Since launching Scalp Guru a few years ago, I have dedicated my efforts to guiding prospective clients through the scalp micropigmentation process. In a growing and constantly changing industry, I have always derived a great deal of satisfaction by helping people navigate their way towards good decisions, decisions that increase the likelihood of achieving their desired result.
We’ve been incredibly busy, and in and amongst all of this, I made a schoolboy error by neglecting my own treatment.
You see, scalp micropigmentation is relatively low maintenance. However, ‘low maintenance’ does not mean ‘no maintenance’, and I’m the first to admit I was something of a caveman prior to SMP. Despite providing customers with aftercare advice since 2009, until my original treatment in 2013 I had never actually used a moisturiser. Sunscreen was an inconvenience I’d resort to only after I got burned, and shaving my head with a razor was entirely new territory. My morning ritual consisted of slapping some soap around, and brushing my teeth.
The result of my ignorance and general apathy? A fair few family holidays with no sunscreen, a poor and inconsistent cleansing and moisturising routine, and the inevitable fading that subsequently followed.
Don’t get me wrong – fading is perfectly normal and an expected part of the process, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that my original treatment used very light pigments to match my blonde hair. However, the fading I experienced was a little excessive and was certainly due, at least in part, to my poor aftercare routine.
The problem was three-fold:
- I looked bald again because the pigments were barely visible.
- I had lost individual dot definition, leaving me with a ‘shade’ instead of an effective replication of hair.
- The problem was made worse in photographs, which could be embarrasing at times.
Why Brandwood Clinic?
I have known Simon Lane, Director-Practitioner at Brandwood Clinic, for more than 5 years. Simon performed my original treatment when he worked for HIS Hair Clinic in Birmingham. We worked together to break his own story to the world, a significant and emotional step for Simon, and over time we became good friends.
Simon’s work has always been extremely impressive. The depth of his knowledge around the scalp micropigmentation process has been enhanced greatly through extensive and diligent research, and no doubt bolstered by his close working relationship with friend and colleague Paul Clark, a true master technician in his own right, since they opened Brandwood Clinic.
Individuals aside, Brandwood is a place that genuinely upholds the highest standards. They’ve invested heavily in medical-grade fixtures and fittings, decor and top of the line equipment, and their treatment facility is among the best I’ve seen. Brandwood is generally regarded, even by industry insiders and competitors, as one of the best places in the world to undergo scalp micropigmentation.
What was the plan?
We bypassed the formal consultation process because, to be honest, it seemed unnecessary under the circumstances. That said, I had both Simon and Paul’s undivided attention for at least an hour while we debated and discussed my treatment plan.
They both noted the extensive fading I’d experienced, and said that my ‘top-up’ was more likely to entail a complete restructure of my original treatment. They wanted to lay a new foundation of pigmentation to replace lost darkness and definition, followed by a second session the following week to add further density and a textured 3D effect by carefully layering a darker pigment to make my treatment ‘pop’.
We also discussed my hair length. I’m quite happy shaving every other day, but I also wanted to go for a pigment that was significantly darker than my real hair. This was perfectly feasible, although I assumed it would mean I’d have to shave every day to avoid a mismatch. Simon insisted that a couple of days growth would add texture without compromising my blending, which sounded good to me.
I was given a folder containing advice sheets for pre-treatment, between treatments and for aftercare. Although I’m obviously familiar with the advice, I was impressed by how comprehensive and clearly laid out the information was. Perfect for people who really aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do.
Brandwood Clinic insisted on doing a patch test. I found this a little strange, bearing in mind I’d already had four sessions over the course of my original procedure.
Later on as Simon and I walked out of the office towards our cars, I asked why a patch test was needed. Simon explained it was for two reasons. First, the Brandwood pigment is a unique formulation and they needed to check for any adverse reaction. Second, because they carry medical malpractice insurance, and a patch test is a condition of that coverage.
When I questioned Simon further, he said that because their pigment is plant-based, vegan and genuinely organic, no-one had ever had an adverse reaction.
