Hair Simulation – Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)


Hair simulation – scalp micropigmentation may sound like a misnomer, or cause confusion because the procedure known as hair simulation – micro pigmentation also goes by the following names:

hair pigmentation

  • Scalp micropigmentation (SMP)
  • Scalp pigmentation
  • 3D Scalp micropigmentation
  • Scalp tattoo
  • Hair tattoo/ing
  • Micropigmentation
  • Hair replication
  • Micro scalp pigmentation – microscalp pigmentation
  • Cosmetic transdermal hair replication
  • Cosmetic hair follicle replication/Hair replication/Hair follicle replication
  • Micro hair technique/procedure/simulation
  • Hair simulation tattoo
  • Micro hair tattoo
  • Head tattoo

Confused? No need to be. These are only the different names given to the (almost)  same cosmetic procedure. Different specialists call it with differently. Some providers call the procedure with their own techniques. The most important point here is that hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) is not the same as the artistic scalp tattoos done at the tattoo parlors.

What is Hair Simulation?

Scalp Micropigmentation

What actually is hair simulation? It is a cosmetic procedure that replicates the look of real hair follicles. The treatment is a form of tattoo. Tattooing history is almost as old as human history, and yet, the scalp pigmentation that we know today, is a rather newer technique perfected to cover the bald scalps. It has been more popular and widely accepted in the past fifteen years or so.

Who can Benefit?

bald-men-before-hair-pigmentation

Not all individuals with hair loss are suitable for a hair transplant, nor everyone wants to undergo it. Some find it expensive, and others do not like the idea of having a medical surgery even if it is minor.

Those who have scars, those who do not have hereditary male pattern hair loss, or those who have it, but do not want to get a hair transplant surgery, individuals who have hair transplant scars from previous hair transplants, those who experience thinning, and so on – both women and men are suitable for a scalp pigmentation. It is suitable for all age groups, all hair types, skin colors, hair colors, and stages of hair loss.

Women who prefer short hair styles, or those with bare areas on their scalps can benefit from hair simulation.

What is the Procedure Like?

bald-men-before-simulation

Hair simulation is not a medical surgery. It is a cosmetic treatment for scars, and baldness, and mimics the look of a buzz cut – gives the scalp a natural looking hairline, and genuine buzz cut look.

hair simulation

Although some practitioners call it hair tattoo, and the process is a form of tattooing, the experienced specialists of this particular technique mostly call is scalp pigmentation or hair simulation because mimicking the number one cut, natural hair lines, and hair follicles, is not a tattoo art, it is another form of professional technique, that should be performed by individuals who have expertise in this technique. They know the structure of the hair, and how natural hair looks like. Skilled technicians can create the appearance of natural hair in women who do not respond to hair loss medications, and who cannot get hair transplants too.

What Instruments are Used?

Tattooing procedures use thick needles. Hair simulation uses finer needles. The ink used in the procedure should be designed only for hair simulation. Good hair simulation specialists use non-tattoo, and non-makeup ink, and they replace the needles/use new needles for each individual. The pigment they use is one that is safe for your health, and that suits your skin and hair tone.

Differences Between Tattoo and Pigmentation

Tattoo artists use thicker and heavier gauge/needles, and tattoo penetrates deeper into the skin. The ink is injected very deep into the skin, whereas in scalp pigmentation, the ink does not penetrate that deep into the scalp.

Tattoo artists make artistic hair, scalp tattoos, and they are often not qualified to perform scalp pigmentation, and yet, some tattoo artists might have specialized on hair simulation that imitates the look of real hair. Just be sure that they have the required certifications, training, licenses, and instruments to apply hair simulation correctly.

Regular tattoo hurts a bit more than scalp micropigmentation.

How Long Does the Implementation Take?

It often takes three to five hours to complete, and one session is often enough. In some cases, follow-up and revision sessions are required. The length of the session depends on the area that needs to be covered. The larger the area (full scalp, bald scalp) the longer the session will take. The whole process is quite fast.

Who Can Do the Application?

Hair simulations should be implemented by licensed, certified, and trained technicians/physicians/specialists who have experience and the right skill sets. The clinic where hair simulation takes place should follow the hygiene standards.

