Does SMP damage hair follicles?

As one of the busiest and most experienced SMP artists in Canada, I receive many emails and DM’s from people who are considering Scalp MicroPigmentation. The aim of my blog is to answer as many of the questions that I received in order to help you make an informed decision.


A common question I receive is;


“Will SMP damage my hair follicles”

Will the SMP needle damage a hair follicle?

Will the SMP needle damage a hair follicle?

During consultations I often hear people say they are conflicted, stuck between getting a full on hair transplant or going with SMP.

As you probably know SMP is far less invasive than a hair transplant and certainly a lot cheaper.

However I am always asked if SMP will damage hair follicles and ruining their chances of having a hair transplant at some point in the future, if they so choose.

In my opinion, this is an important question to ask.

But please remember I am not a medical doctor. So, if you’re really concerned about it, please visit a hair transplant doctor or discuss this with your GP.

Over the years I have had Doctor’s as clients and I have personally spoken with hair transplant specialists on this very topic. So I will relay the information to the best of my ability and experience.


Does SMP damage hair follicles?

At Advanced Scalp Clinic here in Vancouver we use an array of tiny needles to suit the individual scalp. However most commonly you’ll find us using a tight 3 needle, which penetrates the dermis at about 2mm depth.

Hair follicles are much deeper and will not be affected even if pigment is placed above them.

The hair follicle is deed in the dermis

The hair follicle is deep in the dermis

Scalp Micropigmentation does not cause hair loss

Along with the concern that SMP will damage hair follicles comes the question “will SMP cause more hair loss in the future?”

Good news! SMP will not cause any more hair loss to take place. In fact many people seek out dry needling in hopes that the stimulation to the scalp will promote new hair growth.

Rob James SMP is one of Canada’s most sought out artists, known for his ultra realistic hairline creations.




Always available for free consultations

How long does SMP last?

Hi I’m Rob James from Advanced Scalp clinic in Vancouver. As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists I receive a lot of questions via email on a weekly basis regarding SMP.

So through my blog I try to answer as many of the most commonly asked questions in order to educate and inform those who are interested in SMP. Clear up some of the confusion and myths and hopefully paint a clear picture as to what SMP can or cannot do for you.

I recently had a visit from a client of mine who had his SMP done two years ago and the results were still stunning. So it got me thinking about a question I frequently receive.

“How long does SMP last?”

Scalp clinic

2 years old, SMP Still looks great!

When SMP is done correctly, by an experienced artist you can expect it to last (on average) 5 years before a refresh session is needed.

However there are a few factors, which can contribute to less than desirable longevity results for your SMP. The good news is most of these factors are in your control.

For arguments sake we’ll use a full SMP as an example. My full SMP service consists of three sessions, plus a touch up session.

In between your SMP sessions you will experience fading to varying degrees, however do not be alarmed, as this is perfectly normal. Once the sessions are all over you will be required to follow some basic aftercare.

SMP aftercare for longevity

Let me set the record straight, everyone will experience fading. If someone tells you that your SMP will never fade, or can be successfully done in one session, run a mile.

Gradual SMP fading

Gradual SMP fading

The truth is EVERYONE will experience fading to varying degrees and at varying speeds. No two scalps are alike we all have different skin chemistry and different immune systems.

What are the reasons for fading?

As stated above everyone’s skin is different, some people’s skin is more oily, some more dry. Skin cells turn over and renew and with this a cosmetic tattoo will eventually grow lighter. These elements are to a degree out of our control. However if the SMP was done correctly you should see (again on average) your SMP retaining its structure and tone for 5 years.

Is there anything I can do to prolong my SMP longevity?


Maintain your SMP

Yes, there are absolutely things you must be doing to prolong your SMP. Proper maintenance of your scalp micropigmentation is essential and will allow you to enjoy your fresh new look for as long as possible. So lets explore a few easy but vital steps you can take to get the most out of your SMP.

Avoid sun damage

As with any tattoo UV light will fade it, however with that being said, you don’t have to completely avoid all sunlight. I tell my clients to enjoy the sun for twenty minute and then wear a hat or put on an SPF protectant and enjoy the rest of your day.


