Removal of unwanted scalp micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation removal in progress

Permanence is one of the key features of scalp micropigmentation. This is important because it helps the recipient to do away with hair loss related anxiety. All he needs to do is to keep his scalp shaved, clean and moisturized, and take reasonable precautions in the sun. The bottom line is that SMP is intended as a permanent solution, not one that should be removed on a mere whim.

No-one should consider a scalp micropigmentation treatment if removal is already at the front of their mind. Having this procedure is (and should be) a life-changing experience, and approaching the process with a negative mindset from the start will only ever end up one way. It is the clients who are neurotic and paranoid before their procedure who more often than not end up getting it removed.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an awareness of the removal process beforehand. We live in the real world. People change their minds, People panic. Clinics aren’t always as good as they say they are, and the human element in the equation means that every now and then, a technician will make a mistake or a client will have unrealistic expectations.

For those wanting to remove their treatments, you basically have three options – UNDO, laser removal or saline removal.

UNDO removal system

UNDO removal before and after
UNDO removal in action. Before and after the lightening of a botched SMP procedure

This is a brand new technique pioneered by renowned SMP educators Seif Sidky and Candice Piroli of Estetique International. Using no lasers or saline, UNDO is fast becoming the removal system of choice for scalp micropigmentation artists.

UNDO offers some serious advantages over other options, as follows:

  • No risk of hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation
  • Safe for all clients with dark skin tones as well as caucasians
  • Less invasive than saline removal
  • Less painful than laser removal
  • Easy for clinics to offer, so will become widely available

Want to add UNDO to your service list? Online training is available here and comes with lifetime support and easy access to consumables. Alternatively call UNDO Removal on +1 561-260-1503 or email

Laser removal

Is it easy to remove scalp micropigmentation by laser?

Yes, and no.

A scalp micropigmentation treatment, correctly applied to the right depth and using a suitable pigment, can be almost completely removed in just one laser session. A second session is usually required to complete the process entirely, especially if the area is large. Removal of a true SMP treatment bears no resemblance to removing a tattoo. It’s quick, easy and only a little uncomfortable for most people.

However, pigments deposited deeper in the skin, and the wrong type of pigments, are far harder to remove. They generally require the same process as a tattoo removal which takes more sessions, is more uncomfortable and is less likely to be 100% effective.

before and after a successful scalp micropigmentation removal
Case studies like these demonstrate that removal is not only possible, but also effective. Nevertheless, the decision to go under the laser requires careful consideration

Furthermore, laser removal is not something that should be taken lightly. People get burned and scarred by these machines through improper handling. This is dangerous territory, unless you’re dealing with someone who knows what they’re doing. Thankfully most laser clinics are competent and offer a highly professional service, but still, laser removal should only be resorted to if you’re absolutely sure it’s what you want to do.

Also please note that darker skinned clients are at greater risk of either hypopigmentation (skin lightening) or hyperpigmentation (skin darkening). Please see this post for more information.

Saline removal

A common technique in the permanent makeup world, saline removal basically flushes out the pigment using a tattoo machine and salt water.

There is a range of proprietary techniques, each with their own formulas and benefits. Popular brands include Li-FT, A+Ocean and Botched Ink.

To date, we are yet to see conclusive evidence that saline removal is a suitable solution for scalp micropigmentation removal. Whilst the technique has a lot of use cases in permanent makeup, the size of the removal area in most cases simply means saline removal is not a viable option.

Why would you want to remove your SMP?

There are three reasons why you might want to remove pigment from your scalp:

  • You received a bad treatment
  • You changed your mind, or the reality didn’t match your expectation
  • You want to change your style

Some scalp micropigmentation clinics now offer laser removal treatments in-house. Don’t expect this service as standard though. Lasers are extremely expensive to buy or rent, and require extensive training to operate proficiently. For this reason, most clinics will partner with a local specialist, or at least be able to recommend a laser removal clinic nearby.

You received a bad treatment

This is, unfortunately, a common scenario, and the most difficult one for which to provide advice because the removal process really does depend on exactly what the scalp micropigmentation clinic did wrong in the first place.

Much of the time, the reason why your treatment went wrong is because your technician thought of the process as a regular hair tattoo, and therefore used tattoo ink on your scalp, and deposited the pigment to the same depth as a tattoo. Tell-tale signs are oversized dots, discoloration to blue or green, and a merging of individual deposits into a solid block of color.