How is My Hair Designed?

bald-men-before-simulation-1

Hair simulation simply does two things: covers the scars and bald patches, or gives the buzz cut/shaved head look on a completely bald, or almost bald scalp.

Before doing these, the technician will ask you what your expectations from the procedure are. They will then find the right pigment that matches your hair color, skin color, and design a hairline that matches your face shape. They should also take into account the health of your scalp – how flexible, and strong it is, the elasticity of it.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of scalp pigmentation depends on the facility. Usually, the more experienced the specialist, the higher the cost. The prices change from country to country too. Some facilities which have developed their own techniques may be more expensive.

Still, hair simulation proves to be a cheaper option than hair transplant surgery because it is not a medical operation. The price also depends on the size of the area where the simulation will be applied. A whole scalp might cost more.

How Long Does It Last?

Hair simulation fades with time. When implemented, it will initially look bold. You will see your target look after four weeks as it fades, and becomes a more natural looking pigment.

Like all inks, hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) will fade in a few years, and the procedure should be repeated every three to six years. Because scalp pigmentation does not penetrate the skin as much as regular tattoo ink, tattoo procedures do, it will need some revisions. Yet, these revisions are good because with age we lose more hair, or our hair turns gray, and the revision sessions may help the look to be updated in accordance with your age.

Pros and Cons

hair-simulation-pros-and-cons

All procedures, medical or cosmetic, have pros and cons, and these pros and cons depend on the situation. Sometimes the drawbacks are due to the individual because every scalp is different, and sometimes they are due to the practitioner or the procedure itself.

The pros of hair simulation are:

  1. It is not painful.
  2. It is not a medical procedure, and therefore those who do not want to get a hair transplant can opt for hair simulation.
  3. It is not very expensive, and is definitely more affordable than hair transplants.
  4. It covers the scars, and therefore can be used as a camouflage.
  5. The procedure takes only a few hours to complete.
  6. It gives immediate results.
  7. The results last many years before they start to fade.
  8. The results look natural – simulating the look of a shaved head if done by specialist with the right skill set.
  9. It is a low-maintenance procedure.
  10. In hair simulation, a specialized ink is used. Certified clinics use certified, and dermatologically tested pigments.
  11. Hair transplant is good for those with male pattern baldness. Individuals with other types of hair loss can get hair simulation.
  12. As long as it is done by the right people, using brand new needles for each individual, and safe inks for the scalp, it is safe.
  13. It masks thinning well.
  14. Just like a tattoo, it can be removed.
  15. Those who like to wear a buzz cut all the time (who like the looks of Vin Diesel, and Bruce Willis), and who have bald patches can benefit from this procedure.
  16. It usually takes one single session, and the following sessions can be for refinement only.
  17. You can return to work and resume everyday life right after the application.
  18. Most clinics offer guarantee for a year or so.

Cons of hair simulation are as follows:

  1. If you suffer from genetic male pattern hair loss, and want to get an almost full head of hair, then hair simulation is not for you.
  2. If you look for a different hair style than the buzz cut, it is not for you.
  3. If you do not like tattoos, it might be best to wear wigs.
  4. While it can be removed later, it is a permanent treatment.

What to Watch For?

Ever spare a thought for your scalp? We hope not. Your scalp and your hair are important.

If you consider getting a hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation), make sure you do your research, and that you definitely want to have hair simulation. Know what the pros and cons are. If you have any scalp or balding issues, thinning, hair loss, patches, skin disorders, or marks, talk to a dermatologist first. Find out which treatments are suitable for your condition. Every patient is unique. Something that works for someone else, may not work for you.

If you qualify for scalp pigmentation, look for a reliable clinic with renowned technicians/physicians. Rather than seeing the pictures of previous patients, visit the clinic to see patients in person in order to get a better idea of the process. This way, you will avoid seeing any Photoshop enhanced pictures.

Remember that hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) gives the appearance of the number one cut (as it is known by in many parts of the world). It is not a look for everyone. When done well, the results give the illusion of a buzz-cut head, and look wonderful. Some hair simulations are very hard to detect. Make sure the clinic where you will have hair simulation is sanitized. Also, the technician should be trained, licensed, and certified to perform hair simulation. They need to have some years of experience, expertise, and knowledge.

