Scalp Micropigmentation treatment, SMP, hair tattoo, are all synonyms for a non-intrusive hair replacement procedure that is ideally for people who are balding, suffering from thinning hair on their scalp or a receding hairline. The focus is to re-create hair follicles using a tool similar to a tattoo gun called a ‘wand’ and give the illusion of natural hair. This solution to hair loss is not just 100% effective, but also affordable and easy to maintain, making it perfect for someone who is wanting a fast solution without the extensive expensive visits to a surgery. Although for many the benefits of scalp micropigmentation are a boost in confidence, happiness and a spring in their step, for others it can create the inverse. Bad scalp micropigmentation can leave you feeling more insecure, frustrated and let down with the outcome.
In this article, we are going to talk about some of the most common scalp micropigmentation regrets, and how you can avoid them to ensure that you receive the treatment you deserve.
#1 “Untrained artists”
A large regret is that customers may blindly enter into the process without doing any research. This is a rash move considering that it is hair follicles being tattooed on your head. There are differences between both tattoo artists, and SMP artists - one difference being the equipment used which we will touch on later.
A popular Youtube personality called Yousef Katz, AKA “FouseyTube” fell victim to this when topping up his existing treatment (good treatment can last up to 3-4 years before topping up), he said he didn’t do any research on the individual, nor did he check any reviews.
In a since-deleted video, he said one of his biggest regrets was not taking the time to research the artist/practitioner before getting started. He later found that the individual who did the treatment was not qualified and consequently he instantly got it laser removed due to the poor quality. Yikes!
How to avoid
To avoid disappointment, ensure your technician is qualified and has significant experience. If you are unsure, just ask them. A qualified SMP artist wouldn’t find it rude as they understand the decision you are making is a big one. Another obvious ways are to check out their work. What is their quality like? Below we have some images of good SMP, and poor SMP, so you can tell the difference and also the qualities of a trained practitioner.
Remember, it is your due diligence to check!
Qualities of a trained practitioner
- Scalp Micropigmentation Certificate
- Sterile environment
- Sterile tools (including fresh needles)
- Barrier protection (gloves, mask etc)
- Knowledge of the scalp micropigmentation process
- Knowledge of different variables within the process and how to deal with them effectively (scalp shape, skin type, scar tissue etc)
Good SMP examples
What to look out for:
- Hard to tell the difference between existing follicles and new follicles created
- Looks authentic and creates a ‘layered’ look
- Notably small and separate pigment impressions
Bad SMP Example
What to look out for:
- One dimensional/2D looking
- Quite literally looks like someone has just drawn it on
- Hard to tell the difference where the impressions have been created as it all blends into one
#2 “Poor pigment choice”
Technicians work with multiple different inks to ensure they match the pigment of your skin. The reason for this is so that they can give the most authentic look. A qualified artist will spend time choosing the perfect pigmentation ink for you. Above is the Fitzpatrick Scale used by dermatologists to identify skin types, whilst this is a broad grouping, we break each type down further to get the perfect match.
Over time the tattoo will fade (like a regular tattoo), although wrong pigment application will result in a complete change of colour. The whole point of a hair replacement treatment is to make you feel LESS insecure, right?
How to avoid
Pigment shades are chosen to match your skin tone and hair colour. You can ask to see the chart of shades if you like. You can ask your technician their thoughts on the pigmentation colour of your scalp, and also look at/ask to see examples. When looking at the work ask yourself “Has this created a natural look?” if the answer is yes, then the pigment has been correctly matched. Another thing to look out for is that the artist is using ink that is specifically for scalps and SMP.
#3 “Rushed treatment”
SMP is considerably shorter than other treatments, and you can usually expect to have 3-4 sessions with reputable artists for good results (+ top-ups at periods when you see fit). This may vary due to reasons such as scar tissue, pigment shade may be lighter or the depth of penetration. The reason for multiple sessions is to allow the ink to layer and create a more natural look. A rushed treatment on the other hand can leave your scalp looking like it has been drawn on, and give you the opposite look of what you expected.
How to avoid
Before your consultation, look for information on their procedure. Alternatively, when in consultation with your artist ask them how many sessions the treatment may take. The ideal answer you are looking for is a minimum of 3, although this can vary per client. The key thing we are looking for is that they are planning to do your treatment in stages.
#5 “Going for the Cheaper Option”
Compared to other hair replacement services, such as hair transplants, scalp micropigmentation is considerably less expensive. Hair transplants can be ongoing for a longer period of time, more intrusive and there isn't a 100% chance it will work unlike hair tattoos. On the flip side, SMP can't recreate real hair, just impressions. That's why we say it's important to compare treatments and do your research.
