What Is a Scalp Facial?
Many people love to pamper themselves with facials to achieve a flawless look, but how about caring for your hair with a scalp facial or hair spa?
Your body holds a lot of stress in different places, and it was really during the lockdown that people started to look after their hair and learned about scalp facials.
According to hairstylists, scalp facials were influenced by ancient Ayurveda (1) and were developed in Japan. The treatment usually consists of four steps to fix issues such as itchiness, dandruff, frizz, excess oil, and odor and to relax the scalp.
Treatments like these are considered to have a relaxing effect on the physical and psychological state of a person and help them feel refreshed. (2)
How Is Scalp Facial Done?
Here are the steps that need to be done to complete the scalp facial.
1. Pretreat the scalp
Start with a scalp scrub that exfoliates and removes the built-up product on it. Wisely select your exfoliating product based on the condition of your scalp.
If your scalp is scratchy and has dandruff or congestion, then you need to apply a pretreatment scrub infused with peppermint, citrus-based oils, or tea tree. If you have an oily scalp, look for a product that reduces oiliness.
2. Treat and massage your scalp
Applying oil to your scalp is crucial, and giving yourself a deep tissue massage contributes to good scalp health.
Oils have an important part to play in protecting the hair from getting damaged. Some hair oils can help reduce the amount of water that gets absorbed into the hair, lowering the swelling. (3)
Use follicle-nourishing oils such as coconut oil (4) or castor oil that contain stimulating agents for hair growth and help reduce inflammation.
Switch up your massage oil regimen with oils that contain soothing aloe vera, peppermint, and antifungal tea tree oil that work wonders to get rid of dirt and debris and leave your scalp feeling fresh and healthy. Incorporate coconut oil that contains onion juice into your oiling routine to achieve strong hair along with the regeneration of hair follicles.
It’s advised to get hair treatment in the supine position (lying horizontally face and torso facing up) for optimum comfort. (2) Start massaging the oil at the nape of your neck with both hands, and then work your way up the head.
Next, knead your scalp from ear to ear for a few minutes to allow the oil to penetrate the scalp well. Leave the oil on for at least 15 minutes so that it seeps into the hair follicles and hair shaft.
Regular oil massage on your scalp relaxes and increases the suppleness of the scalp; conversely, stress tightens the scalp and doesn’t allow proper circulation and hair growth.
Note: Avoid excessive or frequent oiling if you have severe dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.
3. Shampoo the scalp thoroughly
After your oil massage, you need to wash and cleanse your hair thoroughly with the right shampoo.
Apply a shampoo that works gently on the scalp according to your hair condition. Modern shampoos contain between two to four surfactants for optimum cleansing according to hair type, such as normal, oily, dyed, permed, colored, or damaged hair. (5)
- If you have a chemically untouched scalp and moderate sebum, you can go for a daily shampoo.
- Dry shampoo can be ideal if you’ve had chemical treatment or styling procedures because it provides mild cleansing along with good hydration to the hair.
- If you have an oily scalp with high amounts of sebum, then an oily hair shampoo makes sense for you because it contains detergents such as lauryl sulfates or sulfosuccinates with no conditioners.
- If you are an athlete or lead an active lifestyle, they go for an everyday shampoo to daily wash your hair.
- Deep-cleansing shampoo is beneficial if you love using styling products, such as hair sprays, mousse, and gels.
- Medicated shampoo should be used if you have scalp problems such as psoriasis, bacterial or fungal infections, and seborrheic dermatitis. (5)
- If you have flakes, then use an antidandruff shampoo, or if you have an oily scalp, choose a product that removes the excess oil and sebum from your scalp.
- If your hair is thinning and you’re suffering from hair loss, then opt for a shampoo with onion as it is rich in sulfur and helps in strengthening the hair and regeneration of the hair follicles.
Massage the scalp well while shampooing it for at least 3 minutes to remove all the built-up product and dirt.