Make sure you keep your scalp moisturized with a natural alcohol free moisturizer. Coconut oil is a good natural choice, however it might be a little oily for some. I have another blog post on anti-shine matte moisturizers here:

It is recommended that during your SMP and once the SMP is complete, that you avoid using topical chemicals, which contain alcohol, such as Minoxidil or Finasteride.

Healthy lifestyle

As with all things in life a healthy lifestyle determines the outcome and longevity of many things, your SMP is possibly one of them. Healthy life usually results in healthy skin. Healthy skin usually results in a happy, healthy good-looking SMP!

What should I expect to happen over 5 years?

An SMP done by an experienced and skilled practitioner should not vanish over 5. However, it will lighten and to what degree will vary from person to person. You should not need a completely new SMP and a refresh usually will suffice. The refresh usually only takes a few hours and your SMP will be back in top shape.

A healthy looking SMP

A healthy looking SMP

Rob James runs the popular and successful Advanced Scalp Clinic in Vancouver Canada. Approachable, friendly Rob James SMP is always available for free consultation.

Are there any side effects to Scalp Micropigmentation?

Hi this is Rob James, I’m an SMP artist situated in Vancouver British Columbia Canada. As one of the busiest SMP artists in Western Canada I frequently receive emails and DM’s from people interested in Scalp Micropigmentation.

My blog posts expand on the most frequently asked questions that I receive. I do hope that you find them informative and that they help expand your knowledge on the topic of scalp micropigmentation.

“Are there any side effects to Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)”?

Scalp Micropigmentation

A carefully administered SMP by a skilled artist, results in minimal side effects

The number one side effect of SMP (if it is done correctly) is that you will look awesome!

No, seriously, the side effects of a properly administered SMP are minimal. However a poorly administered SMP will end in negative results.

Which I will highlight within this post.

Compared to a hair transplant SMP has very little in the way of side effects. A hair transplant of course being more invasive, more expensive, higher risk, longer recuperation, higher failure rate and of course permanent scaring.

However this isn’t to say that there isn’t any after effects to your SMP.

Immediately after your SMP sessions your scalp will be little red. The impressions might initially appear darker and larger. But as your skin is heals the impressions will slightly shrink and lighten.


If you have any redness after SMP it will subside in a few hours

Some of the impressions will form into a tiny (unseen) scab that over time will heal and fall off, sometimes taking a little pigment with them. This is one (not all) of the reasons for fading in between sessions and one of the needs for multiple sessions.

Unlike a hair transplant with SMP there is no real downtime. Each procedure (usually 3) takes about 3-4 hours, after which you may return to work if you so please.

A good practitioner practises in a sterile, clean environment, with sterile, disposable equipment to minimize any risk of infection. However, how you look after your scalp once the SMP has finished is just as important.

There are some aftercare guidelines to follow which will minimize any chance of negative side effects.

A good clinic will have a thorough and comprehensive aftercare protocol for their clients to take home and follow.

I will discuss the results of a poorly administered SMP and categorize it as a negative side effect of SMP.

Negative results due to a poorly administered SMP procedure.

SMP procedureBadly done SMP results in negative side effects

Some of the negative results from a poorly administered SMP procedure could include. Infection, discoloration from incorrect needle depth, blowouts from needle depth and poor needle timing, poorly mapped out hairline, impressions too close together resulting in a mono-coloured helmet effect. Uneven fading due to needle depth being too superficial.

To avoid negative side effects and undesirable results from a poorly executed SMP procedure, it is vital that you seek out an artist with proven experience, skill and a keen eye for natural detail.

Advanced Scalp Vancouver Call Rob James Advanced Scalp Vancouver Scalp Micropigmentation for detailed SMP information

Rob James’ Vancouver scalp micropigmentation clinic, Advanced scalp, is one of the busiest SMP clinics in Western Canada. Rob will always make time to meet, greet and chat with anyone interested in Scalp Micropigmentation. Call 778 917 7772 or email:

Does scalp micropigmentation Hurt?

As a busy SMP artist based out of Vancouver Canada I receive dozens of emails on a weekly basis from individuals interested in SMP.

My blog posts serve those who might not yet be ready for a consultation or a procedure but do have questions regarding SMP.

So I try to highlight the most common questions I receive in order to help you create a clearer picture of what SMP can or cannot do for you.

