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  • Writer's pictureEvan Lee

The Sad State of the SMP Industry

Scalp micropigmentation procedure being performed on a client
Scalp micropigmentation procedure being performed on a client

Whether it is skin or scalp micropigmentation, the process is the same. Micropigmentation refers to the induction of micropigments into the skin - hence the term coined for the process. Many people refer to scalp micropigmentation as "hair tattoos" and skin micropigmentation as "scar tattoos." This is often misleading because there are so many differences between the traditional tattoo process - from types of equipment and needles being used to the types of inks and methods - to micropigmentation as we know it.

If you've found your way here to this article, chances are you have heard of micropigmentation. In the last few years, micropigmentation is becoming more mainstream due to social media and the flood of news and articles covering SMP. Some people see micropigmentation as one of the great new alternatives to hair loss and scar and pigment coverage, while others see it as a large pot of gold there for the taking.


SMP has been around for more than a decade, but the recent popularity has brought the procedure to the mainstream. While many practitioners enjoy the press coverage and the influx of new clients, it also brings out many new practitioners into the industry. Can you imagine a medical doctor getting a 4-day training session and a 5-page instruction booklet, then practicing medicine a week after? How about an electrician going through a 2-day crash course and working on your house right after? The SMP industry, like traditional tattoos, is still regarded as body art and labeled as a non-invasive cosmetic procedure by Federal and State regulations. Other than getting some basic business licenses and certificates, there is little to no oversight on the industry.


In my search for knowledge on the industry, I've come across a wide range of personalities. Some practitioners truly care about the industry and their clients, while others are simply there to make as much money as they can, while they can. When you're armed with the power to change people's lives, there's at least a responsibility to educate yourself a little more. There are practitioners out there that charge you $4000 for training that offer you little to nothing and unleashing their trainees unto the world. And, in turn, those trainees charge $4000 to train more new people. It's like the blind leading the blind.

Just because a practitioner who claims they've done "thousands" of procedures on clients, doesn't mean they actually know how to train people properly. And likewise, just because they performed a lot of procedures, doesn't mean they're actually good. In the case of scalp micropigmentation, you're poking tens of thousands of holes into people's heads - at least learn about some basic skin reactions and cross-contamination standards.


One of the most frequent questions I get asked is why I don't train other people. Well, it's simple and it's because of the reasons above. For a practitioner to be truly good, he has to be a master of his craft. If you look at the medical practice, whether it's a physician or even a dentist, you have to go through the entire education course whether it's a 2 or 4 year degree. Then, and only then, can you begin your apprenticeship under a current practicing provider for a minimum amount of time before you truly become certified. The SMP industry needs more regulation and more stringent requirements.

You often see numerous images of bad procedures on the Internet. Photos of botched scalps, strange colors that don't match the client's skin, and God forbid - extreme allergic reactions to pigments and infections.

The biggest proponents in the industry prefer to keep things the way they are, citing that SMP is a "minor" procedure and that "anyone can do it." That is all the more reason to have more oversight and proper training and apprenticeship. If anyone can do it, they will.


The age-old adage of "think twice" applies here. You've read the stories of bad procedures. You wouldn't go to a nail salon to get your hair colored and you wouldn't go to veterinarian because you have a cold. Just because the procedure and process is similar and it's available doesn't mean that you should do it.

Don't go to a standard tattoo parlor to get scars camouflaged and don't go to a hair salon to get your scalp micropigmentation done.

Consultations are always free. Talking to your practitioner for 10 minutes will let you know immediately how knowledgeable he or she is about the procedures and practice. If your practitioner seems too eager to schedule and book you for an appointment, that is not a good sign. Talk to your practitioner and ask as many questions as possible. If he or she is more concerned about your well-being and what you hope to achieve, that is where you want to start. You want a specialist that will not only perform the procedure properly, but you want a lifelong partner who will go the extra mile to make sure you're taken care of long after you leave.

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