To refer to this hair loss procedure as tattooed hair is perfectly understandable, given the apparent similarities between the two processes. After all, they both involve the injection of ink or pigment via a needle into the scalp, right? In reality however, a quality hair tattoo for bald men looks nothing like the primitive tattooed hair botches from days past. Allow me to explain the differences.
Hair tattoos versus scalp micropigmentation
There are a number of things that separate the two, however by far the most important are
- penetration depth
- pigments used
Why is penetration depth important?
The depth the needle penetrates the skin dictates the size of the hair follicle replication (the ‘dot’). The depth required is much more shallow than is routinely targeted by tattoo artists and permanent makeup technicians.
If the penetration is too deep, the pigment spreads and expands the size of the ‘dot’. This creates an unnatural appearance as the ‘dots’ are larger than the surrounding ‘real’ hair follicles. This is commonly referred to as a ‘blowout’, and is the hallmark of an inexperienced or poorly trained technician.
Please be aware that many providers claim to deliver the smallest hair follicles, by using smaller needles than anyone else. This is a falsehood. Although the size of the needle has a minor bearing on the size of the replicated follicle, it is the penetration depth that has a much greater influence in this area. A microscopic needle pushed too far into the scalp will still cause a blowout, whilst a full size needle correctly used, can still produce a perfect result.
What pigments should be used?
The short answer is that tattoo inks and permanent makeup pigments are not suitable for hair tattooing. Both these pigment types are made up of several constituent colors, and within weeks will separate into their basic hues, leaving the customer with a blue or green head. This problem is actually very common.
A major differentiator between a true follicle replication and basic tattooed hair, is the use of pigments that are specifically designed for the task. That means NO constituent colors.
As you can imagine, these inks are not easy to find. Right now you need to sign up to a franchise or licensing agreement with a major provider, or buy pigments through Team Micro, the only supplier of scalp pigment with proven results. Please note that some permanent makeup manufacturers are currently marketing their pigments as scalp pigments. From what I have seen, these pigments are nothing more than rebranded versions of their permanent makeup inks, and should be avoided.
A word of warning. Any company or technician that refers to this process as tattooed hair is likely to approach your procedure like a tattoo artist would. These are the people who tend to use bug pins and tattoo inks, and usually lure clients with the promise of low prices. However they are often responsible for unsatisfactory results, so be on your guard.
SMP industry advocate. Serial entrepreneur. International speaker and educator. Former Head Of Marketing and freelance Business Consultant for several of the largest and best known SMP companies. Damien has been involved in scalp micropigmentation since the very beginning, and has a broader knowledge of the SMP industry than anyone else in the world.