I felt this post was necessary as I’ve been kicking around the various forums for a long time, and there is a lot of conflicting information about aftercare. Some of the stuff posted is accurate, but a lot of it is just nonsense and causes people to panic or obsess over their heads for absolutely no reason. I wanted to set the record straight.
You need to be aware that although the aftercare guidelines vary from provider to provider, they all revolve around a few key principles. What concerns me the most is that a lot of men are coming away from their pigmentation sessions without any clue as to what guidelines they should be following. It is your providers responsibility to give you this information, so ask for a copy. If all else fails, follow the instructions below.
Where do these guidelines originate from?
I have compared and amalgamated the instructions from six leading providers, and added a dose of personal knowledge and a massive spoonful of common sense.
Will these directions stop my pigments from fading?
They will slow it down, but no. Fading is a normal occurence and is to be expected, no matter what you do to try and prevent it. For more information see my other (much more comprehensive) post about SMP fading.
Here you go, in some sort of chronological order. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond as soon as I can.
If you are comfortable and willing, shave your head well in advance of your first session. There are several reasons for this:
- It will lessen your personal ‘shock’ factor after session one
- Any marks or scars that you were not aware of will be visible, giving you time to decide whether to leave them alone or cover them with SMP
- If you have a dry skin issue, it gives you time to moisturize like mad before your first session
- If you have a tan, it will give your scalp time to become the same color as the rest of your head and neck
Moisturize the hell out of your head. I’m talking 3-4 times a day if possible. Don’t worry about what moisturizer to use or at what intervals, just do it. This ensures your scalp is in the best possible condition, and prevents any dry skin from interfering with the technicians work.
If you plan on using any pain relief, decide what you’re going to take. Do not leave this until the last minute otherwise you might get caught up in the moment and forget.
Think about your frontal hairline. Refer to photos, draw lines on your head, do whatever you have to do to get an idea of what you want before you turn up to your first appointment. Take photographs with you, even if they’re just photos of your self-made hairlines. This will help your technician understand what you’re aiming for. If they don’t understand, they can’t deliver.
After each treatment session
It is important for you to understand exactly what is happening to your head after a scalp micropigmentation session. Basically your scalp has been pierced a couple of thousand times by a needle, usually of the triple cluster variety. Don’t let that scare you because honestly, it doesn’t hurt anywhere near as much as you’re probably thinking it will, I promise.
It does mean however that your scalp needs to heal, and that means you need to refrain from interfering with it for a few days, in fact this is where following the aftercare guidelines is most important of all. Each dot is a tiny scab that also contains SMP pigment. Those dots are going to look larger and darker than they should right now, but don’t worry, they will get smaller and lighter. As your scalp heals, the scabs come away and take some pigment with them. This is what people refer to as immediate fading, although in reality its not actually fading at all just yet.
- Do NOT wash, rub or touch your head for a minimum of 3 days after each session
- Avoid sweating. Those trips to the sauna or gym will have to wait
- On day 4 you can wash your head with water only. If you have more SMP sessions to go, start moisturising your scalp again now
- On day 7 you can cleanse your head using a gentle facial cleanser
- For 30 days you MUST avoid heavy sweating, exfoliating, any scalp abrasion and prolonged exposure to strong UV rays (sunlight). The tanning booth is also a no go
After 30 days you can resume all your usual activities.
Long term SMP aftercare
There is a lot of mis-information in this area, but the most important thing to remember is that its about balance. You didn’t get a scalp pigmentation treatment so you could spend the rest of your life obsessing over it, did you? On the other hand, there are a few sensible measures that you should take to prolong the life of your treatment as much as possible.
Remember even if you do not adhere to any of these instructions, it is so easy now to get a simple refresher session or even have it all lasered and start again. The worst possible scenario is that your pigments fade faster than expected, and you need a refresh a little sooner than you otherwise would have. Its really not the end of the world.
Anyway, here are my long term guidelines:
- Take sensible precautions in the sun. If you would have slapped on the sunscreen before you had SMP, then do so now. If you’re a sun-worshipper who never uses any sort of SPF protection, consider using at least an SPF15 on your head. You know it makes sense
- Reconsider your use of sunbeds. They’re bad for your skin and come with cancer risks. Plus they accelerate your rate of fading
- Avoid topical products that contain high concentrations of alcohol. Be aware that most cosmetic creams, lotions and moisturisers contain SOME alcohol, but these are generally fine. I’m talking about high concentrations like what you’d find in minoxidil lotion, for example
- Use an exfoliating cleanser on your head as this removes dead skin cells and keeps your head looking fresh
- Moisturise every day, at least once. Keeping your scalp in good condition will benefit your overall appearance, as well as your pigments
I’ve had a lot of people asking how to reduce scalp shine, so I’ll be posting a quick guide on this in the next day or so.