The Best Scalp Massagers Are the Key to Stimulating Hair Growth

Get ready for thicker, healthier hair.

woman using scalp massager
(Image credit: Ceremonia)

Do you make regular blowout appointments because you want a fresh cut and color, or because you simply love the feeling of your hairdresser massaging your head? It's okay if your answer is "a little bit of both." While I highly doubt you're lucky enough to get a daily scalp massage from a professional, there is DIY hope. The best at-home scalp massagers aren't just wildly relaxing; they will also help products like hair oils and serums penetrate deeper into the scalp.

"Increasing the circulation throughout your scalp can also help to stimulate the follicles, leading to more effective hair growth. [Scalp massagers] can also be incredibly relaxing to use, as they release tension across the scalp," explains Helen Reavey, a board-certified trichologist and founder of Act+Acre. "With all that being said, the type of scalp massager you use is very important. The skin on your scalp is extremely fragile and actually ages six times faster than anywhere else, so taking proper care of it is crucial to overall hair health."

If you want to upgrade your shower experience, improve your hair growth, and indulge in a little in-shower rest and relaxation, read ahead. We have all the info on the best scalp massagers on the market—plus exactly how to use them.

The Best Scalp Massagers

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What to Look For in a Scalp Massager

  • Purpose

Whether you're looking to grasp relaxation in between appointments, hoping to stimulate hair growth, or want help with flakiness, you can find a scalp massager tailored to your individual needs.

"I like giving a little massage at the bowl for my clients to truly take a few seconds to relax. I feel like we have so much going on as humans so I like to provide some TLC for my clients, you never know what someone is going through and I find it’s a kind gesture that goes a long way," explains Isabella Sementilli, a hairstylist at Mare Salon in Los Angeles.

  • Bristles

"I recommend steering clear of the scalp massagers made with stiff bristles, as they can be extremely rough on the scalp," explains Reavey. "I always try to tie scalp care back to your skincare routine—would you rub one of those massagers on your face? The answer is likely not, so I prefer opting for more gentle options such as a gua sha tool or a massager with fine, flexible bristles."

  • Hair Type

While any scalp can benefit from a good massage, you want to make sure the scalp massager you choose works for your specific hair type. This can be a matter of personal preference—how do your strands feel when they're worked through your brush? You might prefer your bristles a bit further apart, or appreciate a more flexible silicone material.

Can a Scalp Massager Help With Hair Growth?

"Although there have been limited clinical studies, scalp massage does seem to help with hair growth," explains Dr. Spann. "In theory, decreasing stress and decreasing blood pressure should result in dilating blood vessels and therefore improving nourishment of follicles."

How Often Should You Use a Scalp Massager?

When it comes to brushing your hair, the general consensus is that you do it twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. The same goes for scalp massage, although you can really do it as often as you'd like—you can't overdo relaxation.

"Scalp massage must be gentle and should not result in any trauma to the scalp or pulling of the hair," adds Dr. Spann. "Scalp massage may be performed daily on a wet or dry scalp."

A black and white image showing a woman getting a scalp massage from an outdated machine in the early 1900s.

Isn't technological advancement amazing? Check out a scalp massager from 1900.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to Use a Scalp Massager

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, like a good scalp massage. Growing up, "can you tickle my head?" was a phrase I heard as often as "I love you." There are numerous impressive modalities out there (Swedish, Shiatsu, etc.), but the best thing about a simple massage is that if it feels nice, you're doing it right.

However, if you would like some instructions, Reavey has them for you. You'll begin at the base of your scalp and apply gentle pressure, moving your tool in small, circular motions. "You don't want to press too hard or rub aggressively, as this can cause discomfort or damage your scalp," she adds. "Work through the hair in sections to stimulate the entire scalp."

And if you leave your tool at home, just use your fingertips—Reavey says it’s one of the best ways to massage the scalp and promote blood flow gently.

Meet the Experts

A blonde woman wearing a lab coat.
Helen Reavey

Board-certified trichologist and celebrity hairstylist Helen Reavey has always been passionate about scalp care as the root of how clean hair care works. When she couldn't find any clean, scalpcare products for her clients, she decided to create haircare industry disruptor Act+Acre: the world’s first Cold Processed hair wellness brand that focuses on your scalp. The Irish brand created and patented the Cold Processed technique for its plant-based formulations. Helen’s education-first approach to scalp, and ultimately hair care, has led to her regularly debunking hair myths while growing her celebrity fan list and a cult following

Close-up of a woman smiling with a white lab coat.
Dr. Candace Spann

Candace Thornton Spann, M.D.,  is a board-certified dermatologist in Las Vegas. As Co-Owner of Couture Dermatology & Plastic Surgery, her mission and promise to her patients is that they have both healthy skin and vibrant, gorgeous results. Dr. Candace Spann specializes, diagnoses and treats conditions of the skin for patients of all ages and skin types. Her areas of expertise include women’s hair loss, the prevention and treatment of various skin cancers, as well as the treatment of numerous skin disorders. She offers both dermatologic surgery for the removal of both cancerous and benign lesions, and is an expert in skin rejuvenation. For patients seeking cosmetic skin treatments, she offers countless nonsurgical treatment options for the signs of aging.

A woman with long hair smiles at the camera.
Isabella Sementilli

Canadian born, California raised hairstylist Isabella Sementilli specializes in cuts, styling, and extensions. She brings chic hair and the California "undone" aesthetic together for a beautiful, timeless look. Book with Isabella at Mare salon in West Hollywood.

Sophia Vilensky
Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a Freelance Beauty Writer at Marie Claire with a beauty, wellness, and entertainment journalism portfolio that includes contributions to Byrdie, Bravo, Teen Vogue, and Us Weekly. Growing up in a family of beauticians—and through her own personal studies—she developed an in-depth understanding of aesthetics, cosmetic product formulation, and beauty treatment development and has also held roles as a senior copywriter, content strategist, and proofreader for top beauty and wellness brands. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find her with her hair and makeup actually done. Sophia is based in Minneapolis and is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in English and minored in cinema studies. During her time at the university, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Minnesota Daily, earning the 2019 Editor of the Year award for her work. She connected deeply with the Twin Cities arts scene, collaborating with leading beauty professionals, designers, and artists. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, her thesis—a close-reading of Vanderpump Rules—was featured on NPR. When not immersed in writing or testing new products, Sophia enjoys watching reality TV, reading, and exploring the newest woo-woo wellness trends. Keep up with her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.