Ok so your real hair is going south, its starting to bother you a little, you’ve heard of this crazy hair tattoo thing and you’re wondering what its all about, right? Thats cool, but there are a few things you need to know before you pull the trigger. I mean things you REALLY need to know, so pay attention.
What exactly is a hair tattoo?
Actually, its correct name is a scalp micropigmentation procedure. Different companies give it different names such as ACHM2, CTHR, MHT and so on, but the reality is its all basically a variation of scalp micropigmentation, or SMP for short. Other names are just brand names for what is ultimately the same thing.
This kind of treatment for hair loss used to be referred to as a hair tattoo. Its obvious why as there are similarities between getting a tattoo and having SMP, and to be honest I think a lot of companies struggled to explain what it is they offer. To call it a tattoo just made things easier.
Before we get stuck in, you should know we have published a comprehensive library of posts that you will find useful. See our SMP articles and our provider reviews. We have also published a list of all major providers from around the world.
Lets start off with a few facts:
- No matter what the salesperson may tell you, all companies offer a service which basically involves using a needle to deposit pigment in the scalp, in order to replicate real hair.
- Almost contrary to the above, the quality and realism of the completed treatment varies enormously from one company to the next.
- The quality of your treatment is ultimately delivered by your practitioner, not the company they work for. An inexperienced technician is still inexperienced, no matter who they work for.
- The vast majority of treatments provide a brilliant end result, but poor results DO happen so it is important to do your homework first.
- All decent providers charge about the same, give or take a few pounds or dollars. If a provider quotes vastly less than everyone else, walk away.
How does the process work?
For a more comprehensive answer to this question, you should read my previous post, How Does Scalp Micropigmentation Work? In a nutshell, the aim of any successful hair tattoo is to create a perfect blend of dots that look exactly like real hair. These dots are built up in layers over a number of sessions (usually 2-4 sessions lasting 2-3 hours each, spread over 2-3 weeks) until the required density and shade is achieved.
After each SMP session your scalp will be a little red, the dots will be darker and larger than required and the skin will start to heal. During this healing process each dot forms a tiny scab, and over the following 5-7 days the scabs heal and fall off, taking a small amount of pigment with them. The result is much smaller, lighter dots that replicate real shaven hair follicles.
Each provider publishes different aftercare guidelines, but as a general rule for a week or so after each session you need to avoid washing your head with anything other than water, avoid exposure to strong sunlight and avoid any activities that may cause you to sweat heavily. Once your pigments have had chance to settle, you can resume your everyday activities without restriction.
What maintenance is required?
Depending on the specific treatment you receive, you will need to shave your head every 1-3 days, moisturise each morning and use sunscreen if the sun is strong. Any alcohol-based creams or lotions should be avoided.
How to choose the right practitioner
This is a little beyond the scope of this post. For more comprehensive advice I would suggest reading our provider reviews and How To Find The Best Practitioner.
Your choice of provider may be dictated by where you live. For example if you live in Minnesota USA, you’ll probably choose Good Look Ink as they’re the only provider in the area. If you live in London, there is a huge choice so you’ll need to look around. The same goes for other regions such as Spain and New York. Some areas are effectively hubs and offer a wide choice. Of course your options open up greatly if you’re prepared to travel.
The basic requirements are that the provider is accessible, they should be friendly and easy to deal with, they should have experienced practitioners on their books and the provider should be able to provide examples of their work that you can independently verify.
Do you still want a hair tattoo?
I had my treatment in 2009, and I can assure you it was the best decision I ever made. Having been in this industry a long time, please do not underestimate the remarkable benefits of SMP, but also understand that not everyone out there has your best interests at heart. There are good and bad providers, just like there are good and bad hair transplant clinics.
Do your homework, make the right choice and this will be the best decision you ever make.