Updated: Jul 9, 2020
If you have ever gotten a professional massage you would know that there’s nothing quite like it. Not only does it feel amazing, it also provides a lot of health benefits such as alleviating muscle tension, reducing depression and anxiety, improving flexibility, boosting circulation, and much more.
When people think of the word “massage” hair loss is not usually the first thing that pops into their head. But, just like a body massage, scalp massages can provide a lot of benefits, particularly for people who suffer from hair loss.
This article is going to explore how a daily ten-minute scalp massage can impact hair loss. I will also share some effective techniques that have worked well in helping me overcome my own hair loss.
Different ways scalp massaging impacts hair loss
Increases blood flow
When you first get into the habits of scalp massaging you may notice a tingling sensation. This is because scalp massages have been shown to increase blood flow. Why does this matter?
Blood flow and hair loss are inexorably linked. When you are losing your hair due to androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss) it is because hair is being miniaturized by DHT. Since miniaturized hair follicles are much smaller than healthy ones, they require less blood flow, essentially meaning that the body stops providing your “already dying” hair follicles with the blood that they need. Blood contains vital oxygen and nutrients that hair follicles use to grow and when there is a lack thereof the hair will not grow as long or thick as normal.
In summary, even though blood flow is not the direct cause of AA, it can significantly contribute to growth issues. Scalp massages have been proven in numerous scientific studies to boost blood flow which contribute to a faster growth rate and thicker hair, there is even some evidence supporting the notion that scalp massages can impact androgenic alopecia directly.
Increased blood flow-related hair growth is widely understood as the main benefit of doing daily scalp massages, and alone is a good enough reason to try them, but there are two other potential benefits worth mentioning as well.
Increased sebum production
The first is an increase in sebum production.
Sebum is the scientific name for skin oil. It is essentially responsible for maintaining the pH balance of our skin and making sure hair is moisturized so that it doesn’t break off (which is why your hair follicles are surrounded by sebum glands). If the pH balance is out of the normal range, skin cells can dry out. Dry skin can lead to a whole host of problems including flaking and itchiness, which can exacerbate hair loss even further (more on that here). Even worse? Harsh chemicals commonly found in shampoo and pollutants can decrease sebum levels, which is problematic as there is evidence showing that low sebum levels are correlated with a decrease in anagen (growing) hair.
By preforming a scalp massage, you may be releasing trapped sebum in your scalp that can help balance the pH level and avoid the problems I mentioned above.
The other benefit of scalp massages is the alleviation of stress.
Though stress doesn’t directly cause androgenic alopecia, it can certainly cause hair loss. By increasing inflammation in the scalp, stress has been found to induce rapid hair shedding. Pair this with the already stressful reality of dealing with androgenic alopecia, and you have a vicious cycle of worsening hair loss on your hands.
Luckily, studies have found that scalp massaging can significantly reduce the hormone that causes stress. By reducing stress, you are not only preventing stress related hair loss, but you may be making the process of overcoming androgenic alopecia a little bit easier. In my experience, overcoming hair loss is just as much psychological as it is physical.
How to perform a scalp massage
Now that I have (hopefully) convinced you that scalp massages are worth your while, it is important that you understand how to do them the right way. How you perform the massage is very important because it can either bring you all of the benefits we talked about, or, if you do it wrong, can damage your hair and worsen hair loss.
The more commonly used method and the one I recommend is to use your fingers. Starting at the front of your scalp, work your way around your whole scalp while using only your fingertips. Make small circles and apply medium pressure throughout the massage and make sure you do it for at least 10 minutes a day (although I prefer to do 20, 10 in the morning and 10 at night). Make sure you are not using your fingernails as this can worsen hair loss.
Tip: You can also add essential oils (I recommend you do so). Though there are several essential oils that can benefit your hair and scalp, I prefer to use a mixture of rosemary and jojoba oils. Use about a quarter sized amount to ensure that the whole scalp gets covered and massage as normal.
The other way to perform a scalp massage is with a massage tool. There are many different types of tools but essentially the technique is the same with all of them: apply a medium pressure, 10 minutes a day, and make sure you cover the entire scalp.
The most important takeaway is to make sure you find a method that you can stick with consistently. It is going to take time for scalp massages to make a visible impact but don’t give up. Also, it really is not that hard to set aside 10 minutes a day especially considering that you have little to lose and a lot to gain (I’m talking about hair of course!).
The benefits of scalp massaging for hair loss are becoming more and more apparent. By boosting circulation, increasing sebum production, and helping reduce stress, scalp massaging may be able to have a big impact on hair loss.
Unfortunately, hair loss is still ultimately caused by DHT, which a scalp massage will have no effect on. Use scalp massages alongside other treatments like finasteride and minoxidil to achieve the best results.