These Scalp Massagers Will Make You Wish You Tried the TikTok Trend Sooner
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Whenever I get home from a hair appointment, I tell myself that I'm going to start adding scalp care to my routine with a little in-shower massage, just like they do at the salon's shampoo station. Inevitably, I do it the first time I wash my hair post-cut and then promptly forget about it. Who has the time? Who has the dexterity? Enter: scalp massagers, small handheld tools designed to massage and cleanse the scalp while stimulating a bit of extra circulation. But, as wonderful as scalp massagers can feel—and as much as people claim they'll magically grow your hair longer and faster—don't be fooled into thinking they'll do much more than exfoliate.
While some may claim that scalp massagers stimulate hair growth, "We do not have strong evidence to support that scalp massagers actually increase hair growth," says dermatologist Fatima Fahs, MD. However, that's not really the point of a scalp massager anyway. "The goal of scalp massagers is to promote scalp and hair follicle health," says dermatologist Michele Green, MD, noting that they can also help to gently exfoliate your scalp flakes and massage in your hair products (see: clarifying shampoos, cleansing conditioners, etc.). Plus, as someone who has tested and reviewed a ton of scalp massagers, I can say that they also just feel awesome and relaxing—as long as you use the right one.
Keep scrolling for the full breakdown of the best scalp massagers, according to my own testing and product reviewers, along with expert tips from board-certified dermatologists Dr. Fahs and Dr. Green on what to look for before buying.
This scalp massager is small but mighty thanks to its well-spaced, flexible bristles and concave design with shorter bristles in the center and longer ones around the edges. Made for all hair types, the Ceremonia scalp massager can be used with various hair products—both in and out of the shower. The brand recommends using it to help massage in any scalp treatments or work up a lather with your shampoo.
THE REVIEW: "If you're thinking of buying a scalp massager this is it," writes one reviewer. "It's gentle yet stiff enough to get a good scrub in. It's cute and very comfortable to hold."
Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush
This scalp massager has hard bristles with flexible tips, making it ideal for people with thicker or curly hair. It can be used wet or dry, with or without product, and comes in packs of two, so you can leave one in the shower and the other by your bed.
THE REVIEW: "If you have natural hair and use butter and oils, one thing you have to worry about is product build-up. I have used this shampoo brush every washday since I bought it," writes one reviewer. "It helps me scrub away all the products on my scalp while giving me a great massage. My scalp always feels extra clean, and my edges look great, cleansed from all the sweat and grime of the week."
Exfoliating Scalp Massager
This jellyfish-looking bb has a removable cap that you can fill with your favorite shampoo or hair treatment and then massage it in. It also has small, soft bristles to minimize irritation on sensitive scalps.
THE REVIEW: "Practical, comfortable," one reviewer writes, "and the best thing is that you do not dirty your hands."
Electric Scalp Massager
This electric scalp massager features four mini massage heads that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise to create a kneading effect. It is waterproof and can be used in the shower. Plus, it's easy to travel with and is rechargeable, so no batteries to worry about.
THE REVIEW: "This massager feels so soooo good," writes one tester. "It really does move the scalp while massaging comfortably on the high setting... If you want or need a scalp massager you just need to hold, that does the work for you, then this is for you."
GRO Revitalizing Scalp Massager
This scalp massager might be bulky, but its long bristles and wide handle make it super easy to use, especially if you're a beginner. It can be used on dry and wet scalps, with or without product, and is suitable for most hair types.
THE REVIEW: "It is perfect for my thin fine hair," writes one reviewer. "Helps massage hair without shedding and breaking."
If you're looking for an easy, simple scalp massager to use sans products, this one is a great option. With 12 fingers, this tool can hit multiple areas of the scalp at once. Plus, the handle can be used to stimulate acupuncture points.
THE REVIEW: "It's awesome," writes one reviewer. "Basically triggers all the little nerve endings on your scalp that never get stimulated and gives you goosebumps in the most delightful way."
Electric Scalp Scrubber
This battery powered electric massager has two vibration modes—regular and pulse—and can be used without vibration as well. The bristles are sturdy but relatively flexible and thinner than some other massagers on this list, and it's waterproof.
THE REVIEW: "The brush is silicone, so it is soft on your scalp and hasn't irritated my sensitive scalp, plus the vibrations feel amazing," one reviewer writes.
Scalp Exfoliator & Massager
This scalp massager sets itself apart from the rest with its very thin and hard bristles that should be able to reach that itch you can't seem to scratch. Plus, it's flat design also means you can use it while keeping your fingers extended, so if you cramp easily or your joints are stiff after a long day at the office, this could definitely be worth trying.
