Established for over 25 years

Clinics Nationwide

5 Star Google & Trustpilot Reviews

Scalp Micropigmentation Fading: A Comprehensive Guide  

Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure.png__PID:732bcf3f-9ea6-40ea-a592-20a14ad7f96f

Reading time: 6 min

Does Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) Fade?

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP), widely recognised as a groundbreaking solution for hair loss, has surged in popularity among both men and women grappling with various stages of hair thinning and baldness. This innovative treatment, often referred to as a hair tattoo, offers a non-surgical and cost-effective alternative to traditional hair restoration methods.

But as with any procedure, prospective clients often wonder about its longevity and effectiveness over time. Questions that frequently arise are: Does Scalp Micropigmentation fade? How Long Does SMP Last? This article delves into the factors that contribute to SMP fading, the expected lifespan of the treatment, and practical tips to prolong its longevity.

Key Takeaways

- SMP is a non-surgical solution for hair loss, differing from traditional tattoos.

- SMP pigment fades over time, requiring touch-ups every 2-5 years.

- Sun exposure, aftercare, immune response, scalp conditions, pigment quality, and artist technique influence SMP's longevity.

- Protecting SMP from the sun is vital to ensure premature fading

- SMP touch-ups are more affordable and typically require one session.

The aim of Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) is to disguise hair loss and restore hair confidence by delicately implanting single ‘dots’ into the surface of the scalp. Every single implantation is deposited to re-create a natural looking head of hair, either for a full head shaved look, to give the illusion of more density in thinning hair or to camouflage scar tissue.

A digital device and micro-needles are used to implant pigment / ink, that is colour matched to suit your skin and hair, to replicate your natural density and hair growth to ensure that the final result is natural and effective.

SMP is effective for both men and women and offers a hair loss solution to many conditions and concerns.

Scalp Micropigmentation Results Male Pattern Losss
Scalp Micropigmentation For Women Results
Scalp Micropigmentation For FUE Scars Results

Before and after photos showing men and women after undergoing Scalp Micropigmentation treatment

There are two types of pigment used to perform SMP, one which is shorter term and one which is longer lasting. The pigment for both remains in the skin indefinitely but the colour fades and changes over time.

Shorter term pigments last an average of 9-12 months before it needs a colour refresh or ‘touch-up’ and will become increasingly less visible over a period of time. Longer lasting pigments require a ‘touch-up’ on average every 2-5 years.

The reason for the varying time is down to differing skin types (oily/dry) and how these respond to environmental and individual factors such as exposure to UV and/or sun damage, age, products used upon the area and your general health.

Man in sun

Sun Exposure And Its Impact

Sun exposure is the primary external factor influencing the fading of Scalp Micropigmentation. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, notorious for their pigment-breaking capabilities, play a significant role in the gradual loss of colour and vibrancy in SMP treatments.

The Crucial Role Of Aftercare

The immediate aftercare following an SMP procedure is pivotal in ensuring its longevity. Proper care, such as avoiding direct water contact on the scalp for the first 48 hours and using gentle, sulfate-free hair care products, helps maintain the integrity of the pigment. Neglecting these guidelines can lead to premature fading, undermining the effectiveness of the treatment.

Immune System's Influence

An often-overlooked factor in SMP's longevity is the body's immune response. The immune system naturally tries to remove foreign particles, including SMP pigments. This process, known as phagocytosis, can contribute to the fading of the pigment over time. The strength and efficiency of an individual's immune system can therefore affect the rate at which SMP fades.

Scalp Conditions and SMP

Scalp health plays a crucial role in the durability of Scalp Micropigmentation. Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis can accelerate the fading process. These conditions often lead to increased skin cell turnover, potentially causing faster pigment loss. It's important for individuals with such conditions to discuss their specific circumstances with an SMP practitioner before undergoing the procedure.

Pigment Selection

The type of pigment used in SMP differs significantly from traditional tattoo ink. SMP pigments are specially formulated to fade more naturally and evenly, avoiding the common discoloration seen in tattoos. High-quality SMP pigments are designed to resist fading and maintain a colour that blends seamlessly with natural hair tones over time.

Artist Technquie and Fading

The skill and technique of the SMP artist are vital in determining the outcome and longevity of the treatment. Experienced practitioners apply pigments at the optimal depth and density, ensuring a natural and lasting look. Conversely, less skilled artists might apply pigment too superficially or too deeply, leading to uneven fading, discoloration, or even pigment migration.

To minimise the fading of SMP and maximise its longevity, several preventive measures can be implemented:

Sun Protection

Apply a high-SPF sunscreen (30 or higher) to the scalp, especially when outdoors and at all times of the year. This will shield the pigments from UV rays and prevent premature fading.

Washing your hair

When washing your hair it is recommended to gently cleanse the scalp with soft, circular movements, avoiding harsh scrubbing that can lead to pigment fading.

