Scalp Micropigmentation: The Complete Guide (must-read)

Published

Are you looking for a non-surgical way to achieve a fuller-looking head of hair? Try scalp micropigmentation (SMP). It’s a safe, highly effective technique using tiny tattoo-like pigments to increase density, rebuild your hairline and fill-in bald spots.

The hair and scalp procedure is virtually pain free with natural looking results.

Tired of losing your hair and looking at bald spots? If you want a fully restored hairline, checkout this step-by-step guide. It explains everything from scalp preparation to procedure, healing time, and aftercare tips. Don’t miss out on this must read!

Scalp micropigmentation procedure to restore a full looking hairline

What is Scalp Micropigmentation?

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) is a permanent cosmetic and non-surgical procedure used to treat hair loss and thinning hair. The procedure is performed by a trained SMP artist to fill in bald spots and restore the appearance of the natural hairline.

Using a precision micro-needle instrument (SMP pen), pigment is strategically injected into the scalp dermis layer, creating the appearance of hair follicles in a natural dot pattern.

SMP can also help to hide thinning areas, scars, and birthmarks. The treatment is noninvasive and does not require surgery nor anesthesia.

Hair Tattoo

Micropigmentation, also referred to as a hair tattoo or scalp tattoo. The final result simulates a shaved head style or buzz cut, giving the appearance you’re bald by choice.

The tattooing technique works on most skin types and types of hair for men and women affected by hair loss.

The visualization below shows how adding pigment (similar to tattoo ink) into the hairline will add density to thin hair areas of the scalp.

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) is a solution to restore your hairline - visualized.
SMP hairline restoration visualization.

Types of Scalp Micropigmentation Treatment

SMP treatments trace their roots back to the 1970s, but weren’t widely marketed until 2002 and became more popular in 2006. Since then, people have been using SMP to create the illusion of hair.

Hairline Restoration

Scalp pigmentation is one of the most affordable hairline restoration procedures and has been proven to be effective in restoring hairline depth and shape.

Scar Camouflage

Now you can cover up scarring or spots on your scalp from acne, surgery, or other skin conditions with SMP. The technician can now inject the pigment into the area around your head scar. The pigment darkens and covers up the scar, making it virtually disappear.

So whether you’re looking to cover up an old wound, cover up blemishes, or hide a hair transplant scar, scalp micropigmentation might just be the answer for you!

Fight Alopecia

Scalp micropigmentation can help improve the appearance of many types of alopecia like alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia. SMP will fill in thin or balding spots.

SMP for Male Pattern Baldness

Though not a cure, scalp micropigmentation is a very effective way to treat male pattern baldness. By improving the appearance of thinning hair and covering bald patches. The SMP look resembles real hair follicles helping to restore your hair’s natural texture and color.

SMP for Female Pattern Baldness

Some 30 million women in the United States suffer from hereditary hair loss, according to the american academy of dermatology. That figure doesn’t, however, include the millions struggling with thinning hair because of stress, menopause, and other factors. 

So it’s no wonder scalp pigmentation has become a popular treatment for female pattern baldness (FPB).

SMP for Thinning Hair

SMP not just for balding, it can also be used for other areas of thinning hair such as the temples, crown, and front part of the hairline. It’s proved a good option to fill out thinning spots and produce a fuller head of hair, giving people a more natural appearance.

Balding can be attributed to many factors. Scalp micropigmentation can help.
Scalp micropigmentation can easily help cover bald spots.

Who’s a Good Candidate for SMP?

Anyone can benefit from scalp micropigmentation, including women and men of all ages. It’s a good option for those:

  • who want a natural-looking enhancement.
  • who have a good skin tone.
  • who will follow the healing process and get the prescribed number of treatments and touch-ups.

Also, if you have:

  • Alopecia Areata.
  • signs of pattern balding.
  • a receding hairline.
  • thinning hair or bald patches.
  • hair loss from cancer treatments.
  • a completely bald head.

