Anybody that has had a scalp massage at the barbershop will attest to what a truly relaxing and invigorating experience it can be.
We can thank ancient India for popularizing the practice of head and scalp massages, and modern barbers have been incorporating similar techniques into their practices for years. Perfecting the art of a perfectly relaxing massage will help improve your client’s experience, and they’ll come to anticipate the massage when they come in for a haircut or beard trim.
Not only are scalp massages effective for the purpose of relaxation and stress relief, but they also help encourage blood flow to the scalp, which is believed to stimulate hair growth.
Offering scalp massages as part of your haircut, shaving, and beard trimming packages will set you apart as a barber that is serious about the tonsorial arts and will keep clients coming back for the unique experience.
How to Perform Scalp Massages
A scalp massage is usually included at the end of a haircut, coloring service, or other service such as a shave or a beard trim. It’s about 4-5 minutes long, but will help your clients leave the barbershop feeling relaxed and ready to take on the day.
Using your fingertips, you’ll start at your client’s temples, with one hand on either side of the head, and gently apply pressure. As you move up the head, you’ll slowly massage the top of the head, sides of the head, and finally, the back of the head and base of the skull. You’ll move your fingers in small, circular motions.
It’s usually best to work your fingers underneath the hair to avoid any pulling or painful sensations. Applying firm, constant pressure is the best method, but everyone has different preferences when it comes to pressure and touch, so make sure to communicate with your client about what feels best for them.
By stimulating blood circulation as your fingertips massage the nerve endings on the scalp, your client’s hair will receive a boost of nutrients.
Massaging to Stimulate Hair Growth
If your client is specifically interested in achieving faster hair growth or stimulating their hair growth in general, there are a few techniques you can use that will help not only with relaxation but also with stimulating faster growth.
For the first technique, you’ll move your fingers through the hair, grasping each strand and gently pulling it. Another technique used to stimulate hair growth uses tapping all over the scalp to stimulate the nerves, resulting in more nutrients being made available to the hair.
You can also use hair tonic or essential oils to give the hair an extra boost. Massaging product into the scalp that will stimulate hair growth is a great way to help your client achieve a full, healthy head of hair.
Scalp massages can actually cause scalp conditions such as psoriasis or eczema to worsen rather than providing relief.
Make sure to ask your clients if they have any existing skin conditions before beginning the scalp massage. The communication between you and your client is one of the most important aspects to becoming a trusted barber.
Products Used in Scalp Massage: Tonics, Moisturizers and Essential Oils
Although scalp massages are traditionally performed without equipment or products, you can choose to offer essential oils or other hair products during the massage to create a more luxurious experience. If you’d like your barbershop to be known for going above and beyond and providing the best possible services, you might consider adding an additional element to the massage in the form of tonics, moisturizers or even essential oils.
There are many different oils you can use to enhance the massage, which have different properties that can help stimulate hair growth or decrease dandruff. You’ll dilute a few drops of the essential oil with standard massage oil, dab it on your fingers, and work it into the hair as you perform the massage.
Some popular essential oils actually have natural properties beneficial to the hair and scalp:
- Lavender oil is used to treat dandruff
- Rose oils is used to moisturize the hair and scalp
There are several oils often used as a natural way to stimulate hair growth:
Oils that are favored for their fragrance include:
If you’re using oils to enhance the massage, you’ll need to place a hot towel over your client’s hair after the massage to trap the heat and let the oil work on the hair. You can let the towel sit for about ten minutes. Next, you’ll shampoo and conditioner your client’s hair to remove any remaining oil.
You might also consider using some popular tonics and other products to stimulate hair growth, remove dandruff, or moisturize the hair, depending on your client’s needs.
For hair growth, you might consider using:
- Fig + Yarrow Hair and Scalp Tonic
- Aveda Hair Tonic
- Livon Hair Tonic
- Aloe Veda Scalp Tonic
- Lotus Herbals Grow Oil
- Jamaican Black Castor Oil (particularly effective for African-American hair)
To treat dry and brittle hair, you might use:
- Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Masque
- Julian Farel Vitamin Restore
- John Frieda Full Repair Oil
- Frederic Fekkai PRX Reparative
- Kerastase Advance Scalp and Hair Concentrate
It’s also important to use quality shampoos and conditioners to help your client’s hair achieve its healthiest potential. A good shampoo and conditioner will help the hair retain its moisture without stripping away too many of the scalp’s natural oils, or drying out the skin with alcohol-based formulas. It’s also a good idea to keep different shampoos and conditioners on hand for clients with different needs. These might include shampoo/conditioner for color treated hair, shampoo/conditioner for dry hair, and shampoo/conditioner specifically for dandruff.
Workshops and Advanced Training
The standard curriculum in most barbering programs will include a segment on how to conduct traditional scalp massages. However, if you’d like to learn advanced methods of scalp massaging, want to learn how to do scalp massages specifically to stimulate hair growth, or would like to gain a more in-depth view of the topic, you might consider enrolling in a workshop through a local barbershop or even advanced barbering courses available at barbering schools.
Advanced barbering courses will include information on scalp massages, the methods and techniques of massages, and the benefits of incorporating scalp massages into your practice. Workshops are more likely to cover products you can use to enhance the massages as well as tips, tricks, and techniques.
You can find advanced barbering courses and workshops in barbering and hairstyling academies throughout the country. Becoming an excellent barber is all about expanding your knowledge and reaching your clients with the best possible services. Offering scalp massage as part of your suite of services is a great way to accomplish this.