What I learned from a 72 year old man's hair regimen

I've written a bit on the topic of scalp massage because I think there's so much to be gained from doing them regularly, especially if you throw some essential oils into the mix. In fact, just the other day, I came up with an idea on how to improve a scalp massagers currently on the market. I won't get into details yet because I hope to make it an actual product one day.

Today I'm here to talk about something else, specifically a new twist on scalp massages that involves hair pulling. Before you get turned off by the idea, let's discuss more in detail. When I talk pulling the hair, I'm not speaking of trichotillomania, which is a compulsive urge to pull out one's hair. No one's going to be pulling out their hair here. Before we actually get into the practice of the gentle pulling technique, let me give you a little background of why I'm even suggesting it.

I was first really introduced to this when I read a book called Old age, its cause and prevention. Written in 1912, this book is about the art of rejuvenation. It's full of valuable insight by a man named Sanford Bennett who, at 72, looked and felt much healthier than he did at 50. Most of his book is on facial toning and physical strength. He did, however include a section in the book related to hair.

Although Sanford has a head of white hair, it appears much healthier at 72 than it did 20 years earlier. I figured, "hey, this guy may have something value to contribute, his hair did make an improvement." Perhaps I too can learn from his hair journey experience. So here's what I learned. In 1895, before his transformation, Sam had a full examination. The the folks who studied him described his hair as "thin, dark, streaked with grey on crown; quite bald." Fast forward to 1906 and the same examination found that "the hair, now gray, has become quite luxuriant [with] no indications of former baldness." So what can we learn from this 72 year old man's hair regimen?

Sanford Bennett at 50 years of age

Sanford Bennett at 72
Sanford understood that every part of the body grows in size and elasticity when exercised. He believed the roots of the hair were no exception. In his book he states that the roots lose quality and deteriorate if not properly exercised. So he created a regimen that focused on a healthier scalp. He described his process as this: As he's lying in bed, he grasps his hair with his fingers, pulling gently in several areas until he has completed the entire head. He alternated between this and traditional scalp massage in the same session. In the end, Sam said he created a "perceptible glow." Sam gives some other hair advice in his book but most of it is pretty dated. This technique seemed to have worked for Sanford. It's obvious, from the pics, that he directly influenced the re-growth of is hair.

When we talk of hair pulling, we really mean more of a scalp lifting. The point is not to put any additional pressure on the strands of the hair, but to create movement and increased circulation in the scalp. WE ARE NOT PULLING ON THE LENGTH OF THE HAIR, WE ARE TUGGING NEAR THE SCALP. And the pulling tugging should not be excessive. Not like the extra-tight braids and buns which produce the opposite results to "luxurious hair." That type of tension is not only excessive but also constant. Think about someone who gets super-tight braids, the stress on the scalp is 24/7. Of course damage is going to take place. That's like lifting and holding a heavy weight for the entire day, your muscles just can't take it. But, if you put a little tension on the muscles for short bursts, great things start to happen.

If you'd like to try out this technique, I don't recommend using your finger tips to do the tugging. This creates too much stress on the strand. Instead keep your fingers extended and horizontal against the scalp with medium sections of hair in between the fingers. Keeping your hands close to your scalp, lift fingers gently tugging the hair upwards (or circular) and hold for a 3 count then release. Do this method over the entire scalp and you'll feel much more energized than a normal scalp massage using just the tips of the fingers. If you feel any pain in the process, you're using too much tension. This type of scalp massage should feel really good. If it doesn't, you're not using the proper technique.

Thank you Sanford Bennett, for inspiring us to create stronger, more luxurious hair.


  1. I love this post! Now I want to read his book. He looks like a whole 'nother man!

  2. Wow!!! I have got to research this! I'm going to see if I can get this book through my public library's interlibrary loan dept. I've already started pulling my hair! lol - There's an awesome video on youtube about Japanese Tanaka facial massages too. Have you ever seen old bodybuilders who have great looking bodies but the face doesn't match? To me, it makes sense that the muscles in your face can be exercised and toned too! Don't you think???

  3. Just came back to let you know that this book is available to read for FREE on Google!!! Just go to Google Books and you can read it online, or download a .pdf, etc. I chose to download the .pdf because my internet trips sometimes and I didn't want to fool with trying to figure out how I could read it on my Nook. I'm excited!!!

  4. I know this is a thread from 2011 and it's now 2016 but having come across it and having also found and used the Tanaka Face Massage videos on youtube mentioned above I had to say something :) I enjoy the massage and sense that it will do some good. I think it's not more widely known maybe because here in the West certainly we usually think a face massage has to be gentle and any facial exercises I've seen have said the same thing. The Tanaka method seems quite vigorous and it's for that reason I suspect there maybe something to it. I've also done hair pulling for a while and may have had results although it's hard to say. Must read the book. Thanks for a great post.


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