Rather, “Using circular motions, lift your fingers off the scalp and place them back down,” Newman suggests. Use your fingertips–not your nails!–to massage the shampoo into your scalp, region by region, until you cover all the surface area. Each time you move along to a new area, don’t drag your fingers; as Newman notes, take a beat to lift them off your head and place them down gently before continuing to massage.
You can also use a scalp massager to help deposit the shampoo, working the flexible bristles in circular motions all around your scalp (for some reason, I find I’m way gentler with the tool than I am with my own fingers, which is why I always keep a scalp brush in the shower). Still, remember to actually pick up the massager each time you move to a new area; dragging the tool across your scalp can create knots.
Finally, don’t be alarmed if the shampoo doesn’t foam while you work in the product–many sulfate-free shampoos won’t actually lather (sulfates are what give traditional shampoos their sudsy feel), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job. The right cleanser can lift oil, gunk, and buildup without any foam, so don’t scrub aggressively at your scalp until you work up some kind of lather–this will only harm your poor strands.