SMP From a Tattooist – Really?

Among the phalanx of new entrants into the world of Scalp Micro-Pigmentation possibly the most convincing, at least to the untrained eye, might be the traditional tattooist.

My Tattooist Has A Superb Reputation!


To be fair, it would not take much of an investigation to establish some serious daylight between these admittedly genuine artists and a Scalp Micro-Pigmentation clinic. To save you even that modest amount of trouble here is a quick overview of the principal differences between the two – offered in the hope that it makes clear why you should only ever receive a Scalp Micro-Pigmentation from a trained professional.



One of the most important differences, technically, between a tattoo and an SMP are the pigments used.  Tattooists use pigments with a metallic base, for their lustre and effect – But over time they are prone to discolouration and spreading. A familiar enough sight for any of us with a tattooed parent or grandparent.  An SMP technician uses pigments with no metallic component which achieve a superior outcome, in regards to an SMP, and reduces significantly the chances of an allergic reaction.

The Equipment


Along with a different type of pigment the delivery is achieved using completely different equipment to that found in a tattooists parlour. There are multiple needles, all shorter than a tattooist would employ. They deliver tiny amounts of pigment just beneath the skin… this achieves the look of a replicated hair follicle but importantly allows for easy removal later – If, for example, a softer hairline was required. The organic pigments and shallow delivery make subsequent removal a breeze. The metallic elements in tattooist’s pigments, along with the deeper insertion, can heat to cause scarring when removed with a laser.

The Technician


Of course another big difference comes with the technician themselves. A brilliant tattooist can be a breathtakingly talented artist, what they are not is an SMP technician. To get to the point where you are trusted to treat a client there is an exhaustive process of training. There is simply no substitute for experience when it comes to identifying the correct range of shades for an initial SMP treatment. The second treatment requires an additional level of experience, to understand how the first treatment has reacted to the differing patches of scalp – there are always variations. That understanding dictates the pigments and density used for the second and subsequent treatments.

The Safeguards

peace of mind

When you sit down for your first treatment, having performed all your due diligence and found your way to an SMP specialist, you can be confident that what you will eventually achieve is a perfect outcome. Everyone in the room is committed to it. What needs to be remembered is that each SMP is individual, a balance of what the client wants alongside the experience and artistic input of the technician. Because the outcome is, to some extent, subjective it is vital that the options exist, along with the equipment and skills, to make any necessary adjustments. This is where the collective experience of a clinic and their long term association with the treatment comes into it’s own. A tattooist servicing the occasional request from someone who really needs an SMP but wants to save money cannot hope to seriously compete… any more than you might ask an SMP technician to give you a Celtic sleeve tattoo.

Laurie Downing