SMP Procedure – Scalp Micropigmentation Treatment Step by Step

By Emily M.| Last updated on July 14, 2022
SMP Procedure - Scalp Micropigmentation Step by Step
⏱️ 6 min read

Before you commit to a micropigmentation treatment (or any treatment really), it’s important to get familiar with the process. If you know what to expect, there will be less anxiety and you will know what the end results can be. This especially applies to techniques that involve breaking the skin, like the SMP procedure.

To help you prepare for a scalp micropigmentation treatment, or to help you decide whether you want to get the treatment at all, we’ve prepared a detailed step by step guide through the scalp micropigmentation procedure. It covers all phases of the treatment, from consults to end results.

Keep reading to find out what to expect from your SMP appointment.

How Is the Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure Done?

Scalp micropigmentation is a form of cosmetic tattooing. It’s done by implementing tiny dots of pigment into the skin of the scalp with an electric machine similar to a tattoo gun, but somewhat gentler on the skin.

The pigments are formulated differently from traditional tattoo ink, so they fade evenly and consistently over time, without the risk of changing tone or blurring if the treatment is done right.

The dots are made wherever hair is sparse or missing altogether, so the treatment can be done to give existing hair an illusion of more thickness and density, or to recreate the buzz cut look on the entire scalp for clients who have very little to no hair.

It can be done on clients of any gender, and the technique can be adjusted to give different results.

How Is the Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure Done?Image source: Instagram @eximioussmp

SMP Procedure Step by Step

Although it’s the responsibility of your artist to walk you through the treatment, sometimes they rush through the description or they may not give you all the details you’d like to know. So PMUHub guides you through each phase of the scalp micropigmentation treatment!

It’s always useful coming to your appointment well-informed – it will make the whole experience much easier both for you and your artist.

Step 1 – Consults

The SMP procedure actually starts way before there’s any needling done!

Consults are perhaps the most important stage of the process, since it determines how the results will turn out, gives you an opportunity to meet the artist and get a sense of their style and expertise, and gives the artist an opportunity to walk you through the aftercare instructions – which are super important.

It’s always advisable to do the consults on a separate day, not right before your treatment. This way, you have time to discuss your wishes with your artist with no rush, and they have the time to assess your scalp, make sure you’re a good candidate for the SMP procedure, and come up with the best shape and color for you specifically.

It’s also the time to do a patch test, to eliminate the risk of allergic reactions to any of the products used for the treatment.

Step 2 – Cleaning

At the actual appointment, the first step is cleaning the scalp. Since the skin will be broken, the area needs to be free of all dirt and product residues, to eliminate the risk of contamination and subsequent infection.

The artist will use a disinfecting cleanser to clean the area.

Step 3 – Outlining

Then, the artist will map out what will become your new hairline. This is a very important step and the artist will take their time with it. Deciding how far down to bring the hairline should be based on your natural features.

They will draw on the outline, and you’ll have the chance to speak your mind and decide how you want it to look.

SMP Procedure Step by Step - OutliningImage source: Instagram @lastingenhancements

Step 4 – Numbing

The SMP procedure is done with the help of topical numbing, an anesthetic cream which eliminates the pain of the needling. A thick layer of numbing cream will be applied onto your scalp and left on for about 30 minutes.

Once it kicks in, the cream will be removed and it’s time for the actual micropigmentation.

Note that some artists prefer to numb first and then outline – it’s a matter of the artist’s preference.

Step 5 – The Micropigmentation

Finally, it’s time for the actual pigment implementation. The artist will mix a custom shade of pigment. Bear in mind that SMP is always done with an ashy-toned pigment, as this is the tone emerging hair follicles have, regardless of your natural hair color. It’s just the question of how dark to go, and how much warmth they’ll add to it.

They will implement tiny dots of pigment wherever your hair needs re-densifying, or cover the entire scalp. They will probably make 2+ passes.

The process shouldn’t be painful, since your scalp is numb, but it may be a bit uncomfortable, especially around the temples. If you feel actual pain, let your artist know – they can add more numbing.

SMP Procedure Step by Step - MicropigmentationImage source: Instagram @primescalp

Step 6 – Cleaning and Photos

When the pigment is implemented, it’s time to clean off the residues from the skin. Then, the artist will take some photos for reference, and ask you whether it’s okay with you if they share the photos on their social media.

Step 7 – Healing Process and Aftercare

The SMP procedure doesn’t really end once you leave the salon – over the next few weeks, the pigments will settle into your skin and the incisions will heal. This stage is crucial to the success of the treatment – you need to pay some special attention to your scalp and follow the aftercare instructions your artist prescribes.

Generally, this boils down to:

  • Cleaning your scalp in a certain way and according to a prescribed schedule.
  • Applying an aftercare ointment.
  • Keeping your scalp out of sunlight.
  • Avoiding any products your artist doesn’t approve.

It will take about 2 weeks for your scalp to recover sufficiently for your next session, and after your final session, it will take about 30 days for a full recovery.

Here are detailed guides through the SMP healing process and SMP aftercare for more information.

Step 8 – Further Sessions

Generally, scalp micropigmentation is always done in 2+ sessions. A single session usually isn’t enough to implement sufficient pigment, and further sessions are needed to make sure the results last for several years, and to get the color saturation even in all spots.

No matter how many sessions you get, each will look more or less the same. The artist will first assess how well your skin is taking pigment, and repeat all the steps described above (except for the consults and the outlining – the shape will be there already). With each session, less and less work will be needed, so they won’t take as long as the initial session.

For most clients, 3 sessions give great results, but it’s all individual and you may need more or less additional sessions.

SMP Procedure Step by Step - Further SessionsImage source: Instagram @suzetteescalante_tattooartist

Step 9 – Success!

Once the results of your SMP are as dark as you want them to be and your skin has recovered from the final session, you can consider your SMP procedure successfully over! Enjoy your new look!

How Long Does a SMP Procedure Take?

If you do the consults in advance, your initial SMP session will last between 2 and 4 hours. This is when the majority of the work is done, so each further session won’t take more than an hour or an hour and a half.

Got Any More Questions?

We’ve covered the SMP procedure in detail, but you might have some additional questions on how the technique works, or the cost, aftercare, etc. Head over to our comprehensive guide through the scalp micropigmentation treatment for more information about any aspect of the procedure, or scroll through great before and after pics in our SMP gallery!

Cover image source: Freepik



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