THE REVIEW: "I've had an itchy scalp for years," one reviewer writes. "I'm telling you—the very first use—all the itching was gone!"
Scalp Gua Sha
This scalp gua sha has wide teeth to target the scalp and comb easily through hair, as long as it's not tangled first. And you'll feel extra luxe breaking this comb out of its felt pouch when you feel like a massage.
THE REVIEW: "When I comb or brush my hair, usually so much hair falls out as my hair is very light and thin," one tester writes. "This comb doesn't pull any hair loose."
Ergonomic Wet/Dry Scalp Massager
OK, we may be a little biased, but hear us out: the ergonomic design on our Cosmo scalp massager is designed to fit comfortably and securely in the palm of your hand while silicone bristles help remove buildup and exfoliate your scalp.
THE REVIEW: "This little scrubber makes shampooing so much better, in that it gets to your scalp so much better than your fingers," one tester writes. "The added benefits of getting the oil buildup out with a rich lather and a nice massage to boot are also big positives."
Scalp Revival™ Stimulating Therapy Massager
Briogeo's scalp massager features thick, flexible bristles that won't poke your sensitive head. Meant to be used both wet and dry, this little scrubber is a hit with reviewers who prefer a lighter touch.
THE REVIEW: "Even when I have the worst eczema flare ups, using this scalp massager really helps clean the area without irritating it," notes one reviewer. "Absolutely love this product!"
Scalp Massager and Detangling Brush
Learning how to use a new hair tool can be difficult (see: why I never use a hair curler). Skip the learning curve with this duo scalp massager and detangling brush, which features a longer handle than other scalp massagers. If you know how to brush your hair, then you know how to grip this tool.
THE REVIEW: "I find that using this brush diminishes the amount of hair loss in the shower, and it feels great on my scalp," writes one reviewer.
Why should you use a scalp massager?
No one has to use a scalp massager, but if you use a lot of product in your hair or suffer from a dry, itchy scalp, it could be worth trying. "Probably the biggest benefit to a scalp massager is to exfoliate the scalp and remove buildup of product or even flakes that contribute to dandruff," Dr. Fahs says.
What are the disadvantages of scalp massagers?
Scalp massagers can be great, but, when used incorrectly or on the wrong hair type, they can also cause knots and irritate scalps. Dr. Green recommends people with eczema, psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis beware of irritating their skin with a scalp massager. She warns that while a scalp massager "may provide temporary relief," it can also "worsen the irritation and cause inflammation, leading to more redness and swelling."
How do you use a scalp massager without tangling hair?
Before using your massager, always read the directions and note the intended usage of the product. Once you've done that, there are a few things you should keep in mind, especially if you want to avoid any damage.
As for avoiding tangles and breakage, Dr. Fahs advises that you "massage in small, circular motions while holding the lower half of your hair down to prevent tangling." She adds, "Once you're done in one section, lift the massager up and apply back down to another area instead of sliding it all across your scalp." The dermatologist also advises you to use only light pressure to avoid any unwanted damage. "Being heavy handed can irritate your skin and contribute to breakage," she cautions.
What products can you use with a scalp massager?
Most scalp massagers can be used with or without product, and can be used wet or dry. Dr. Green suggests using the tool while washing your hair. "The lather from the shampoo combined with the bristles of the scalp massager ensures a deep cleanse of dirt, debris, dead skin cells, and product buildup on the scalp," she says. You can also use a massager with various scalp treatments, growth serums, or oils.
How to choose the best scalp massager for you
Before purchasing your scalp massager, ask yourself these questions to determine the best design and material for you.
Determine whether you'll use your scalp massager in the shower.
Most scalp massagers on this list can be used in the shower alongside your haircare routine or on a dry scalp to get the blood flowing and relieve tension. If you plan on using your scalp massager in the shower, make sure you find a waterproof one with a good grip that's easy to clean in order to prevent mold.
Figure out your bristle preference.
Dr. Green suggests soft, silicone bristles for a gentle massage but says that those who want to target product buildup might look for firmer plastic bristles.
Meet the experts
Michele Green, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who works in New York City. She frequently sees patients with hair thinning and hair loss, and is a proponent of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP Treatment) to treat hair loss.
Fatima Fahs, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dermy Doc Box, a dermatologist-curated skincare subscription box. You can frequently catch her investigating skincare ingredients on Instagram.
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Olivia Truffaut-Wong is an editor at Cosmopolitan with 10 years of editorial experience. Her beauty obsession has led her to research and write stories on the best at-home waxing kits and the best magnetic eyelashes.
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