Hair tattooing has become a popular procedure for all genders worldwide suffering from hair loss. Most people think that a hair tattoo is like any tattoo you would get anywhere else on your body, but that is not the case. So, what is a hair tattoo?

A hair tattoo is something called scalp micropigmentation or SMP for short. Not a lot of people know what micropigmentation is or the result it can achieve. Micropigmentation is a cosmetic procedure that uses pigment to enhance the look of features. So, with SMP, you enhance your scalp and hairline. The procedure consists of using tiny, thin needles attached to a particular cosmetic machine to deposit thousands of microdots of pigment into the dermal layer of the scalp to create an image. It sounds just like a standard tattoo, right? Wrong. Here are the differences.


When doing SMP, it is essential to understand the anatomy of the skin. With traditional tattoos, the ink is implanted into the reticular layer of the dermis. Tattoos are permanent in the skin because the ink particles that create the coloration are too large to be ingested by the white blood cells that patrol the body and carry foreign bodies away from the skin.

With micropigmentation, the pigment is only implanted into the papillary layer of the dermis. This is because of the collagen fibers allowing the pigment to keep control over its shape. If it is deposited deeper, the pigment can disperse along paths in the lower layers of the Dermal level. The result is the tiny dots resembling a hair follicle will blow out and blur together. 


The pigments used in SMP are specially diluted to match the client’s desired hue, which may be influenced by skin tone and hair color. Unlike tattoo ink, the pigment used for the scalp is not made from composite sources, meaning the colors won’t separate into blues and greens over time. They are made from natural components and are predominately carbon-based.

Tattoo ink contains several heavy metals which help the ink stay in the skin. With hair tattoo pigment, each microdot is carefully placed with some separation to recreate a natural look. As the ink is so close to the skin’s surface, SMP is more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, which is another reason why you should not use tattoo ink for SMP.


The needles used for SMP are usually 3-point microneedles of various widths. Each client gets sterile single-use cartridges that create crisp impressions. There are many factors to learn about SMP needles, the diameter (width of the needle), the grouping (size of the marks made while tattooing), and the taper (size of the point of the needle). The depth and angle of the needle will depend on the artist’s skills and should always be considered to ensure the most realistic results. Each client’s scalp has unique levels of resistance based on the amount of body fat, scarring, and skin turgor. The needles used in SMP vary in size and type, which would depend on the machine used. SMP needles are finer than tattoo needles and have rough edges. Tattoo needles are smooth.

So, to answer your question, a hair tattoo is a non-invasive treatment for men and women who are balding, thinning or have receding hair. Although it is comparable to a tattoo, it looks natural, unlike traditional tattoos. Tiny follicles are created in the scalp, essentially producing little dots to mimic the look of stubble.

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