How To Give A Totally Amazing Head Massage

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

A
good scalp massage can truly change your day. Real talk: My freshman year of
college, I was getting a routine trim at an on-campus salon where I let the
hairdresser talk me into dyeing my hair a horrible orange-pink hybrid that he
later charitably referred to as “strawberry blonde.” Why? Because I got the
most epic head massage of my life at this salon, which I won’t do the disservice
of naming (just kidding, it was called Pepe Leyva Salon, and it’s no longer in
operation — SURPRISE).

Hair-dye
horrors aside, a simple head-and-neck rub can go a long way to relieve tension,
and it’s easier than you think to give one, whether the recipient is yourself
or your significant other as a little date-night service. We scored some easy
massage tips from the best in the beauty business. 

First Things First

Kerry
Wall, U.S. brand manager at The Organic Pharmacy, recommends starting with
a hot bath. If you want to get especially “romantical,” scoop in a bit of the
brand’s Cleopatra's Milk Bath, which includes rose
petals and exfoliating lactic acid. “The warmth of the water will help to relax
your muscles and brings an ease to everything,” she says.

If
a bath isn’t in the cards (tiny New York City apartments, anyone?), celebrity
hairstylist Ted Gibson recommends heating a
towel in the microwave and wrapping your head in it for a few minutes. “This will
open up the pores and provide some initial relaxation,” he says. He suggests
adding a bit of scented oil, such as jasmine or eucalyptus, to the towel for an
aromatherapy boost. 

Oil Up

For
a scalp massage, Wall says to take an oil, like The Organic Pharmacy’s Virgin Cold
Pressed Rosehip Oil
, and rub it between your hands before using your fingertips to
make circular movements along the scalp and neck. You can even get mildly
S&M about it: “Little hair tugs are good, as long as it’s a nice, steady
pressure,” she says.

Face Time

Face
massages may sound odd, but we’d posit they’ll be well-received. The key to
these, Wall says, is large, circular movements. “Use heavier pressure when
making upward motions, and use lighter [movements] when you’re making downward
ones,” she says. Concentrate around the cheeks, below the brows, and on the
temples. “It sounds odd, but ear massages are quite special,” she adds. She
recommends massaging the lobes and behind the ears, as we carry a lot of tension
there. 

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My Neck, My Back 
Who could forget Ray Boyd in Jerry Maguire breathlessly reporting that the human head weighs eight pounds? Your neck is working hard, so the back of it, where the skull meets the neck muscles, carries a lot of tension. Says Matt Fugate, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger: “Once the neck is relaxed, have the head fall into your hands.” Light, steady pressure is key, he notes. “Use your palms around the hairline when giving a scalp massage,” he says. “Fingers are weird to use around the face.” He recommends holding the head at the top to help your recipient feel secure, while massaging with the other hand. 

Get Comfortable

But,
what about the hair, as Uncle Jesse
would surely have reminded us? “Instead of using a scented massage oil on the
hair, which can mess up a ‘do, try simply an oil like Tata Harper’s Aromatic Stress
Treatment

on your own wrist, so that your beloved still experiences the benefits,” says
Fugate. Alternatively, you can wear your Valentine’s favorite scent.

Be
careful, though. “Know your strength,” advises hairstylist and makeup artist Abraham Sprinkle. “The amount of pressure plays a role in the end result.
Heavy hands may feel satisfying to some and leave others with a throbbing
headache.” The easiest way to find out is to ask your lucky recipient for a
little feedback a couple minutes into your massage. 

And, if your V-Day date is you this year, why not invest in one of these cute head massagers
and DIY your massage while you Netflix-binge? 



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