Massage for healthy hair
Massage for healthy hair

COULD A 4 MINUTE SCALP MASSAGE REALLY GIVE YOU THICKER HAIR?

A small study concluded that regular scalp massages may lead to thicker hair [1]. This particular study involved nine men who received a 4-minute scalp massage every day for 6 months.  At the end of the study, it was concluded the men had significantly thicker hair in the treated areas.  Additional research from 2019 supported these findings [2].

In animal models, massage therapy increases VEGF, (vascular endothelial growth factor) is a marker of vascular growth, stimulating hair growth by facilitating the supply of nutrients to the hair follicle, increasing follicular diameter. and collagen renewal which further supports the structure of the hair follicle [3].

HOW CAN MASSAGE HELP YOUR HAIR?

In the last decade, hair loss treatment trials have expanded to  involve stimulation-based therapies platelet-rich plasma therapy, microneedling and polysiloxane monofilament threading.  Stimulation based therapies activate wound-healing responses by releasing platelet-derived growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor, as well as activating anagen-initiating Wnt/β-catenin and dermal papilla stem cells.

Massaging has been shown to share therapeutic overlap with stimulation based therapies. When subject to mechanical force, cells respond by altering gene expression to initiate cellular damage or repair. Depending on the duration and technique of soft tissue manipulation, massage therapy may activate wound-healing and therapeutic mechanisms to elicit hair regrowth in a variety of hair loss disorders.

In animal models, massage therapy increases vascular endothelial growth factor A and neocollagenesis in the target area.  Massage is hypothesised to enhance nutrient delivery to fibroblasts and help maintain tissue integrity, possibly by release of aromatase.  Standard scalp massage increase hair thickness in non-balding men. Stretching the human scalp in vitro upregulates anagen-associated noggin, SMAD4, interleukin 6 signal transducer, and bone morphogenetic protein 4 while downregulating catagen-associated interleukin 6.

DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY

Massage should be done using the fingertips only to apply light to medium pressure. You shouldn’t feel pain or tension after you finish your massage. Try to work your way across each part of your scalp. It is best to increase the frequency of your massage session, rather than increase the time spent massaging. For example, 3-minute sessions twice a day, is better than one longer session.

REFERENCES

  1. Koyama T, Kobayashi K, Hama T, Murakami K, Ogawa R. Standardized scalp massage results in increased hair thickness by inducing stretching forces to dermal papilla cells in the subcutaneous tissue. Eplasty. 2016;16.
  2. English RS, Barazesh JM. Self-assessments of standardized scalp massages for androgenic alopecia: survey results. Dermatology and therapy. 2019 Mar 1;9(1):167-78.
  3. Yano K, Brown LF, Detmar M. Control of hair growth and follicle size by VEGF-mediated angiogenesis. The Journal of clinical investigation. 2001 Feb 15;107(4):409-17.
  4. English, R.S., Barazesh, J.M. Self-Assessments of Standardized Scalp Massages for Androgenic Alopecia: Survey Results. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 9, 167–178 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-019-0281-6

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