When Tomoko Shima opened her two New York salons—one in the West Village, the other on the Upper East Side—adding the head spa to her list of offerings was a no-brainer. Head spas are a staple beauty ritual in Japan—Tokyo has salons dedicated entirely to pampering the scalp with the aim of encouraging healthy hair growth and preventing wrinkles, while simultaneously providing deep relaxation for the client.
“Many New Yorkers work long hours using computers. Their eyes, head and neck are overwhelmed,” says Tomoko. “The head spa is the best treatment to release stress and maintain beauty at the same time.” As an overworked city that’s obsessed with self-care practices and beauty treatments, the head spa is basically ideal for NYC.
Before my appointment I hadn’t given much thought to the condition of my scalp. While I’m diligent about smothering my face with sunscreen and various moisturizing creams, the skin that extends over the rest of my head gets largely ignored. Recently though, thanks to the haphazard top-knot I pull my hair into four days a week, it had started to feel itchy and uncomfortable—a prime candidate for a head spa.
The treatment isn’t dissimilar to a really good facial. After combing through my hair and examining my scalp—which has some pinkish, irritated patches—my stylist Tiffany Cabrera applies a gentle cleanser to my head and massages it in thoroughly, along with a neck and shoulder rub that almost puts me to sleep right there in the chair.
Then it’s over to the sink for a lather-y shampoo and conditioner with more massaging, before she administers strips of cooling gel product to my scalp to help calm the redness. Finally, Tiffany expertly blow dries my hair with the lightest possible touch—no yanking or pulling to get my curly hair smooth.
The result is soft, voluminous waves and an incredibly pleasant lightheadedness. By targeting the scalp the head spa seems to have loosened the entire body—even my face feels lifted and relaxed, which is probably why the Japanese say the treatment has anti-aging effects. I leave with a disposition so serene that even the packed 6 train can’t bring me down.
Treatment provided by Tomoko Shima, 171 East 92nd Street, NY, USA +1 212-722-8828
P.S. If you like the sound of the Japanese head spa, you’ll love this crystal healing blow dry.