If you've been researching products to help with hair health, chances are you've stumbled on a few scalp massagers.
While the idea of a scalp massage might sound quite relaxing, these tools do far more than reduce your stress. In fact, they may have promise when it comes to increasing the health of your hair.
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How Do Scalp Massagers Work?
Scalp massagers or brushes vary in design and functionality, but they all work in a similar fashion — by promoting the circulation of blood to the scalp while loosening up debris and dead skin cells at the base of the hair follicle, says Bridgette Hill, certified trichologist (a qualified hair-loss specialist) and scalp expert. In this way, they may promote cleaner, shinier, healthier hair.
Better circulation in the scalp means more nutrients are delivered to the hair follicle, Hill says, which may help with hair growth, at least in theory.
It's important to note there's little research to show scalp massagers actually help hair grow, though. One January 2016 study in Eplasty found that four minutes of daily scalp massage for 24 weeks increased hair thickness in nine people. But this study — and others like it — was very small and only included Japanese people assigned male at birth, so we can't really say for sure that anyone else would see the same results.
"Whether [scalp massagers] increase hair growth and improve scalp health is not clear, but if you like the feel of it, there is not much to lose trying it," says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.
Scalp massagers may also help calm tension around your head, says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. And if you use them in the shower, they can help you better work in your shampoo and other hair products.
With that said, here are the best scalp massagers for healthier hair, according to dermatologists.
The Best Scalp Massagers for Healthier Hair
- Best Overall: Briogeo Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager ($18, Ulta)
- Best Grip: Vegamour GRO Scalp Massager ($18, Sephora)
- Best Splurge: Aeroscalp Scalp Cleansing Device (From $69, LuminessCosmetics)
- Best on a Budget: MAXSOFT Hair Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush (From $7.98, Amazon)
- Best Brush: Aveda Pramasana Exfoliating Scalp Brush (From $17.77, Amazon)
- Best Electric: COMFIER Cordless Hair Scalp Massager (From $39.96, Amazon)
How We Chose
We chatted with three dermatologists and two trichologists, who broke down the most important features to look for in a scalp massager and how to find one that best suits your needs. Our top picks are based on the following criteria:
- Ease of Use
- Ease of Cleaning
1. Best Overall: Briogeo Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager
- Can be used on wet or dry hair
- Gentle enough for daily use
- Requires manual massaging
This simple handheld scalp massager by Briogeo is worth all its accolades, mostly because it gives you a spa-like experience straight from the comfort of your own home.
"This massager is great because it can be used on your dry hair or scalp, or to massage in oil or serum," Dr. Robinson says.
It can also be used on wet hair in the shower to help distribute your shampoo and allow your scalp to better absorb the product, she adds. Plus: It's gentle while still increasing circulation.
2. Best Grip: Vegamour GRO Scalp Massager
- Easy to use
- Can be used on all hair types
- Great for thick hair
- Can be used on wet or dry hair
- Requires manual massaging
- May feel rough on a sensitive scalp, according to some reviews
If you're looking for something simple to help improve circulation in your scalp and enhance the overall health of your hair, try this manual scalp massager by Vegamour.
It uses a series of silicone bristles on an ergonomic handle to enhance scalp circulation and aid the penetration of other hair and scalp products, all while reducing tension, Dr. Robinson says.
The best part? This one can be used on all hair types — straight, curly or coily — and can be used on both wet or dry hair.
3. Best Splurge: Aeroscalp Scalp Cleansing Device
- Utilizes same technology as face-cleansing brushes
- Allows you to use less shampoo
- Not waterproof
Whether you're dealing with greasy hair or increased buildup from some of the haircare products you're using, this scalp massager and cleanser by Aeroscalp is just what you need to reset your scalp health.
"The bristles on this cleansing device are made from soft silicone and it combines airflow and sonic power to enhance the lather of shampoos, helping to clean the scalp with less product," says Marisa Garshick, MD, dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.
Buy it: LuminessCosmetics.com; Price: From $69
4. Best on a Budget: MAXSOFT Hair Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush
- Easy to use
- The bristles can feel abrasive
Just one scroll through the 85,000 Amazon reviews of the MAXSOFT Hair Scalp Massager and it's clear to see why it's worth the purchase.
Not only is it super affordable, but it's also simple to use — no batteries required — and fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. Overall, this tool can enhance your shampooing experience.
5. Best Brush: Aveda Pramasana Exfoliating Scalp Brush
- Great for everyday use
- Helps with dandruff
- Some reviewers say the brush isn't very durable
While this is not a scalp massager per se, Dr. Robinson notes that this exfoliating brush by Aveda works in a similar way to a massager.
"[This brush] has thin, flexible and gentle bristles that reach the scalp through dry or wet hair, and each bristle is capped with a soft, rounded ball tip that gently exfoliates the scalp," she says.
Dr. Robinson also says the brush contains shorter filaments that reach the hair, stimulating blood flow. And, if you're prone to flakiness, using this brush every day or for the occasional massage (hello, self-care) can help.
6. Best Electric: COMFIER Cordless Hair Scalp Massager
- Customizable settings
- May feel heavy to hold for long periods
If you're tired of manual massage, an electric scalp massager like this one from COMFIER could get the job done. Once you turn it on, four massage heads with 21 individual nodes give your scalp an invigorating refresh. Use it anywhere you feel tension, even your neck and shoulders!
Bonus: It's fully waterproof, rechargeable and easy to clean.
What to Look for in a Scalp Massager
1. Gentle Materials
If possible, Dr. Robinson recommends sticking to silicone or fine, flexible bristles and warns against using boar-bristles to exfoliate the scalp. "While boar bristles may provide immediate (but temporary) relief of itching, this material can cause micro-tears in the scalp skin and trigger inflammation and ultimately worsen irritation," she says.
Additionally, Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends avoiding any scalp massager that has sharp tips, which could break the skin and promote inflammation and infections.
2. Ergonomic Design
If you're going to be using a scalp massager on a regular basis, it shouldn't be difficult to use effectively — even in a short period of time.
This means opting for an ergonomic design you can hold in the palm of your hand, says Penny James, IAT-certified trichologist and owner of Penny James Salon in New York City.
Also, "Look for soft, stubby bristles to help add pressure while using it on your scalp," she says.
3. Easy to Clean
As with any type of brush or product you use on your body, it's important to keep your scalp massager clean. Sometimes you're digging up dirt and debris that could enter your bloodstream if you have a cut or a scrape, Dr. Robinson says.
She recommends washing the massager with a gentle shampoo or cleanser in between uses, rinsing and air-drying it well. If the massager is not waterproof, make sure to avoid rinsing the areas that should not get wet.
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