Whereas a correctly applied scalp micropigmentation treatment can usually be removed in 1-2 sessions, tattoos often require as many as 10 removal sessions due to the penetration depth and difference in pigment. Unfortunately, the process takes months and can be quite uncomfortable. The SMP industry is full of individuals who received bad treatments, and had to endure a long and expensive removal process as a result.

You changed your mind, or had unrealistic expectations

We all have those “Oh my God” moments, where we evaluate a choice we made and convince ourselves we’ve done the wrong thing. It was a regular occurence when I managed the HIS forum. A new guy would sign up and tell everyone he was panicking and really regretted his decision, then everyone would reassure him and say it was just the ‘panic phase’. Sure enough, immediately after their second session, they’d be happy as Larry.

Sometimes though, people really struggle to adjust. Maybe they don’t like the way they look with a shaven hairstyle, or someone they know says something that makes them wish they hadn’t done it.

Of course, clients can have unrealistic expectations too. This is sometimes down to their own naiviety and only listening to what they want to hear, but quite often it’s because the technician or consultant over-sold the procedure or made promises they just couldn’t deliver. Like achieving a 95% camouflage on a scar that looks like the client has been hit over the back of their head with a chainsaw. It happens, I’ve seen it a million times.

You want to change your style

There is a lot that can happen in the years that follow your procedure. The once aggressive hairline that you chose before might not suit your lifestyle as it is now. Maybe the style you wanted wasn’t such a smart idea, or perhaps you’re just a little older now and want a more natural, receded look. Or like many clients, you want to break up your hairline a little more, and perhaps add some 3D magic at the same time.

after smp removal
Markings show original hairline position, and position after pigment removal by laser

Are there alternatives?

There are certain things you can do to fade your pigments slightly quicker, however laser and UNDO are the only ways to fade or remove pigment within an acceptable timescale.

It is important to note that not all modifications to a treatment require removal, far from it in fact. Most hairline and side profile adjustments, density increases, darkening and fading correction is achieved without removal being necessary.

27 thoughts on “Removal of unwanted scalp micropigmentation

  1. oren buchman says:

    hi, in this post u said, that for fixing a fade,ones doesnt need laser removal,so how clinics fix extension of dots for example?

    • Damien says:

      If you have had a treatment session within the last 2 weeks and you’re concerned about the size of your pigment dots, you need to allow more time for the dots to heal and settle. As the scabs come away, they take most of the ‘dot’ with them, leaving you with much smaller, lighter dots.

      If it has been several weeks since your last session and the dots are obviously too large, laser removal may be necessary. It is hard to provide specific advice however without seeing photographs of your treatment.

  2. ROGER says:

    I had a treatment about 2 months ago and i asked for an aggressive hairline now it seems like i would like it less aggressive, can this be done without laser, also can a more uniformity of pigmentation around the back and sides of my head be a good idea even if there is hair there? It seems to me that it would look better instead of just going over the areas where there is no hair or would this look unnatural?
    Thanks for your time.

    • Damien says:

      Yes, absolutely on both counts.

      As long as your hairline isn’t ultra-low, you can usually soften a hard line by sprinkling pigments in a scattered pattern below the current hairline to break it up. This would not require laser removal beforehand. Also, a blending area between your real hair and your treated area is absolutely crucial, so yes, your technician should work the pigments at least half an inch into your remaining hair.

  3. Abelard says:

    Hello I’m considering removing my treatment do to the fact that dots are a bit large and close ups are a bit rough especially under the sun . My only other option is waiting until second phase of fading occurs which I understand happens three to six month after treatment. I already got a quote for laser removal but I don’t know which one to pick medlite c6 or pico sure . Thanks

    • Damien says:

      Hello, unfortunately I cannot answer your question as to be honest, specific lasers isn’t really my area of expertise. Are you getting it re-done afterwards? If so, drop me an email to with some photos and lets see if your second attempt can deliver a better result for you. Where did you go out of interest? It sounds like you received a bad job.

  4. Steve says:

    Hi Damien

    Are you aware of any companies in the UK that specialise in removal of scalp pigmentation? I was just quoted £140 for a consultation with a doctor but had to explain on the phone what msp was, which didn’t fill me with confidence. I am only looking to have the temples restored to their former glory which is not that big of an area and I am aware it may be expensive procedure, so I wonder if you know any “specialists” that would save me forking out too much to find out.

