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A scalp brush, sometimes called a massage or shampoo brush, is used when washing the hair, rather than when brushing the hair. Typically round or oval-shaped, the brush is usually designed to fit in the palm of the hand. Most scalp brushes have a strap across the back, a knob, or a handle for ease of use. The teeth of the brush are usually made of either plastic or rubber. A scalp brush can be used to evenly distribute shampoo or conditioner, massage the scalp, and affect a person's well-being.
Short, rigid teeth in a scalp brush are more loosely spaced than they are in a hairbrush, allowing any length or thickness of hair to easily pass through it. Washing with this type of brush also distributes shampoo and conditioner evenly throughout the hair. Because the brush teeth are thinner and more numerous than the fingers, a fine, thick lather can usually be worked up.
While the even distribution of hair products is an advantage to the scalp brush, a larger benefit of using this type of brush is the physical stimulation of the scalp. The massage does not have to be hard or painful, but a vigorous rub causes increased blood flow to the hair follicles, thereby feeding the roots of the hair, encouraging healthy growth of new hair, and keeping present hair healthy. It also can refresh the scalp, leading to healthy skin and a decreased incident of dry scalp, or dandruff.
Anyone who has had his or her scalp massaged by the shampoo person in a hair salon knows the relaxation benefits of an invigorating scrub. In fact, there are physiological changes that take place during a good rub — the stimulation relaxes the body and reduces stress. Medical experts have long maintained that stress increases both the frequency and severity of illnesses. Less stress in a person’s life can boost brain function, reduce anxiety, strengthen immunity, and improve sleep quality.
Pharmacologically, massage also contributes to a person’s well-being by impacting body chemicals involved in pain. Scalp stimulation releases endorphins — a chemical in the body responsible for relieving pain. It also inhibits a chemical called substance P, which is associated with pain production.
Anyone wishing to skip the shampoo and go right for the massage should consider using an oil made for hair use. The oil can condition the scalp and coat hair follicles, resulting in stronger and more manageable hair. After applying oil to the head and hair, a person should begin with the scalp brush at the hairline in front. Using small circular motions, he or she should then massage a slow path over the top of the head and down to the nape of the neck. He or she should then return to the front and follow the same front-to-back path on either side until the entire head has been massaged.
For best results, the oil typically should be left in for 30 minutes before washing the hair. If using a scalp brush with oil, it usually should be washed afterward. One of the best ways to clean a scalp brush is with soap and warm water.