A head massage feels fabulous. In addition to the sensory pleasure it offers, a head massage may ease symptoms of a headache, reduce stress, and possibly boost hair growth, too.
And the best part? You can learn how to do one at home. Or you can visit a massage therapist if you want an expert head massage.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of a head massage, how to do one yourself, and what to expect if you get a professional head massage.
Sarah Monreal, a licensed massage therapist and owner of Wayfare Wellness, says the benefits depend on the type of head massage you get.
For example, she offers cranial-sacral massage therapy. This is a gentle massage technique that focuses on the central nervous system of the head, spinal column, and sacrum.
This type of head massage is often used to:
- release tension
- ease migraine and headache pain
- reduce stress
- promote relaxation
That said, Monreal points out that even less specialized massages, like the type you do at home, may help reduce stress and tension, condition the scalp, and improve blood circulation in your head and neck area.
Here are a few other benefits of a head massage.
Promotes hair growth
If your hair is thinning or not as thick as it used to be, you may want to consider a scalp massage.
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Lowers blood pressure
It’s no secret that a scalp massage can help ease the stresses of the day and promote feelings of relaxation.
The authors of the study believe this may be because a head massage can help promote blood circulation, which has a positive effect on the relaxation of blood vessels and neck muscles.
Reduces tension headache symptoms
A tension headache commonly causes pain in your head and neck and behind your eyes. Muscle contractions often trigger these types of headaches.
The American Massage Therapy Association reports that a scalp massage may help reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of tension headaches. This may be due to the relaxing effect a head massage has on the muscles in your neck.
The beauty of a head massage is that you can do it yourself. All you need are your fingertips. Massage oil is optional.
If you prefer, you can use a scalp massaging tool instead of your fingertips. These tools come in the form of brushes or handheld rubber massagers. You can work the massaging tool all over your scalp in the same way you’d use your fingertips.
To give yourself a head massage, follow these steps:
- Sit down in a comfortable chair. If you’re using oil, make sure to put a towel around your neck and on the chair to catch any drips.
- Begin by applying light to medium pressure on your head with your fingertips or massage tool. If you’re using oils, dip your fingertips in the oil, then proceed with the massage.
- Move around your scalp in small circular motions.
- Massage for a minimum of 5 minutes, making sure to cover your entire head.
- You can wash the oil out with shampoo.
Scalp massages are also a good way to connect with your partner. Try giving each other an at-home head massage with these tips from Monreal:
- Have your partner lie down or sit in a comfortable chair. If you’re using essential oils, start with a small amount. Dip your fingertips in the oil.
- Focus on delivering slow, gentle strokes on your partner’s head and work up to light circular motions that go across their head.
- Use your thumbs to gently massage their neck as well.
Although you can do a head massage without oil, you may like the aroma and added benefits of using essential oils.
While you can use any oil of your choice, some essential oils seem to pair better with this relaxing massage.
“We love to use essential oils whenever possible,” says Monreal. “Two of our favorite essential oils for a head massage are lavender oil and peppermint oil, but you can even opt for coconut oil if you prefer.”
Kathy Sadowski, MS in aromatherapy and registered aromatherapist, says if you want to use oil for a head massage, jojoba or sweet almond are both good choices because they won’t clog your pores.
One word of caution with essential oils is to make sure you dilute the oil before using it on your skin. To avoid irritation, mix a couple of drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or jojoba oil, before using it on your head.
Before using essential oils on a large area of skin, it’s also important to do a patch test to see how your skin will react. Here’s how to do one:
- Wash your forearm with mild, unscented soap, then pat dry.
- Apply a few drops of diluted essential oil onto a small patch of skin on your forearm.
- Cover the area with a bandage, and keep it dry for 24 hours. If you have any signs of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, irritation, or discomfort, immediately remove the bandage and wash the area with soap and water. Discontinue use of the essential oil. If you don’t experience any irritation within 24 hours, the essential oil is likely safe for use.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should review the pregnancy guidelines from the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) to avoid oils that could cause problems.
Giving yourself a head massage is both easy and very affordable. But sometimes, you may want to have a professional do the work.
If you’re interested in a professional scalp massage, there are a few things you should know before booking an appointment.
“When you seek out a professional cranial-sacral massage, you can expect a very soothing and relaxing massage,” says Monreal. During your session, the massage therapist will focus on delivering light strokes to your entire skull and neck.
Monreal says they may also work to gently manipulate the bones of your skull and spine to normalize the flow of your cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system.
“With a more normal flow, that fluid will help enhance your body’s natural ability to heal itself,” she explains.
Monreal says you can expect a professional massage session to last about 45 minutes to an hour. “Throughout the session, you will communicate with your massage therapist to ensure that your needs are being addressed appropriately and effectively,” she says.
At Monreal’s clinic, a 45-minute cranial-sacral massage would likely cost around $60.
Depending on where you live, the exact cost can vary. Check with the massage therapist about pricing before making an appointment.
A head massage offers a variety of benefits, whether you use your fingertips or you get one from a professional.
A head massage may help relieve stress and reduce tension. It may also ease migraine or headache pain, lower blood pressure, improve circulation to your head and neck, and promote hair growth.
Before using essential oils, make sure they’re diluted, and do a patch test before using on a large area of skin. If you’re pregnant or nursing, be sure to review the types of oils to avoid.