Scalp micropigmentation is arguably the only solution to hair loss and hair thinning that gives guaranteed results. Pigments are injected into the skin in tiny dots that mimic emerging hair follicles, where it stays for several years until the body manages to break them down.
So they last for several years, and for most clients, scalp micropigmentation after 5 years is still more or less visible. But to what degree it fades and how good it looks is very individual and it depends on many factors.
So let’s discuss how scalp micropigmentation behaves over time, what determines the pace of its fading, and how often it should be touched up.
How Long Does Scalp Micropigmentation Last?
The longevity of scalp micropigmentation varies from client to client, but in general, significant fading happens after 3-6 years. There are cases where it lightens much faster than this, but also cases where it looks great even longer.
Although the scalp micropigmentation process is similar to tattooing, the results aren’t supposed to be permanent. The color deposited into the skin is a special type of pigment, which gradually fades and can be replenished once it does.
How and Why Does SMP Fade?
There are 2 processes involved in the fading of SMP: pigment absorption, and skin exfoliation.
Although the pigments deposited into the skin are safe, the body still perceives them as foreign matter. Therefore, the immune system works hard at getting rid of them. It starts attacking the pigment molecules as soon as they’re deposited into the skin, and it breaks them down gradually, taking away particles of it and extracting them through a different system.
Some of the components are broken down faster than others, while a portion of them remains in the skin forever, although it may not be visible.
That’s the internal process and the primary mechanism for pigment fading. But there’s also the fact that our skin constantly renews itself, and as the surface layers of the skin are replaced, a portion of the pigmented cells will also be shed eventually.
Image source: Instagram @internationalhairlines
What Does Scalp Micropigmentation After 5 Years Look Like?
The 5-year mark usually means that your scalp micropigmentation has faded enough to make you want to get it refreshed. If the treatment was done by a skilled practitioner who uses top-quality pigments and a great technique, it will still look okay, or even relatively good.
You may not need to get it refreshed just yet, but if you want to, you can. If you still have some of your natural hair which is very dark, you might need to get your SMP darkened back up, to get it to blend back in.
How much it has faded depends on different factors, and the pace of fading can’t really be predicted in advance.
Image source: Instagram @scalp_diverse
Factors That Determine the Pace of SMP Fading
Let’s go through each of them:
- The strength of your immune system and body chemistry. Some systems work harder at breaking down the pigments, and the results will fade faster. This is actually the main factor.
- Type and state of the skin on the scalp. Normal, not that oily skin retains pigments the best. If your skin is particularly oily, the sebum will push out a significant amount of the pigment. If it’s particularly dry, it can get flaky, and as more skin is shed, it takes more pigment.
- Amount of sunlight exposure. UV rays fade colors in general, and they’ve been proven to accelerate the fading of pigments used for micropigmentation. When you consider the fact that the top of your head is exposed to sunlight very often, the pigment fading can be accelerated significantly. This is prevented by wearing SPF or a cap as much as possible.
- Your care routine. If you use harsh products for washing your scalp, the ingredients may speed up the pigment fading. There’s also the question of how often you get your scalp wet.
Can Something Go Wrong with Scalp Micropigmentation After 5 Years?
We should be honest – SMP can go wrong in several ways if the artist’s technique isn’t 100% perfect, or the pigments aren’t really high-quality:
- If the pigment is deposited too deep into the skin, the dots can spread and look unnatural. They can even merge together and look messy.
- The same thing goes for using a needle that’s too thick.
- Low-quality pigments can change color and turn greenish or bluish.
But if any of these applies to your case, the results will go south sooner than after 5 years. If your scalp micropigmentation after 5 years still looks fine, it won’t go wrong all of a sudden. If the pigments weren’t deposited perfectly or they’ve changed color, this will show within a few months.
If you’ve found yourself with unattractive SMP, you can have it corrected or removed.
Image source: Instagram @laserawayink_tattoo_removal
To wrap things up, just a quick note – don’t get SMP refreshed too often. If your scalp micropigmentation after 5 years isn’t that faded, don’t get it refreshed just because you think you’re supposed to. Getting top-ups too often, before the pigments have had a chance to fade to a certain point, can leave the skin oversaturated with pigments and the whole thing won’t look very neat.
We have a comprehensive guide on scalp micropigmentation, if you need any further information!
Cover image source: Freepik