    Many thanks

    • Damien says:

      Hi Steve

      Unfortunately there are no laser clinics, anywhere in the world, that specialise in the removal of SMP. I do know of three scalp micropigmentation clinics, in Liverpool, Wakefield and London, that have laser removal on-site. Does that help? Not sure where you’re based.

      • Steve says:

        Hi Damien

        Thanks for the reply. I’m up in Glasgow so Liverpool and Wakefield doesn’t seem too far to travel. I’d be grateful if you could give me the names of these clinics so I can check them out please? Have you seen any post procedure removals in the flesh? Is so how does the scalp look afterwards?

        Kindest regards


  5. Tito trujillo says:

    I recently got a horrible micropigmentation job from Tamir in Woodland Hills Ca..(beware!!) It looked great when he was done but after about five days or so, the dots in certain areas expanded. Now I look ten times worse than before. My question to you is Picosure or Picoway? what Laser is the better route to go?

    • Damien says:

      Good morning. I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Tamir at Deja Vu Hair Clinic is a technician we actively encourage clients to stay away from. His pigments are known to discolor and he has ignored all attempts to make contact with him about this issue.

      I understand the Picosure laser has provided good results for past SMP clients, but I cannot advise in any detail as you really need to seek the advice of a qualified and experienced laser technician.

  6. Ray says:

    Hi Damien I had micro pigmentation done in Sydney Australia a few years ago and it was a very bad job most of the dots are now green and blue and even orange . Then 2 years after I done a hair transplant now I’m thinking is there a way I can laser off the pigments without losing my existing hairs ?? If so do you know anyone in Sydney Australia ??

    • Damien says:

      Hi Ray, laser can have a detrimental impact on your remaining hair, transplanted or otherwise. This can be avoided by using certain lasers, but to be honest it’s not my area of expertise. I recommend that you contact Vinci Hair Clinic in Sydney. As they have experience in both hair transplantation and scalp micropigmentation, they are best placed to provide advice about the best route forward.

      Use the green form on this page:

  7. Jon says:

    I have had 4 session of laser to remove my front smp hairline, from a tattoo removal clinic in Birmingham. It has gone a lot lighter but I can still see the smp hair line. How can I remove this will I need further laser or do you recommend any oils/creams?

    • Damien says:

      Hi Jon, unfortunately laser is the most effective removal option and alternatives don’t work anywhere near as well. Sorry if this isn’t good news, but you need to stick with the laser.

  8. joseph says:

    Hi, I had a ‘fade’ tattoo done at a younger age, it was in order to make my hairline darker and more straight. I’ve had 3 treatments and the tattoo is nearly gone, with 1 issue. My hair is currently not growing back, which according to other sources online is normal. However, it’s been 2 weeks and the hair isn’t coming back thinner, it just hasn’t come back. So I was wondering what the normal timeline is like for hair to start growing back after Q switched laser treatments.

  9. Mike Griffin says:

    It’s been almost three years since i had My scalp micro pigmentation done and unfortunately it was a bad job. Some spots are darker from the different ink that was used apparently. Would salt/saline be an option at all? I want to dim the darkness down because i heard some bad results from laser treatments with possible scarring

  10. Lukman says:

    Hi ther, I had Scalp micropigmetation. I have had drop my hairline to dawn so now I want to remove it back to my original hairline position if is possible thanks

  11. Julie Klecansky says:

    I had microdermabrasion on most of my cover my scalp and blend with my very thin hair. I am a female. My technician started in the middle of my hairline with a darker color which was too dark. We decided on a better color and now I have a very visible dark spot. She has tried correcting with a lighter color and has given me glycolic acid to lighten it using 3 times daily for 3 minutes. It has lightened somewhat but it’s still there and it is causing the little bangs I have to break off. What do suggest for the best course of action at this point. Will my hair grow back ? Since we did the procedure without shaving my hair will there be further hair damage?

  12. Lisa says:

    Hi Damien,

    My partner got a poorly done job about a year ago done by a cosmetic tattootist and was extremely unhappy with the outcome, and followed up with tattoo removal almost 9 months ago and has been left with redness on the front of his scalp, assuming the laser technician scarred him. Recommendations on fixing the problem? Could SMP cover and fix the issue or reduce the apparence so he can feel confident again?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *