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Scalp Massage for Hair Growth: Benefits & Tips

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Grace Gallagher

Published 06/05/2023

Updated 04/29/2024

It’s the undeniable best part of a haircut — but does scalp massage for hair growth really work? Though it may seem too good to be true, some research suggests that scalp massage can stimulate hair growth, slow hair loss and increase hair thickness.

But there’s a small catch to the hair benefits of scalp massage. Just as you wouldn’t expect a couple pull-ups to immediately tone your arms, one scalp massage isn’t enough to generate hair regrowth.

Read on to learn more about scalp massage, how to do it yourself, how to use scalp massagers for hair growth and how long you should massage your scalp for hair growth. We’ll also dive into the link between massage and hair health, plus other scalp massage benefits (besides the fact that it feels great).

Potentially. There have been studies on whether scalp massage helps hair growth, but they’re not super high-quality.

A 2019 study looked at people who had a daily scalp massage for about 11 to 20 minutes (which is a pretty long time to massage your head when you think about it) for six months. It found that, on average, reduced hair loss and potential regrowth occurred after 36.3 logged hours of scalp massage.

However, this study had some significant limitations. For one, there was no control group to separate those using other hair loss treatments like topical finasteride or minoxidil. 

It was also a self-reported study, which is problematic because of confirmation bias — meaning those surveyed could have thought they were noticing thicker hair because they expected massage to work.

Another two-part study (on just nine men who, weirdly, weren’t even experiencing hair loss) looked at the effects of four minutes of daily scalp massage using a scalp-massage device for 24 weeks. The results showed increased hair thickness, but there was no significant change in hair growth rate. 

The first part of the study was done in vitro (aka in test tubes) on thawed human hair follicle cells. It showed changes in gene expression from stretching forces, which may play a role in the hair growth cycle.

In-vitro studies have their merits, but it can be hard to draw definitive conclusions because they’re not done on living humans.

You might have heard a rumor swirling around that a scalp massage is equivalent to one-eighth of an orgasm. Questionable logic aside, a head massage does feel excellent.

Not much evidence shows that massaging your head will help you hold onto your hair, but scalp massage has other (proven) benefits. Take a look below.

Stress Reduction

A 2016 study examined 34 female office workers. Some got a daily head and neck massage, and others acted as a control group. (We hereby volunteer to participate in future testing!)

The study found reduced stress hormones and lowered heart rates in those who got daily massages.

Improved Blood Circulation

The same 2016 study on female office workers also found that massage improved circulation by bringing blood flow to the head and dilating blood vessels.

Participants had reduced blood pressure and lowered cortisol levels, which may have helped them relax their back muscles afterward.

Improved Scalp Health

Massaging your scalp can reduce itching and help loosen flaking caused by dandruff, which could be a result of fungus, excess sebum or a dry scalp. This can lead to healthier hair.

The repeated circular motions loosen dead skin and might help exfoliate the scalp, especially if you use a gritty hair exfoliant while you massage.

Plus, when blood flows to the scalp, it delivers nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles — research shows a loss of blood flow to the scalp is associated with hair loss.

Headache Reduction

Some evidence suggests that a type of massage therapy on the forehead and scalp known as myofascial release can reduce headache symptoms and the frequency of migraines.

There are several ways to massage your scalp — and it doesn’t necessarily require fancy tools or products.

Whether you’re a purist or choose to incorporate oils or scalp-massager tools, here’s how to perform an at-home scalp massage.

Traditional Scalp Massage 

Got hands? You’re good to go.

Traditional scalp massage requires nothing more than your fingers. Here’s how:

  • With clean hands, place all 10 fingertips onto your scalp, overlapping them slightly.

  • Apply light to medium pressure, moving your fingertips in small circles. 

  • Gradually work across the scalp, from your hairline to the nape of your neck. 

Scalp Massage With Essential Oils

A scalp massage with essential oils can be incredibly relaxing, thanks to the spa-like scent. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should generally be diluted with a carrier oil (like sweet almond, coconut or jojoba oil) to prevent skin irritation.

Mix one to two drops of essential oil with a carrier oil, then apply the mixture directly to your scalp using the traditional massage technique.

Use whatever oil you like, though it’s a good idea to first apply the oil to a small patch of skin to test for reactions. 

If you’re looking for an oil that may help promote hair growth specifically, try lavender or peppermint oil. While human research is limited, animal studies have shown that both oils encourage hair growth and thickness in mice.

Using oil on your hair will make your hair oily (as you’d probably expect), so you can hop in the shower afterward to rinse off any greasy residue.

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Scalp Massage in the Shower

The shower can be ideal for scalp massage, especially if you like to zone out under the warm water.

Start by wetting your hair, then apply a small amount of shampoo or conditioner and follow the basic scalp massage method outlined above. Aim for five or so minutes of massage, then rinse well.

Note that wet hair is more prone to breakage than dry hair. With this in mind, apply less pressure than you would if your hair were dry to avoid pulling it out or damaging it.

Some people prefer to use tools for their head massage. One of the main benefits of a scalp massager is that it spares your hands from doing the heavy lifting.

Scalp Massager Brushes

One way to administer an in-shower scalp massage is with a shampoo brush. These brushes typically fit in the palm of your hair and have thick (but not too firm or pokey) silicone bristles.

How to use a scalp massager brush is easy: Lather it up with shampoo, then make little circles around your scalp using gentle pressure.

