Just like how getting a massage has many benefits for your muscles, preforming a scalp massage has many potential benefits for people suffering from androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss).
Scalp massages have gained popularity in the last decade as a viable addition to a hair loss regimen. This is because studies have shown the preforming daily scalp massages may be able to impact hair loss directly by increasing blood flow and promoting regrowth. You can read all you need to know about scalp massages here.
But, if you are someone who has begun utilizing scalp massages you may have noticed a common phenomenon. When you first start implementing massage techniques for hair loss you may notice “crunching” sounds. This is actually quite common and is a good sign for hair loss, but many people who experience it do not understand why it happens and how it relates to overcoming hair loss.
Well that’s exactly what we are going to clear up in this article. We will be discussing what the crunching sound is, why it occurs, and how it is associated with benefits for someone suffering from hair loss.
What is the crunching sound from scalp massages?
It has been strongly indicated in scientific studies that scalp massages area viable way to help combat hair loss. It is commonly said that the way scalp massages benefit hair loss is by increasing blood flow. For context: blood is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the hair that it uses to complete healthy growth cycles. In people with hair loss, blood flow is usually lower than normal (1).
Scalp massages are a way to mechanically stimulate blood flow and help promote regrowth, and people are not wrong that this is their primary benefit. But there is another, less talked about benefit, that relates to blood flow and can help explain the crunching sounds.
It has to do with scalp calcification.
Scalp calcification is a process by which calcium builds up on the scalp and hardens which can cause a host of problems for your hair follicles. But how does calcium build up in the first place?
When hard water (water that contains a lot of minerals and is what many people use to shower) mixes with certain chemicals found in shampoo, it creates a reactions that produces a byproduct called soap scum. Soap scum tends to stick to your scalp and hair which causes it to build up over time and subsequently cause a buildup of calcium. Since calcium is a naturally hardening mineral it quickly begins to solidify and start causing problems.
Therefore, when you are preforming a scalp massage, essentially what is happening when you hear the crunching sound is that you are breaking up the calcium deposits, and as you might imagine…
The crunching sound from scalp massages is a good sign
I have said it twice now but yes, scalp calcification is a problem for someone who is suffering from hair loss, in fact it may even contribute to it.
If scalp calcification is prolonged, calcium may begin to build up in the walls of the blood vessels under the scalp. When this happens, the blood vessels will not be able to carry as much blood, meaning blood flow to the scalp will be decreased.
This explains why the primary benefit of scalp massages is increased blood flow (2). Not only are you mechanically stimulating blood flow to your scalp but you are also breaking down the calcification that is blocking it, therefore compounding the benefits.
Now this does not mean that you should not use other treatments alongside scalp massages. Effective treatments such as minoxidil, low-level laser therapy, and more work to increase blood flow as well. This is because the number one way (at least as far as our current understanding goes) to regrow hair lost to pattern hair loss is by improving blood flow.
Unlike scalp massages, these treatments have been scientifically proven in clinical studies to benefit hair loss, which is why I recommend using them alongside scalp massages. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of scalp massages and how much they can contribute to hair regrowth.
But, what makes scalp massages important is that they are the only method we currently have to break up calcification that may be inhibiting blood flow, which is why they should definitely be a part of your hair loss regimen.
As you now know, there is no need to worry is you hear crunching noises during your scalp massages. The crunching sound is an indication that you are preforming the massage correctly because it shows that you are successfully breaking up calcium deposits.
It is very important to break up these deposits because if they are not addressed they can begin to clog your blood vessels and reduce blood flow to your hair follicles.
Although more research on scalp massages is needed, we do know that improving blood flow is one of, if not the, most important component of hair regrowth. Many treatments we have are effective at doing this, but scalp massages are the only way we currently haven evidence on that can tackle the problem of scalp calcification.