Ask them what type of ink and needles they use. Visit their facility, and do not forget to meet the technician in person. Have your first consultation, and talk about your expectations. Agree on a hair design together. Do not let it be your technician’s decision only, and yet, trust their opinion because they will perform hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) which will suit your face. Hair simulation hurts less than normal tattoo, but still, if you feel uncomfortable in such situations, make sure you know how the process will go.

The technician should ask you if you have any allergies before hair simulation. Some people may be allergic to the ink. If needed, take the required tests to find out. Be sure to feel as relaxed as possible. Often, a local anesthetic is applied on to the scalp before the procedure, and this prevents pain.  Then the technician will infuse pigments into the skin. This requires skill. The technician should be able to imitate the looks of real hair follicles as the way they grow. The pigment used needs to match your skin tone. If you have some hair on your scalp, and want to grow it, mention this to your technician. As growing hair may not look good on a buzz-cut, it is best to plan. If you think you will have further hair loss, or if you want your hairline to recede with time, mention these to the technician too. If your hair turns gray, most clinics can later refine your hair simulation with gray pigments that match your remaining hair.

The authenticity of the result depends on the size of the needles in a way. The series of thousands of small dots should be injected into the patient’s scalp in a way that it will look natural. It is best for covering unsightly scars.

The clinic may provide after care treatment (lotions and creams) for you. It would be best to avoid extreme sun exposure at all times, and cover your head when outside during the summer months. Ask the physician if your simulation will change color – whether it will turn to green or blue, and make sure they avoid using the wrong type of pigments.

What Does Science Say About Scalp Pigmentation?

Hair scientists and researchers in the hair industry are content with the results of scalp pigmentation. Their findings show that patient satisfaction is high, and the results prove to be effective. They believe that “scalp micropigmentation is destined to become a standardized offering for physicians specializing in cosmetic office procedures”.

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274727582_Scalp_micropigmentation_A_concealer_for_hair_and_scalp_deformities

Others also think that scalp pigmentation “offers a good nonsurgical alternative treatment for hair and scalp deformities”.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382144/

Their findings show that:

  1. The angle of the needle against the scalp,
  2. Depth of needle into the scalp,
  3. Time the needle is left in the scalp,
  4. Needle size and type,
  5. Resistance of the scalp,
  6. Color of pigment,

are some of the factors that contribute to the result. Some end results are very authentic and realistic. The first three factors are not only about the equipment but also the skills of the physician. The choice of the pigment depends on the patient’s hair and skin color, but the physician should have a good eye, and offer a customized pigment for each patient.

Final Remarks

Hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) does not involve the transplantation or implantation of real hair follicles/grafts or strands. The whole process of scalp pigmentation is designed to create an illusion, and it is very effective in that. If you are suitable for hair transplant, nothing beats the results of hair transplant. If the reasons behind avoiding getting a hair transplant are fear and finances, both can be resolved. Not all hair transplant operations are too expensive, and fear may be overcome.

Hair Transplant Before & After

Hair transplant is the only available procedure that gives one their hair back, and provides lifelong results.

Also, keep in mind that hair simulation (Scalp Micropigmentation) resembles tattooing, and it needs skillful hands to be correctly implemented. The result can be improved or reversed later but it is better to have a perfect result. If you are woman who have bald patches on your scalp, if your hair is thinning, if you have scars on your scalp, hair simulation is not only suitable, it is also recommended. It is perhaps the best treatment to camouflage the scars and patches, and thinning. The process reduces the contrast between your bald areas and your hair.

Scalp micropigmentation does not create volume. When touched, it does not give the feeling of real hair. It works well to fill in the gaps. The process is on the rise, and with the advancements in hair science and medicine, the technique is improving too. Smaller needles, perfect angles, shading and advanced medical tattoo enable the covering of bald spots and marks. Look for fully qualified practitioners, and enjoy the results. Do not listen to your friends who know a good tattooist J It requires discerning eyes but not necessarily “artistic eyes”. Micropigmentation is applied on the eyebrows, eyelids (as eyeliner), and lips, and yet, scalp pigmentation requires different skills.

As in hair transplants, hair simulation can boost one’s confidence. It is worth the cost and the time.


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