One of the questions I commonly receive is

“Is scalp micropigmentation painful?”

Scalp Micropigmentation

Scalp Micropigmentation, does it hurt?

Over the past 5 years SMP has been building rapidly in popularity as a solution for hair loss and hair thinking. Firstly because it is a far cheaper alternative to a hair transplant and secondly there is very little if any down time.

However, when you mention the word tattoo, some people panic at the idea of being pricked by a needle, not once but thousands of times.

As most of you already know, scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a cosmetic tattoo procedure. One, which requires a tiny needle to deposit a pigment into the scalp thousands of times in order to create the look of thousands of micro hairs. These pigment deposits when administered correctly by a skilled and experienced artist create the illusion of a full head of shaved hair.

OK, but is SMP painful?

Well, the long and the short answer is SMP can be mildly painful for some, slightly irritating for others and virtually painless to the vast majority. As you know pain is subjective, so what feels painful to one might feel like nothing to another.

As a general rule I always ask clients if they’ve ever had a traditional tattooing. If the answer is yes, then I tell them that SMP is far less invasive or deep as their tattoo, so far less painful. And if the answer is no, I tell them that SMP is nowhere near as painful or as deep and invasive as a traditional tattoo. This seems to paint a tangible picture for the average person to understand.

Are some parts of the scalp more painful or irritating than others?


Some areas of the scalp more sensitive than others

Whilst the vast majority of people feel little to no discomfort, most will find some variance in sensation from area to area as the artist works his or her way around the scalp.

In my experience most people will find the front of the scalp particularly the hairline more sensitive than the crown. This is due in part to more nerve ending concentration in that area. Some of my clients might feel like sneezing or perhaps their eyes feel like watering when I’m working on the very front of the scalp. The sides of the head around the ears and temples can also be a little sensitive. The crown and back of the head seem to have (in my experience) very little sensation in comparison.

Does scar tissue from a hair transplant hurt more than regular tissue?

Scar tissue from FUT or FUE hair transplants can be a little more sensitive than regular tissue and is frequently easier to irritate and inflame. That’s why great care and experience must be taken when working on scar tissue.

If I feel pain or am petrified of needles what can be done?

numbing cream

Afraid of needles? Have no fear numbing cream is here!

If you feel discomfort, irritation or pain during your session a 5% topical lidocaine cream can be applied which will numb the skin and greatly diminish the sensation.

As well as a topical cream application, do not hesitate to ask your artist if you can take several mini breaks during the session, in order to relieve the skin.

Will my Skin turn red after SMP?


Once your SMP session is over you might notice that the skin looks red and irritated. This is 100% normal and should subside within a few short hours.

About Rob James

Rob James

Rob James SMP at work in his busy Vancouver studio 

Rob James is one of the most experienced and in demand SMP artists in Canada. Known for his ultra realistic hairline creations Rob James works out of his Advanced Scalp Clinic in Vancouver Canada. He is available for consultation at: 778-917-7772

Scalp Micropigmentation

How to prevent a shiny scalp before and after SMP

As a busy SMP artist working out of Advanced Scalp Clinic in Vancouver Canada I get dozens of emails on a weekly basis regarding Scalp Micropigmentation.

One question that stands out is;

“How do I prevent my scalp from being so shiny?”


“Will SMP stop my scalp from being so shiny?”

Will SMP prevent a shiny scalp?

These are two interesting questions! So let’s dive right in. 

Firstly let me make it clear that for many having a shiny scalp isn’t an issue whatsoever. But for those who are troubled by it and who ask me how to prevent it, this blog post is for you.

Let’s start by answering and potentially clearing up any misconceptions surrounding SMP and scalp shine. Scalp Micropigmentation will not completely get rid of scalp shine. It might mitigate it slightly by being less of a contrasting, reflective colour and this new tone might appear less oily looking. But it’s mainly stubble diffusion, which absorbs the light and makes for less reflective surface, therefore a less shiny scalp.

So, for example someone who has a Norwood 6 has far more of a reflective surface than someone with a Norwood 2. The Norwood 2 will have more stubble to break up and absorb light.

