Scalp Microblading: Understand The Risks
The recent trend of ‘scalp microblading’ is extremely worrying for a number of reasons. Perhaps in hindsight, an inevitable consequence of hundreds of eyebrow microbladers being introduced to the scalp micropigmentation industry by certain trainers, many technicians are now citing scalp microblading as the next big thing.
Microblading has helped to create some of the most incredible permanent makeup art the tattoo world has ever seen. Intricately executed hyper-realistic eyebrows replicated to be barely perceptible from the real thing–what could be any better?
Since microblading hit the permanent makeup world, techniques, methodologies, pens, blades and inks have all been developed to help ultra talented artists pull off extraordinary work.
Freshly created, natural looking microbladed brows are a sight to behold. Some are perfectly defined and others are fluffy and irregular, looking authentically unaltered since birth.
So of course it stands to reason that practitioners would want to find other applications for microblading. We have seen photos of microbladed pubic hair in cultures where the appearance is attractive but the “feeling” is not, and we have even seen some interesting photos of facial and other body hair microblading—a concept we are struggling with ourselves.
However, how can we judge? Many cultures have varying beauty ideals.
Here is the thing. If the aesthetic goal is to reproduce the look of hyper-realistic individual hairs, as in eyebrow hairs, it is only possible, quite literally, on the eyebrows. Sometimes even then it is extremely difficult.
Well, take a look around your body. From the soles of your feet to your legs, knees, rear-end, and stomach, especially your elbows, top of hands and palms of hands, plus your neck, ears, face and scalp. Notice the significant variations in skin texture, pallor, thickness, appearance, even colour. As we age these variations, in many (sadly, most) areas, become even more defined.
The reason we are pointing this out is because of the latest (disappointing) rage—-scalp microblading. Trust us, it is a rage and is a booming business as well, with many paying handsomely for the treatment…then paying dearly for the final result.
Thinning hair and/or hair loss is traumatic. Hair loss remedies have been traced back to the Roman era. If you are someone experiencing hair loss, a solution is the first thing you want. Of course you do!! It is no different from anything else we pay for to restore or rid ourselves of something we find unsightly.
There is no sin in vanity—it is our human nature; it is in our genetic makeup. It is the same in millions of other species.
While transplants or “plugs” have proved disastrous in their own right (really obvious and unattractive when successful; horrible scarring when not), topical treatments are equally problematic due to cost and the need for a lifelong commitment.
This is where Scalp Micropigmentation, or SMP has found its rightful place as a sensible remedy. SMP involves the replication of hair follicles and/or very small hairs on the scalp using a powerful tattoo device and specially formulated inks. It can even be done manually, like microblading, by a skilled technician.
The goal of SMP is to create the appearance of hair density for clients with thinning hair, thus eliminating the shiny scalp look. However, its most popular application is to create the look of a shaved head with a “5 o’clock shadow” for clients with full baldness. Clients are mainly men, but not always! The shaved head look is wildly popular, thanks to many celebrities making it so. So fully bald clients can enjoy this fashionable look which appears as though they have elected to shave their heads, rather than involuntarily succumb to full or large patch scalp hair loss.
It is quite remarkable what a trained and skilled artist can accomplish to replicate the look of hair follicles. It is time consuming, very close work, and requires incredible concentration and judgement. However, it has been life changing for thousands and is a realistic and affordable solution when compared with other options.
So here is where things get a little weird.
We know SMP is a fabulous solution for thinning hair and baldness. It is literally a series of hundreds, even thousands of carefully placed and designed “tattoos” that yield the final, natural appearance, looking just as a shaved head would. We also know that microblading does the same for eyebrows, for both men and for women.
So of course it would appear to make sense that microblading on the scalp can surpass the creation of hair follicles and very small hairs. Using the same logic and technique as one does for eyebrows, one can go further and actually replicate strands of hair at varying lengths.
Makes sense, right?
We wish this were true. This segment of the industry would be incredibly rewarding to so many if this were truly the case. If it were, we would be endorsing it 100 percent.
Read back to the paragraph where we pointed out the skin variations all over the human body. The scalp is covered with a very unique skin that is the thickest on the body, while also being tightly connected to the underlying thin connective tissue and the scalp itself. There are thousands of oil producing glands, thousands of follicles. If you are seeking SMP it is because those all or most of those follicles are not producing a hair shaft, probably permanently, depending on the type and extent of hair loss. As well, the scalp is home to an incredible amount of blood vessels explaining why scalp injuries bleed so much.
Applying the technique of microblading, done mainly on the eyebrows, with varying degrees of success (we will come back to this) to the scalp is, quite frankly, irresponsible. We actually think it reprehensible. When the final result is exposed, so too will be the practitioner….to litigation.
To date, we have not seen a single microbladed scalp that has not blurred, blended, or turned blue or gray on healing. Moreover, when the wind hits the surrounding hair, the microbladed area stays put…this is an immediate tell tale. With the volume of oil producing glands on the scalp, the ink from microblading mixes with the oils and causes those crisp hair strokes to become blurry and even blotchy, looking more like paint strokes rather than hair strokes. If the practitioner happens to implant too deep–easily done with the clean cut of a microblade, the resulting colour will appear bluish or greyish because it is intermixing with blood vessels altering the appearance of the initial ink colour used.
Lastly, if you paid for scalp microblading it is because you generally have your head exposed. Such exposure to UV rays, pollutants, the environment, and other irritants will alter the long term healed appearance. After all, one can cover microbladed brows with big “Jackie O” sunglasses, but unless you are wearing a hat all day you cannot do the same for your scalp. Conversely, the skill and technique applied by an experienced scalp micropigmentation artist will mitigate these factors to a great degree, so that the simulated follicles remain crisp and clear over time.
What makes matters worse is that oftentimes clients experiencing thinning hair may get worse and not better–even with interventions. Not all hair loss is reparable. So when there is more hair loss, how does one explain the stripes on one’s head? These can be removed, but not easily and certainly not without even more cost, likely scarring and definitely discomfort—whereas microblading, when done correctly, should fade out within a year or so.
Microblading itself holds the same limitations but to a more manageable degree with a skilled artist. Practitioners know that microblading on oily skin is unlikely to produce natural healed results. They also know that depth will affect the final colour.
Microblading itself has become controversial due to the multitude of insufficiently trained and experienced artists aiming to capitalize on its popularity. That alone should make scalp microblading something to be extremely wary of. Many of those same inexperienced artists are the ones offering this service. It is one thing to know how to microblade; it is an entirely other world to know and fully understand the skin on all areas of the body and the factors that will make or break and excellent healed result with permanent makeup and even conventional tattoo.
Well trained, highly experienced, responsible and ethical artists are decidedly NOT engaged in scalp microblading.
On the scalp, microblading is, in our estimation, doomed in about 99% of cases, simply because of what we know about that skin.
If you are a potential client, this is important consumer information. If you are a practitioner looking to expand your practice, look elsewhere, please. Do not take chances.