Scalp micropigmentation is the process of replicating the appearance of shaven hair, by introducing thousands of tiny pigment deposits into the epidermis of the scalp. When placed by a skilled technician, the recipient appears as if they have a full head of hair, shaved to a very short length.
This post is intended for those who have recently discovered scalp micropigmentation, and want to find out more about the process and its applications.
Without a doubt, scalp micropigmentation is the fastest growing solution for male hair loss in recent history. It is non-invasive, has universal appeal and is permanent, but only if you want it to be. Furthermore, it remains the only permanent hair loss fix to offer instantaneous, guaranteed results.
A large number of people who stumble upon this treatment have no idea where it came from. Nor do they know how it was developed, and how far it has come since it’s introduction. I believe that understanding the history of this solution for hair loss is important. This is because without that background information, it is difficult to do effective research and put it all into context.
Numerous terms are used to describe this process. These terms include scalp pigmentation, micro scalp pigmentation, SMP, MSP, hair follicle replication, tricopigmentation and hair tattooing. Please note that all these terms refer to the same basic scalp technique.
Who invented scalp micropigmentation?
Some of the dates that individual clinics came into being are difficult to ascertain exactly. This is because many providers say they’ve been in business for longer than they actually have.
The information in this article is based on my knowledge and is intended to be accurate. I have been involved with SMP for longer than most, and I base the information here on in-depth knowledge of the industry. If I have made a mistake however, please accept my apologies. I invite any comments or corrections below.
The scalp micropigmentation process was developed by Ian Watson and Ranbir Rai-Watson, co-Founders of HIS Hair Clinic in 2002, and later professionalised and commercialised in 2006. However, people around the world have been experimenting with primative hair tattoo or hair replication techniques for many years.
Permanent make-up technicians have been around for a long time, and many of them had diversified into scar and burn camouflage to meet the needs of their customers.
There are documented cases of hair replication using pigments dating back to the 1970’s, however the results were poor and were more of a shading method than an actual replication of hair. Often pigments were used as a means to cover up horrific scars from so-called ‘plug’ surgery, the inevitable result of botched hair transplant procedures.
In 2001, Ian Watson lost his brother to cancer. The stress this placed on Ian, his Sister-In-Law Ranbir, and the rest of the family caused Ian to develop stress-related alopecia. After searching the market for a solution and finding nothing satisfactory, Ranbir started to develop a basic scalp micropigmentation technique to replicate hair on Ian’s scalp.
Following a successful (although basic) treatment in 2002, Ian and Ranbir realised the commercial opportunity they had created and flew to Australia to develop skills in permanent make-up, medical tattooing and artistic tattooing. Following four years of development, including the creation of completely bespoke equipment and consumables, the first professional treatment process was offered to the general public in 2006.
Who were the early providers?
To begin with, HIS Hair Clinic was the only game in town. Shortly after their service was advertised however, a couple of competitors surfaced, namely a Spanish company called Headstyl and an American company called Artistry Concepts. Artistry Concepts, headed by Mark Weston, still trades today, however Headstyl is no longer in business.
A developing market
As the industry started to grow and take shape, more providers like Good Look Ink and Beauty Care Nederland launched new scalp micropigmentation services. They were followed shortly after by Vinci Hair Clinic, an established European provider of hair transplant surgery, and the New Hair Institute, a HT clinic based in California. Scalp Aesthetics also emerged in Rochester NY, and Milena Lardi of Italian firm Beauty Medical started offering temporary treatments on a mobile basis worldwide.
More recently the Shadow Clinic in Australia, Skalp in the United Kingdom and ProHairClinic in Belgium have entered the market, although all three have been around for long enough to be considered as ‘experienced’ clinics. Fast forward to today and there are around 15 major providers, around 100 boutique clinics and close to 1000 small scale practitioners, many of them working solo.