Hair myth: Can a scalp massage help boost hair growth?
If thinning hair is a concern, or hair could do with a little more natural volume, scalp massages are often recommended. Aside from the relaxing factor, we explore if it really does boost hair growth.
What is a scalp massage?
A scalp massage is a technique that uses the fingers to apply gentle pressure in a circular motion to the head to stimulate nerve endings, muscles and blood vessels. This enjoyable sensation creates a feeling of well-being and relaxation. As well as the positive effects on mood, the technique is an important element of holistic medicine treatments such as Ayurveda for conditions like headaches and stress-related concerns(1). However, science has also developed an interest in scalp massages, especially its relationship with hair growth.
How do scalp massages and hair growth relate?
The reason that scientists believe a scalp massage can improve hair growth is twofold. “The most important factor is the stimulation of the blood vessels when massaged”, says dermatologist Dr. Nina Roos. She explains that with more blood flowing through the scalp, the follicles receive more nutrients and oxygen, which promotes the (faster) growth of (healthy) hair. In fact, studies(2) have shown that after only 4 minutes of scalp massage per day for several weeks, there was a significant increase in the progression of the hair cycle. In addition, the scalp massage technique also results in increased hair thickness 24 weeks after initiation of massage(2).
The most important factor is the stimulation of the blood vessels when massaged
Dr. Nina Roos, Dermatologist
The relaxing, destressing properties of a scalp massage are well documented(3), and it's a treatment that is neither constrained by space nor time, and doesn't necessarily require a masseur, as it is possible to do it yourself. “The easiest way to do a scalp massage is whenever you wash your hair with shampoo, but it can even be with oils or with no product at all: the benefits will be the same”, says Dr. Roos.
For her, the secret for a good scalp massage is time. “It has to last at least 5 or 6 minutes minutes to be really effective”, she recommends.
Quick and easy tips for a happy scalp and healthy hair
There are other ways you can support hair growth by keeping your scalp and hair healthy. Here are our top 2 tips for boosting new hair growth:
Check your brush
Harsh plastic bristles can scrape against the surface of the scalp and cause irritation and inflammation, which can have an impact on hair growth. Try a soft-bristled brush instead.
Choose the right ingredients
It’s a good idea to look out for products that contain certain ingredients that can make hair stronger and reduce the amount of fallout. One such anti-fall ingredient is Aminexil. Another one is salicylic acid, which is good for keeping the scalp free from damage as well as strengthening hair. Incorporating these elements into your hair care routine, as well as regular scalp massages, can lead to beneficial results. With minimal effort, reducing thinning hair is possible at your fingertips.
1. Masako, M. et al, 'Physical and Psychological Effects of Head Treatment in the Supine Position Using Specialized Ayurveda-Based Techniques' in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2016) pp. 22(7): 526–532. [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939366/]
2. Koyama, T. et al, 'Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue' in Eplasty (2016) 16:e8 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740347/]
3. P-Dependent Pathways' in The American Journal of Pathology (2003) 162.3: pp. 803–814. [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868104]
4. Kim, I. et al, 'The Effect of a Scalp Massage on Stress Hormone, Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate of Healthy Female' in Journal of Physical Therapy Science (2016) 28.10: pp. 2703–2707. [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5088109/]