3D – The evolution of scalp micropigmentation

It seems appropriate for me to wade into the debate over whether scalp micropigmentation can be legitimately described as three dimensional.

There’s no doubt that Matt Iulo makes some great points in his eloquent feature on the subject, and he’s absolutely right to state that he – and all the other highly skilled proponents of the treatment – always strive to create the most authentic appearance possible. It was that very rationale that Paul Clark & I used when first discussing and preparing to launch the 3D procedure.

Like many people who’ve been in the business for some time, we weren’t entirely certain it was possible, but we were determined to try. In January 2015 we found ourselves with the time and opportunity to do so. We began by researching different pigments and needles, meticulously. We were absolutely dedicated to finding the best components with which to launch Brandwood Clinic.

Finding an organic pigment was very important to us, arriving at one that was also vegan-friendly ticked a huge box for my business associate Mr. Clark. Those of you who know him – or have encountered him on social media – will be well aware of his stance on these issues.

3D scalp micropigmentation in action. Notice how the follicles ‘pop’ and retain their individual definition.

Once we had the equipment we began by using different shades and pressures on our legs. To this day me & Paul still bear the experimental marks. After a month or so we were happy that we had both the shades and the technique. The next step was clearly to trial the procedure on a willing victim. We ideally needed someone who already had scalp micropigmentation and was willing to submit himself for the greater good. Paul didn’t have to look far whilst I only had to look in the mirror.

‘3D’ is very much about pigment placement, an artistic eye for detail and not so much about density. We had arrived at a combination of shades that we felt could refresh an existing look, adding that dimension that we were keen to achieve. It was pretty much an instant success. Family and friends immediately commented saying it looked more ‘buzzed’ than shaven.

When first discussing the concept of 3D, it is true to say that we were looking for an effect that enhanced the appearance, that didn’t look flat and allowed certain pigment placements to ‘pop’ like they were real hair follicles. What I discovered though was that I was able to change my shaving routine, I could leave it one or two days as the blend was no longer quite so obvious.

The same technique, this time demonstrated on darker skin. Maintaining dot definition is always harder on dark skin due to the reduction in contrast between the skin and the hair replications, but you can definitely see how the ‘after’ photo looks buzzed, versus the ‘before’ photo that looks shaven.

I had previously wet-shaved my head on a daily basis but I was now able to leave it a day and switch to a beard trimmer rather than a razor. Whilst we were keen to use the definition of 3D for the treatment to differentiate it from the standard service available elsewhere, it was this extra growth that gave us the confidence to call it the ‘3D texture effect’.

Until this development all clients had to shave all their hair, this is a clear advantage for some people. With the 3D procedure a client who has thinning hair (around Norwood 4) can grow his hair slightly longer than a Norwood 7. The reason for this is simply that he has consistent thinning on the top of his scalp and the combination of hair and 3D scalp micropigmentation will create a thicker illusion, allowing for an extra day or two’s growth. It is that effect and appearance that gives us the confidence to claim that 3D is more than just a marketing device.

Me and Paul Clark have always been keen to innovate, to develop new styles and techniques. Many technicians, particularly those who’ve been working in micropigmentation for any length of time, adopt the same approach. We have the client’s interests at heart and want them to leave us feeling renewed and confident. Now everyone coming to Brandwood Clinic, old client or new, can have the most advanced treatment available.

We’re happy to have introduced 3D into the world of scalp micropigmentation, we think it can help to make the procedure a more popular and widely-adopted treatment for hair loss. I know that all of us want to be at the forefront of that campaign!