Scalp Micropigmentation: What is it?
Scalp Micropigmentation, or SMP, is a procedure that lessens the appearance of thinning hair and is sought after by people who are self-conscious about visible patches of hair loss on the scalp. Much like microblading to give the appearance of fuller eyebrows, SMP helps to cover areas of the scalp where there is hair loss due to cancer, alopecia, male or female pattern baldness, or scars. In a society where appearance is linked to success and happiness, many people are opting for this confidence booster. Hair loss has in the past been managed by wigs, hats, or simply shaving off whatever remaining hair one has.
SMP: A Brief History
With the increased popularity of body art, Despite prehistoric evidence of body art, from Oetzi the Iceman who had a stunning 61 tattoos on his well-preserved body, to the peoples of Oceania, to the Celts and Vikings, tattooing has only recently become mainstream. Indeed, in ancient China, tattoos were used to mark criminals; in many Asian cultures, tattoos were reserved for gangsters. Sailors acquired tattoos at their ports-of-call and the art form was popularized, yet still taboo, in the mainstream culture of the time.
The middle of the nineteenth century brought innovations in the form of tattoo machines, including one designed by Thomas Edison. It should be noted that the original idea patented by Edison was actually for an electric pen meant to be used for creating stencils. The machine didn’t go over as well as expected, but a tattoo artist named Samuel O’Reilly saw in Edison’s invention the potential to revolutionize his craft and in 1891 he received a patent for the first tattoo machine.
Women started getting their make-up permanently applied around the 1920s and it continues today: lip liner, blush, and eyeliner are popular cosmetic tattoos. While this quiet form of tattooing has been long-lasting, inked bodies have ridden the ups and downs of societal acceptance.
While the origins of SMP are obscured in history, it gained traction in the early years of the 21st century and it’s now preferred method of hair restoration over old-school methods like hair plugs, hair transplants, pharmaceuticals, and the classic, cringey, comb-over.
How does SMP work?
The appearance of a fuller head of hair is achieved by the implantation of pigments, layer by layer, using incredibly fine needles and machines made specifically for the procedure. Each treatment is performed by a skilled professional using an art technique called “pointillism;” this method was popularized by the French artist Georges Seurat. (A wonderful example of pointillism can be seen in his painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”) Most SMP providers agree that 2 to 3 sessions lasting 2 to 3 hours on average is the required treatment to achieve the best results. These tiny dots of ink are deposited in layers along the hairline or any other area where the illusion of short hair is preferable to the reality of shiny scalp.
Vetting your SMP professional
Be aware that there is an elective training process for the procedure, and your results will vary by the training and experience of your SMP provider. Unless additional training was received, tattoo artists are not qualified to perform the service. Ask your provider for photos, visit social media sites, read reviews online, and talk to people you know. Find out about training: where and when was the practitioner trained, and for how long? How many procedures has he performed? How many clients does he see in a day? Bear in mind that this procedure requires intense focus and thorough concentration. It carries inherent risks and rushing through increases those risks.
Additionally, ensure your provider is licensed by the local health department, has proof of bloodborne pathogen and SMP training, has sterilization equipment and opens your needles in front of you, has a clean environment and a hand sink, and is using personal protective equipment such as nitrile gloves and drapes. High-touch areas of the treatment area ie, the machine, light fixtures, and other surfaces that may be touched with contaminated gloves, should all be covered with a disposable barrier that is replaced after every client. All equipment must be sanitized between appointments, as well.
Michael Misurelli, Rhode Island’s SMP Pioneer
Michael Misurelli of Scalpmasters has been barbering for 20 + years with great attention to detail. Michael has also trained with the inventors of the SMP procedure.
What else you should know about Scalp Micropigmentation?
SMP uses finer needles and deposits pigments superficially compared to tattoos making it less invasive. Clients agree that SMP adds the look of hair which restores confidence and self esteem. Due to Michael Misurelli’s extensive education, training and experience, medical or allergic contraindications are not a concern at Scalpmasters here in Cranston, Rhode Island.