Scalp Micropigmentation:
The Ultimate Hair Loss Solution

The world's fastest growing hair loss solution, scalp micropigmentation (SMP), a highly evolved hair tattoo technique, has been chosen by over 500,000 men and women worldwide, and is available at over 3500 specialist clinics

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What is scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation treatments are a camouflage hair loss solution for men and also for women.

For most treatments on men, SMP involves replicating the appearance of shaven hair, by introducing thousands of tiny pigment deposits into the epidermis of the scalp.

When placed by a skilled technician, the recipient appears as if they have a full head of hair shaved to a very short length, hiding the appearance of pattern baldness or even complete baldness.

For women of various hair color, or for men who are not experiencing complete baldness and wish to keep their existing hair at a longer length, the process is applied to the scalp to reduce the contrast between the scalp skin and the remaining hair.

The client usually requires 2-3 sessions of cosmetic pigmentation, each lasting approximately 2-3 hours, but time does vary depending on individual requirements. Those with bald heads will require longer sessions. The process is repeated until both the technician and client are satisfied that the semblance of hair cannot be distinguished from the surrounding real hair.

Once the pigments are deposited, the skin needs to heal. A recovery period of one week should be allowed, so that the micro-wounds created during the procedure may dry up and close while the pigments get assimilated into the dermal layer.

A versatile treatment option

This remarkable hair restoration technique can be applied to much wider range of hair loss variations than hair transplant surgery or other traditional hair loss remedies can.

From general balding to hairline recession, to burn or surgery related hair loss, and of course alopecia (most commonly alopecia areata). It can be also utilised to conceal hair transplant scars or blemishes as a result of trauma to the head. The method can even be adapted to blend noticeable birthmarks into the scalp.

Numerous terms are used to describe this process. These terms include scalp pigmentation, micro scalp pigmentation, SMP, MSP, hair follicle replication, tricopigmentation and hair tattoo. Please note that all these terms refer to the same basic scalp technique.

scalp micropigmentation in progress
Half before, half after, this photo shows the process of scalp micropigmentation and how it can drastically change a persons appearance.

Why choose SMP?

This is the fastest growing solution for hair loss in recent history. It is non-invasive, has almost universal appeal and is permanent. A temporary option known as tricopigmentation also exists to further broaden its appeal.

Furthermore, it remains the only cost effective hair loss fix to offer instantaneous, guaranteed results backed by thousands of genuine before and after photos. It is easy to understand why more than 300,000 men and women worldwide have now opted to have this procedure.

The cost of treatment varies from clinic to clinic, and also depends heavily on the clients requirements. However, remember the best results can only be achieved by an experienced technician who has received adequate training, and has a number of good reviews from previous clients.

Who invented the hair tattoo?

There are many claims about who was the first person to ‘invent’ SMP. Some of these claims go back to the 80’s and 90’s when permanent makeup artists and paramedical tattooists started experimenting with scar concealment and hairline reconstruction using basic dot techniques.

The earliest record that we’ve been able to verify is a newspaper article from Rocklin, California. Nina Ragan of Ultimate Image Studio performed a hair loss camouflage procedure in 2003.

The full commercialization of this service is jointly credited to two companies – HIS Hair Clinic in the UK and Beauty Medical in Italy. Permanent SMP was standardized by HIS Hair Clinic in 2009, while Milena Lardi of Beauty Medical launched a tricopigmentation (shorter duration SMP) service that she’d been developing for some time, and worked alongside the hair transplant industry to gain recognition for this new technique.

Two new providers, Artistry Concepts in Florida and Spanish company Headstyl, launched shortly after. Then Good Look Ink and Vinci Hair Clinic entered the market, and the industry started to grow rapidly.

Is the treatment effective?

For most people who are experiencing hair loss, SMP provides a workable option to hide or even completely conceal the problem. It depends entirely on the skill of the technician, the expectations of the client and suitability of the treatment plan that is drawn up during the consultation process.

It is perfectly possible for this treatment to be entirely undetectable to the untrained eye, enabling the client to return to their job and family without fear of being discovered. It depends on the situation however, as a previously bald man, lets say a Norwood 7, is likely to be questioned when they suddenly ‘regain’ their hair. It is important that the client knows what to expect when they return to their everyday life.

For female clients, their treatments usually go undetected as any woman losing her hair has often done a good job of hiding the problem before their treatment anyway. As the procedure is not designed to mimic shaved hair, rather to reduce contrast between the hair and the bare scalp, the visual difference before and after treatment is less dramatic and therefore less noticeable.

