Most people tend to think of their scalp and their skin as two separate entities. Maybe you diligently get a facial every month to de-gunk or rejuvenate your complexion, or have a robust skin-care regimen complete with toners, essences, and barrier builders. But when it comes to the skin up by your follicles, you just shrug it off—which is understandable. There are color treatments, deep conditioners, and the eternal question of how often you should be washing your hair to think about, after all.
But, in Japan, head spas have been popular for over 15 years, according to Japanese hair stylist Yoshie Sakuma who performs scalp facials at New York’s Pierre Michel Salon. Issues like oiliness, dryness, and even some types of flakes can all be taken care of by dealing with the dirt and debris that’s clogging the follicles. So, by showing your scalp some TLC, you could be headed for the ultimate bout of good hair days (which is #goals).
According to Sakuma, you should get a treatment to get rid of the gunk once every month and a half or so (as one would do with facials). As someone who shampoos every other day, dyes my roots once a month, and who’s trying to grow out my hair, I thought I’d give it a go to see what it would truly do for the state of my scalp (also to have someone play with my hair, of course).
Keep reading to learn more about it—and what a scalp facial can do for your hair.
Giving my roots the love they deserve
Though it’s called a scalp facial, it doesn’t involve any masks or any high-tech devices like light therapy or microdermabrasion. But it does—thankfully—include a serious massage (it felt way more stimulating and thorough than your run-of-the-mill head scrub) and a professional wash.
When I sit down in the salon chair, the first thing Sakuma does is take a close-up photo of my head. I’ve never seen my scalp so magnified before—it looks normal to me, but she points out that there are tiny, blurry rings around the follicles that indicate buildup (yuck).
I start by selecting my desired aromatherapy scent (you can choose from citrus, vanilla, or rose—I go with citrus for the mood boost). For the treatment, Sakuma brings me over to the sink. Then begins the massage—first with a squalane-spiked scalp-clearing product, then shampoo and conditioner.
“Often we secret excess oil on our head, and this build-up over time can suffocate the hair follicle,” says Penny James, a New York City-based trichologist and hair stylist at Penny James Salon who firmly believes in scalp facials. “Cleaning it with this treatment is really good for enhancing the color, helping your hair grow better, and just keeping your strands really healthy.”
Even if just for the zen factor, I’d still be down to get the treatment—the massage is super relaxing, and I’m all about people playing with my hair. But Sakuma notes that the intense massaging aspect can even have an anti-aging effect your skin, too. “We have a lot of big muscles around the head area,” Sakuma explains as she thoroughly scrubs my scalp. “When we massage it, we get the circulation moving.” And this is important because one study indicated that by boosting circulation daily, you can help with hair thickness.
After my hair’s blow-dryed, Sakuma takes another close-up photo of my head—it’s barely visible to me, but she points out where it’s now squeaky clean. What is clear is that my hair looks super-shiny and feels amazing (and even has that bounce you see in commercials). Consider me a new scalp facial devotee.
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