Scalp manipulation or “petrissage” is a massage technique that aids in the reduction of stress and stimulates blood flow to the skin below the hair. The scalp is rolled, rubbed and kneaded in circular motions by the hands of the masseur. These motions can be applied lightly or heavily with the recipient sitting or lying down, according to preference and comfort. Regardless of the amount of pressure applied, continuous, even motion will yield the best results and the most pleasing massage. Movements can be applied in any order, according to your and the recipient’s preference.
Cup the recipient’s chin in your left hand. Place your right hand at the base of the skull and rub the scalp gently in a circular motion. Reverse the positions of your hands and repeat.
Place your fingertips on each side of the head. Press and slide upward, spreading your fingers until they meet at the top of the head. Do this four times.
Place your fingertips on each side of the head, as in Step 2. Slide upward, one inch at a time, stopping and rotating the scalp in circular motions with your fingertips between sliding. Repeat four times.
Place the palms of your hands firmly above the ears. Move the scalp upward in circular motions with the palms of your hands.
Place the fingers of both hands along the forehead hairline. Massage around the hairline in circular motions while moving the scalp toward the top of the head. Repeat, working toward the top of the head in one-inch increments. Do this for the entire front scalp.
Place your fingers on the sides of the head below the ears with your thumbs at the back of the head. Make circular motions with your thumbs on the back of the head, moving the scalp upward toward the crown. Repeat four times.
Place your fingers in the same position as in Step 6. Work your thumbs in circular motions, moving the scalp from behind the ears toward the center of the back of the head. Do this four times.
Always start with a clean head of hair to prevent the “rubbing in” of any dirt attached to the hair and scalp.
Brush the hair to remove tangles and debris before beginning any scalp massage.
Scalp manipulation can aggravate existing scalp abrasions and skin disease. Do not massage an unhealthy scalp.
- "Milady's Standard Cosmetology"; Arlene Alpert, 2002
- "The Book of Massage"; Lucinda Lidell; 2001
Izzy Moon brings to her craft more than 25 years of experience as a writer in the fields of broadcasting, advertising, entertainment, education, physical fitness and journalism. She has written stories, scripts and materials for radio, TV, The Autry Museum of the American West, Universal Studios and other companies. Her articles have appeared in publications throughout the United States.