Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects – What’s Normal and What’s Not

By Emily M.| Last updated on July 14, 2022
Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects - What’s Normal and What’s Not
⏱️ 5 min read

Scalp micropigmentation is a form of tattooing, although it’s different from traditional body art. It uses an electric device to make tiny dots on the scalp which are filled with pigments. The skin is broken and therefore reacts.

So scalp micropigmentation brings about a few immediate reactions, which can sometimes worry clients who weren’t warned.

Apart from the expected scalp micropigmentation side effects, there are a couple of ways the results of the treatment can go wrong that emerge over time.

Let’s see what are the scalp micropigmentation side effects, what’s normal, and what’s not.

Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects During the Procedure

In order to deposit pigments into the skin of the scalp, the needle of the SMP machine has to pierce the skin in thousands of tiny incisions. The needle only reaches the upper dermis layer of the skin, so it only goes about 1 mm into the skin, but the surface is still broken.

Therefore, it’s not the most pleasant sensation.

One of the inevitable scalp micropigmentation side effects is discomfort. Although the sensation is not described as pain by most clients, you will still feel something: pinching, stinging, pressure.

The level of discomfort varies from client to client. It all depends on your pain threshold, the sensitivity of your skin, and whether or not your artist uses topical numbing or not. Some artists don’t offer numbing, as the treatment is not that painful, yet the cream can make their job harder.

It’s also important to note that some areas hurt more than others – temples and the crown generally hurt more. When it comes to scar tissue, the experience can vary from extreme tenderness to nothing at all.

Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects During the TreatmentImage source: Instagram @mavrikioshelena

Expected Immediate Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects

Although the needle doesn’t go deep into the skin, these superficial cuts are still treated as injuries by the body and its immune system.

So, in the days after the treatment, while the skin is going through the recovery period, you can expect:

Redness and Inflammation

Breaking of the skin triggers blood flow into the area and an inflammatory reaction. Your scalp will start looking red as soon as halfway into the treatment, and it will take some time for this to subside.

This is completely normal, although it may not look very attractive.

Redness usually disappears after 1-2 days.

Expected Immediate Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects: Redness and InflammationImage source: Instagram @scalpmicroytb


After your treatment, the area could feel tender to the touch. After all, it’s just been pierced over and over again. Nothing too bad, just make sure you don’t irritate the area further.

It should stop by the next morning.

Scabbing, then Peeling

Around day 2 or 3, tiny scabs will form all over the treated area. As a form of injury, each tiny cut needs to heal through scabbing.

Once the body closes the cuts underneath the scabs, they’ll fall off. This phase doesn’t look very attractive, but it’s important you remember not to touch the area. Ripping off the scabs can pull out the pigments and cause the results to heal patchy – lighter in some spots, and darker than others.

Peeling should end by day 10.


Itchiness is one of the scalp micropigmentation side effects almost everyone experiences. As the wounds heal, mild itchiness is a signal that everything is going according to plan.

Extreme itchiness, however, is not. It could be a sign of something going wrong. It can be a sign of an infection or an allergic reaction.

For a detailed day-to-day guide through SMP healing, read this article.

Worrisome Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects

On the other hand, some scalp micropigmentation side effects are symptoms that could point to something going wrong. Some more serious scalp micropigmentation side effects are:


Whenever the skin is broken, there is a chance of an infection developing. It can happen if the treatment was performed in unsterile conditions or using equipment that wasn’t properly sterilized, or it can develop during the healing process, while the wounds haven’t closed up yet, in case of improper aftercare.

Signs of an infection are:

  • extreme itchiness
  • redness past day 2
  • pus.

Most infections are mild, but more severe cases can happen and they may require antibiotics. If you notice any of the symptoms, contact your artist as soon as possible.

To find out how to care for your SMP during healing and prevent infections, read this article.

Allergic Reaction

The pigments and other products used during a scalp micropigmentation procedure can cause an allergic reaction. These are rare, but they can happen.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction are:

  • extreme itchiness
  • redness past day 2
  • rashes
  • tenderness
  • swelling.

In order to avoid an allergic reaction, always insist on doing a patch test before the treatment.

Long-Term Scalp Micropigmentation Side Effects

Some scalp micropigmentation side effects can emerge a few months or years after the treatment.

Results Look Greenish or Bluish

The results of SMP can turn an unattractive shade in case of improper technique or the wrong pigment formula.

With scalp micropigmentation, the color is supposed to be injected into the upper dermis layer of the skin, so, very shallow. If they’re injected deeper than this, they can appear not neutral-ashy, but rather greenish or bluish. That’s why it’s important to always find a certified, experienced artist to perform the treatment.

Scalp micropigmentation is supposed to be done with pigment inks specially formulated for imitating the natural hair follicles and even fading. If the artist uses traditional tattoo ink, the marks won’t fade the way they’re supposed to. Scalp tattoos done with body art ink don’t look natural and they don’t fade the way SMP is supposed to.

SMP Results Look Greenish or Bluish

The Dots Have Spread

Sometimes, the individual dots of pigment spread after a while. The pigment migrated and makes the dots look bigger than they’re supposed to, and they no longer look like emerging hair follicles, but rather like, well, a bunch of dot tattoos. They may even merge together.

Pigment spreading in the skin can happen due to poor technique – if the pigments were injected too deep, or if the needle used was too wide, or the dots were placed too close to each other. This usually becomes visible after the healing period.

Or, it can happen to clients whose scalp is extremely oily. In this case, it’s not the artist’s fault.

Sometimes, the scalp micropigmentation individual dots of pigment spread after a while.Image source: Instagram @laserawayink_tattoo_removal

To Conclude

After the SMP treatment, some scalp micropigmentation side effects are expected – they’re normal parts of the healing process. But others, like allergies, infections, or the results turning unattractive after a while, are not. To avoid these, make sure you find a certified, experienced artist to do the treatment, and follow the aftercare routine prescribed.

Cover image source: Freepik



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