SMP and Fading, What You Need to Know

Fading. One of the most used and least understood terms in SMP it is a reality for every treatment, more than that it should be considered an essential element that contributes positively to the final outcome. But what exactly should you expect. Here we aim to cover the essentials of what every prospective SMP client needs to know.
It is in the nature of the treatment itself, the depth at which pigment is inserted along with the pigments themselves, that means fading is very much a part of the process. What is important is how your technician manages fading through your procedures. Of course it is essential that you follow the aftercare guidelines you are provided with and take full responsibility for that part of the care that is down to you. More on that later.
There are essentially three distinct phases of fading which we will visit in turn. Fading after First Session is that which occurs between your first and second sessions. Initial Fading takes place in the first 6 months after treatment and finally there is Long Term Fading.

Fading after First Session

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Treatments will require, according to the needs of each client, at least two sessions though can regularly require three and sometimes more.
You can expect to have to wait a week between treatments and there are a couple of good reasons for that. First is to give your scalp a chance to heal, but more importantly it allows the pigments to settle. During the first session a template is built which allows a skilled and experienced technician to carefully ascertain the scale of the fading during that first week. How you arrive for that second session will inform your future treatment. Attention will be paid to both the degree of fading and the areas of the scalp that have accepted the pigments best. The job of building on that template with different shades and sizes to achieve the perfect appearance of a shaved, but full, head of hair begins in earnest during that second session.
This is why there are, almost invariably, some concerns that develop during that week after your first treatment, since the template can be subject to occasionally significant fading… it is an important part of the process but even clients who have performed exhaustive due diligence are regularly surprised.

Initial Fading – Up to 6 months after treatment


It’s the “getting to know” you stage. During this period you will see your treatment settle into the condition that you need to learn to maintain for the long term. The pigments will fade and become smaller and slightly less sharp… all predictable to a degree and where the skill of your technician comes enormously into play. This process will also have the effect of softening the hairline.
You will need to make a series of choices around caring for your scalp, your challenge will not be finding scalp care products of which there are plenty. Moisturisers which offer anti-shine are popular and plentiful. The key is finding the product/s that work for you. Shaving will definitely become a regular part of your new routine (if it isn’t already) so how will you shave yours? And how often? Don’t worry, you will work it all out and find your own preferred routine.

Long term fading

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The evidence here is somewhat anecdotal and based on talking to providers as well as trawling forums. There is plenty to suggest that a high quality treatment should last a lifetime with occasional brief touch up sessions, but even these should only be necessary every few years. I have seen photos of 5 and 6 year old treatments that still look as fresh and perfect as they have always done. Hit the forums and see them for yourself.

How to prevent your scalp micropigmentation treatment from fading

There are some rules to follow in the immediate period post treatment, dos and donts. You are asked not to sweat excessively for the first thirty days for example, no problem for most but to be prepared for, emotionally at least, if you have a serious fitness regime of some sort. Basically, you simply need to follow those aftercare guidelines you will be provided with by your technician.
If you have ever spent time in a hot climate, or are lucky enough to live in one, you will be completely familiar with the brutal effects of Ultra Violet rays from the sun. They are capable, in a single summer, of bleaching the colour from fabric and other material… even the tough stuff they make deckchair covers from. In fact, they can destroy the integrity of the whole deckchair. Little wonder then that sunlight is the primary factor in a treatment fading, sunblock or hats when in the sun are highly recommended. A secondary, and less predictable, impact is made by your own immune system. In reality there is no surefire way as the primary causes of fading are exposure to the suns UV rays. The other threat comes from your own immune system, for which there is no way of predicting the degree, although serious fading due to this is unusual. Neither of these factors can be avoided, however there are a number of practical steps you can take to keep any fading to an absolute minimum.
Finally, products containing alcohol or bleach are most definitely to be avoided.
Nothing too onerous then… given that the advice around sun protection is generic and for everybody these days.

Laurie Downing