Scalp Micropigmentation Benefits

If you’re looking for a hair restoration treatment that has a lot of benefits, look no further. SMP is a popular hair restoration treatment that helps to improve your look. Not only does it help you look better, but it can also help you feel better about yourself.

In fact, there are many benefits of SMP that include improving your self-confidence, reducing anxiety about your appearance, and restoring hair loss. It can even combine SMP and FUE (a traditional hair transplant) for the ultimate hairline results.

Checkout the guide on SMP pros and cons for an in-depth look.

1. Helps to Overcome Hair Loss

Scalp micropigmentation can help to improve the look of hair growth and reverse the affects of hair loss. The micropigmentation process is a precise technique that requires expert guidance.

When performed correctly, it can help to thicken and darken the appearance of existing hair, as well as create the illusion of new hair growth.

2. Immediate, Natural and Realistic Results

SMP pigments are carefully matched to the client’s natural hair color, and the results are immediate.

This treatment provides natural and realistic results that are virtually undetectable. The end result is a head of hair that looks like you’re bald by choice.

3. Non-invasive and Non-surgical

Scalp micropigmentation is a great solution for hair loss because it’s non-invasive and requires no surgery. This means that the procedure carries only slightly more risk than getting a regular tattoo.

4. Safe and Effective

Scalp micropigmentation is a safe and 100% effective solution for hair loss. Scalp micropigmentation is proven to be an effective solution for both men and women of all ages and ethnicities for treating thinning, bald, or scarred areas of the scalp.

5. Convenient

Scalp micropigmentation is a convenient and available in all major cities. You can get the look of a clean shaved head in just a few sessions! It’s easy to maintain and you will see immediate results.

6. Helps Restore a Receding Hairline

SMP is a great way to restore the natural shape of your hairline and receding temples. The procedure can be done as subtly or as defined as you like, and it can help cover up all bald areas.

7. Hide Scars and Discolorations

SMP can improve the appearance of scars and discolorations by camouflaging them with new SMP hair dots.

8. Regain your Confidence and Improve Quality of Life

When people start losing their hair, it can be a very emotionally distressing time. Not only does it affect their appearance, but it can also cause them to lose confidence and feel as though their quality of life has diminished.

Thankfully, there is a treatment available that can help to restore lost hair and improve confidence and quality of life – scalp micropigmentation. By tattooing pigment onto the scalp, it will recreate the appearance of fuller, thicker hair.

9. Affordable

SMP is an affordable hair loss solution and a fraction of a traditional hair transplant option. There are many types of scalp micropigmentation treatments available, and the cost of treatment depends on the type of treatment you choose.

10. Relatively Painless

The procedure is relatively painless and your SMP artist will give you frequent as you need them. Typically, there are no major side effects, if any.

11. Low-maintenance

Scalp micropigmentation is a low-maintenance hair loss solution that requires almost no upkeep. Simply keep your scalp clean, hydrated with a good moisturizer, and protected from the sun. That’s it and you’re good to go.

12. Long-lasting

Micropigmentation is a long-lasting hair loss solution that many people are satisfied with. After 5 years, you may require small touch-ups to keep things looking full.

Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure

The procedure is straight-forward and accomplished over 1-3 sessions depending on the area to be covered.

Step 1: Schedule a Consultation

A consultation with an SMP clinic is required before treatment can begin and they are typically free. This consultation will help to determine if you’re a good candidate for the treatment, discuss your hair restoration goals and set an expectation of results.

After the initial consultations, you set an appointment for your first session.

NOTE: the best SMP artists can be booked out for 2-3 months or more. Don’t let that deter you!

Step 2: Prepare for your First Session

Clean your head and hair as normal by washing with a gentle (sulfate-free) shampoo. Gently dry and no need to cut any longer hair.

Step 3: Custom Hairline Mockup

  • During your first session, the SMP artist will first buzz any hair, then analyze your old hairline and pattern.
  • Then you’ll work with the artist to map out your hairline regions. Using a wax pencil, the mockup will be drawn on your scalp and adjustments can be made to the hairline shape or position.
  • The artist will also help plan the best location, size, color and density of the micro pigments.
  • During the mockup review, the artist will also look out for scars and blemishes. You can decide how to handle with the artist.

