We Tried the TikTok-Approved Head Spa and it Took Our Scalp Care to the Next Level

A facial for your head!

a photo of a woman getting her hair washed in the salon sink
Edwin Tan/Getty Images

We’ve had plenty of facials throughout the years and even tried a vajacial once, so we weren’t all that surprised when we saw that there’s another type of targeted facial that’s trending online these days. Meet “head spas” (or scalp bars), a traditional Asian practice that involves special attention to the scalp and has been around for centuries, but TikTok is just now catching wind of. Ahead we’ll share everything you need to know about the buzzy haircare service, including our honest thoughts after trying the treatment out ourselves. (Spoiler alert: Our scalp has never looked or felt better.)

Meet the Experts

  • Dr. Jodi Logerfo is a family nurse practitioner at Orentreich Medical Group in New York. She has over a decade of experience and is certified in both family medicine and dermatology. She specializes in treating skin disorders and is a member of the Dermatology Nurses Association and National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners.
  • Dr. James Kilgour is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Kilgour MD, a hair care company that focuses on scalp care and hair thinning. He was a resident physician at the University of Oxford, working in dermatology and bone marrow transplant research. By 2019, he relocated to a medicine research fellowship at Stanford University, working on groundbreaking research in skincare before launching his line in 2023.

What Is a Head Spa?

A head spa is a hair service that primarily focuses on the scalp. Influenced by Indian Ayurveda practices, the treatment combines deep cleansing and conditioning with a relaxing head massage to get rid of any product buildup on your scalp, while promoting blood circulation to the area. And yes, it feels just as incredible as it sounds.

What Are the Benefits of a Head Spa?

While Dr. Logerfo doesn’t necessarily recommend head spas to her clients, she’s not opposed to the idea of prioritizing scalp care. As she explains, “There is no real evidence-based scientific studies on [the benefits of] head spa treatments. However, it’s important to remember that scalp skin has a greater concentration of hair follicles, which is why we want to treat our scalp with the same care we give our face [and the rest of our] body, so exfoliating our scalp could potentially play a role in overall scalp health.” Per our research, we found head spas can help:

  • Stimulate blood circulation. The scalp massage has been said to potentially stimulate the hair follicles, which can promote healthy hair growth
  • Alleviate scalp concerns. Whether you’re dealing with dryness, dandruff or an oily scalp, a head spa can help refresh your scalp. Note: If you have a severe scalp condition (like seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis), we recommend consulting with a medical professional to treat these concerns before proceeding.
  • Relieve stress. As Dr. Kilgour shares, “Head spa treatments can be extremely relaxing! And anything that helps you relax and de-stress is ultimately going to help with your mood and general health, as well as, the health of your skin.” 

What Happens at a Head Spa Appointment?

The Consultation

The specialist starts by analyzing your scalp using a microscope. You’ll get a closeup view of your roots, where you’ll see how your scalp looks at the moment. (This step may be super exciting or gross for some, so be prepared to get up close and personal with your scalp.) Then, they will walk you through the treatment, which will be catered to your specific needs. 

The Wash

Most salons will have you lay back in a chair (or a reclined bed) with your neck positioned so it’s comfortably secured in a sink. Next, a scalp scrub is used to remove any product build-up, debris and excess oils. Then, the professional will go in with a clarifying shampoo and gently massage the scalp, focusing on some pressure points to encourage circulation and offer a deeper clean. Finally, it’s time for some hair steaming, which can help open up the hair follicles and make it easier for products to penetrate the scalp.

The Condition

Once your hair is washed, a hair mask is applied to your strands and ends. The specialist may also use this time to detangle your locks to prep it for drying. 

The Blowout

The stylist will give you a full blowout before you take another close look at your scalp together. Here’s where you’ll ideally see the difference between your before and after photos.

How Long is a Head Spa Treatment?

A head spa treatment can last between 45 to 90 minutes, depending on your hair type and texture or if any other services like a specialized treatment (for dandruff, oily scalp, etc) or a full body massage are added on. The longest part of the process is usually the cleansing and exfoliating portion, as the stylist may use different products to remove any build up, oil or debris from your scalp.

How Much Does a Head Spa Treatment Cost?

A head spa treatment can cost anywhere from $65 to $220 based on your location, length of treatment and if any additional services are tacked onto your appointment (i.e., a blowout, color, etc.) 

Can All Hair Types Out a Head Spa?

Yes, people with all different hair types can visit a head spa. When you think about it, most of us typically spend a minute or less washing our hair, so we’re likely not getting rid of all the dirt and oil on our scalps. In the short term, this can lead to itching and dandruff; in the long term, it can clog your follicles, which can cause your strands to grow in thinner. 

That said, we found that those with curly, coily or natural hair may have a tougher time getting the full head spa experience, as many salons still don’t know how to treat these hair types. As one TikTok creator shared, “It’s one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” While she enjoyed the scrub and deep cleansing of her scalp, her hair was left in tangles afterwards. She continues, “I was more relaxed than I’ve ever been, but I came out looking like a Pomeranian. My hair was ratted and tattered. It took me several days to finally [detangle it] and wear it in a decent style.” 

Also, if you have a sensitive scalp or are allergic to certain essential oils, Dr. Kilgour says to proceed with caution. Now, we’re not discouraging anyone from getting the head spa experience—just do some research before booking your appointment. 

a photo of beauty director jenny jin at a head spa getting her hair washed
Jenny Jin

Is a Head Spa Treatment Editor-Approved?

Our Beauty Director Jenny Jin (who describes her hair as thick, coarse and wavy) is a fan of the treatment as an occasional indulgence. She says, “The creamy lather, the hair steaming, the scalp massage…it’s such a nice way to pamper yourself from time to time. My hair feels so clean and light afterwards.” Plus, there’s the immediate benefit of having super shiny and extra voluminous hair for days. “Many head spa treatments include a mini neck massage, which is heavenly for relieving the tension you get from crouching over your computer all day,” she adds. 

Bottom line: You can think of a head spa treatment as a blowout with extra bells and whistles. Though we can’t speak to any long-term benefits (or whether it really helps with hair growth), we can attest to how relaxing it feels and how clean it leaves our hair. 

What If My Salon Doesn’t Offer It? 

You can get similar benefits at home by occasionally swapping in an exfoliating shampoo or a scrub and taking the extra time to really work it into your scalp. Dr. Logerfo recommends double cleansing to improve hair texture, shine and overall health of your scalp and hair. Use a clarifying shampoo first to get rid of any build up and dirt, before going in with a second shampoo to tackle any other hair concerns. “Shampoos can remove sebum, sweat, fungal and yeast, as well as, scaling, flaking, dirt, product buildup from both your scalp and hair. It can also loosen normal shedding, which will enable hair pushing out underneath to grow,” she explains. 

Once you apply a quarter-sized amount of shampoo (or a nickel-sized amount if you have finer locks) to your scalp, use the pads of your fingertips to firmly massage your head section by section, slowly working your way from the back to the front, making sure to get the sides as well. Rinse thoroughly and repeat every few weeks as needed. And if you’re ever visiting a salon and see “head spa” on the menu, don’t hesitate.

Want more beauty tips sent right to your inbox? Subscribe here.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...

about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...