And, well, if you're serious about your scalp health, it turns out you really should. Allow us.
What Is A Scalp Massage?
They are simply massages that are localized and focused on your scalp area - pretty simple, no? And like any localized massage, it comes with unique techniques and practices specific to the needs of the area. For example, while your back muscles tend to need heavier prodding and handiwork, a scalp massage really only involves your fingers and (maybe) a pass of your palm.
The reason for scalp massages boils down to the same reasons we get massages elsewhere: We hold tension in our bodies. We tend to hold a lot of tension across our hairline, behind our ears, and in the neck. This is mostly due to stress and partly to posture. We accumulate quite a lot of tension in these areas and often disregard them.
We hold tension there because, well, we have muscles there. The largest is the temporalis muscle, which runs from behind your ear, around your head, and to the back. This muscle can become strained in the same way your shoulder or jaw muscles can become so: By holding them tightly during times of stress.
Can It Really Help Hair Growth?
Hair growth is the biggest benefit associated with scalp massage - but when you tell nonbelievers, this may solicit a raised brow or eye roll. (To which we say: Fair, without the full explanation of why, it does seem like a stretch to make the connection.) But according to research and hair care experts, the claims check out.
Beautiful, strong hair depends on good blood circulation, proper nutrition, and a healthy and supple scalp. See, what's theoretically happening with regular scalp massages, is that the extra attention is helping encourage blood flow to the area, bringing with it oxygen and hair-healthy nutrients. This is especially helpful for those who do have a tense scalp, as muscle tension can often inhibit proper blood flow to the area.
In fact, in a 2016 study, a small number of men received a daily four-minute scalp massage. At the conclusion of the study, the investigators found an increase in hair thickness. A more recent 2019 study found that of the 300 or so participants who followed a specific massage regimen, nearly 70% reported improved hair thickness at the end.
What are the other benefits?
So while the hair growth benefit comes from improved circulation, the other benefits come from the act of massaging itself. Here are a few that she says you may experience with your newfound massage practice:
- Reduces stress hormones: Massages can reduce stress and boost mood. In fact, a study of female office workers found that twice-weekly scalp massage had effects on stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate. Stress also, ahem, is a main contributor to hair loss.
- Boosts immune function: Plenty of research connects immune function with massage therapy (although not specifically tested on the scalp). The most famous system study of this phenomenon showed that regular massage therapy measurable changes in their body's immune and endocrine response.
- Improves natural healing ability: This again goes back to blood circulation. Your wound healing response is tied to the blood cells and nutrients that make it to the area. It's why if your circulation is slower in a body part, it may take longer to heal.
- Reduces pain and discomfort: If your scalp tension comes with pain (like headaches) in the area, regular massages may help minimize this feeling.