Who invented scalp micropigmentation?

Numerous artists and clinics around the world have claimed at one time or another, to have ‘invented’ scalp micropigmentation. Clearly, they can’t all legitimately claim to have created SMP, however getting to the facts is a murky business indeed.

It’s fair to say that SMP first emerged as a commercially viable, consistently repeatable process in 2010. At this time, UK provider HIS Hair Clinic and Italian specialist Beauty Medical were just starting out, both claiming to have invented scalp micropigmentation.

However, scalp micropigmentation is older than you think.

HIS Hair Clinic co-Founders received SMP training in Australia. I believe this training took place with a permanent makeup instructor called Andrea Darby, although I cannot say for sure.

Beauty Medical claim to have invented tricopigmentation in 2009, a shorter duration ‘temporary’ version of scalp micropigmentation that they subsequently trained many hair transplant surgeons to perform. However, the tricopigmentation technique was actually invented by Toni Belfatto and patented in 2007.

One of the earliest documented and provable SMP procedures we’re aware of was performed by Nina Ragan of Ultimate Image Ink in Sacramento, California, in November 2003.

One of the earliest records 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.

We’ve seen numerous photos of primative ‘SMP’ performed in 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.

In the early 1990’s at the Hair Transplant Clinic of Sacramento, Dr. Alvaro C. Tranquina developed a ‘dermal micropigmentation’ technique, and for 7 years, Dr. Tranquina conducted trials with 62 patients that had scalp scarring from hair transplants, using his new dermal micropigmentation technique to camouflage the scars for a better ‘look’.

Shortly after scalp micropigmentation became commercialized and started to attract the attention of the media, Artistry Concepts in Florida and Spanish company Headstyl began offering services. Then Good Look Ink and Vinci Hair Clinic entered the market, and the industry started to grow rapidly.

Artistry Concepts was the first specialist provider to offer scalp micropigmentation services in the United States.

Scalp Aesthetics (Scalpa) did at one point claim to be the inventor of scalp micropigmentation, however this claim was inherently false.

New Hair Institute, the California-based hair transplant specialist, trademarked the term ‘scalp micropigmentation’ in the United States, however this trademark is no longer in force. New Hair Institute did not invent SMP.

So who really invented scalp micropigmentation?

It’s really hard to know for sure.

Many artists deserve a lot of credit for their contributions to the development of modern scalp micropigmentation techniques. Artists like Toni Belfatto, Dr. Tranquina, Paul Clark, Simon Lane, Mark Weston, Leah Matsch, Milena Lardi, Jonathan Gerow and Joe Taylor undeniably helped shape and standardize SMP techniques to what we know today.

But as for who was the first to start developing SMP techniques in the modern era? The honest answer is, we simply don’t know.

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