Is Scalp Micropigmentation a Hair Tattoo?

You may have already heard of microblading for full brows. Did you know there’s a similar practice for your scalp? This procedure is known as scalp micropigmentation (SMP) or hair tattoo, which creates the illusion of fuller hair.

But what’s the exact difference?

“Although both fall under the category of micropigmentation, [microblading and micropigmentation] are very different methods of implanting pigment,” explains Michal Cohen, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist and SMP practitioner.

While microblading is typically done with a manual blade, micropigmentation is performed using an electric tattoo device. This is because more power is needed to penetrate the skin on your scalp, which is thicker than the skin under your eyebrows.

How does hair tattoo work, and who can benefit from it?

The goal of an SMP hair tattoo is not to create hairlike lines as you would when microblading eyebrows but instead to use tiny, layered dots in different hues of black to replicate the look of a shadow on your scalp. This style, referred to as pointillism, creates natural-looking depth and definition.

A skilled practitioner will work to ensure the dots look like natural hair follicles and blend in seamlessly with your existing hair and complexion.

This hair tattoo process may be useful for people who experience all forms of hair loss. This includes folks with:

Does a hair tattoo hurt? What’s the process like?

So, just how painful is this procedure? Although it is not painless, the procedure is tolerated by almost every client. The discomfort largely depends on your pain tolerance.

Once you have researched and sought a responsible and skilled SMP hair tattoo artist (more on how to do this below), you’ll likely have an initial consultation. During this meeting, your practitioner will prep you for what to expect and how you should prepare beforehand.

For example, here are some general guidelines:

Shower before each treatment. You won’t be able to wash or wet your scalp (this includes sweating excessively) for four days after each appointment.

Each treatment typically takes between 1 to 2 hours.

How many treatments you need will depend on the amount of scalp getting an SMP hair tattoo. Even if it’s only for a small area like a widow’s peak, three treatments are still needed for long-term retention since SMP hair tattoo is a process of layering colour.

Treatments will be scheduled a week to a few weeks apart.

In the week or weeks between treatments, don’t go swimming, use steam or sauna rooms, or take extremely hot showers that may cause a steam storm.

Avoid exposing your scalp to the sun for the first four days (wearing a hat is fine). On the fifth day after treatment, you can expose the treated skin to the sun for one hour or 45 minutes if you have very fair skin.

Keep in mind, though, that less sun exposure to the treated area means better long-term retention.

How much does SMP cost, and how long does it last?

The price of an SMP hair tattoo varies depending on how much your scalp needs to be covered. Treatment typically costs between $3000 and $ 4,000, depending on the coverage area.

Micropigmentation is considered semipermanent. While the effects may last up to eight years, the treated area will fade over time since all skin naturally exfoliates itself.

While the colour may lighten, it’ll only change if an incorrect pigment is used. That is why SMP hair tattoo clinics do not use tattoo inks but specialized ink just for SMP.

That said, fading is likely to happen more quickly if you have very dry skin. As the skin tends to flake with dry skin, this can inadvertently exfoliate the pigment quicker.

Are there any risks involved in the hair tattoo process?

Scalp micropigmentation is a safe procedure. The most important thing is to get an experienced SMP hair tattoo artist to do the treatment. No formal training is required to become an SMP artist (the same goes for microblading). For this reason, it is vital that you do your due diligence when searching for a reliable practitioner and look at their before and after photos.

How to find the right SMP practitioner for you

Before deciding on an SMP practitioner, you must do your homework. Make sure to visit the office where the service will be performed.

It varies by the state when it comes to licensing and the general regulation of SMP hair tattoos. For example, in California, practicing tattooing, branding, body piercing, or permanent makeup (SMP is included) is licensed and regulated the same way. A licensed tattoo artist can often shift to SMP with little to no training.

Cohen explains that tattoo parlours or artists shouldn’t be offering these services. “If you see any tattoo parlour or artist offering a similar service, run the other direction,” she says.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns, “Consumers should be aware of the risks involved [with tattoos and permanent makeup] to make an informed decision,” primarily as the FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them.

