I’m Escaping Stress With Soothing Scalp Massages — and You Should, Too

Back view of a woman washing her hair with a shampoo in bathroom. Copy space.
I’m definitely overwashing my hair right now.

It’s not getting any oiler than usual, and I haven’t used a spritz of dry shampoo or popped open a tube of styling cream in nearly three months, so product build-up also isn’t an issue.

Nine times out of 10, I’ve been wetting (and washing) my hair solely for the de-stressing scalp massages.

A long, hot shower (or a full bathtub with a glass of red wine and a good book) is my go-to tool for unwinding and releasing tension when my head feels like it’s going to explode, or when I’m on the brink of stress-induced tears. Adding a scalp massage to the mix guarantees I will walk out of the bathroom feeling like a much calmer woman without a headache.

To ace my technique (and to attempt to re-create the glorious scalp massages I get at the salon before a haircut), I reached out to my hairstylist Erickson Arrunategui.

What makes a scalp massage so relaxing at the salon, in Arrunategui’s opinion, is having someone else do it for you — a few minutes where you simply don’t have to think. If you feel comfortable, he suggests having someone wash your hair for you — perhaps someone you’re quarantining with or a significant other. You can even set up a makeshift hair-washing station in your kitchen or bathroom.

However, you can easily give yourself a scalp massage, too. First, wet your hair and apply some shampoo — Arrunategui says this will help your hands glide around the scalp for a soothing, relaxing experience.

I’ve been loving the Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo ($25) because it’s sulfate-free but still has an impressive lather.

Start at the sides of the head and massage toward the temples, working your way around the head.

“No fast motions and no scratching your scalp. Use the balls of the fingertips to really get rid of any tension you’re holding in your scalp,” Arrunategui notes.

Spend a few minutes massaging before you rinse.

Post-shower, I like to wrap myself up in a fuzzy robe, press play on an acoustic Spotify playlist, sit on the side of the tub, and take in a few deep breaths.

How’s that for tackling a tension headache?

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