Differences Between Head Spas and Scalp Treatments and What to Expect

Published on Nov 06, 2019

Some people go to the hair salon to refresh their hairstyle and get a new look. But there is also a group of us who love going to the hair salon for the relaxing head massage that feels so shiok after a busy work day! This may sound self-indulgent but those who go regularly for scalp treatments and head spas can tell you that their scalp is cleaner, healthier and best of all, their hair problems are alleviated thanks to regular visits for these services.

There are however a plethora of scalp treatments and head spas out there.

What's the differences between scalp treatments and head spas? What are the characteristics of scalp treatments that may differentiate between one scalp treatment vs another?

Having tried a few scalp treatments and head spas for ourselves, we share our thoughts below:

Scalp Treatments

Whether on radio or on TV, you'll often hear ads promising "a full head of hair after just XX sessions at XXX". 

Yep, that's scalp treatments for you. As scammy as it sounds, scalp treatments are SUPPOSED to help you diagnose scalp problems and help you treat these problems with proper scalp care products and procedures that help alleviate hair loss and even promote hair growth. 

Who needs Scalp Treatments?

Men and ladies with scalp issues such as oily, sensitive and dry scalp with some indication of hair loss. 

If your scalp is persistently bothering you with itch, flaky dandruff, it is wise to go for scalp treatments which can help you deal with your specific problem. Don't wait till it's too late though as the scalp treatments can only help you this much; if your hair follicle is already dead, no scalp treatment can revive the dead follicle and make your hair come back to life.

How does Scalp Treatment help?

With a "treatment" orientation towards scalp, we find that good scalp treatments tend to be more systematic and tend to involve the following:

1. Scalp Scans to Diagnose Scalp Issues

A good scalp treatment should feel like a doctor's visit where the first part of the service is about diagnosis. 

Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

This is necessary as it helps the scalp specialist access the overall condition of your scalp.

Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

To us, the very best places for scalp treatments are those salons with very experienced scalp specialists. Calvy from Follicle Salon is one of them; having gone through extensive training and helped throes of customers regain confidence from their hair, she knows exactly what's wrong the moment she takes a look at your scalp scan. Calvy remembers your last scalp condition and can guess if you've been too stressed at work as she can see it all from the scan! With that, she can then customize parts of the treatment to help you deal with the scalp issues that crops up. 

Scalp Treatment at Picasso Hair Studio

Another scalp specialist who has impressed us to no end is Fernnel from Picasso Hair Studio. On top of being astute at diagnosing scalp problems, she knows exactly what to do to nurse your scalp back to health. Be inspired as you hear her share anecdotes about how others have treated their scalp!

2. Usage of Professional-Grade Scalp Products

After diagnosis, it's time to apply the scalp products. You'll find that most salons will carry one or maximum two lines of professional-grade scalp products with the brands ranging from Nioxin, Kerastase and Shiseido. 99 Percent Hair Studio for example uses Nioxin while Picasso Hair Studio and Pro Trim uses Kerastase. Some specialised salons such as Follicle Salon even bring in their own clinical range of scalp products from Korea.

Scalp Treatment

Truth be told, it is hard to say which brand is better as most will have differing ranges of products catering to different scalp problems. Most will include antioxidants that improves scalp immunity, reduce irritation and remove imbalances as well as other ingredients to moisturize and detoxify the scalp. Still, go for several free trials before you decide to sign any packages. Shopping around can possibly help you check which scalp treatment is most effective for your scalp!

3. Usage of Radiofrequency, Microneedling and Other Machines

You can apply the treatment products but how can you make sure that your skin will absorb it deep into your scalp? To make sure that the expensive scalp serums and treatment solutions penetrates into the scalp to maximize effectiveness, some salons invest in technologies such as radiofrequency, microneedling and other technologies.

A typical scalp treatment at Follicle Salon may includes microneedling (This is the step where the treatment solution is applied, then a dermapen is used to make microscopic wounds in your scalp to better absorb the treatment solution)

Microneedling During Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

Medical-Grade Radiofrequency (This passes small amounts of electrical current to the scalp. causing heat to be produced and creating tiny wounds in the deeper layers of the scalp for better absorption of treatment solution)

Medical-Grade Radiofrequency at Follicle Salon

as well as laser therapy light.

Laser Therapy During Scalp Treatment at Follicle Salon

Of course, it's hard to say if the scalp treatments would be as effective with or without the machines. However, the many testimonials of customers and friends who've tried Follicle Salon are very convincing!

Before and After Scalp Treatment for Thinning Hair at Follicle Salon

Head Spa

What are they?

