Oh my! Teaching my husband how to give me a scalp massage during chemo was one of the things that I truly looked forward to getting. Personal touch during chemo is so important. A scalp massage is helpful in that it promotes and stimulates your hair follicles, even if they are not producing at the moment. Keeping your scalp clean and moisturized will be sure to allow your hair to regrow healthy.
So let’s talk first about hair structure. Hair is more than just to keep us warm, but has an enormous impact on how we feel about ourselves. There are two parts to a strand of hair; the root and the shaft. The strand protrudes from the outer layer of the skin. The root is located below the surface.
There are 5 main structures of the hair root which includes the follicle, bulb, dermal papilla, arrector pili muscle and sebaceous (oil) glands.
Now, you might be thinking, Jen why are you telling me all this?
Well, because I want you to understand how it grows so you understand the health benefit of doing a scalp massage, not just that it feels wonderful. And as a licensed aesthetician I feel it’s part of my responsibility is to educate.
Did you know that your daily diet must include 9 essential amino acids that your hair needs to be healthy? Have you ever wondered why someone else’s hair is bouncy, shiny, thick and just beautiful? It starts with what we eat.
The dermila papilla is known as the mother of the hair. It contains the blood and nerve supply that provides the nutrients needed to grow hair. During chemo the dermilla papilla does not receive the nutrients it needs to promote hair growth. Along with your hair follicle that divides cells every 23 to 72 hours to create your hair strand. Some chemo therapies target all the cells of your body, good and bad, so between your dermilla papilla not getting the nutrients it needs and your cells being destroyed (For a good cause) your hair falls out and does not grow until after you treatments are finished.
Being sure to cleanse and moisturize your scalp is important during your treatments. It keeps the sebaceous glands clear further preventing the possibility of issues after treatment. It stimulates the scalp.
Honestly, it just feels so dang good!
There is a free downloadable at the end with all the steps so you can print it out for your loved one (or for yourself) to use as a guide.
Items you will need:
3 warmed washcloths. Lightly dampen and microwave. **Warning** They will be hot.
Bowl with warm water
A hand towel rolled up for under your neck
Copy of Scalp Massage 101. It’s a free downloadable with all the steps below. Located at the end of the article.
Products you will need:
Beautycounter Cleansing Balm or a gentle facial cleanser and moisturizer
Scalp Oil such as argan oil
Total Time: 30 minutes
Step One: Gather your products. The one I recommend is the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm. It is an all in one product. It will cleanse and moisturize. All of the Beautycounter products are clean, paraben free, non-toxic products. You can also use a facial cleanser or Ponds Cold Cream. Just be sure it’s gentle. My skin was super sensitive during chemo.
Step Two: Set the mood and your space. I loved using my bed. My husband could sit on a stool with a small table beside him. Turn the lights down. Put on a sound machine or soft music or both. Cover up with a light blanket.
There is no wrong way to do this. For the person giving the scalp massage, be gentle. As the person receiving, we need to be sure we let them know to adjust their pressure.
Step Three: Scalp Cleanse using Beautycounter Cleansing Balm
- Place your hands, palms down, just enough into the water to moisten them. Then lay both hands point fingers together onto the scalp just above the forward. Gently move both hands outward, then down behind the ears and under the neck in large circular motions working your way to the middle of the scalp. Be as fluid as possible. Do this 7 times. Re-moisten your hands if needed.
- Next, Place about a nickel size amount of the cleansing balm on your finger tips rubbing together to equally disburse the product along all the fingers.
- Place you hands together then onto the scalp just about the forehead (this is the starting position). In smaller circular motions begin working outward and down towards the ears, continuing to the neck.
- At the neck, in an upward motion, gently push first your right hand down the neck and back up, then follow with your left hand gently down the neck and back up. Go back to the starting position and repeat steps 3 and 4 seven (7) times.
- I call this second position. Place your all your fingertips and thumbs onto the middle of the scalp. In small circular motions move both your fingertips simultaneously together all around the rest of the scalp. Use your thumbs with just a little extra pressure.
- Make sure your washcloths are not to hot.
- Washcloth #1 Gently open and lay on the inside of your arm. Then place on the scalp just above the forehead. Put the palm of your hands on the head just above the ears with the fingers pointing to one another. Gently apply pressure for about 10 seconds. Then use your finger tips to gently massage. Gently remove washcloth with a light wiping motion. You are removing the product.
- Washcloth #2 Gently open and check temperature. Then place on the scalp. This time place your palms in the middle of the scalp and apply gently pressure with a gentle fingertip massage. Gently remove with a soft wiping motion.
- Washcloth #3 – repeat washcloth #1, this time also go under the neck.
- Apply the Beautycounter Adaptive Moisture Lotion (Not shown in the picture) following steps 2-5.
I got a little spoiled with this during my chemo. So now we have a date night and take turns treating each other. 😊