Cohen, who was formally trained in SMP by expert Zang Miah of Zang SMP, says that results can be disastrous if done by an inexperienced practitioner.

If you hesitate with the practitioner, Cohen warns that this is a sign that the environment isn’t the best fit for you. Simply put, trust your gut

You’ll also want to learn more about the practitioner’s background, such as who trained them, their training length, and their portfolio. It may also help to speak with a few of the practitioner’s former clients about their experiences.

Ultimately, it is essential to remember that an SMP hair tattoo is an investment. But if done correctly by a qualified and trained artist, SMP can be a genuinely confidence-boosting procedure with no downtime.


Is Scalp Micropigmentation a Hair Tattoo?

Scalp Micropigmentation or hair tattoo is a technique aimed at simulating the appearance of fuller hair. It may seem similar to microblading used for eyebrows, but the procedures differ significantly.

What distinguishes microblading from micropigmentation?

Though both are under the micropigmentation umbrella, the methods differ in their application. Microblading utilizes a manual blade for eyebrows, whereas micropigmentation employs an electric tattoo. The latter is essential because the scalp skin is denser than the skin beneath the eyebrows.

How does the SMP hair tattoo function, and who is it ideal for?

SMP doesn’t create hair-like lines. Instead, the technique utilizes pointillism to deposit small layered dots in varying black shades on the scalp, resembling hair shadows. This imparts natural depth and definition, making the dots seem like authentic hair follicles.

Suitable candidates for SMP include people with the following:

Is the hair tattooing procedure painful?

  • The experience varies by individual pain thresholds. Though not entirely pain-free, most clients tolerate it well. Typically, after selecting a proficient SMP artist, an initial consultation helps prepare the client on what to expect and the required pre-procedure preparations. Some guidelines include:
  • Shower before the procedure since the scalp shouldn’t be wet or washed for four days post-treatment.
    Each session may last 1-2 hours.
  • Depending on the scalp area, multiple sessions, usually three, are required for enduring results.
  • The sessions are scheduled weeks apart, during which activities like swimming, excessive sweating, or exposure to extreme heat should be avoided.

How long does SMP last, and what’s the cost?

The longevity of SMP can extend up to eight years, but like all skin, the treated area will naturally exfoliate, causing the effect to fade over time. To ensure the colour remains consistent, it’s essential to use specialized SMP ink, not regular tattoo ink. The cost varies, typically between $3,000 and $4,000, depending on the treatment area.

Are there risks associated with hair tattooing?

While SMP is largely safe, the key is to choose an experienced artist. Thorough research is crucial due to the absence of mandatory formal training for SMP. Always inspect the practitioner’s previous work.

How to select the right SMP practitioner?

Thoroughly investigate potential practitioners. Ensure the place of service meets your standards, and understand that regulations may vary based on location. Be wary of any general tattoo parlours or artists offering SMP. Although the Food and Drug Administration has provided guidelines on tattoo inks, it’s vital to ensure your practitioner employs only dedicated SMP inks. If you’re unsure about a practitioner, trust your instincts. Investigate the artist’s background, understand their training, and review their portfolio. Speaking with previous clients can also offer invaluable insights.


Scalp tattoo, also known as scalp pigmentation, is a hair loss treatment that involves tattooing the area of the scalp with tiny dots of tattoo ink to give the appearance of a full head of hair. This hair tattoo procedure is similar to a traditional tattoo, but it requires specialized training and equipment to ensure the natural-looking results. 

The scalp micropigmentation procedure is a great option for people with thinning hair or receding hairlines due to male pattern baldness or alopecia areata. It is also an ideal choice for individuals who prefer to sport a buzz cut or maintain a shaven head but desire the appearance of real hair. 

Unlike traditional tattoos, scalp tattoos are specifically designed to mimic natural hair follicles and blend in with existing hair and scalp. It is important to note that scalp tattoo is not a replacement for natural hair, but it is a viable option for those seeking hair loss solutions.

At His Hair Clinic | in Toronto and Richmond Hill, the technicians are professionally qualified, trained by the originator and inventor of SMP hair tattoo, Ian Watson from the United Kingdom. Give them a call at 647-492-5022 or visit the site at

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