Step 4: Color Selection

There are several color variations available. The artist will color match the best pigment to your existing follicle color for a seamless look.

Step 5: Undergo the Treatment

  • The micro pigments are then applied to the scalp in layers and carefully blended into existing hair follicles.
  • The scalp micropigmentation treatment process takes around 2 to 3 hours.
  • The technician will periodically pause for breaks as you need them.

Follow-up Treatments

  • The first treatment will create the foundation where subsequent treatment add density and visual depth.
  • The number of treatments required will depend on the area being treated. Typically, you will require 2-3 treatments.
  • The second and third treatments are shorter, typically lasting 1-2 hours.
  • The treatment sessions should be spaced out 10-14 days apart for best results.

Step 5: Recovery

Following a scalp micropigmentation, it can take 7 to 10 days to completely recover and the area of treatment may appear red for the first few days. The redness typically subsides in a few days and you shouldn’t experience any downtime. You may also resume most activities the very next day following good aftercare practice.

Step 6: Aftercare

After an SMP procedure, treat your head like an open wound. This will ensure that you get a positive, long-lasting result.

  • Avoid excessive sweating and refrain from scratching the scalp.
  • Don’t scrub, wash or shave the scalp for the first 4-5 days.
  • On day 5, you may gentle shave and wash with mild sulfate-free shampoo.
  • Hold off on other topical treatments like Rogaine or Propecia for 1 month after your last treatment.
  • You should also avoid swimming, saunas, steam rooms, tanning beds, taking extremely hot showers and the sun for 28 days after treatment.
  • You should also start moisturizing your scalp 4-5 days after each treatment.
  • Starting on Day 7, resume your normal routine.
  • Day 30 is the first day you can swim.

After my SMP procedure, my scalp became very itchy. I found Fuse Scalp Micro-Pigmentation Aftercare Lotion, and it literally saved me! This stuff is just amazing.

Fuse Scalp Micro-Pigmentation Aftercare Lotion

Step 7: Enjoy the New Look!

The final steps of scalp micropigmentation are easy and require no special care. Simply enjoy the shaved look.

SMP Before and After

Scalp Micropigmentation Treatment Before and After
Before and After Scalp Micropigmentation Treatment.

SMP Before and After Galleries

  1. Skalptec – Before & After Gallery
  2. SMP Ink – Before & After Gallery
  3. Creative Scalps – Before & After Gallery
  4. Scalp Micro USA – Before & After Gallery

Risks

Scalp micropigmentation has become a popular hair restoration treatment with a long history of safety and success. Though SMP typically has similar or even less risk than regular tattooing, with any forms of permanent makeup procedure, there are still some risks associated. So, knowing them can help patients avoid regretting scalp micropigmentation.

After the SMP procedure, there may be some redness and swelling in the treatment area, which will improve typically in the first week. Additionally, SMP is a permanent treatment, so the pigment will be there for the long haul. However, the long-term benefits of SMP are often worth the small risks and side effects.

If you’re considering SMP as a hair restoration treatment, be sure to speak with a qualified healthcare professional to get an accurate estimate of the risks and benefits involved.

SMP Side Effects

The most common side effect of scalp micropigmentation is temporary redness, soreness, or swelling at the treatment site. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. If you have any concerns, please talk to your doctor. Potential side effects include:

1. Redness

After SMP treatment, some people experience a little redness for typically 1-3 days after the procedure. The redness is very common and fades quickly.

2 Itchy Scalp

An SMP can cause some itching. It’s important not to scratch and treat the itching as soon as you can. After the first four days of the treatment session, you should be able to moisturize to help with itching.

3. Bruising

SMP is performed with a scalp micropigmention pen where pen’s needle breaks the skin and deposits pigment into the scalp. So at common side effect is bruising, which typically resolves within a week or two.