So if you do have slight stubble, try not to shave too close in order to preserve the light absorbing effects of stubble. We suggest shaving close with clippers such as the Andis outliner, rather than shaving super close with a blade or a foil.

scalp shine

SMP can lessen the glare, but not eradicate it

But let’s, for arguments sake assume you have a Norwood 5. How can we make this level of hair loss less shiny?

Could it be the oil?

oily scalp

Is an oily scalp the reason for shine?

All scalps’ produce oil, we all have it and it’s a totally natural and necessary process. It serves a purpose, from protecting the skin from bacteria to keeping it supple and young.

It’s true that some people’s skin is oilier than others. However, you cannot choose where your skin is oily and where it’s not. But there are things you can do to conceal, control or absorb the oil.


Step 1:

Washing. Washing the scalp on a regular basis and using a gentle soap with an exfoliate will wash away dead skin and regulate oil production.

Wipe. Whilst you’re out and about keep a packet of wet wipes available. These can be fantastic for on the go oil absorption.

Make sure they are gentle, alcohol free wipes, which contain a soothing astringent like witch hazel. Refrain from putting anything that contains alcohol on your scalp as this has a drying effect, which is counter productive as it later produces  more oil.


Wipe the scalp to absorb excess oil.

Moisturize. After washing the scalp use a natural, light, quick absorbing moisturizer to keep oil levels in balance.

Step 2:

Sweating. is healthy but can make your scalp look even shinier, here’s what to do. You cannot try to not sweat, it’s a natural process our body undertakes to eliminate and regulate. But you can be prepared, a pack of absorbent, soft towels to discretely wipe the scalp or a clean handkerchief strictly for this purpose is useful for staying on top of the shine.

Shaving. If you’ve done your research on SMP and quality SMP artists they’ll tell you that the optimal way to sport your new SMP is to keep the hair at an optimal, shaved length. But, there is a way to offset the shine by the way you shave and prepare your scalp.

SMP artists

Keeping the hair at an adequate stubble length helps mitigate reflection.


Instead of using a bic razor or a foil you could opt to shave the hair just a tad longer. I find the Andis Outliner to be the optimal length for SMP. It just shaves the scalp enough to leave a tiny, little bit of stubble on top for that added diffusion. Shaving your scalp with the grain of your hair and not against it is also a way of keeping just the right length to offset the shine.

So to summarize, wash daily with a gentle exfoliating, none drying soap. Moisturize with a natural none oily, quick absorbing moisturizer. None alcohol wet wipes for oil control throughout the day. Manage sweat with quick, clean absorbent towel or towelettes (when needed).

Daily shaving to the ideal length with clippers (such as Andis Outliner) and shaving with the grain as opposed to against it, therefore maximizing any stubble.

Mattifying. Finally I’d like to discuss matte products. These are typically moisturizers or sun blocks and come in the form of powder or creams. Their aim is to provide a matte look rather than a glossy look for the skin. There are a few quality ones on the market. I personally always recommend the Banana Boat dry balance sunblock as it provides sun protections as well as a dry mattifying effect.

Some people use milk of magnesium, I have mentioned it to clients, but I am yet to hear any feedback on it, so I will refrain from comment.


 Rob James SMP is a scalp Micropigmention artist who works out of his private clinic in Vancouver Canada. His ultra realistic, natural hairline creations have made him one of the most in demand SMP artists in the country.

He is available for consultation at or 778-917-7772

What can Scalp Micropigmentation be used for?

Scalp Micropigmentation is a diverse and practical application, which can be used for a multitude of cosmetic purposes. Ranging from concealing scars, blending alopecia patches, adding the illusion of density to thinning hair or as in it’s most common use, creating an entire head of freshly shaved hair.

SMP’s most common usage Male: Pattern Hair loss

Our most requested service here at the Advanced Scalp clinic in Vancouver is the creation of a natural looking head of shaved hair, usually this requires a full SMP service. 

We are now well known on the West Coast for our ultra realistic, diffused natural hairlines. And the go to facility for Scalp micro pigmentation which not only good fantastic but also stands the test of time.

Client’s who contact us for consultation or further information on SMP generally fall within a 5, 6 or7 on the Norwood hair loss scale.

It’s during consultation where we can really access the client’s level of hair loss, skin tone, scalp condition, hair colour and of course the client’s desired style.