4. Use a hair conditioner to restore hydration
After you shampoo your hair, apply conditioner from the mid-length to the ends of the hair to prevent hair dryness and frizz. (6) Never apply conditioner to the scalp as it can cause product buildup and clogging of pores.
Conditioners are used to make hair feel smooth and silky, which helps in easily combing and detangling the hair while it is wet and dry. They are used to temporarily seal the hair’s split ends. (5)
5. Nourish the hair with a serum
Lock in the moisture in your hair by using hair serums containing ingredients that are suitable for your hair type, such as collagen-boosting compounds, soothing aloe vera, shea butter, tea tree oil, and coconut water.
It has been shown that herbal hair serums can give users good hair growth after application with minor sensitivity for the first time. (7)
When Do You Need a Scalp Facial?
You will need a scalp facial if you’re not washing your hair regularly, have an itchy scalp, or use dry shampoo.
A lot of people get a scalp facial if they’re attending a special event or ceremony such as a wedding as it adds volume to their hair and makes it squeaky clean. Scalp facials remove debris, moisturize the follicles, and make your hair look healthy and full.
Liz Phillips, who works as a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York, tells us, “Think of the scalp as the bedrock of the follicles, and consider the scalp the way you think of your face. After all, the scalp is skin and an extension of our face.”
How Often to Get a Scalp Facial?
You must get a scalp facial done every 1–2 months, as frequently as a skin facial. Do not overdo it, as it could have negative effects.
Can You Get a Scalp Facial at Home?
You can get a scalp facial done at home but without professional results. Always use high-quality and heavy-duty scalp scrubs, shampoos, conditioners, and serums to achieve a great result.
General Queries Related to a Scalp Facial
What are the benefits of a scalp facial?
A scalp facial helps to unclog hair follicles, releases natural conditioning oils, and relieves a dry scalp. It works by stimulating blood flow to the head and neck to allow nutrients to reach the scalp and nourish it.
It also helps in properly cleansing the scalp to keep the scalp healthy and free of microbes, as the scalp is a warm and dark place full of hair follicles with a robust sebum production that makes it attractive for fungal infections.
So, a proper cleansing, especially a spa scalp facial, can help slow sebum production to get rid of the excess oil and dirt. (10)
Can I use a face wash on my scalp?
You can use it only if it is safe for the scalp and hair.
Can I use a face moisturizer on my scalp?
Do not apply moisturizer to the scalp as it could cause product buildup.
Scalp facials work to remove buildup, reduce itchiness, and increase blood circulation. You can easily pamper your scalp with a facial at home using products suitable for your scalp type.
- Ayurveda I. Shirodhara & Champisagge – The Ayurvedic Spa. Itoozhi Ayurveda Hospital & Research Centre. https://www.itoozhiayurveda.in/shirodhara-champisagge-the-ayurvedic-spa/. Published August 11, 2019.
- Murota M, Iwawaki Y, Uebaba K, et al. Physical and psychological effects of head treatment in the supine position using specialized ayurveda-based techniques. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939366/. Published July 2016.
- Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Hair cosmetics: An overview. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/. Published 2015.
- (PDF) medicinal benefit of coconut oil – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268805677/.
- D’Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and conditioners: What a dermatologist should know? Indian journal of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/. Published 2015.
- Hair conditioner | request pdf – Researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314689410/.
- Development and evaluation of herbal hair serum: A … – researchgate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354047331/.
- Nayak BS, Ann CY, Azhar AB, Ling ECS, Yen WH, Aithal PA. A study on scalp hair health and hair care practices among Malaysian medical students. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551307/. Published 2017.
- Trüeb RM, Henry JP, Davis MG, Schwartz JR. Scalp condition impacts hair growth and retention via oxidative stress. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369642/. Published 2018.
- Tajran J, Gosman AA. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Scalp. In: StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551565/. Published January 2022.