Head spas are the new "in" thing because they're basically deep-cleansing head facials with added scalp benefits. You might think that its just an indulgence, but it's actually more helpful than it seems. Head spas give your scalp a deep cleanse, you didn't know you needed. Daily stressors like environmental pollutants, sweat and dirt get onto our scalps but seldom get fully washed off because the shampoos we use are either not clarifying enough or we don't have the skills to gently but effectively scrub our scalps clean. 

What the stylist does during the head spa is to massage the scalp and balance the pH of your scalp so that it doesn't get too oily or too dry. This keeps it in pristine condition and helps to prevent more serious scalp issues from happening. 

Who needs Head Spas?

Uh... anybody? As we say, a head spa is a little like a facial. It maintains your scalp and helps to prevent more serious scalp problems from developing (if you go regularly enough). For those who face a lot of stress at work, you can even consider dropping by during lunchtime for a short nap while you get your head spa done. 

Sparkling Scalp Spa by Art Noise Japanese Hair Salon

What makes one head spa different from another?

1. Brands of Products Used

Similar to scalp treatments, many brands are used for head spas. The most common ones we see in salons include AVEDA, O'Way as well as Shiseido. If you're interested, The Bund and Gene by Ginrich use AVEDA, Focus Hairdressing and Risel Japanese Hair Salon use O'Way while Walking on Sunshine and LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon use Shiseido products.

Organic Head Spa at Be U Hair Design

All of them come with their own benefits so it is best to try a few to see which you prefer in terms of smell, effectiveness and whether it stings your scalp! Agent C.W. personally tried the detoxifying organic head spa at Be U Hair Design and loved how clean and light her hair felt after it. Though it is a head spa, her hair also felt smoother and shinier afterwards!

2. Amount of Time Spent on Head Massage

Yes, the typical head spa also applies some serum during during and tonic at the end of the head spa but for most of us, head massage is the highlight for the head spa. 

Head Massage During Head Spa

Mind you, massages isn't just an indulgence. A good head massage increases blood circulation throughout your entire body and even improve your mood. That's a win as far as we're concerned! 

All head spas tend to be heavy on head massages but the length of time they spend on the head massage differs so do ask before you go for one!

3. Massage Techniques

It isn't just about the length of time though. A good massage must be one that relieves tension and invigorates your entire body and that's what Agent G felt when she went for a head spa at COVO @ Katong

Good Massage Skill During Head Spa at COVO Japanese Hair Salon

Until today, she still think that's the BEST HEAD SPA she's ever experienced as stylist Rumi's signature energy flow massage for the head and shoulder is JUST SO GOOD! 

Note however that the special head spa by Rumi is ONLY available at COVO @ Katong and not at the other COVO outlets. You can still go deep cleansing spa in the other 2 COVO outlets though! 

Head Spa at Walking on Sunshine

Walking on Sunshine's head spa comes in as a close second with Shinji's head and shoulder massage that is confirmed to make you feel shiok for the rest of the day. 

4. Dry Head Spa vs Wet Head Spa

If you're not keen to get your hair wet and just want to get a good head massage (along with a nap), go for Branche Hair Salon's newly launched Dry Head Spa. There is no washing of hair and instead, they focus the FULL 60 MINUTES on massaging your scalp and shoulder to relieve your fatigue, boost circulation and increase your energy levels.

Dry Head Spa at Branche Salon

Dry Head Spa at Branche Hair Salon

This is perfect for busy working professionals as your hair remains dry so you can get out of the salon ASAP and go about your day!

5. Availability of Private Room

Given that you're at the salon to relax, a little more privacy is always appreciated. That's why we love it that certain salons such as LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon and Branche Hair Salon have private rooms where they perform the head spas. 

Luxurious Head Spa Treatment at Leekaja
Private Room for Head Spa at Leekaja

You can snore to your heart's content and everyone else (except the therapist) will be none the wiser!

6. Aromatherapy

This is not an essential feature but we love how certain head spas include an aromatherapy ritual to start or end the head spa. 

Aromatherapy Ritual During Head Spa

Which is best for you?

For faster and more effective results on hair growth and hair loss, we recommend scalp treatments as they target specific hair problems. Intensive scalp treatments that are targeted at specific problems might not need to be repeated that regularly due to the stronger products used. However, you might have to spend more because they are pricier than head spas.

Head Spa are free and easy and do not require regular treatment. You can go whenever you wish and most are done in about an hour. The point is to prevent hair loss rather than to treat it so you may not see your hair grow back till about months later, compared to about 1-3 months for scalp treatments. They do however include more additional services like longer massages and a truly therapeutic process.

Interested in trying out any of these? Share your experience on BU.sg!

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