Likely, the gua sha stones you’re familiar with probably have rounded, smooth edges so they glide easily along the surface of the skin, whereas scalp gua sha stones are pointed like combs so they can push past the hair and onto the scalp. “[This] gua sha method works by releasing tension in the muscles of the scalp, opening the flow of energy in the meridians, and circulating blood and lymph through the tissues,” says esthetician Britta Plug, co-founder of Wilding Empress. “All of this supports scalp health and healthy hair growth.”
While no research has definitively linked scalp gua sha with faster hair growth, one study found that massaging in the scalp region may encourage hair thickness in people suffering from androgenic alopecia or pattern baldness found in people of all genders (although it’s more common in men). So while the topic definitely needs more scientific study, it does have thousands of years of anecdotal evidence to offer.
Of course, if you’re boosting the amount of blood flow to your head, you may also experience a nice boost of qi, or life force energy, when you need it most, according to Plug. “I love this as a pick-me-up when the midday slump hits,” she says, “and it’s the perfect tool to keep at my desk, since oil isn’t necessary for the scalp work [the way it is for your face or body]. I return to my next task or meeting refreshed after a minute or two of quick zig zag movements across the scalp, combined with some deep breathing.”
Last but certainly not least, Plug says that scalp gua sha may help you calm a tension headache. “Releasing tension in key muscles of the head and neck can provide sweet relief, while stimulating healthy blood flow to the area. Even just taking a few minutes to tend to the tension can make a huge difference,” she says. And thus, there are a whole host of reasons you may decide to whip out your gua sha and get to work.
Below, Plug walks you through step-by-step instructions for giving yourself a nice little massage next time you’re feeling drained, have a headache, or just want to take care of your scalp.
How to scalp gua sha, step-by-step
Step 1: Apply hair oil (optional)
Pump some oil (perhaps a multitasking hair and scalp option) into your hands and apply it across your scalp. You can also skip this step if you don’t have oil on hand or if you find that you like the feel of a dry scalp more. If you like, draw a bath or get under a comfortable blanket before you start, so you’ll be nice and cozy.
Step 2: Start releasing tension in the scalp
Grab your gua sha comb and “begin by releasing areas of tension, such as the temporalis muscle, the whole area of the scalp above the ear,” Plugg says. “For this, hold the stimulating scalp comb fairly flat, with the teeth of the comb lined up along the hairline at the temple. Press, and lift, as if giving yourself a facelift. Wiggle, shimmy, and release. Repeat the deeper press and release on any other areas of tension.” Continue this process for as long as you desire.
Step 3: Activate blood flow
The next part of the process is a little more energetic. “Holding the stimulating scalp comb perpendicular, zig zag through with light quick strokes,” Plugg says. “Work section by section, covering the entire scalp. It should feel stimulating and invigorating.”Remember not to bear down too hard; you don’t want to wind up yanking out a chunk of hair.
Step 4: Give the area around the scalp some TLC
“Use the U edge, or flat edges, of the stimulating scalp comb to release the back of the neck and shoulders,” Plugg says. “I highly recommend this if using for headache relief! Oil is necessary for slip on these areas.” Take your time and enjoy.