Scalp MicroPigmentation or SMP — often confused with a head tattoo (we’ll get to that later in the post), is the application of tiny, permanent impressions into the scalp. There are many factors that can determine the outcome of an SMP procedure, factors like pigment color and colorfastness, placement of the pigment on the scalp and how far into the skin, the training of the technician, and the tools used to actually complete the procedure.
When done properly, Scalp MicroPigmentation produces a natural-looking, thinly buzzed head. It’s popular with men and women that suffer from thinning hair, alopecia, receding hairlines, and other permanent hair loss conditions. While there are many myths concerning hair loss (including the myth about wearing hats), most permanent hair loss is hereditary and something you can’t avoid. Scalp MicroPigmentation offers a solution for men and women that prefer the look of a thinly buzzed hair to a completely hairless scalp.
Scalp MicroPigmentation uses specialized needle configurations and specialized pigments to create hair-like impressions, giving the illusion of full density of hair on the scalp. It’s a great solution for men and women suffering from male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness, scarring, and for anyone who has had a poor experience with a head tattoo (head tattoos are applied using different pigment which often turns blue or green, among other drawbacks).
How can Scalp MicroPigmentation help me?
If you’re considering Scalp MicroPigmentation, it’s important to understand how SMP can help you. There are three keys to a great SMP results:
1 – Hairline Restoration
Scalp MicroPigmentation can help restore your hairline. If you suffer from male-pattern baldness, a receding hairline is a typical pattern. After losing your natural hairline, it can often feel like you’ve lost the frame for your face. It’s a critical piece to consider when reviewing options and solutions to hair loss.
Working with a properly trained technician will ensure you design the right hairline for you. There are many factors when considering what hairline will work with your Scalp MicroPigmentation procedure:
- hairline styles are different among different ethnicities
- hairline shapes are different among ethnicities and genders
- symmetry in facial and cranial structure need to be properly understood by your technician when establishing hairline positioning
- hairline implementations — particularly those that are soft and feathered — are the result of specialized tools, compounds, and techniques
- age should also be considered when designing your hairline with SMP
If your hairline is not properly applied, it can destroy the intended illusion of a proper Scalp MicroPigmentation procedure. It’s critical to find a highly trained and skilled technician that will partner with you on the design of your hairline. It’s also important to see previous clients in order to confirm the technician’s skills.
When applied correctly, Scalp MicroPigmentation offers a few different types of hairline design:
A feathered hairline restoration should appear soft and natural.
A crispy hairline gives the illusion of a clean, sharp, fresh-from-the-barber frame.
2 – Density
If you suffer from male-pattern baldness, it’s likely you’ve researched or actually undergone hair transplantation surgery. Hair transplantation surgery is the relocation of native hairs to new locations. Because you’re moving hairs that are also affected by male-pattern baldness, you’re simply relocating non-viable hairs to a new location where they will eventually fall out. The process can actually accelerate hair loss and often it can create scarring.
There are a few new options for hair transplantation surgery, like Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). This procedure has minimal scarring, making it a better option than the surgeries offered in the past. However, full density isn’t possible, and that’s where Scalp MicroPigmentation can offer the right solution.
If you’ve had hair transplant surgery and are looking for full density, SMP can help fill in your scalp for a natural appearance of full density. Impressions that are soft and feather-like are applied with proper placement and make a great addition to a scalp with transplanted hair. SMP and FUE together offer a degree of dimension and texture that can’t be achieved by one procedure alone. They’re better together if a transplant offers the look you want.
3 – Pigmentation
We’ll talk more about the difference between pigments used with hair tattoos vs. Scalp MicroPigmentation later, but first, let’s understand how proper pigmentation in an SMP procedure can help you.
Pigments that have been tested and formulated for colorfastness are the only good option for Scalp MicroPigmentation. It’s one of the clearest indicators of how skilled and how experienced your technician is and how natural the outcome will appear. Pigment that isn’t developed to be scalp-specific should be avoided at all costs. Again, another reason to see past client work before you decide to work with an SMP provider.
How is SMP different than a head tattoo?
What is the difference between Scalp MicroPigmentation and a head tattoo? Because many novice SMP practitioners often market their services as a scalp tattoo or a head tattoo, it’s important to understand why a tattoo is drastically different than properly applied Scalp MicroPigmentation.
Scalp MicroPigmentation embeds scalp-specific pigment into the scalp, specifically into the dermis. The dermis is the second layer of skin on the scalp. While tattoos also are applied at the dermis level, there are three key differences between a tattoo and SMP:
1 – Size of impressions
Tattoo art is achieved by injecting tattoo-specific pigment in non-minute impressions into the deep layers of the skin (the dermis). Scalp MicroPigmentation delivers tiny, permanent impressions that mimic real hair.
2 – Pigment
Head tattoos or scalp tattoos will often turn blue or green because the pigment that is used isn’t scalp specific or formulated for colorfastness. Selecting the right SMP provider should include research into the pigments they use and how they look overtime. If a head tattoo is applied and the scalp turns blue or green, the entire tattoo will need to be removed before it can be corrected.
3 – Post-care products
A properly trained technician and experienced clinic will ensure that all SMP clients are sent home with correct post-procedure care instructions and products. Caring for your scalp is so critical for the health of the skin, it’s important to keep it hydrated and protected.
What should I know about pigment and my scalp?
Needle size, depth of impression, the angle, and speed of the procedure all play a role into how the pigment molecules are arranged or housed permanently in the dermis. Because pigment molecules are larger than bacteria or epithelial cells, the body’s natural scavenger cells (which fight foreign entities and infections) are unable to take the pigment away. This is why pigment is permanent.
Directly after the SMP procedure, the color of the pigment will look the most vibrant and detailed. This is the case for any provider because as the needle punctures the epidermis (upper layer of skin) to get to the dermis (the second layer of skin), pigment is deposited in the puncture sites in the epidermis. Over the next 30 days a new epidermis replaces the punctured and pigmented one (as with all areas of the skin, the epidermis is constantly replaced), which causes the pigmentation to appear less vibrant and more natural.
How can I select the right SMP provider?
There are a few keys to selecting the right Scalp MicroPigmentation technician and clinic.
Find an Experienced Clinic with Highly Trained Technicians
Looking into new clinics or speedily trained technicians won’t result in the best Scalp MicroPigmentation procedure. It’s important to understand how your technician has been trained and how skilled they are at SMP before they perform SMP on your scalp. Selecting Scalp MicroPigmentation for your hair loss solution is an important decision — make sure that the technician working on your scalp is held to a high standard of quality, understands the differences that gender and ethnicity make into hairline design and SMP outcome, and is employed by a steady clinic.
Understand Where Your SMP Treatment Will Take Place
It’s important to note that many new SMP providers will set up shop in hotels or conference rooms, employing technicians that are trained with online courses without introduction to real SMP prospects before their first SMP procedure. Your procedure should take place in a sterile, medical environment, even better if the clinic has medical oversight to ensure you have everything you need during and after your Scalp MicroPigmentation procedure.