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What is 

scalp micropigmentation?

SMP is a process to replicate hair follicles to help individual who may want to disguise hair loss, thinning hair or scarring on the head.

Done correctly this can be undetectable, giving a renewed sense of confidence, a younger look and overall a happier person.

A non intrusive procedure with no downtime and lower costs with better results than alternative treatments

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history of scalp micropigmentation

Although the SMP industry is getting bigger by the day, it is still a relatively unknown treatment that is left undiscovered by many and surprises those that do manage to stumble upon the treatment. So where did it start?

Permanent make up technicians have been around for a long time with many that diversified into burns and scarring camouflage to meet customers needs.

 

There are documented cases of hair replication that date back to the 1970's. The methods used was more of a 'shading' process rather than replication of hair follicles, often giving really poor results.  The treatment was normally performed on scars from plug surgery as a form of cover up from the often botched results of a hair transplant procedure.

The industry has moved on leaps and bounds in the years since with modern technologies and expert training helping give remarkable results that can fool the eye in to believing the pigment is an actual hair follicle.

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scalp micropigmentation (SMP)

An in depth look...

Firstly, lets dispel some common misconseptions of what SMP is and what it isn't.

Does hair grow back?

SMP is not replacement of hair follicles, no hair will grow after treatment. This can be quite a common question but, this is a cosmetic 'tattoo' and gives a 2D look.

A miracle cure?

Although SMP is a fantastic hair loss treatment with guaranteed results, it isn't a miracle cure. It has many applications such as hair density filling and scar camouflage but it is a 2D treatment. It is not designed to cover large areas of hair loss whilst still keeping remaining hair long. It is designed for a shaven head look but still has fantastic results for density filling dependent on the person. (more info under treatment tab).

Scalp Micropigmentation is just a tattoo?

This is a common question and will also bring me on to a later topic of the dark side of the industry.

If this statement were true, then every provider would produce amazing results as tattoo training is comparartively low cost and plentiful. Unfortunately this is not the case and results can vary dramatically from one company to the next.

Although SMP is technically a form of tattooing, the process and the end result are very different. The technique used and the equipment are specific to SMP creating a far more natural look than a traditional tattoo.


The follicle shaped needle, which is around three quarters smaller than that of a traditional tattoo needle, goes directly into the epidermis layer of the skin and not into the dermis. This is a more stable area for the ink to hold resulting in less fading and bleeding of the ink, as often seen on tattoos. Each dot replicates an individual shaven hair follicle and when combined with thousands of other dots and blended skillfully with whatever hair you  have remaining, an illusion of a full head of shaven hair is created.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inks, the major difference SMP pigments have compared to a traditional black tattoo ink is that they are not composed of dyes or colours. In traditional black tattoo inks, these dyes and colours can break down or separate over time turning blue or green in colour. Scalp micro pigmentation pigments will never change colour over time. This is extremely important when considering these pigments will be applied to your scalp. Nobody wants to risk the chance of turning their scalp blue or green.

Importance and mechanics of dot size?

Each individual dot created during the scalp micropigmentation process is intended to replicate a shaved hair follicle. To achieve this, the dot size must correct to each individual client and the correct shade, it must also stand the test of time. Unfortunately this doesn't always happen, hance why peope tend to ask what kind of dot size they should expect. The underlying question really being, will the treatment look like real hair?

Many providers will claim they use the smallest needle so the dot size will be small. Although this does have a small bearing on the overall outcome, there are lots of other variables. Type of machine used, the needle stroke and the pressure applied by the technician are far more significant to the overall size of the replicated follicle.

 

The most significant being the pressure applied by the technician. The more pressure the larger the dot. Pressure applied determines the depth of penetration and this is the most crucial factor. As the ink is applied into the epidermis, the structure of the epidermis is much tighter and uniform than the dermis layers below. When pigment is applied correctly into the epidermis, a small defined dot is formed. If too much pressure is applied and into the dermis layers, the structure is less dense and the pigment will spread, resulting in larger less defined dots and can have terrible results if this is the consistent approach giving a helmet type look and in no way natural.

Dots can also be too small and be a sign of too shallow penetration. When too shallow and the micro wound heals and scabs over. Once the scab falls off the pigment can often be removed at the same time leaving no dot. Even if it's still visible and too small, it can be subject to aggressive fading under UV light and require a top up much sooner than expected.


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the dark side of smp!

With the rise of permanent make up such as microblading and a huge shift in mentality of people with regards to looking good, SMP has started to gain a lot more attention and is a rapidly growing industry.

 

Due to this, there are many that want to get involved thinking they can make a lot of money quickly, and fail to realise how much time and money needs to be invested into proper quality control measures, not least a good solid training program or simply don't care.

With the industry being unregulated it's very easy to say you can perform the procedure without many people asking questions and the results can be horrific requiring weeks of removal work due to incorrect inks or technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately the industry is starting to become more regulated with insurance companies wanting to see evidence of training as well as local councils before issuing licenses. With possible further stipulations that technicians must be Level 4 certified (more in depth training) to achieve licensing.

Here at Scalp FX we are level 4 accredited, so you know you're in good hands!

The majority of bad treatments are caused by one of three things, or even a combination of two or more of these factors:

• Inappropriate pigments and/or needles are used

• Pigments are deposited at standard tattoo depth, far too deep for scalp pigmentation purposes

• Lack of technician experience, resulting in a poor technique
 
The resulting problems include:

• Discoloration of pigments, usually adopting a blue hue

• Oversized dots due to pigment spreading

• Unnatural distribution of dots and poor blending with natural hair

Many providers will often give misleading information in an effort to win customers. So here is a short list of things to be vigilant of that aren't true:

Our pigments/inks don’t fade

• Our treatments are completed in one session

• We use special pigments that intelligently match the colour of your hair

• Our pigments are three dimensional

• Our pigments are matte (anti-shine)

• Our treatments last 20+ years between touch-ups

• We have a 100% satisfaction record

• It's just a tattoo, so we charge tattooist rates 

 

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The future of smp...

The future of the SMP industry looks extremely bright. Awareness grows from week to week with more and more people undertaking the treatment and more and more people undertaking training.

With rapid growth will obviously bring its own issues, rogue traders looking to make quick money, which hopefully tighter regulations will stop. As well as more competitive markets, resulting in clinics dropping prices to undercut competitors, but price falls can often lead to slipping standards.

 

Prospective clients just need to remember that ultimately you get what you pay for, and if your own head isn't worth investing in, what is?

 

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