3 Scalp Massage Tips To Reduce Anxiety & Boost Hair Growth, From A Pro
It's Mental Health Awareness Month, and you should honor the occasion however you see fit. For some, that looks like a committed journaling practice. For others, it's engaging in mindful movement.
And for celebrity hairstylist Adam Reed, founder of ARKIVE Headcare, a grounding scalp massage helps nurture his mental well-being. "It's about taking that moment and reconnecting," he tells mbg. "[It] helps you unwind, and head massage has long been known to help relaxation1 and better head care." Not for nothing, scalp massages can also stimulate blood flow up top, which sends oxygen and hair-healthy nutrients to the follicles—which, in turn, sparks faster hair growth2.
So grab your hair oil du jour—I highly suggest Reed's The Good Habit Hybrid Oil—and follow his tips below:
Focus on your temples
"Your temples are one of your best relaxation receptors," says Reed. "Gently rubbing the temples is a great way of focusing and grounding, so focus on that area to help put down your roots."
So, before kneading your scalp, warm your oil between your palms and align them with each temple, gently pressing the heels of your palms into the sensitive areas before moving in circular motions.
If you use a beautifully fragranced oil, the scent can further ground you and help you relax—an aromatherapy of sorts. Reed's sophisticated blend, for example, features top notes of mandarin and rhubarb with a base of vanilla, tea rose, and white musk. Don't forget to breathe deeply while you press into your temples.
Massage with your fingers and a brush
Now, let's move on to the scalp. Apply a generous amount of oil onto your fingertips and scalp, perhaps separating your hair into sections if you have a thicker mane. Then follow Reed's tutorial below:
- Effleurage: Gentle fingertip movement
- Petrissage: Slow, kneading movement
- Rotary: Firm circular movement
- Friction: Gentle rubbing movement
- Tapotement: Gentle tapping motion ("I'll also tap my temples because, again, it just brings you into the moment," Reed adds. "For me, that's the key for looking after your head.")
Repeat the process two to six times, then if you really want to go the extra mile, grab a detangling brush—ideally one with long, flexible teeth (like this one from Amazon). Then just detangle your hair as you normally would, with broad front-to-back strokes.
"The pulling motion is really relaxing," says Reed. "That's why sitting and brushing your hair or brushing somebody else's hair is such a relaxing thing for both parties." The brushing also exfoliates the scalp, he notes, which further stimulates the follicles. "Just make sure you keep the brush that you use washed and clean," he reminds us. "Just use a little bit of shampoo after every time you use it, and you'll get that really nice, clean brush every time."
Finish with a cold-water rinse
After your scalp massage, you'll want to thoroughly rinse out the lingering product—that's why many choose to massage with a pre-shampoo treatment, like a rich, luxurious oil. Feel free to shampoo and condition your hair as usual, but Reed recommends topping off your shower with a shot of cold water if you can.
Not only does cool water help the scalp retain its moisture, but it also seals down the hair cuticles and helps lock moisture into the strands themselves. The result? Smoother, shinier, less frizzy hair.
But according to Reed, the cold water rinse also provides some rejuvenating, stimulating properties for your scalp. "Lift your showerhead away, so the water is running through your hair," he notes. (Think of it like a DIY rain shower, as opposed to spraying directly on the back of your head.) "The water helps to massage, and with cold water, it's really nice."
Mental health care looks different for everyone, but if you're searching for a way to ease your mind and relax your senses, a grounding scalp massage can certainly do the trick. Follow Reed's go-to tutorial above, and don't forget to always treat your scalp with TLC. "Be gentle to your scalp," he adds—and we can extend the advice to your body and mind in general. This is a time to give yourself grace.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.