Head spas offering professional scalp massage are the latest wellness trend sweeping Atlanta

Test-driving an Alpharetta outpost

Sage Head Spa Alpharetta
The water halo at Sage Head Spa in Alpharetta

Photograph by the Social Circle

Head spas are trending on social media: the treatment is so ubiquitous it’s racked up 919 million views on the hashtag #headspa on TikTok alone. It’s no surprise, given how profitable the wellness industry is (Bloomberg estimates its total revenue in 2022 at $5.6 trillion). Business owners are constantly looking to capitalize on trends as demand grows, including new frontiers in spa treatments. I first saw a video for a head spa on TikTok almost a year ago and was instantly sucked in, going through thousands of comments to find a practitioner here in Atlanta.

The roots of a head spa (also referred to as a professional scalp massage) go back centuries in Indian and Japanese cultures, where well-maintained hair was a symbol of beauty. Modern versions vary greatly as proprietors look to add treatments that cater to their clients, and, in many cases, create viral moments for social media. I’ve been chasing a head spa high for almost a year. Here’s how a recent experience went.

The first battle was getting an appointment. Many Atlanta-area head spas cannot meet the demand, with appointments booked out months in advance (one location is showing its next availability 10 months from now). I was able to snag a last-minute appointment at Sage Head Spa. Owned by veteran entrepreneurs Emily Condle and Desarai Mannelly, the spa opened in late 2023 as a response to the demand the two saw online for luxury scalp and hair services. Condle describes it as Japanese-inspired, pulling from that culture’s techniques to give clients a new, interesting, and satisfying self-care experience.

The spa is located in a multi-unit salon building in a nondescript small strip mall near downtown Alpharetta (800 North Main Street), and it took me a minute to figure out where to go. After my initial confusion, I was greeted by the two proprietors and led into a small but zen space outfitted with a single spa bed attached to a wash basin. I chose from one of the three services offered, ranging in price from $175 to $250.

Initially, I did a double-take at the price, as other head spas I’ve been to have been more in the $120 range, but Condle explained to me that they are licensed professionals (Condle as an esthetician and Mannelly as a cosmetologist) and they believe that it’s a differentiator that’s important in this field. Because of their professional background, spa-goers can add on things like dermaplaning, personalized conditioning treatments, and professional blowouts. Their credentials also allow the two access to salon-grade products and medical-grade skincare, not offered by any other head spas in the city, and allow them to personalize the treatment fully.

My appointment began with Société products: a facial cleanse, followed by an enzyme mask. Then, Mannelly kicked on the steamer near my face and moved on to my hair. She began with a hair oil, then a scrub, then a double cleanse, using Davines products customized to what she saw on my scalp and strands. Both shampoos utilized heavenly massage tools. I would have loved an additional add-on service for a longer scalp and neck massage at this point to relax me even further.

Sage Head Spa Alpharetta
Sage Head Spa in Alpharetta

Photograph by the Social Circle

Next, a conditioner was put on for my specific hair type, and then Sage Head Spa’s piece de resistance, the halo water feature, was activated to relax me further. Crescent-shaped and gold, water gently streams out of the halo at several points, which is an unusual yet not unpleasant sensation. From there, Mannelly rinsed my hair, loaded me up with vitamin C and moisturizer, and sent me on my way with a hot tea. I stumbled out of there blissed out.

The two have found their formula so successful that they’re opening branches in West Palm Beach and Dallas in 2024 and are opening an express experience that features 30 minutes of head spa and 30 minutes of a blow-out experience based on customer feedback in Alpharetta.

While any time to myself is luxurious, I found the experience to be worthwhile and appreciated that Mannelly walked me through the process before beginning. Head spas are uncharted territory for many, and I feel like this detail helped me find value in my treatment and allowed me to fully relax rather than wonder what she was doing. My hair was shiny and bouncy and, true to Mannelly’s promise, I didn’t need to wash my hair for many days after, a novelty to me.

For those looking for a new way to pamper themselves and have professional-grade attention paid to their hair, a head spa is a unique and fulfilling experience—if you can get an appointment, that is.

3 other metro Atlanta spots for professional scalp massages