Protecting from Chlorine and Saltwater

It's important to rinse your scalp well straight after swimming in chlorinated pools or in the sea/saltwater to safeguard your SMP treatment. To preserve your SMP's longevity and vibrancy, limit prolonged submersion in chlorinated pools or the sea/saltwater.

Chemical Peels

If you're considering a facial skin treatment, such as a chemical peel, it's advisable to steer clear of options that contain glycolic acid, especially if the treatment will be applied near your hairline or in areas where you've undergone Scalp Micropigmentation

Touch-ups, necessary every 2 to 5 years, play a vital role in maintaining SMP's appearance. They restore pigment density and sharpness and adjust to changes in hair colour or loss patterns. 

How Will I Know When To Get A Touch-up?

Determining the need for a Scalp Micropigmentation touch-up involves noticing key signs such as pigment fading or colour change, blurring of the dot-like appearance, and uneven fading across the scalp. Personal preference for a darker or more defined look can also be a factor. It's crucial to follow the aftercare advice from your SMP practitioner, who can recommend the best timing for a touch-up based on the pigment's behaviour in your skin and your individual needs, ensuring the maintained appearance and effectiveness of the SMP treatment.

How Much Do SMP Touch-Ups Cost?

The cost of a SMP touch-up is generally more affordable than the initial treatment because it typically requires only one session, depending on the amount of fading.

Scalp Micropigmentation is often mistakenly compared to traditional tattooing, leading to confusion. Initially, when SMP was introduced, many artists referred to it as a scalp or hair tattoo, largely due to its novelty.

However, despite some similarities with traditional tattooing - such as the use of microneedles and digital devices to insert pigment into the dermis layer of the skin - SMP significantly differs in several aspects, making it distinct from a conventional tattoo.

Key Differences Of SMP

  • Pigment Depth: In SMP, the pigment is deposited into the dermis layer of the skin at a shallower depth compared to traditional tattooing, affecting its longevity and appearance
  • Pigment Composition: The pigments used in SMP are specifically designed for the procedure, differing in composition from those used in traditional tattoos
  • Technique: SMP technicians employ distinct techniques tailored to replicating hair follicles, contrasting with the broader artistic techniques used in tattooing
  • Colour Fading: The fading process of SMP pigments is different, where touch-ups are required, unlike raditional tattoos where touch-ups are very rare.


    Scalp Micropigmentation offers a non-surgical approach to hair loss, with a natural-looking outcome. While SMP shares similarities with traditional tattooing, it has distinct differences in pigment depth, composition, and technique. SMP pigment fades over time due to factors like sun exposure, aftercare, immune response, scalp health, and artist skill. Proper aftercare and sun protection can help minimise this fading. SMP touch-ups, necessary every 2-5 years, are generally more affordable as they usually require just one session. Understanding these aspects of SMP helps individuals maintain its effectiveness and appearance over time.

Does SMP Lighten After A Few Days?

Yes, Scalp Micropigmentation typically does lighten after a few days following the treatment. This initial lightening is a normal part of the healing process. When SMP is first applied, the pigment may appear darker and more intense.

As the scalp heals, minor scabbing may occur, and these scabs will naturally shed as part of the skin's healing process. When these scabs fall off, they can take some of the pigments with them, leading to a lighter appearance of the micropigmentation. This lightening effect is generally expected and is considered in the SMP application process by skilled practitioners, who may plan multiple sessions to gradually build up to the desired shade and density.

Can Scalp Micropigmentation Be Removed?

Individuals might seek Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) removal for various reasons, such as dissatisfaction with the initial treatment, changes in preference, or the need to adjust to further hair loss.

There are two primary options for SMP removal:

Laser Removal:

This is the most effective method, particularly for extensive treatments or serious botched SMP corrections. It works by targeting the SMP pigments with laser energy, breaking them down for natural elimination by the body. This process typically requires multiple sessions and can be uncomfortable, sometimes leaving a slight residue in cases of deeply injected pigments.

Salt and Saline Solutions:

Suitable for smaller adjustments, such as fine-tuning the hairline or addressing minor areas of progressed hair loss. This less invasive method draws out the pigments and can be a viable option for those seeking a gentler approach.

Does The Pigment Change Colour With SMP?

When the pigment is implanted correctly, with the correct colour tone used and aftercare followed, the risk of dis-colouration is minimal. As with all pigment implanted into the skin it is subject to external factors which will affect the pigment over time.

The ‘blue’ tone typically associated with SMP is thankfully seen less and less, thanks to the evolution of materials used and also to enhanced educational and implantation protocols.

Do I Have To Shave My Hair Before SMP

Whether it is recommended to shave your hair or not will depend on the type of treatment you are looking for and what can be achieved with your existing hair. For example, if you are looking for density boosting treatments and have sufficient hair to ‘add’ density to then no, you do not need to shave your hair. If you are looking to lower, re-define or augment a hair line then the hair must be worn shaven for a natural result.

Get Hair Confident Book your complimentary consultation.jpg__PID:b9eedaf0-2a0d-4d16-87c3-8f558dc7544a