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Does Scalp Micro pigmentation (SMP) Look Real?

As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists, I receive a lot of Emails on a weekly basis from people curious about SMP. My blog serves to help people interested in scalp micro pigmentation make informed decisions regarding SMP.


A question I frequently receive is:


 “Does scalp micro pigmentation (SMP) look real?”

 realistic SMP

Does SMP look real? Example of  a quality, realistic SMP


The answer to this depends on several variables, so let’s explore this topic further.

Client expectations

The first thing to manage as an SMP artist is your client’s expectations. It’s important to fully explain the entire SMP experience and process to your clients in a very clear manner. Many times unsuspecting people can be misled by advertisements, cunning marketing, doctored photographs and or untruths in order to get business.

It’s important to clearly explain and map out the entire procedure relevant to your clients particular pattern of hair loss.

Photo Misrepresentation

Client has more actual hair than most

Client has more actual hair than most


Many times a photo of someone with a lot more hair than a typical Norwood 5, 6 or 7 can be used as an example of what SMP can do. It’s important to be realistic, make sure you see before after photos of someone who has a very similar hair loss pattern as yourself. As an SMP artist make sure you highlight to your prospective client, that their results will vary depending on their hair loss pattern.

SMP artist Experience and Skill 

In order to get a clear picture of what SMP can and cannot do for you. It’s important that your chosen artist has enough experience and skill to show you examples of what to expect based on their own body of work. Hopefully they will be able to show you examples of former clients who had a very similar scalps and hair loss patterns as yourself, in order to give you a realistic expectation.

Appropriate Hairline design and density 

Once you have decided on getting SMP it’s important to make sure you work with your artist on designing a realistic and appropriate new hairline. Do your homework and decide whether your chosen artist has a style that resonates with your desire and expectations. An appropriate hairline design depends on a variety of things such as age, existing surrounding hair pattern, existing hair density, hair colour and head shape.

SMP equipment:

The ability of an artist being able to create a convincing head of realistic looking impressions heavily relies on the equipment they have and how they use it.

It takes time, patience and an eye for detail to expertly combine pigment shades and needle widths to create that realistic 3D effect over the sessions.

Making sure that your chosen SMP artist is well equipped with the latest in needle technology and pigment quality is essential. Although this is hard to tell for someone who doesn’t know the details of the SMP business.  An operator should be open to sharing their product knowledge in order to make you feel at ease and able to do some research of your own.


Keeping your surrounding hair short and following aftercare

Keeping your surrounding hair short and following aftercare

Following the aftercare instructions in between SMP sessions is essential for quality end results. And following the SMP aftercare for years after your SMP is completed is paramount for prolonging the longevity and quality of your SMP.

Short Surrounding hair

One of the most important things you can do to make sure your SMP is always on point is to keep the surrounding hair short and well kept. Other than having a bad SMP job, there is nothing more that will make an SMP look washed out and unrealistic than long surrounding hair.


Long hair surrounding your SMP will cause a contrast between the 3D real hair and the 2D cosmetic tattoo.

SMP can never compete with longer unshaved hair for darkness.

So for optimal effect, keep that surrounding hair short.

I do hope that this blog post highlights some of the things you can do to ensure your SMP results are realistic and rewarding.

Rob James SMP operates out of Vancouver’s premier Scalp Micro Pigmentation clinic and training facility Advanced Scalp Clinic.

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