The vast majority of male and female clients are never discovered to have had any kind of cosmetic procedure, and fears of being found out are often without cause. Furthermore, SMP is becoming more common now, and so is more socially accepted than it used to be.

How detectable are the results?

For the vast majority of people, the primary purpose of their scalp micropigmentation procedure is to recreate an ultra-natural look. They don’t want to make a statement with their new appearance, quite the opposite in fact.

There are exceptions of course, as I eluded in a recent post about straight hairlines. However most guys and girls who have SMP simply want to return to their everyday lives without anyone noticing their procedure. For this, their treatment needs to be virtually undetectable.

In the hair transplant world, marketing types talk about the three primary fears of surgery:

  • Recovery time
  • Realism of results
  • Achieving good value

I believe the second fear, the fear of not getting a good result, far outweighs the other two, and this is certainly true in the scalp micropigmentation industry. As human beings, we are terrified of two things – ridicule, and making a bad decision – and both of these anxieties are directly linked to the decision-making process concerning scalp micropigmentation procedures.

As an ambassador for the industry, I would love to tell you that all scalp micropigmentation procedures are flawless, and by default, undetectable. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of what we’re seeing out there.

Moving in the right direction

Overall standards in the industry are improving all the time, and the proportion of horror stories is definitely on the decrease.  However, with the exception of the requirement to acquire a basic tattoo or micropigmentation licence, this industry remains unregulated.

The vast majority of recipients achieve a really great result. Satisfaction levels are at an all-time high, and the very best technicians are able to deliver flawless, undetectable treatments. The bottom line is this – if you want the very best result, then you need to do your research and seek out the very best technician. You cannot simply purchase this service at face value, without investing the time to get educated on the process, and to work out which clinics and technicians are likely to meet your expectations.

immediately after smp treatment

Scalp micropigmentation does not cure hair loss and it is not the perfect solution. It is a 2D representation (some would argue 3D) of hair follicles that have been freshly shaven. The treatment has limits.

Super-straight hairlines, hairline positions that do not mimic your own original hairline, pointy side profiles and ultra-dense or over-worked treatments are at odds with the quest for a natural appearance. One cannot have it both ways. You need to choose a style that fits your facial structure, your age and your ethnicity if you want your ‘hair’ to go unnoticed.

We are programmed to be extremely self-critical. Of course our friends and close family stand the best chance of noticing any change, however the harsh reality is that no-one notices (or cares about) flaws in our appearance in the same way that we do ourselves.

Following your procedure, it is critical to recognize this important truth and allow ourselves to leave any hair-related anxieties behind us. It simply will not do to trade one anxiety for another by constantly nit-picking about our own procedures, potentially finding ‘flaws’ that are so minor they are barely noticeable, or in some cases, simply don’t exist.

If you want the best, most undetectable procedure, it is perfectly possible. However, you won’t necessarily achieve this by seeking the cheapest or nearest provider.

Certain individuals have established themselves as global leaders in the industry, and these highly skilled professionals are worth their weight in gold. Talent is valuable, so don’t skimp on it in the pursuit of cheap or convenient.

The consultation

All major scalp micropigmentation providers operate some sort of consultation system prior to treatment, although the actual consultation format could take one of many forms. These are the common methods:

  • Face to face by appointment
  • Face to face immediately before your first session
  • Over the phone
  • Via Skype or similar
  • Via email with supporting photos

Needless to say, the ideal situation is to either meet or speak with someone prior to the day of your first session. Meeting face to face isn’t always feasible due to distance or other commitments, however I would suggest that you have a conversation with someone over the phone at least, or via Skype. It is so much more personal than email, and you’ll get a lot more out of it.

There are certain things you need to establish during your consultation. It is, after all, your opportunity to learn everything you need to know about the process, and whether or not scalp micropigmentation will be compatible with your life over the long haul. This is a massive decision you’re about to make, and for many people, the consultation is the greatest aid to making that decision.

So here goes. Do not leave your consultation without clear answers to the following questions:

  • Who will be doing your treatment?
  • How much experience do they have? Is their experience relevant to your requirements?
  • How were they trained, and where?
  • What pigments will they use?
  • Do they perform permanent scalp micropigmentation, or temporary tricopigmentation?
  • Ask about dot size and penetration depth, and expect an informed answer.
  • Can their results be reliably verified?
  • How many sessions do they anticipate you will need?
  • If you have scars, to what extent will they be camouflaged?
  • How much will your treatment cost? Is the cost capped?
  • Is there a deposit to pay? How much? What happens if you change your mind or postpone?
  • Do you get a guarantee? If so, what are the terms? Get them in writing.
  • What is their contingency process if things go wrong?

