Today we are talking about an Ayurvedic technique, which is more than 2000 years old and which takes the name of Champi. Champi is a massage of the scalp, neck and shoulders, performed with a vegetable oil, with the aim of relaxing but also oxygenating the tissues and bringing health and benefits to the scalp and hair. But let's go in order. First let's try to understand what science says about champi and head massages and then let's see how to perform this special health and beauty technique on ourselves at home.
Champi consists of a massage of the scalp, neck and shoulders. The massage requires you to exert pressure and friction and here, in part, lies the strength of the technique. Studies have shown that performing a scalp massage, even for just 4 minutes, allows, in six months, to strengthen and increase the thickness of the hair (Koyama et al, Eplasty, 2016). The explanation for what has been observed is that, first of all, massages stimulate microcirculation and tissue oxygenation.
Then, as the authors of the studies indicate, massages are not limited to this, but, by also applying a mechanical force, this generates a cascade of reactions in the cells and the release of substances that lead to tissue regeneration (Koyama et al , Eplasty, 2016). Massages also bring benefits in case of hair loss. In particular, performing massages for about 10 minutes for at least 6 months has led to a stabilization in the number of hair and, in some cases, even to hair regrowth (English et al, Dermatol Ther, 2019). Finally, performing champi as a scalp massage has been shown to reduce stress by decreasing the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, connected to alert states, in which the body goes into defense and survival mode, and instead increasing the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces relaxation and the possibility of recovering energy (Kim et al, J Phys Ther Sci, 2016). But Champi is also much more. In fact, the massage also takes place through a vegetable oil, which nourishes the skin, helps to counteract dandruff and itching and reduces inflammation and dermatitis. The most used oil in India when practicing Champi is coconut oil. Coconut oil has a cleansing, antimicrobial and antifungal action, useful for counteracting dandruff, reinforcing and moisturizing (Mysore et al, Int J Trichology, 2022 - Saxena et al, Sci Rep, 2021). However, there are also other vegetable oils that can be used during champi, according to our needs or the products we have available at home. Argan oil is valuable and helps regulate sebum production, is moisturizing and improves skin elasticity (Mysore et al, Int J Trichology, 2022), while sesame oil is very versatile, useful to all hair types thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and helps to stimulate hair growth (Mysore et al, Int J Trichology, 2022), jojoba oil instead maintains hydration and helps in case of dermatitis (Lin et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2018). In case of weak hair that tends to fall out, you can add to the oil a drop of rosemary essential oil, which has been shown to stimulate hair growth (Panahi et al, Skinmed, 2015).
Champi, how to perform the massage
For an even stronger calming action, you can warm up the chosen oil by quickly heating it in a double boiler. The oil should be just warm and pleasant to the touch, not too hot. Dip your fingers in the oil and start massaging, starting from the sides and back of the neck and working up to the top of the head. Perform movements like small frictions, back and forth, using the pads of your fingers. You can also gently press with your palms, still in a back and forth motion. Remember, as you proceed with the massage, to dip your fingers in the oil.
Then, run your fingers through the hair, pulling lightly. After these moves, it's time to focus on the ears. Forefinger and middle finger form a scissor with the ear in the middle. Rub the area, moving the scissors formed by the fingers up and down a couple of times.
Then, go down towards the neck, with your fingers massaging the sides of the neck going up and then down. Finally, take care of the shoulders. Give small pinches, lifting the skin. At this point, you can leave the oil on as a mask, wrapping your head in transparent film, for 20-30 minutes, or you can immediately wash with shampoo.