SCALP MICROPIGMENTATION 101
Everything you need to know about SMP Scalp Micropigmentation / Hairline Tattoo
SMP HAIR OVERVIEW
What is Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation, also known as a hairline tattoo, scalp tattoo, or SMP hair, is a non-invasive cosmetic hair tattoo procedure that mimics the look of natural hair stubble with a close-shaven look.
It can be done on a completely bald head (alopecia totalis), a balding head with a horseshoe pattern (androgenetic alopecia), diffused hair loss (female pattern baldness), or to camouflage scars, in particular FUE and FUT scars from hair transplants.
The process uses a pointillism process where tiny ink pigments are inserted into the scalp using an ultra-fine SMP needle and a tattoo machine.
Who Can Do Micro Scalp Pigmentation?
Micro scalp pigmentation can be done for both men and women, young and old, for all ethnicities and skin colours. For men suffering from alopecia totalis, where 100% of the scalp hairs have fallen out, a hair tattoo can replicate the hairline, sideburns, and back of the scalp down to the neck area.
For people who have lost hair on their eyebrows, we offer another procedure called microblading. For men who are losing their hair or have entirely lost it due to androgenetic alopecia, we can replicate the hairline and cover the top and back of the scalp.
If the sideburns remain intact, we need not perform the hair tattoo there. Where the men do have hair (on the sides and back of the scalp), we blend the hair tattoo dots into the existing hair to give it a blended look, so even if they shave their existing hair completely, it will look natural.
Scalp micropigmentation for women has grown in popularity as women discover the many benefits of adding density to their thinning hair. For female pattern hair loss, women lose their hair in a diffused pattern throughout the scalp, which is different from men’s horseshoe pattern.
A scalp tattoo for thinning hair is ideal for female diffused hair loss as it can create the illusion of instant density to a woman’s overall scalp.
Is SMP Hair a Tattoo?
Yes and No. The term hairline tattoo or tattoo hair is often used to describe SMP hair. However, a hair tattoo is not at all like a traditional tattoo. That is why you should not go to a tattoo shop to get a hair tattoo but to a reputable hair loss/hair replacement clinic specializing in hair micropigmentation and not just dabble in it.
Hair micropigmentation is done with specialized needles and ink pigments. We do not use regular tattoo ink or needles. We do not go as deep into the skin as a regular tattoo. An experienced tattoo artist’s skills differ significantly from those of an experienced SMP artist.
Do Hair Tattoos Look Real?
As mentioned earlier, if done by a professional SMP service clinic, a hairline tattoo can look realistic, even at close range. With a professionally done scalp tattoo procedure, the microdots mimic the look of existing hair follicles by colour, density per inch (dots per inch), and size of the dots.
Client satisfaction is exceptionally high if a professional SMP practitioner does the hair tattoo correctly.
But beware, because there is no regulation on micropigmentation, professional SMP clinics and seasoned SMP practitioners work in the same field as novices, amateurs, tattoo artists, beauty parlours, barber shops, and anyone who wants to get into this cosmetic industry.
So, it is essential to do your homework to find a reputable clinic specializing in micro scalp pigmentation with excellent reviews, so you know exactly what to expect.
Does a Hairline Tattoo Work?
Yes, a hair tattoo can be a life-changing procedure, giving men and women renewed confidence that they had lost because of their hair loss.
If a person loses their hair, they currently only have a few options – live with the baldness and do nothing, get a hair transplant, get a hair system (hair toupee or wig), or get an SMP hair procedure done. There are pros and cons of each of these hair loss treatments, so we will briefly go over them:
HAIR TRANSPLANT VS HAIR SYSTEM VS HAIR TATTOO
Pros To Hair Transplant
- It can be a permanent solution to hair loss.
- If done correctly looks perfectly natural.
- No maintenance once it’s done.
Cons to Hair Transplant
- Expensive, usually in the range of $15,000-$20,000 in Ontario.
