Picture this: You’ve carved out a few hours of salon time for yourself. You’re leaning back in a comfy chair, and your stylist is getting your strands wet. Of course, the water is the perfect temperature—not too cold and not too hot. Then, you shut your eyes, and they start working shampoo through your hair. Fingers massage your scalp, and it’s the most relaxed you’ve been all week.
There’s something undeniably indulgent about someone else washing your hair, but really, the best part of the whole process is the scalp massage. And that’s something you can do all on your own. Here, we’re sharing how to massage your scalp and listing the scalp massage benefits that will convince you to do so in the first place.
3 Scalp Massage Benefits
First things first, learn why head massagers are a scalp-care staple.
Massages are a well-known relaxation technique; it’s part of the reason why hotels so often have spas on their premises and massage certificates are a popular gift for the most hardworking people you know. But body massages aren’t the only kind that can calm and soothe. Manicures are often completed with a quick hand massage to ensure your experience is relaxing, and this same logic is part of why your hairstylist massages your scalp at the shampoo bowl. Scalp massages have a relaxing effect and have even been used successfully to help control stress.
2. Softer-Feeling Skin
Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment
When it comes to your scalp, it’s important to remember that underneath your hair, what you’re dealing with is skin. As such, your scalp can experience many of the same concerns you would address in a facial skincare routine. This includes rough skin. Just as soft skin is a common skincare goal, it’s a sought-after scalp attribute as well. If this isn’t news to you, what you might not realize is that using a scalp massager or rubbing down your own noggin could be the answer. That’s right, scalp massage is known to help soften skin.
Kiehl’s Tip: For softer-feeling hair, too, complement a massage with Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment. This lightweight pre-shampoo treatment with avocado oil softens strands and helps promote a healthy scalp environment, leaving your scalp and hair feeling moisturized.
3. Fuller-Looking Hair
A full, voluminous mane is widely considered to be the holy grail of hair. As such, there’s no shortage of haircare hacks and tips purported to help boost the thickness of your tresses. Scalp massage often appears in related conversations, with rumors swirling that it may help improve fullness. And there is, in fact, research to support this claim. One study found that with a standardized scalp massage, over time, hair thickness increased.I
How To Massage Your Scalp
Follow these simple steps to upgrade your scalp-care routine with a massage.
Amino Acid Scalp-Detoxifying Treatment-Scrub
It’s possible to incorporate a gentle massage into just about any haircare routine, but we recommend pairing one with a scalp scrub. Just as the skin on your face and body need exfoliating, the same goes for your scalp. Amino Acid Scalp-Detoxifying Treatment-Scrub, which contains 10 amino acids, sea salt, and salicylic acid, gently exfoliates to dissolve dead skin cells, impurities, product buildup, and even pollution. It also helps fortify the scalp’s natural moisture barrier. First, in the shower, wet your strands. Then, take a small amount of the scrub and work it onto your scalp before starting your massage.
Use your fingers to help exfoliate and massage simultaneously. There aren’t any specific moves you need to know; rather, you can see what feels best. Use firm but gentle pressure starting near your hairline and work your way back, giving your entire scalp plenty of attention.
While your hands are no doubt the handiest tool at your disposal, you also have the option of using a scalp massager. These handheld tools can help with the whole process. There are two main types: those with flexible metal spindles that do the massaging, which are meant to be used on dry hair, and scalp massage brushes with soft, rubber spikes that can be paired with either your scrub or shampoo. The latter is an option you could consider incorporating into this scalp massage routine.
When you’re finished massaging with your hands or a massager and feeling that much more relaxed, rinse off the scalp scrub with lukewarm water (the best temperature for your skin and hair).
Your scrub should be followed with a conditioner or treatment—save shampoo for days when you don’t exfoliate. To make this entire massage experience extra luxurious and scalp-pampering, we recommend using a hair and scalp mask next. Amino Acid Scalp-Restoring Treatment-Mask stars three amino acids and coconut triglycerides. It helps dry and sensitive scalps feel moisturized, especially after the use of drying heat-styling tools and coloring processes. Apply the mask to both your scalp and hair and leave it on for three to five minutes. Find something else to do while you wait, whether that’s washing your face, shaving, or singing in the shower. Once time is up, rinse out with more lukewarm water.
Kiehl’s Tip: You can use the same mask as a deep treatment by letting it sit for longer. When your strands and scalp need something more, wait an extra 10 minutes before rinsing.
After washing out the mask, your massage routine is complete. You can hop out of the shower and dry and style your mane as per usual. Complement this routine with the coordinating shampoo and conditioner. As a pair, Amino Acid Shampoo and Conditioner cleanse and soften your hair while visibly adding volume and boosting strength and manageability. The duo is formulated with amino acids, of course, as well as fairly-traded coconut oil. Lather up with the shampoo, then rinse and apply the conditioner. Leave it on for two minutes before giving your hair a final rinse.
How Often Should You Use a Scalp Massager?
You don’t have to limit yourself to the occasional scalp massage. While exfoliating with a scrub isn’t a daily activity—our scrub with amino acids should be used once per week—you can use a scalp massager (or your hands) more often. Try massaging your scalp when you shampoo or when applying a pre-shampoo treatment, like the oil we shared above.
If you’re using your hands to massage, the main limitation is that you won’t want to have your fingers all over your hair unless a cleansing session will follow closely. This is because your hands can transfer oils to your strands. Much like it’s better not to always have your hands on your face, we recommend a hands-off (when possible) policy for your locks.
3 More Hair- and Scalp-Care Tips
The state of your scalp is closely linked to the health of your hair. Below, find three more tips to care for your scalp and strands.
Use a coordinating haircare system
We mentioned this, but it’s worth reiterating. The best shampoo and conditioner for your strands will be ones that are meant to be used together.
Don’t put stress on your hair
The way you style your hair could be putting stress on your hair and scalp. Try hairstyles that aren’t overly tight and secure them with gentle elastics or clips. We love a nice low ponytail or a loose bun if you want to keep your hair out of your face.
Focus conditioner on your ends
While conditioner is key in any haircare routine, it shouldn’t be applied all over. Use the formula on your ends, which tend to be drier than the rest of your hair. Applying it to your scalp can lead to buildup and limp-looking locks.
I. Koyama, Taro et al. “Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue.” Eplasty vol. 16 e8. 25 Jan. 2016