The true art of SMP lies is in being able to blend in our two dimensional cosmetic impressions with the client’s three-dimensional real hair, seamlessly. As well as being able to create realistic volume and density where it needs to be all whilst feathering down to an ultra realistic hairline.


Female thinning and density

Female pattern hair loss or density SMP using SMP

Creating the appearance of density underneath thinning hair requires a slightly different approach. Many times what would be dense and dark enough for a male scalp re-creation would be insufficient to mask the stark contrast between dark hair and pale scalp. (There are a few common very important misconceptions regarding density which you can read about in the blog post pros and cons of density treatments)

However if the client fulfils the requirements for us to perform a density treatment we will sufficiently reduce the contrast between scalp and hair. By peppering the scalp with an even shade which drastically reduces shine, diffusing the light and creating the illusion of denser, thicker hair.

Scar concealment:

Another popular use of SMP is to conceal scars, mainly FUT and FUE scars caused by hair transplants. When considering scar concealment make you’re your practioner has had plenty of experience and is well versed in the difficulties that can arise when working with scar tissue. Scar tissue does not always behave like normal untouched tissue. And turning a white scar into a black or blue scar is a real possibility. Scar tissue can become easily inflamed causing redness and difficulty visualizing space of impressions, scar tissue can be difficult with pigment retention or easy to penetrate too deeply causing pigment blowout. Crowding, overly darkening and an unblended finish causing your pale scar to turn black or blue is a real possibility. So make sure your chosen artist has had plenty of experience or is prepared to really take his or her time working on the scar and surrounding area.

However when an experienced practitioner who has taken into consideration the scar’s shape treats a scar properly, proximity, topography and surrounding natural hairstyle, length and volume, the results can be life changing. However, as an artist and a client receiving SMP managing realistic expectations is also a very important. Not all scars are equal not all scar will seemingly vanish, some scars are raised and will cast a shadow regardless of SMP, some are deep depressions in the skin and will also play with the light in different ways. So realistic expectations is something that must be discussed.


Autoimmune conditions, which affect hair follicles such as Alopecia, are often seen at our Advanced Scalp clinic in Vancouver. Alopecia concealment can be as straight forward as a small patch, which needs to be blended into the surrounding hair. Or as complex as multiple extensive areas which need to be expertly blended into one another and the surrounding hair. To total hair loss where an entire scalp need to be expertly created. With any stage of alopecia you want to make sure that the area you’re treating is no longer migrating, in other words no longer actively spreading.

Not all Artists are created equal


For all SMP applications regardless your needs the true litmus test for a successful procedure remains firmly in the artistry of the technician.

SMP isn’t a one-size fit all procedure and you cannot have a cookie cutter approach. SMP is an art and just like any art some have the eye, some do not! SMP is not a licensed, there is no pass or fail test therefore the litmus test is in the artist’s body of work.

SMP training provides only the basics of application, skin theory, hairline mock-ups, sanitation, etc. etc. Once these basics have been taught the SMP provider is on their own to ply their trade. Some with increasing experience will manage to create wonderful realistic looking heads of realistic hair. Others alas will fail to develop the needed detail orientated eye, which separates the mediocre from the excellent.

Fortunately, SMP is a visual medium therefore the proof is in the pudding!


To find out if SMP is for you contact Rob James at his Advanced Scalp Clinic in Vancouver BC for a FREE consultation.


Scalp Micropigmentation

Why do I need multiple Scalp Micropigmentation sessions?

As a busy Vancouver scalp micropigmentation artist, a question I frequently receive is; “why do I need more than one SMP/ Scalp Micropigmentation session?”

In order to achieve a natural looking scalp of replicated follicles your SMP artist must take several factors into consideration such as fading, inflammation (redness during procedure) pigment retention, tone adjustment, healing time and blending.

No two scalps are the same. It takes skill to design a realistic hairline and time to build the desired density. Let’s explore this topic on a deeper level.

Scalp Micropigmentation results

To get the natural Scalp Micropigmentation results seen here (by Rob James SMP) there are many variable to take into  consideration

If for example an SMP artist told you (the client) that they could do your entire SMP in just one session, the respective smp artist is not really taking into consideration the multiple facets which usually cause fading in the coming weeks. This is due in part to the body’s own immune response. Neither are they taking into account skin flaking, due to dry or excessively oily skin. Each individuals skin chemistry varies widely so it’s impossible to tell these things without multiple sessions.