- Long recovery time.
- Invasive surgery has a higher risk of complications.
- Multiple sessions may be required.
- It can look unnatural if done incorrectly.
- Not suitable for everyone (if you do not have enough donor’s hair).
- Not suitable for women because of diffused hair loss in donor area.
- Creates FUT and FUE scarring in the back of the scalp. (This can be covered by longer hair, but scars are visible if you plan to keep a short buzz cut look).
- Your hair transplanted hairs can still fall out in the future.
Pros to Hair System
- Made of human hair or synthetic hair, mesh fabric or polymers. Hairs look natural and can be matched to your exact hair colour.
- The overall look can look natural if done by a professional clinic.
- Instant results.
- Reasonable price.
Cons to Hair System
- Can look fake if not done correctly.
- Regular maintenance required / need to go back to the clinic regularly.
- Can be uncomfortable and itchy especially in the summer heat.
- Hair systems don’t last forever, need replacing every 3-10 months.
Pros of Hair Tattoo
- It can look very realistic even at close range.
- Non-invasive, non-surgical, no downtime.
- Reasonable price.
- Instant results.
- Very low maintenance can go swimming etc.
- Great to camouflage scars such as FUT and FUE hair transplant scars.
- It can give the illusion of thicker, denser hair for women.
- If you experience scalp micropigmentation regrets, it can be removed with our Picosure laser.
Cons to Tattoo Hair
- The industry is not regulated. It can look bad/fake if done by a sub-par unprofessional SMP practitioner.
- You need to maintain a short buzz-cut hairstyle (for men).
- It may require touchups every few years.
SMP TREATMENT OVERVIEW
Before the Treatment
Once you have decided on hair micropigmentation, it is time to choose the right clinic. The first thing to do is to go for a hair tattoo consultation. This can be done online or in-clinic.
Here you will discuss the procedure with the SMP hair practitioner, answer all your questions, and determine the required pricing and number of sessions. On the day of your procedure, your scalp should be washed, and your hair should be cut as short as possible (if you are not doing it to add density).
We will draw your hairline to your specifications during the first session. We usually will tell you to be a bit more conservative and start your hairline tattoo just a little above where you want the finished look. The hairline tattoo can always come down with each session, but once it’s done, you cannot say you would like it higher.
We will also discuss the type of hairline tattoo you would like. It could be a very soft hairline to mimic a naturally receding look, or you can choose a sharp one with a strong edge. This will be discussed in depth, and we can make some recommendations on what would look best for you.
How Many Sessions for SMP?
At our micropigmentation scalp clinic, we do 3 to 4 sessions spaced 1 to 2 weeks apart. The reason for multiple sessions is that your scalp needs time to get used to the new pigment in your scalp. You will usually experience more fading in the first session due to your immune system wanting to eliminate the foreign ink. But once 3 or 4 sessions are completed, the look is completed.
How Long Does SMP Take?
The length of time for each treatment depends on how fast the SMP practitioner places the dots. If a practitioner can place 50 dots per minute compared to one that can put 100 dots per minute, then the time would be cut in half. On average, it takes about 2 hours for each SMP treatment.
During the Treatment
During your treatment, you will be seated in a very comfortable salon chair designed for this treatment. When we start placing the dots on your scalp, you may experience discomfort. The level of discomfort varies from person to person.
But everyone at our clinic goes through it without any issues. You may want to take pain medication about half an hour before your treatment if you believe you are more sensitive to this treatment.
RECOVERY AND OUTLOOK
After the Treatment
After your hair tattoo treatment, we ask you to avoid washing the scalp for at least 3-4 days. We also ask that you avoid heavy exercise or anything that can cause excessive sweating, which we want to avoid. You are ok to wear a hat or cap after the treatment.
If you plan to go out in the sun during this time, you should cover it with a hat. After the fourth day, if you are out in the sun, you should limit the time to 30-45 minutes and wear sunscreen. The less sun exposure, the better, as it can affect the long-term retention of your hair tattoo.
After your final hair tattoo procedure, you can swim, go out in the sun, and do extreme exercises. It would be best if you avoided heavy exercise until five days post-treatment. Avoid long-term sun exposure for at least three weeks post-treatment, and always wear sunscreen.
When Can I Wash My Hair After My Scalp Tattoo?
You can wash your scalp after 3-4 days post-treatment. Avoid using hot water during this time until all sessions are completed.
How Long Do Hair Tattoos Last, and Is SMP Permanent?
SMP is considered a semi-permanent solution to hair loss and can last up to 8 years. You will enjoy your SMP hair for many years without issues. The ink will start to fade over time since all skin naturally exfoliates itself, but it is very gradual, and you may require a touch-up after 2 to 5 years.
If you have very dry skin, fading can occur faster as the skin tends to flake more with dry skin. This causes the skin to exfoliate the pigment at a quicker rate. You can apply a moisturizer with sunblock if you are experiencing dry skin.
SAFETY / RISKS / REGRETS
Is Getting a Hairline Tattoo Safe?
Tattoo hair is a very safe, non-invasive procedure. There are no complications that we have experienced post-treatment.
Does Micropigmentation Scalp Damage Hair Follicles?
If you are worried about micropigmentation scalp damaging hair follicles, the answer is no. So if you are trying to save your existing hair, there is no reason to worry about losing or damaging any existing hair follicles.
Who shouldn’t get a Hair Tattoo?
If you are prone to keloids, we would not recommend a scalp tattoo. If you have any blood disorders, such as HIV, we also do not recommend this, just for the safety of our practitioners. Even though SMP is safe for everyone, we do not recommend doing this procedure until after childbirth if you are pregnant.
Scalp Micropigmentation Regret, Can a Tattoo Hair be Removed?
There are instances when you experience regrets and want it removed. Fortunately, a hair tattoo can be removed using our Picosure laser like a regular tattoo. Because micro pigmentation doesn’t go as deep as a regular tattoo, fewer sessions are required to remove it. On average, 2 to 3 sessions are needed to remove pigment from a blotched scalp tattoo.
Is SMP Worth It?
If you compare the cost of hair tattoos vs hair transplants, then it is worth it. If you compare the daily or regular hair loss treatments like PRP and Rogaine use for the rest of your life, which can end up in the tens of thousands, then it is worth it.
If you consider SMP hair a one-time investment to have a great-looking scalp again, it’s worth it. If you believe SMP can give you the added confidence you lost because of your hair loss, it’s worth it.
How Much Does Scalp Micropigmentation Cost?
SMP costs vary from country to country, city to city, and clinic to clinic. However, a procedure done at a professional and reputable SMP clinic in Toronto should charge between $3000 to $4000 for the 3 to 4 SMP sessions.
The price will also vary depending on the amount of SMP hair coverage required. Our clinic does not discuss the cost until you’ve come in for a free in-clinic consultation at one of our SMP locations – Toronto, Richmond Hill, and Mississauga.
Many people come for SMP service to have scalp camouflage on their hair transplant scars, so the price for that will be different for a smaller area.
About His Hair Clinic | HAIRTATTOO.CA
So, after reading this article, and if you’re serious about getting a hairline tattoo done, why not give us a call or book your consultation online? Did you know we invented the head tattoo hair procedure?
Our teacher and guru, Mr. Ian Watson of His Hair Clinic UK, invented this procedure in 2002. Since then, tattoo hair has expanded globally to almost every country. Ian was the first person in the world to sport the new SMP look, and at HairTattoo.ca, we have been using his perfected techniques to help many clients get the best micro scalp pigmentation possible.
Hairtattoo.ca offers men and women a free online Trichology hair loss assessment. If you are experiencing hair loss, please fill out our assessment form, and our in-clinic Toronto trichologist will review and reply to you with our recommended hair loss treatment plan.
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