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Head Massage Benefits for Hair Growth: An Expert Review
Dr. Umear Ahmad (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Umear Ahmad (GMC)
Updated on May 20, 2024

There is nothing like a relaxing scalp massage to help you unwind after a stressful day or to energise you in the morning. But did you know that head massage benefits include thicker, more luxurious hair?

One study revealed that 68.9% of its 340 participants with androgenetic alopecia experienced hair loss stabilisation after 7 months of daily scalp massages for hair growth [1]. This is a very promising result since head massages are freely available to anyone. While many devices can help, you can gently rub your scalp manually if needed.

However, it is good to keep in mind that, at this time, evidence regarding head massage benefits in curbing hair loss and stimulating follicles for hair growth is limited. More research needs to be conducted to be able to tell with certainty which types of alopecia respond to this kind of therapy and to what extent. This article will tell you all about what is currently known regarding:

  • The most important head massage benefits for your hair thinning 
  • How to perform a good scalp massage at home
  • How often to massage your scalp for optimum results
  • Head massage risks and why they occur
  • Hair growth alternatives to scalp massages
Table of Contents

The most promising head massage benefits for hair growth

The little evidence currently available suggests that 3 main hair growth benefits may stem from massaging your scalp regularly (however, more research is needed):

1. It can get your scalp blood flowing

When you massage your scalp, you manually stimulate its skin and small blood vessels, which can improve blood flow to your hair follicles [2]. Popular hair loss treatments, such as Minoxidil, work by doing exactly that – helping circulation so more nutrients and oxygen can reach your hair roots. This supports healthy strand proliferation and can keep your hair in the growth phase for longer. 

2. Stretching your scalp can activate hair-growth genes

A study performed in 2016 on 9 healthy men revealed that only 4 minutes of daily head massage with an electrical device led to an increase in hair thickness after 6 months [3]. The authors explained that the mechanical stretching of the scalp had the potential to activate some genes and potassium channels involved in hair production. This could help hair transition to the growth phase faster and remain in it for longer. 

If you have tried massaging your scalp regularly and noticed more hair shedding than usual after 3 months, it is usually not a cause for concern. This happens most often due to the fact that the rubbing pressure makes the hairs that were already in the shedding phase fall out. But they will grow back, as this is not a true form of hair loss.

3. It can help prevent stress-related hair loss

More than anything, a head massage is relaxing. A study performed on 34 female office workers who received scalp massages twice a week revealed lowered stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate after 10 weeks [4]. Lowering your levels of psychological pressure and its associated physical responses can help reduce stress and anxiety-related hair loss and perhaps even help you regain hair loss from stress.

Woman giving herself a head massage at home

How to give yourself a proper manual head massage at home

There are several kinds of devices you can use to massage your head – while electric ones are automatic, others are operated manually. The best scalp massagers for hair growth combine vibrations and red light therapy for hair growth to achieve effective results. If you own one of these electric massagers, the best thing you can do is to follow the instructions that accompany it closely.

This tutorial is designed for a manual scalp massage, but electric device users may also find some of the indications helpful:

A comfortable, relaxing space for a head massage

Step 1. Prepare a comfortable, relaxing space 

You can get your head massage while sitting comfortably in bed, in your favourite armchair or even during a nice bubble bath. Create a pleasant, inviting atmosphere with dim lighting, natural fragrances and ambiental music that will likely enhance your experience. Before settling in for your massage, make sure you have everything you intend to use on hand (scalp massager, hair growth oil, a hair brush, a towel if needed, etc).

Woman applying hair oil

Step 2.  Apply your favourite hair oil

A head massage is a good opportunity to also use some essential oils for hair growth. They will not only nourish and moisturise your strands but can also reduce oxidative stress. But most importantly, some can also help curb certain forms of hair loss, reduce stress and/or improve the symptoms of common scalp problems (e.g. dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis).

Some scalp massagers have a special reservoir where you can add the oil and it will be evenly distributed on your scalp during your massage. But if you’re using a traditional one or your hands, all you need to do is pour a few drops of your favourite oil in your palms or directly on your scalp, then gently rub it in.

Here are some of the best hair growth oils you can try:

Woman massaging her head with gentle, circular motions

Step 3. Use gentle, circular motions to massage your head 

You can use your palms or just your fingertips, whichever feels more comfortable. Set them against your scalp, applying mild pressure. Then, gently move them around, drawing smaller and larger circles on your skin. Focus especially on your thinning areas, such as a bald spot on your crown or a receding hairline

Step 4. Lightly pinch your scalp

After a few minutes of circular motions, gently grab a few centimetres of your scalp between your thumb and index finger and softly squeeze or pinch for 2-3 seconds. Only mild pressure needs to be applied, it shouldn’t cause any pain or tenderness, just a slight pressure that stimulates your capillary blood flow. 

Woman massaging her temples

Step 5. Massage your temples, head and neck muscles

While this is not directly required for hair growth, it can help reduce stress and relieve tension that can cause headaches. Use your index, middle, and ring fingers to gently massage your temples in a circular motion. Then, you can apply a bit of force when rubbing the muscles at the base of your skull and at the back of your neck (only as much as is needed to provide a satisfying sensation).

How long should a head massage for hair growth take?

Studies performed so far revealed that you get the greatest hair loss benefits when you massage your scalp for 10-20 minutes each day. However, using an electric device may be more efficient than a manual one. More research is needed to determine the optimal amount of time each massage session should take.

So, if you can afford to set aside at least 10 minutes a day for relaxing scalp stimulation, it could be good for your hair and your mental well-being alike. Just try not to exceed half an hour, as you can experience scalp tenderness or chafing.

How often should you get a head massage for top benefits?

There is currently little data to suggest an optimal massage frequency. It is believed that daily sessions may be more effective, but there haven’t been any studies to test the impact of less frequent head massages on hair loss. However, one study revealed stress-relieving benefits even when these sessions only take place twice a week [4].

There is no upper limit to how often you can get a head massage, you can feel free to do so daily if you enjoy it. This practice is considered safe and beneficial as long as the massage is performed correctly and with safe devices. 

Woman with sore scalp after getting a head massage

What are the risks of getting a head massage?

Normally, a head massage should not carry outstanding risks. Any minor harm that may result usually stems from poor massage techniques or low-quality devices. It may include:

  • Local tenderness – Applying too much force and/or massaging your head too fast can lead to persistent tenderness and it could make your scalp hurt when you move your hair. The experience is supposed to be relaxing and stimulating, not painful.
  • Accidental scratches, cuts or lesions – long, irregular nails or poor-quality massage devices with sharp edges can damage your sensitive scalp. Be extra careful with massagers with sharp points made from jade or hard plastic. They can chip without you noticing, causing deep cuts when used.
  • Bruising from hard devices – forcefully using a scalp massager made of metal, stone or hard plastic can leave a bruise, making your scalp tender in one spot
  • Bacterial infections from unsanitised massage devices – forgetting to clean your head massager after using it can allow harmful microorganisms to grow on it, causing infections such as scalp folliculitis or yeast infections on the scalp. This is especially true if you are sharing the device with another member of your household.
  • Hair breakage – if you are using a low-quality head massager and/or are rubbing your scalp too vigorously, your strands can tangle and break unnecessarily. This is even more common if you have dry, brittle hair
Man derma rolling as an alternative to head massage

Hair growth alternatives to a head massage

If you are experiencing difficulties managing your hair thinning with scalp massages alone, it is best to book a consultation with a trichologist. That is because your hair may be falling out due to a potentially progressive condition such as male or female pattern baldness or alopecia areata. The hair doctor will perform the necessary diagnosis tests (e.g. a hair pull test, a dermoscopy, blood tests for hair loss, etc.) and determine the right treatment for you.

Depending on your condition, they may prescribe hair loss medication, such as Minoxidil, Finasteride (not recommended to pre-menopausal women), or steroid creams. They may also recommend complementary evidence-based therapies such as PRP hair treatments or derma rolling for hair growth.

Finally, if your hair loss is more advanced and you make a good candidate, they may even suggest a hair transplant. This is a simple, painless, minimally invasive procedure with excellent results. If you are getting hair restoration surgery at one of the best hair clinics in the UK, you have a 97-100% chance of success. And since a hair transplant is permanent, you could enjoy thicker, denser hair for years after your hair transplant and more.

Head Massage Benefits for Hair Growth: An Expert Review, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Umear Ahmad (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Umear Ahmad (GMC)Updated on May 20, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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