4. Crusting or Scabbing

Crusting and scabbing in the injected treatment area is common and will eventually heal. A good moisturizer will help soothe the crusting.

5. Flaking

Flaking is the process of shedding skin cells. It is a natural process that happens to everyone. After SMP treatment, it’s common to have some flaking. This is because the scalp micro tattoo treatment abrases the top layer of skin and flaking is part of the natural healing process.

6. Infection

The best way to avoid infection when getting scalp micropigmentation is to follow all the aftercare instructions provided by your SMP clinic.

These instructions are typically standard but may vary depending on the type of procedure you’ve had. In the event of suspected infection, always seek medical attention from a doctor.

7. Inflammation

Scalp micropigmentation can lead to inflammation for several reasons. First, the procedure itself can be quite long, lasting up to three hours.

Second, micropigmentation involves puncturing the skin with needles repeatedly. This can also lead to inflammation and irritation.

So, it’s important to space out sessions to allow the skin to heal properly and avoid further inflammation.

7. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Some people may experience swollen lymph nodes behind their heads. The swelling may be provoked by unsanitary equipment or Inks, but may sometimes be because the body is trying to reject them. Typically, it will subside after a few days with no other problems.

Scalp Micropigmentation For Men

For men with long hair, short hair, thinning hair, or a visible scalp, there’s a way to get the look of a full head of hair.

According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), by the age of 50, around 85% of men are balding. The American Hair Loss Association says that 25% of men with genetic-related hair loss experience it before they turn 21.

For men who are considering going with a completely bald look, it can actually help you shape your front hairline and blend in with your natural hair. More men have opted for this procedure to avoid the costs of hair transplant surgery. In comparison, micropigmentation is much easier, less painful, and more affordable.

Scalp Micropigmentation For Women

Female baldness (FPB) is a pattern of hair loss (alopecia) caused by hormones, aging, and genetics that affects around 40% of women by the age of 50. Female-pattern baldness thins all around the head while preserving the hairline, unlike male-pattern baldness.

SMP for women is a solution growing in popularity, offering lasting results. It’s the perfect option for women who are looking for a permanent solution for hair loss.

Best SMP Clinics

There are many top scalp micropigmentation clinics out there, so it can be hard to decide which one to go to. It’s important to research each clinic before choosing one, in order to make sure that they are reputable and have the best possible results.

Scalp micro practitioners undergo rigorous training in order to provide the best possible service and some artists have been in practice for 5-10 years.

There are local clinics in all major cities, from New York to Los Angeles, where you can schedule a free consultation with an SMP specialist. Some clinics are even offering the initial consult over Zoom, though I would suggest a real visit.

How to Find the Right SMP Practitioner

When looking for an SMP practitioner, it’s important to find one with extensive experience. Look for a practitioner with happy clients and stellar reviews. It’s also important to visit the practitioner’s office before making a decision, to make sure that you feel comfortable with them.

Scalp Micropigmentation Cost

On average, the cost of SMP ranges from $1,800 – $5,000 depending on your unique situation and the number of treatments required.

Scalp micropigmentation pricing
SMP pricing chart (HairlineInk on Google SERP)

Always consult a reputable SMP clinic for exact pricing and to schedule a free consultation to determine the exact pricing.

  • get a few quotes
  • see financing options
  • read client testimonials
  • consider their location relative to you
  • check their credibility (Yelp, online reviews & Better Business Bureau)

Microblading vs Micropigmentation

There are a few key differences between microblading and micropigmentation. Both aim to restore beauty and confidence to people with hair loss. Both procedures can be used on all skin types, and offer near identical results in terms of longevity and coverage.

  • Micropigmentation uses a tattoo like device (SMP pen) to create individual pin-pricks of pigment to mimic hair follicles on the scalp.
  • Microblading is done with a thin, needle-tipped, non-electric tool (microblade pen) to essentially “draw on” individual hairs to the outermost layer of the skin.
  • Microblading does not exist for the scalp and is used for filling in the eyebrows.
  • Microblading is gentler on the skin and offers more predictable recovery and results, but can be difficult to achieve a precise result on the skin.
  • Scalp Micropigmentation is better suited for people who want an overall shaded or ombre effect along the scalp.
  • Microblading is better suited for people who want individual hairs drawn on along the eyebrows.