Do not commit to any treatment if your questions are not satisfactorily answered, if your consultation feels rushed or awkward, or if you remain unsure. Reputable providers will not rush your decision, so take your time.

scalp micropigmentation consultation

The first treatment session

So you’ve booked your scalp micropigmentation treatment, and want to know what’s next? Of course you do. The chances are you’re probably feeling nervous or excited (usually both), and you want to know what comes next. Well, let me explain.

When you arrive at the clinic, usually you would be asked to follow your consultant or technician to a private area for a pre-treatment discussion. If you haven’t had a consultation yet, now is the time. Otherwise, the conversation is likely to be a brief recap or summary of the objective. Make sure your technician is fully aware of what look you hope to achieve. Although you may have discussed this already during your consultation, it is always a good idea to reiterate your wishes, especially if your consultation was with someone other than your technician.

Following this discussion, you will be lead to the treatment room or booth. Again, the order of proceedings will vary depending on the clinic, but the first step is usually to choose your hairline position, shape and style. Your technician will use a charcoal, wax or makeup pencil to draw out your hairline, and together you will adjust it until you are satisfied. This can take time, and the process shouldn’t be rushed. It is common for the design of your hairline to take half an hour or more to confirm.

Next, your technician will assess your pigment requirements, density requirements and closely inspect any scars or other blemishes within the treatment area. Remember you have the option to keep scars in place if you wish, in fact it is common for clients to request that smaller ‘battle scars’ remain in place to enhance the authenticity of their new look. There is some logic behind this, leading some clients to request the inclusion of small fake scars to complete the illusion.

Nothing to worry about

If you’ve been concerned about how much your treatment will hurt, within 15-20 seconds you should start to feel some relief. The pain level really isn’t that bad at all, and as you settle into the session, you’ll find you notice it less and less.

Make sure your technician takes regular breaks of 30 seconds or so. Not only does this help to keep you relaxed, it also enables your technician to reset their vision and remain focused.

They will appreciate these short breaks as much as you will. Every now and then, take the opportunity to check your progress. Most technicians will keep a hand mirror somewhere on their workstation for this purpose.

During the average 3 hour session, you are usually granted a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This is ideal time to use the bathroom, grab a coffee or a light bite to eat, have a cigarette break (if that’s your thing) and assess your progress in more detail. Your technician will also need this downtime to recuperate, as concentrating hard for a length of time can be quite tiring.

When your session is complete, your technician will discuss with you what has been done, and anything they noticed during your session. By this point they should be able to provide some insight about the plan for your second session, although some may reserve judgment until your pigmentation has settled and your skin has healed.

Common Questions

What should I wear?

Sounds like a stupid question, right? Actually you’d be surprised how many people ask. The answer is very simple – wear something comfortable. bear in mind you’re going to be sat in a chair or laid on a bed for 3 hours or more, so don’t wear your Sunday best. You want something that is light and airy.

Should I cut my hair?

Assuming you are male, your technician will need to shave your hair off before they commence treatment. This is done at the clinic prior to your session starting, so whether you choose to shave your head at home, or let your technician do it at the clinic, is entirely up to you.

Slight edit: Some clinics will request that you arrive with your hair already shaved.

Can I take painkillers?

Yes, if you wish. Pain levels really aren’t that bad, however you may feel more comfortable with a little help. Any painkiller based on paracetamol or codeine is fine. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen will have little effect.

Please note: Do not take blood-thinning painkillers like aspirin, as this will encourage bleeding during your procedure. If you are already taking medication that thins your blood, please consult a suitable medical professional, and advise your technician. It doesn’t mean you can’t have treatment, but they do need to be aware.

Can I use an anaesthetic cream?

Some technicians allow it, others don’t. Some may even supply the anaesthetic cream, whilst others allow you to bring your own. Check with the clinic beforehand.

Can I have a drink for Dutch courage?

The obvious answer is no. If you arrive intoxicated, your technician is likely to refuse to treat you.

Can I wear a hat to hide any redness on the way home?

Yes. Just ensure the hat is loose-fitting and does not contain fibres that could catch your scalp. Hats made from wool are not a good idea. A nylon-based beanie or baseball cap is ideal.

Everything you need to know about scalp micropigmentation

Congratulations! You’ve just discovered the world’s fastest growing hair loss solution. We’re here to answer your questions, help you make the right choice, and find a scalp micropigmentation artist near you who best suits your needs.