Sometimes referred to as a “Hair Tattoo”, Scalp Micropigmentation or SMP, is often thought of as being the same process as body art tattooing. While the concept is the same i.e., using needles to implant pigment, this is where the similarities between the two ends.
Let’s take a look at the differences.
Pigment – Both SMP and body tattoos use pigments with carbon black. The differing factor here, is the type of carbon and other ingredients within the bottle of pigment. SMP pigment contains very few chemicals in comparison to tattoo inks, and is not made from composite sources, therefore will not discolour over time. SMP pigment will lighten with sun exposure and unlike body art tattoos, will require touch ups.
Needles – while both processes use needles that can range in size from 0.15 to 0.30, SMP microneedles are grouped as 3rl to imitate the shape and size of hair follicles. SMP artists will not use larger groupings of needles however some will occasionally use a single needle for finer details.
Technique and depth- both processes implant into the dermis of the skin, with body art implanted slightly deeper than SMP. The idea of SMP is to recreate the illusion of follicles so the artist needs to implant into the upper area of the dermis to maintain a clean impression and not create “blowouts”. Also, SMP is a pointillism technique, no dragging the needle through the skin creating lines or solid shading.
For the most part, Scalp Micropigmentation artists are not tattoo artists. Most SMP artists solely concentrate on Hair Tattoos and are usually not trained in body art tattooing. Many have come from a cosmetic tattooing background, hairdressing/barbering, or beauty therapy background. As an industry, Scalp Micropigmentation, is closer related to medical and cosmetic tattooing, and all artists must complete health and infection control standards course.