We get it: a thick, full head of hair is a sure sign of virility, as Samson famously demonstrated. While not all men’s hair is as generously endowed by nature, the secret to adding volume and even growing thicker hair is literally in your hands: scalp massages and proper cleansing.
The best way to encourage robust hair growth is the simple act of a scalp massage. You can easily do it at home with a few minutes, your fingers, and a dab of oil or detergent-free shampoo. Here’s the logic behind it: A lot of tension can be held across the hairline, behind the ears, and in the neck as a result of stress and less-than-optimal posture. When that happens, blood flow in the capillaries that deliver the nutrients essential for healthy hair growth to the scalp and follicles is restricted.
Regular scalp massages help encourage the flow of blood along with oxygen and vitamins by relieving that muscle tension. In two recent studies, men received a daily four-minute scalp massage, and investigators found that nearly 70% of participants reported thicker hair at the end. And if that’s not incentive enough, scalp massage has been shown to also reduce stress hormones that can directly induce hair loss or thinning hair, and lower blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a win-win, guys.
Here’s how: It’s as simple as applying medium-to-firm pressure on your scalp with your finger pads in a circular motion – from brow to nape and ear to ear, and be careful not to scratch with your nails. Adding oil will help your fingers glide and ease the tension on the roots, but you can also do it while you’re applying your shampoo or conditioner (more on that subject below). Spend a little more time on the areas that you find sensitive or tight, and keep breathing deeply. You can also use a shower brush for more surface stimulation. Massaging the scalp applies to all hair types.
If you’re using oil, Avocado, Jojoba, or Argan are great choices; feel free to add a few drops of scalp-healthy essential oils such as Peppermint or Rosemary, or even Tea Tree if your scalp is irritated; never use them full-strength. For a deeper, more spa-like experience, and a good lesson in self-care, give this a read.
While massage can help you get to the root of a thickness issue, how you wash, dry, comb, and style your hair can all help amp up the volume. Let’s start by looking at how you cleanse.
We can’t emphasize enough that if your scalp isn’t healthy, there’s no way your hair can be and the number one factor standing in your way to fuller hair might be your shampoo. If you’re using a detergent-based cleanser on a regular basis, and not washing your hair too often, your scalp is in distress on some level. It’s stripped of its natural protection – sebum – and your follicles are forced into production overdrive with every wash. It’s a vicious cycle and it can be solved with one simple change in habit: Use New Wash instead. It’s free of all the bad stuff that harms your head (and the environment) and will give you the hair you never thought you had. It also conditions while it cleanses, so no need for the extra step.
When you’re out of the shower, how you handle your wet hair matters. Rather than let it sit plastered to your scalp while it dries, pat the water out with a towel without roughing it up too much – hair is delicate – and fluff it out instead to get those roots standing upright. The idea is to stop water from weighing it down while it dries.
Next, use a wide-toothed comb – which should be an essential tool in your grooming kit – to start the styling process. Finer teeth or a brush make your hair lay flat and close to your scalp, and you want the opposite effect. Comb it in the direction you desire, establish your part if you wear one, and when it’s damp and nearly dry, you can start to add products.
Let’s pause here for a second; if you’ve been scrolling through Instagram for volume inspiration, you’re probably seeing a lot of gravity-defying quiffs and pompadours. These are not achievable without the help of a blow dryer, or even hairspray. So if you’re heading in this direction, go ahead and plug in. Your brush may come in handy at this point, but your fingers will do to keep strands aloft; just keep the temperature setting moderate, hold the blow dryer at least a foot from your head, and focus on the roots; work quickly to avoid heat damage. Blast everything with cool air at the end to help set the shape.
Next – whether or not you’ve used heat – is the time to apply your styling products. You can always add more as you go, and think of them more as a final finish than heavy-hitters. It can be tough to know which side of the pomade vs wax aisle to fall on but Hair Balm is an excellent choice for all hair types to add control, some moisture, and even some additional thickness; for stronger hold we recommend Wax. In both cases, a dab will do.
Stay away from hair mousse, gel, or a hair product that is heavy. Stick with the lightweight variety and use them sparingly so you don’t deflate what volume you’ve already achieved; pomade products can be oily and be tricky for folks with thin hair.
The technique is important for applying any kind of styling cream or hair wax: put a dime-sized dollop into your palms, rub them together as if you’re applying hand lotion, and spread between your fingers. Don’t use the flat of your palms to apply it to your hair; rather, use your fingers as combs to make sure you work it through evenly and thoroughly. Think of your palms as reservoirs for products and keep recoating your fingers as you go. It’s important to start at the back of your head where your hair typically grows most densely, and save the front for last. Then go in with a comb to neaten things up, or call it a day and leave it casually tousled.
Another option is more surfer-inspired styling with an evolution in the world of sea salt spray you may have been hearing about. Try Undressed; you can spritz some into your hair after you’ve towel-dried it and before you start blow-drying for some extra staying power, or anytime throughout the day; it’s hard to use too much of this stuff, and it’s an easy way to lend some thickness and grip.
Making hair thicker is right in line with making hair grow faster, and bulking up your hair isn’t as straightforward as building your biceps – although massage might benefit both – but a multi-step regimen that keeps your scalp happy with the right products to keep your hair styled skyward can make life a lot fuller.
Koyama, Taro, et al. “Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue.” Eplasty, Open Science Company, LLC, 25 Jan. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740347/