Fact: A healthy scalp means healthy hair. Sad fact: Many of us neglect our scalp or don’t entirely give it the proper attention it deserves to be completely cared for. Sure, we may apply a scalp scrub now and then, but your scalp needs a little extra love—especially with the amount of stress it’s under on a daily basis. Enter the scalp facial. In the same way you’d get a regular facial to keep your complexion in tip-top shape, a scalp facial works to alleviate some of your biggest hair woes, including scalp zits, product buildup, oil, and so much more. Below, we spoke with scalp therapist Bridgette Hill to learn more about scalp facial treatments and even how to do one at home.
(Image Source: Getty / Frederic Cirou)
About the Expert
Bridgette Hill is a certified trichologist and a scalp therapist with over 20 years of experience in the hair industry.
What Is a Scalp Facial?
A scalp facial is similar to a regular facial in that it offers a deep cleansing for your scalp. Hill explains that they “incorporate skincare modalities to regulate cellular turnover, reduce inflammation, regulate sebum reduction, and encourage blood flow to ensure the health of the hair follicle.” Typically, a scalp facial is a deep-cleansing process that includes an exfoliation and a massage to detoxify the scalp. Whether you’re hoping to treat dandruff or an oily scalp, the facial can be modified to combat your biggest concern.
But why is this needed, you may be wondering? As it turns out, simply massaging shampoo on your scalp isn’t enough. Hill explains that “cleansing has very little to no impact on truly cleansing or exfoliating the scalp.” This is where scalp facials come in to go the extra mile.
What Are the Benefits of a Scalp Facial?
The biggest benefit of a scalp facial is thoroughly cleansing the scalp, as we evidently don’t do it well enough with just shampoo. With this deep cleanse comes a boost in cell turnover rate, much-needed conditioning of the scalp, improved circulation, along with the removal of impurities, excess oil, and product buildup. Hill notes that “decongesting the tissues creates an environment for proper hair fiber growth.”
With a scalp facial, your scalp is left functioning at its best to allow your hair to thrive. “In a scalp facial, the goal is to remove the buildup of imbalances that create scalp conditions and products to allow scalp function to fuel and feed the hair follicle to keep it functioning properly to produce healthy hair,” Hill shares. The same way you treat yourself to a facial to decongest your pores, a scalp facial is utilized to keep the hair follicles from getting clogged and impeding hair growth.
Where Should You Get a Scalp Facial?
Hill emphasizes that everyone can benefit from a scalp facial and should get one at least three times a year. You don’t need to go as often as you would for a regular facial, though getting one every few months will immensely benefit your scalp and hair.
“Salons and dermatologists are the best places to inquire about scalp facial or exfoliation services,” Hill notes. And expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $250, depending on where you go and all the facial entails. Some salons or dermatologist offices may offer various add-ons that can quickly ring up the bill so be sure you go over the price before you get anything done.
How to Do a Scalp Facial at Home
Because not everyone has the time or the means, Hill shared a step-by-step for how you can get a scalp facial at home.
Step 1: Start with the right hair mask or oil.
Hill stresses the importance of using the right products for your hair concerns. If you have an oily scalp, be sure to use a mask or oil that will combat the excess sebum on your scalp. For those who notice their scalp is often a bit itchy, she suggests using a product for dandruff or dry scalp.
Step 2: Massage the scalp with the product.
Once you’ve determined which product is best for your scalp facial, it’s time to massage it into your scalp. This will “activate the scalp muscles and improve circulation,” according to Hill. “Start your massage at the nape of the neck, using both hands and working your fingers up the head to the crown. Then, work from the base of the ear to the top of the head on both sides,” she continues. Hill notes there is a lot of area to cover so it’s important to take your time with this step. Ultimately, you should spend about three to five minutes massaging the product into your scalp “to soften skin cells, exfoliate, and remove debris to encourage blood flow.”
Step 3: Let the mask or oil work its magic.
Hill suggests sleeping in the product you’ve applied to your scalp to give it all the time it needs to completely cleanse your scalp. Be sure to cover your hair in a hair wrap (our favorite is the Grow Gorgeous Overnight Hair Wrap) to prevent the mask from getting all over your pillowcase. If you’re not able to sleep with the product in, Hill recommends sticking to the processing time on the label. So if your hair mask should be left in for 30 minutes, leave it in for that long and move on to the next step.
Step 4: Apply a detoxifying shampoo.
Now that your scalp treatment has had time to cleanse the scalp, Hill says to “apply a detoxifying shampoo (such as the Ouai Detox Shampoo) with active ingredients specific to your underlying scalp condition.” Rather than using your fingers to apply the shampoo to the top of your head, she recommends you purchase a plastic hair color applicator bottle and fill it with the shampoo. The nozzle at the end will allow you to distribute the shampoo directly onto your scalp.
Step 5: Rinse.
Once the shampoo is applied, massage it in and let it sit for five minutes before rinsing. Depending on your hair type, you may need to go back in with an additional shampoo sesh to completely remove the mask or oil from your hair.
Step 6: Use a conditioner.
Hill recommends following the shampoo up with a conditioner that’s meant for your hair type and texture, as you would with a normal hair washing routine.
Step 7: Finish with a water-based serum.
To complete the scalp facial, Hill says to “finish with a topical water-based serum or lotion that promotes hair health or addresses your specific scalp concern (i.e. irritated scalp, hair loss, or oily scalp).” Vegamour’s Gro Hair Serum is great for those concerned with hair thinning or anyone looking to boost their hair’s thickness.
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