If you’ve ever had a scalp massage, you no doubt recall how relaxing it felt. Besides easing stress and tension, there’s also buzz around scalp massages being able to promote hair growth.
Is this just a myth or is there truth to this additional benefit of a scalp massage? Though research is limited, there may be some promise to this theory, depending on your hair growth needs.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at scientific evidence around scalp massages and hair growth. If you want other hair growth tips, we’ve got those for you, too.
What is a scalp massage?
A scalp massage is similar to a massage you’d get for your neck, back, or body. However, a scalp massage is usually done a little more gently. It’s usually done without oil, but you can include it if you prefer.
A typical scalp massage uses the fingertips only. There’s also the option of using a scalp massaging device that works to mimic the pressure of your fingertips.
According to a small 2016 studyTrusted Source, researchers concluded that regular scalp massages may lead to thicker hair. This study involved nine men who received a 4-minute scalp massage each day for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, it was found that the men had thicker hair than at the start.
Additional research from 2019 supported these findings. This study was based on survey responses from 340 participants who had followed specific instructions by doing twice-daily scalp massages to improve hair loss.
According to the self-reported findings, approximately 69 percent of participants reported that their alopecia had improved.
The benefits of a scalp massage for hair growth centers on the hair follicles. Each hair on your head starts its life within a follicle, located just beneath the skin on your scalp.
According to research, scalp massage increases hair thickness by stretching the cells of hair follicles. This, in turn, stimulates the follicles to produce thicker hair. It’s also thought that a scalp massage may help dilate blood vessels beneath the skin, thereby encouraging hair growth.
Although the research is limited, what’s known so far does show some promise regarding scalp massages and hair growth.
How to massage your scalp
There are several ways to give your scalp a massage to help stimulate hair growth. Here are four options.
1. Traditional scalp massage
A traditional scalp massage involves the use of your fingertips only.
- Use the fingertips of both hands to apply light to medium pressure to your scalp, moving in small circles.
- Work your way across your scalp to cover all areas.
- Try to massage your scalp using your fingertips for at least 5 minutes at a time, several times a day.
You can also get a scalp massage from a licensed massage therapist. The cost will vary depending on the length of the massage.
2. Massage while washing hair
If you’re pressed for time, you can use the traditional scalp massage method outlined above while you’re washing your hair.
Using your fingertips, gently massage your shampoo or conditioner into your hair for 5 minutes. Then rinse your hair as usual.
3. Brushes and massage tools
As with body massages, there are also special tools you can buy for a scalp massage.
Although some dermatologists recommend using a scalp massager, others believe that a fingertip massage is just as effective. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which method works best for you.
Scalp massaging tools come in the form of brushes or light handheld rubber massagers. You can work these all over your scalp in the same way that you’d use your fingers.
4. Scalp massage with essential oils
Mix 1 to 2 drops of lavender or peppermint oil with 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil, like jojoba or melted coconut oil. Apply directly to your scalp and then use your fingertips or a scalp massager to gently work the oils into your scalp.
Before applying any essential oil to your scalp, be sure to do a patch test on a small area of your skin first to make sure you’re not allergic.
Other tips for hair growth
Besides massaging your scalp, there are other proven ways to help your hair grow. You may want to:
- Avoid excessive shampooing and brushing. Also, limit the use of chemical treatments, dyes, and heated hair styling tools. These can all weaken hair cuticles and cause breakage.
- Talk with your doctor about testing for nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of zinc, iron, and biotin may all contribute to hair loss.
- Consider trying minoxidil (Rogaine) for hereditary hair loss at the back of the head. This over-the-counter medication, available as a liquid or foam, isn’t meant for receding hairlines or hair loss at the front of the scalp.
- Ask your doctor about prescription medications for hair loss. These include finasteride (Propecia) for men and spironolactone for women.
- Ask your dermatologist about professional hair growth treatments. Options include laser therapy, hair transplant, and corticosteroid injections.
- Tell your doctor about your hair loss. If you’re losing more hair than usual, it could be a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hypothyroidism.
The bottom line
Although research is limited, the scientific evidence to date shows that while scalp massages can’t cure hair loss, they do show promise with promoting hair growth.
You can give yourself a scalp massage using your fingertips or you can use a scalp massaging tool. You can also get a scalp massage from a trained massage therapist.
If your hair loss worsens or if you notice other symptoms along with hair loss, be sure to follow up with your doctor.