20th June 1999
Massaging the scalp on a regular basis is excellent for your hair's overall health and happiness
Just as the rest of the body thrives with a good massage, so too does the hair. Done with an oil that is rich in essential nutrients like vitamins E and F, fatty acids and proteins, the hair is fed and cleansed, giving it a boost. Coconut oil meets the needs of the hair in that it contains all this. Widely used in the Sub-continent due to its easy availability, coconut oil is one of the most non-controversial oils for hair upkeep, as it is a non-colourant, and does not aggravate hair conditions.
Rima Soni, a practising beauty consultant in the Gulf since 1978, is a firm believer that natural foods are miracle cosmetics. "Your hair is a vital beauty asset, requiring tender loving care. Lush, luxuriant, glossy hair is not hard to come by. All it requires is a little nurturing," she says. She answers questions on oil massage for the scalp.
What are the benefits of an oil massage?
Hair needs daily grooming, care and attention in order to stay healthy and strong. Nourishing care needs to start from the root of the hair shaft, and we need to use a nourishing food like coconut oil.
The best time to massage oil into the scalp is before a bath in the morning, when it gently awakens the nerves; or in the evening, when it helps to remove the stress of the day and promotes a good nights sleep.
Some of the benefits of an oil massage are:
Improves hair condition, makes it glossy and healthy.
Increases body heat, improves circulation.
Improves quality of hair and clears it from disorders like dandruff, thinning, split ends and dry, damaged hair.
Is it a myth that oiling the hair strengthens the follicles?
When oil is applied to the head, it gets absorbed into the scalp through the roots. This nourishes, strengthens and lubricates hair roots and the scalp, preventing hair loss and premature greying. It improves circulation to the head, relaxing the muscles and the nerve fibres. This refreshes the mind and body, relieves tension and fatigue, and improves the complexion.
How should the scalp be massaged?
First, the scalp has to be clean. Very often, people massage their hair with oil when it is dirty and needs a wash. Always use warm oil - it soothes, calms and penetrates the follicles of the hair.
First, part your hair at the centre. With a dropper, or a cotton wad, daub warm oil in quick motions along the parting.
Not using fingers directly retains the oil's temperature. Make partings all over the scalp, and oil along them. Work your way up from the nape, upwards to the ears, until the whole scalp is oiled.
Then, using both fists, gently tap the head all over. This stimulates circulation and alerts the nervous system.
Next, with the pads of your fingers, rub along the scalp, and very gently tug at the hair all over the head.
This relieves tension. Cover hair with a warm towel, allowing the pores and follicles to open and benefit from the nutrients in the oil.
Wash off in 30 minutes.
How often does the scalp need an oil massage?
Dry hair: As many as three times a week. It is important to brush the hair before an oil massage, as it stimulates the scalp and improves the condition of the hair.
Greasy hair: Only once a week. Do not massage vigorously - gently rotate and lift the scalp a little. After shampoo, rinsing has to be thorough, and instead of a conditioner, dilute lemon rinse may be used.
Dandruff conditions: Coconut oil does not aggravate this condition. People with dandruff can have an oil massage thrice a week. It exfoliates, and rids the scalp of waste.
Blonde and chemically-treated hair: Coconut oil is just as effective on blonde hair as it is on black or brown hair. When you use warmed coconut oil you are nourishing your hair. So, chemically-treated hair also definitely benefits. It improves the quality of the hair.
Dandruff is so common that some experts consider it to be normal. Everyone suffers from dandruff to some degree, and the point at which it becomes a source of annoyance is a matter of personal sensitivity. It's only when dandruff becomes noticeable or the scalp becomes too itchy that most of us become concerned.
The outer layer of skin (the epidermis) is constantly replacing itself. Cells are formed at the base of the epidermis and gradually migrate to the surface, where they are shed. This generally takes about a month. An accelerated turnover of the cells on the epidermis of the scalp results in dandruff. As long as the cells are shed individually they are not noticeable, but when cells clump together to form larger flakes they become obvious.
Why cells clump together instead of being shed individually is unknown. If the scalp is excessively dry, what is perceived as dandruff may actually be dry, flaking skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis is sometimes thought of as merely a more severe form of dandruff, but it seems to be a different condition in that there is redness, itching, and inflammation as well as flaking. It may occur in such areas as the eyebrows, the sides of the nose, around the ears, or the chest, as well as on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis often requires medical attention for control. Other skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema, which can be confused with dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, may requires totally different treatment.
Frequent shampooing may be adequate to control simple dandruff. More often, it's necessary to use one of the many medicated shampoos promoted for control of dandruff.
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