As a bonus, shampoo brushes may help reduce dandruff and flakes by loosening dead skin cells and product buildup so they can be rinsed away. Aside from feeling good, this is a vital part of a healthy haircare routine, and it might help you go longer between washes.

Electric Scalp Massagers

Though manual scalp massages are easy enough to use, electric scalp massagers also exist. And they aren’t necessarily very expensive.

But no significant scientific research suggests that electric massagers specifically contribute to healthier hair or reduce hair fallout — and they may take up precious real estate on your bathroom counter. Your call.

The best way to use an electric scalp massager for hair growth depends on the specific tool. Some have a dedicated spot to add oil to the brush, for example, and other high-end scalp massager tools offer additional features, like low-level light therapy (LLLT), which may help with hair growth.

Head Scratcher Tools

Then there are those head-scratchers (you know, the ones that look like jellyfish with a handle). These feel nice and will give you that tingly scalp feeling, but the design doesn’t allow much pressure on the head — so it might not do much for hair growth.

If it feels like a form of self-care, massage your scalp for as long as you’d like. But if it’s more of a chore, a few minutes will do.

The times in studies were kind of all over the place, ranging from four minutes to upwards of 25 minutes.

Most studies looked at daily massage. If you can fit in at least a few minutes a day, that may yield the best results.

But every other day or even a few times a week might be enough, so do what works for you. And if you wash your hair every day, lathering up with your fingers counts too!

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Scalp massage aside, there are several proven ways to stimulate hair growth.

Pairing one of these at-home treatments for hair loss with scalp massage might give better results than massage on its own.

Finasteride Hair Growth Medication

Finasteride (the active ingredient in the Propecia®) is proven to slow hair loss and maybe even stimulate hair growth. Studies show that finasteride can reduce the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body by 90 percent.

What’s DHT? Glad you asked. This male sex hormone is basically a stage-five clinger. It binds to receptors in the scalp, effectively stopping hair follicles from producing new hairs.

Finasteride essentially prevents this from happening to curb hair loss.

Topical Finasteride and Minoxidil

You can also try massaging topical hair loss medications like our two-in-one finasteride & minoxidil spray. This product combines finasteride with another clinically proven ingredient, minoxidil (also known by the brand name Rogaine®).

The medications have similar effects but work differently. Quick recap: Finasteride blocks DHT. And while researchers still aren’t exactly sure how minoxidil works, it’s a vasodilator, meaning it brings blood to the scalp.

Topical Minoxidil 

Minoxidil is FDA-approved as a hair loss and regrowth treatment. Think of it as the alarm clock waking up your hair follicles so they can get to work — basically, it reactivates hair follicles.

Minoxidil is a great product to use in tandem with scalp massage because it’s meant to be worked into the scalp twice a day using your fingers.

We offer two versions of this hair loss treatment. Minoxidil solution is applied with a dropper, and minoxidil foam is dispensed into your hands and then massaged in.

Just note that you only need to apply it to areas where you’re losing hair, not the entire scalp. Minoxidil should always be used on totally dry hair, so skip the shower scalp massage with this one.

Biotin Supplements

Supplementing with biotin gummies may help with hair loss. But before you start popping them like candy, note that biotin is most effective in people with a true vitamin deficiency.

It’s pretty rare to be deficient in biotin, which is a type of B vitamin, especially if you eat a balanced diet. That said, a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Trichology found that 38 percent of women experiencing hair loss were biotin-deficient.

You can get bloodwork done if you suspect a biotin deficiency.

Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner

Fake it ‘til you make it (nope, we’re not suggesting a hairpiece).

Volumizing shampoo and conditioner can strengthen your hair while boosting volume at the roots so it feels nourished and looks fuller.

Saw Palmetto

The plant extract saw palmetto isn’t as well-studied as FDA-approved hair loss medications like finasteride or minoxidil. However, some scientific evidence suggests that it may inhibit the effects of DHT, much like finasteride.

A 2015 study looked at the effects of topical saw palmetto, which you can get in our thickening shampoo. The study lacked a control group, but 50 men with male pattern baldness experienced increased hair count at 12 and 24 weeks.

Melatonin

Melatonin for hair growth? It’s a thing.

While you probably associate melatonin with helping you catch some Zs, a review of several studies on the effects of melatonin on hair growth found that, when used topically, melatonin may help treat androgenetic alopecia (the clinical term for male pattern baldness).

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Does scalp massage help hair growth? Maybe. When looking at the research, the answer is basically the shrug emoji. There’s not a ton of high-quality studies, but some are promising.

Here are a few takeaways from what we’ve covered:

  • We can’t say whether scalp massage for hair growth definitely works — but it’s certainly not going to hurt, so feel free to try it.

  • While more research is needed, there are other proven benefits of scalp massage, including stress reduction and increased blood flow to the head.

  • If you’re struggling with thinning hair or hair loss, you’ll be glad to know several science-backed hair loss treatments are available.

  • Medications like oral finasteride and topical minoxidil are both FDA-approved and have been shown to treat various forms of hair loss. 

There are lots of hair growth remedies, including ones we didn’t cover above, like testosterone injections for hair loss and low-level light therapy.

For more information about treating hair loss, talk to your dermatologist or do a free online consultation to find the best option.

To learn more about how to make hair grow faster and explore science-backed tips for hair growth, check out our blogs.

24 Sources

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Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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