When comparing treatments and different hair clinics/artists, price should be a contributing factor, but not a deciding factor. The key deciding factors should be the quality of the work, the reputation of the clinic and the results other people have received, such as how it’s made them feel.
The reason for this is because of a service like SMP which is long-lasting and has a large part to play in your wellbeing. You generally get what you pay for and the price of SMP should be seen as an investment, not a cost. We want you looking like ‘A Million Dollars’, not an old £5 note that is out of action, that has been ripped up and drawn on.
Going with the cheapest options can also lead to knock-on effects, like spending more in the long run because you need the treatment done again or removing, a negative effect on your mental health and wellbeing and increased rates of infection. That’s why we recommend staying clear of anything that seems too good to be true.
How to avoid
Shop around! You will get a general price range of artists near you. This can vary depending on location, the type of skin you have, whether you have scar tissue and other factors. The main thing is that the price is within a reasonable range and that their results and work are in line with that price. We wrote a guide on scalp micropigmentation pricing to save you some time.
#6 “Using the Wrong Equipment”
If you have checked off the prior points such as avoiding untrained SMP artists, then you will consequently steer clear of this point, although unfortunately, some customers fall victim to it such as Yousef Katz who we spoke about earlier.
Fundamentally, SMP and general tattooing is similar, but not the same. They use different techniques to create a different look. It is common for untrained individuals to use the wrong equipment which then leads to a poor job. The needles are typically larger and the machine is generally more violent which can lead to a few implications such as a damaged scalp, risk of infection and larger pigmentation. Hair clinics who use the correct sized equipment will lead to follicles that look almost identical to the real thing.
How to avoid
To the untrained eye it can be hard to tell the difference between the devices, but rest assured, if you are with a reputable company that is trained and have certificates you have nothing to worry about. Another thing to avoid is a tattoo company offering SMP UNLESS they have the official training. Starting to see a pattern?
#7 “Poor aftercare advice”
If you have general tattoos you will know that the healing process is an integral part of the longevity of designs. Although it can be difficult to resist the urge to itch, hold off! Typically after treatment, your artist will give you a detailed aftercare guide to ensure lasting results such as avoiding shaving your scalp, sweating heavily, saunas etc. Give the ink time to set in. With poor advice you can receive side effects such as infection, or the treatment will lose its natural appearance.
How to avoid
Avoiding poor aftercare advice can be fairly simple, there is an abundance of information on the internet but also your trained technician will supply you with a guide. If you have any questions, ask our food friend Google, and if you are still unsure you can reach out to the artist. Remember though, to get the most out of your treatment and the best result it is important you allow your sessions to heal properly.
#8 “I didn’t do it sooner”
We saved the best until last. Don’t worry, the scalp micropigmentation procedure isn’t all doom and gloom. Not everyone within the industry is out to do a poor job. A lot of us, including ourselves at Visionary Scalps, are passionate about our work. Our head technician, Georgio Pegasiou, suffered from hair loss and the procedure inspired him to help others too. The confidence boost afterwards is second-to-none and once you carry out your sessions with a reputable artist, the only real regret you should be left with is that you didn’t do it sooner. Check out some of George's SMP results here.
How to avoid:
Get researching! Here are some actionable steps to find a reputable artist and get the ball rolling (you can also use the checklist from the “untrained artist” section too!):
- Find a few reputable artists (around 2-3).
It doesn’t matter whether they are local, or a couple of hours drive away. Remember this treatment is going to be a pivotal moment for you, so a commute is a small price to pay!
- Look into their past work (images).
Instagram or their website is a great source
- Look into their reviews
What do their reviews say about them? How do their customers feel afterwards?
- Book a consultation!
Make sure you are on the same wavelength as your artist. Remember, there aren’t enough questions you can ask! The right artist will be happy to help.
Will I regret Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation can be a pivotal treatment with positive attributes such as boosting your confidence, mental health and wellbeing but you must do your due diligence before your treatment to avoid any regrets. Take your time and gather everything you need.
If you are suffering from hair loss, pattern baldness or an uneven hairline and have been contemplating the treatment this is your sign. Have a shop around, have a look and get a consultation booked. It may not be the best treatment for you, there may be better-suited alternatives, but a professional will give you the best guidance and answer any questions that you can’t find the answer to elsewhere. At Visionary Scalps we offer free consultations to ensure our customers have all the information they need without any pressure. You can book yours here.
Following all our tips will help guide you to choosing a reputable artist and avoid any regrets.
Do you have any SMP regrets outside these topics? Be sure to let us know by dropping us an email!