I must admit I’d never thought about it before. I guess we get so focused on the end result, we rarely stop to think about what’s in the pigment being deposited in our skin. I couldn’t help but feel reassured. It’s one of those attention-to-detail things that makes Brandwood so good at what they do.
I had been really looking forward to my first session, but on the morning itself I could barely contain myself! I was well aware that my original treatment had faded a lot, and I couldn’t wait to get that same feeling again that I got immediately after my original treatment.[wpsm_update label=”IMPORTANT”]Before your treatment session, it is important that you have something to eat. This advice applies to scalp micropigmentation as much as it does to body tattoos. The experience can be tiring, and eating something small beforehand makes it easier to remain composed. I have known a few anxious people to faint during a procedure, and it almost always turns out that they hadn’t eaten beforehand.[/wpsm_update]
I’d chosen some comfortable clothes, well aware that I’d be sat in a chair for at least 2-3 hours. I left my hotel and made the 5 minute drive to the Brandwood office.
Both Simon and Paul examined my patch test from the afternoon before. It turned out they’d also used my patch test to try the pigment shade they’d intended to use (makes sense), and they were both satisfied that they’d chosen the right dilution.
Although my hairline wasn’t changing shape, I had asked for it to be broken up a little more than last time. This meant re-drawing my hairline just a touch lower (about 3-4mm), to allow space for pigments to be sparsely scattered beneath my existing hairline. These guys basically invented the broken hairline as we know it today, so I left the decision-making in their hands.
In the end, my first session lasted about 3 hours 30 minutes. I was over the moon with the result. My frontal hairline, the most visible part of any treatment, was completely restored. For the first time I realised that I really had left my top-up longer than I should have done, but now I looked like I had hair again.
Being truthful, my first session was a little more uncomfortable than I remember. Simon said my skin was in ‘reasonable’ condition, but in hindsight I think that nerves may have played a part.
Hitting the M42 for the drive back home, most of the journey was spent staring in my rear view, checking out my new hairline. I had a weird sense of deja vu, remembering what it was like 3 years ago when I had my original treatment.
A week later, I returned to the clinic. As is common among those going through this process, I had spent a full week analysing my head and drawing up a list of adjustments. The list was fairly short to be fair, but first and foremost I wanted some work on my sideburns, and my hairline broken just a little more.
My second session seemed to breeze by. I later found out that I’d been in the chair for nearly 3 hours, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. We just spent the entire time debating the Brexit vote, and before I knew it, we were done.
The weird thing was that during my second session, I barely felt a thing. Whether I was desensitised by this point, I’m not sure, but even Simon mentioned that I was ‘like a different client’. Weird.
I cover the pain question more comprehensively in this post.
Simon must have spent a good 15-20 minutes examining my head, adding a dot here and a dot there. Paying particular interest to my hairline, he was like an artist examining his latest piece, in fact, a paintbrush would have completed the picture! His attention to detail was incredible, and he even brought Paul Clark into the room to go through the same examination process.
When both technicians were satisfied, I had one final check in the mirror and that was it – we were done!
Summary of my experience
The fact that my experience was so positive should come as no surprise. I had two of the world’s best technicians at my disposal, working in the perfect environment for this procedure.
One of the reasons why I have always been so impressed with Simon and Paul, is their desire to gain a very deep understanding of the process.
Going way beyond just producing a good treatment, they have always strived to understand what really happens to the skin and the pigment deposits during a procedure. If a variable comes their way like fading, dry skin or challenging scar tissue, they want to know exactly how to control that variable to achieve the very best result. It’s no surprise that they developed their own pigment, after remaining dissatisfied with what was available at the time. That’s just typical Brandwood – if it’s not exactly right, then they’ll make it so.
Where is Brandwood Clinic?
The company is based in the leafy suburb of Solihull, south of Birmingham and away from the congestion of the city centre. Accessing the clinic is easy, located just a couple of miles from the M42 and with free parking available.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, I usually choose the Regency Hotel, a nice and reasonably priced hotel just 5 minutes drive from the clinic.