For example, I frequently see scalps loose up to 20% of the impressions in between the first session and the second session. Whilst some others might only loose 5%.


Typical fade in between 1st and 2nd session.

3rd session density

There is also the very real danger of over crowding the impressions due to limited visibility from inflammation, which causes redness of the skin. Or simply doing too much too soon, which in turn is painful for the client and painstaking for the artist, leaving too much room for tiredness and error.

Then there’s pigment tweaking, which might happen in between the multiple sessions, i.e. gradually increasing, or decreasing the pigment tone.

The ideal SMP length for most people sporting a Norwood 5,6,7 is three sessions, which are a minimum of ten days apart. Plus a final touch up two months down the road.

During that two-month period the client can get back to life as normal as the SMP fully settles.

It is the final touch up where the artist can see exactly how the scalp has taken the pigment over an extended period and can then blend any uneven areas accordingly.


A typical two month touch up session

This system of three sessions plus a touch up allows for all the uncontrollable variables and procedural necessities, such as fading, gradual density building, hairline extension, diffusion and of course the subtle final touches to maximize that realistic quality.

So in order for us to create the best-looking SMP possible the artist and the client both must practice patience.

But hopefully you will have done your homework and you will be comfortable with your chosen artist’s level of experience and knowledge on the subject.

Rob James is a highly experienced Vancouver scalp micropigmentation artist working out of advanced scalp.

He is always ready to answer any questions and give his best advice to anyone interested in SMP.

What is SMP?

Hi my name is Rob James I am a Vancouver scalp

micropigmentation artist currently working out of my clinic Advanced Scalp.

As one of western Canada’s busiest SMP artists, each week I receive dozens of emails and DM’s from people considering or curious about Scalp micropigmentation in Vancouver.

Many of these messages are from people who have just heard  about SMP for the first time and they are perhaps not ready to sit down for a consultation just yet.

Other inquiries might be from people who know more about the process but just need a little more in depth information about the process or the artist before taking that next step.

Either way I thought I’d write a series of posts over the next few weeks to help answer the most common questions I receive. In order to help create a clear picture of what scalp micropigmentation is and what it can potentially do for you. 

So I guess the best place to start is; what is SMP?

SMP is the abbreviated form for Scalp micro-pigmentation, which is essentially a cosmetic tattoo.

cosmetic tattoo

SMP is performed using a small, lightweight, relatively silent machine with a tiny, sterile, disposable needle attached to the tip. This needle is then dipped into an SMP specific pigment. Small micro deposits of pigment are then implanted at a superficial depth into the scalp.

If done correctly, by a skilled technician

The process should perfectly mimic the appearance of hair follicles, thus helping the recipient to restore the look of a full head of shaved hair.

shaved hair

These replicated follicles perfectly, create the illusion of shaved hair or can add density to areas of the scalp where hair is thinning, reducing the contrast between hair and scalp.

Another fantastic use for scalp micropigmentation is scar concealment. Mainly scar tissue from FUE or FUT hair transplants.

SMP when applied properly by an experienced and skilled artist can help to mask strip scarring and plug scarring by blending the scar tissue with the surrounding healthy hair.

SMP is also perfect for disguising conditions such as alopecia.


SMP is a multifaceted, practical, relatively low cost (compared to surgical options) and has zero downtime.

For all of the above applications it’s important to seek out an experienced and skilled artist. As with any trade or skill competence and ability will vary greatly.

A good first step is to view a scalp micropigmentation artist’s body of work and see if their style resonates with you. What you want to be looking for is realism, an artistic eye and a subtle attention to natural detail.

An experienced artist will know needle depth and duration, in order to perfectly replicate the surrounding natural follicle density. The artist should also have an experienced knowledge of pigment and tone in order to blend all hair patterns and colours seamlessly into the existing hair.

If you would like to learn more about SMP why not request a thorough consultation with Rob James SMP at Advanced Scalp in Vancouver BC.

As one of Canada’s most experienced and requested SMP artists I love to share my knowledge and help you make the right decision.

Thank you for reading.

Vancouver Scalp micropigmentation artist Rob James @ Advanced Scalp

Call 778-917-7772 or email: