Scalp Micropigmentation VS Traditional Tattoos

People often refer to scalp micropigmentation as “hair tattoos.” It’s a great, two-word explanation of scalp micropigmentation, but you may need to give a better impression of scalp micropigmentation. Traditional tattoos are similar to SMP but have a few significant differences. Here are a few other differences between traditional tattoos and scalp micropigmentation.

The Needles

One significant difference between traditional tattoos and scalp micropigmentation is the needles used. The needle used for scalp micropigmentation is called a “3-point-microneedle,” and it’s 75% smaller than a traditional tattoo artist’s smallest needle! The idea is to replicate the look of a tiny follicle with a microneedle that hurts less and prevents ink from spreading from the pore.

The Pigment

Another significant difference is the ink used. Tattoo artists typically use iron oxide-based pigment that has a variety of colors. SMP ink is an organic, carbon-based ink that sticks to natural colors to match skin tones and natural hair colors. SMP pigment stays the same without separating like traditional ink. Still, because SMP pigment is so close to the surface, it is more vulnerable to UV rays.

Pigments used in scalp micropigmentation are specially blended to match the client’s desired hue, which may be influenced by skin tone, eyebrow hair color, and facial hair. Unlike tattoo ink, SMP ink has low amounts of heavy metal content, and it won’t separate into blues and greens over time.

The Process

SMP artists place the pigment in the upper dermis, while traditional tattoo artists apply the ink to the middle layer. The upper dermis is sensitive to scarring, so the needle must be small enough to compliment the size of the hair follicles. Traditional tattooing uses a scraping method to create intricate designs, while scalp micropigmentation uses a dotting or pointillism method where the technician places tiny dots into the skin. There is less contact with the needle and less pressure applied to the scalp to avoid a blowout. Blowout refers to ink spreading under the skin’s surface after being applied.

Getting a traditional tattoo is often a singular experience. You go in, discuss designs, and the artist creates an illustration you like, and then you get tattooed. SMP is considered a more clinical procedure. SMP requires preparation before the treatment and particular post-treatment steps to heal correctly. You can often have a traditional tattoo done in one session unless it’s a larger piece, while SMP can take as many as four sessions to be completed.

A Couple More Things…

  • Pain is significantly different as well. Because SMP pigment doesn’t go very deep into the skin, it causes less pain for the person, while traditional tattoos tend to be pretty painful since they go deeper. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, so keep that in mind.
  • Traditional tattoos are often done to meet an aesthetic or memorialize someone or something. At the same time, SMP serves a more practical purpose by creating a new hairline for people who experience hair loss.
  • Tattoo artists are not SMP technicians! They are too different in important ways, so tattoo artists should only cross over if they have an SMP certification.

Get Your Hair Tattoo Today!

SMP INK is full of scalp micropigmentation experts ready to help change your life! Our technicians are experienced, knowledgeable, and professional, and we trust them to restore your confidence! Don’t wait; book a free consultation today!


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