Tricopigmentation

Tricopigmentation is a process that uses special pigment to create a realistic hair follicle impression. The hydrophilic pigment used in tricopigmentation will gradually break down over time, so each treatment needs to be repeated periodically.

Tricopigmentation differs from SMP in that Trico uses a special pigment known as a hydrophilic pigment. Scalp Micropigmentation uses regular pigments that can last much longer in the skin.

Trico is a temporary hair loss solution that uses pigment to fill in hair loss. It may be a better option for those who desire a temporary hair loss solution, but pigment can linger in the skin in some individuals.

SMP FAQs

Does SMP Look Real?

The answer is subjective to your procedure and degree of hair loss. However, many people who have had the treatment with a top SMP clinic say it looks very realistic and are happy with the outcome.

How long will it take to see results from a scalp micropigmentation procedure?

Depending on the type of procedure performed, the results may vary. Typically, you’ll see some initial results immediately. However, it may take about two to six weeks for pigment to fully settle in and become visible.

Once settled, you may experience a darker hair color or increased thickness at the injection site. It’s also important to note that results may progressively change over time as your skin adjusts to the new regimen.

How does Scalp Micropigmentation work?

Scalp micropigmentation is a hair restoration procedure that uses the look of hair follicles to fill in bald spots on the scalp. This method is non-surgical and does not require stitches, so it’s less invasive than other hair restoration methods, like hair transplant surgery. The procedure usually takes one to three visits and takes approximately 2-4 hours on the initial session.

Which skin type is best suited for SMP procedures?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best skin type for SMP procedures will vary depending on your individual skin characteristics and unique situation. However, Scalp micropigmentation is a great option for most skin types, including mildly oily or combination skin, dry and sensitive skin, mature or aged skin. Though it may be best to avoid micropigmention if you have very oily or acne-prone skin.

Is Scalp Micropigmentation safe?

Yes, Scalp Micropigmentation is regarded as a safe procedure that does not carry the same level of risk as other surgical procedures. In fact, it has been proven to be very effective and can help improve the appearance of scalp hair.

Does Scalp Micropigmentation Hurt?

Micro pigmentation of the scalp differs from a traditional tattoo in that the discomfort levels can vary greatly. The procedure might seem like a minor irritation to some people and for others, it can cause mild-to-moderate discomfort. Typically, the procedure is well tolerated.

Does Scalp Micropigmentation Grow Hair?

No, SMP does not grow hair, nor does it help with hair growth. However, it does help restore a natural-looking hairline without the need for hair transplantation.

What is SMP Recovery Time?

Scalp micropigmentation is a quick and easy procedure with very little recovery time. The treated area may be red for 24-48 hours after treatment, but this will gradually fade over the next 5-7 days. There’s no need for any long-term maintenance following treatment.

How Many Sessions for Scalp Micropigmentation?

The number of scalp micropigmentation sessions needed will depend on the area being treated. Most people will require two to three treatment sessions to achieve the best results. Initial session will last around two to three hours and follow-up session lasting one to two hours.

How Long does Scalp Micropigmentation Last?

SMP is considered semipermanent and typically lasts 6-8 years. Although the newer SMP pigments resist fading and color change, the original pigment will start fading around 4-5 years. Touchups will be required to restore the look of density.

Conclusion

Scalp micropigmentation is still a relatively new, hair-raising treatment that can transform the look of your hairline. If you’re considering this treatment, the first thing you need to know is what scalp micropigmentation is and what it can do for you.

For me, SMP has completely transformed my look and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

By Eric Melillo

I'm the co-owner of B&B. I live in Guilford, Connecticut and I've been obsessed with bald & beard styles & trends for over 20 years..