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Does SMP Fade?

Many people are just learning about the wonders of scalp micropigmentation (SMP). The prospect of gaining their hairline back can be very exciting. However, there are a few fundamental things you should know about the procedure before embarking.

And one of those things is, “does SMP fade?

When done correctly by an experienced artist SMP can be life changing in a positive way.

Over the next series of blog posts I will be going over the basics of what SMP is, what is involved and what are the most common questions I receive during my consultations.

One question I receive on a regular basis is, “Does SMP fade?”

This is a common question that deserves a thorough answer.

Does SMP fade?

Does SMP fade

Will my SMP fade over time?

The short answer is, SMP does fade, and if done correctly it will lighten gradually over 3-5 years.

If applied incorrectly it could last a lifetime, and will no doubt look horrendous.

On average your SMP should last about 3-5 years before a refresh is carried out (preferably by the same artist).

The refresh should only take around 2 hours to revamp. Usually a well-placed darker scatter is enough to return the SMP to its original aesthetic.

A refresh does NOT mean that you have to go through all three sessions again.

It’s important to note, that this is based on an average. Some people might need a refresh after 2 years. And some (not many) will have to come back in for a refresh after only one year.

Why does SMP fade?

SMP fading is primarily down to two things.

One is your own immune system ability to hold on to the pigment. Immune systems have a tendency to whittle away at anything foreign in the body to varying degrees.

Another reason could be down to an individual’s lifestyle, excessive sun exposure, excessive sweating, and excessive skin exfoliation.

It is important to follow the aftercare immediately after the procedure as well as over the long term.

A good SMP artist should be able to explain the healing process and aftercare rules in detail.

Again, I can only go on averages, some individuals have great retention, whilst other have poor retention.

Why do conventional tattoos last almost a lifetime, but SMP will fade out over 5 years?

traditional tattoo

SMP a superficial cosmetic tattoo compared to a traditional tattoo

The reason why a conventional tattoo will last such a long time and your SMP will fade out in a handful of years are all down to needle and pigment depth.

A conventional tattoo is applied at a much deeper depth with a very different needle size and process.

 If SMP were applied at the same depth, using the same process as a conventional tattoo, the results would not look like real stubble at all. In fact it would probably be discoloured, blotchy and look like a matte finish tattoo.

SMP dot placement on the other hand is placed at a very superficial depth in the dermis. This area is not rich in blood vessels, thus it is able to retain shape and not spread with dilution.

However on the downside, due to it’s proximity to the surface of the skin it does not last as long. As it is more exposed to the elements (UV) and the skin’s natural exfoliation cycles.

If SMP is done correctly the fading should be uniform over the years and as long as the surrounding hair is kept consistently short, the SMP should look good for a long time.

Will my SMP eventually completely fade away?

Some people want to know, if they do not like the SMP but do not want to remove it via laser, can they just wait for it to completely fade?

In short, yes, you can, but again only if it is done properly.

If done properly and blended successfully into the surrounding hair, your SMP should eventually fade to almost nothing.

Keep it Light

If a client insists on super dark and super dense, they must understand that as the pigment fades it perhaps will not fade uniformly. Resulting in a patchy appearance or matte look.

SMP artist

Make sure your SMP is done correctly

An over zealous practitioner can also cause blowouts in an attempt to satisfy a client’s want for darker and denser results. This is why experience and good communication is essential.

So, in closing, SMP can look great years down the line as long as some fundamental rules are followed.

About Rob James SMP

Rob James is an experienced SMP artist who runs Advanced Scalp Clinic in Vancouver Canada. For more information on SMP or to find out if you’re a suitable candidate, contact Rob James at his Vancouver SMP studio: info@robjamessmp.com

5 Ways To Avoid a Bad SMP

“I’ve seen many bad SMP’s online, how do I avoid this?” 

 This is a question I get during consultation all too often. So, I thought I’d address this important question with a blog post. 

 First off, let’s make a distinction between a poorly applied SMP, one, which is full of heavily blown out areas and needs to be removed. And a well applied SMP but is just not appropriately placed, or thought out.  

However for the sake of this blog post we will combine the two and consider them both bad SMP”s. 

 1: Work within sensible parameters 

 When considering SMP it is important to have realistic expectations. Many people see something online and (through no fault of their own) naturally assume SMP can create whatever they have seen.

Work within a sensible style range

This might be possible in some cases, but the real question to ask is would this be appropriate for me? This is also the task of a good SMP practitioner to help guide the client, instead of just agreeing and attempting to create whatever the client wants.  

Experience has shown me that the best results come to those who keep their SMP within realistic boundaries, which are age and stage appropriate, with a seamless continuation of their surrounding hair density and tone.

2: Do not drastically lower hairline 

Work as closely to your natural hairline as possible

As mentioned above many times a client will arrive with photos saved from social media. Although in many cases these are helpful, sometimes the look cannot be achieved (without risking a bad looking SMP). So the most important thing to do when looking at reference photos, is to look at the before images. Does the particular model you’re looking at have a similar hair loss pattern, similar hair tone, similar hair density, similar head shape, similar skin tone and are they a similar age as yourself.  

There are also times when a client will bring along a photo of their hairline from 20 years ago. Again, nothing wrong with this, but we must be realistic and age appropriate when it comes to hairline placement. An 18-year-old hairline will not look good on a now 42-year-old head. 

The important thing to remember is that you can always add to a hairline in increments over the subsequent SMP sessions, until you’ve found your perfect placement. Do not rush it, many times what you think will look good, might end up not looking so good. 

My mantra whilst working on clients is, “you can always add more, you cannot take away” and “slow and steady wins the race”. 

3: Avoid an unnatural shape, tone and density

A good SMP (in my opinion) blends perfectly into the short surrounding stubble.  And matches the naturally existing tone and density. In my opinion the surrounding hair should be kept to a 0.5mm or shorter on a daily basis (or close to it).

If too long, you run the risk of creating too much of a contrast between three-dimensional hair and two-dimensional cosmetic tattoo. You also run the risk of the natural hair stubble drowning out the SMP in tone as the natural stubble when too long becomes too dark.


Appropriately place hairline is key to a good SMP

If a hairline is too low, too sharp or the sides brought forward too much, it will box in the forehead, and this will not look good either (no matter how well the SMP has been applied). 

If the tone of the SMP is too dark this will eventually take on a monotone, muddy look and will not match the surrounding stubble. This can often happen if the SMP practitioner has not cut the surrounding hair short enough, as they will end up trying  to match the SMP with hair that is too long. 

The same applies when the tone is too light, after 24 hours of hair growth; the growing darker stubble will drown out the SMP out too quickly. This issue will only compound over time as the SMP lightens. 

If the SMP practitioner continues to apply a tone, which is too light or too dark you will end up with monotone effect. 

If the impressions are too densely packed in without any tonal changes (layering) the SMP will also take on a heavy monotone aesthetic. 

In all cases it is always best to match the surrounding density and take the tone a tad darker, to compensate for 24 hours of hair growth and the SMP fading over time. 

4: Choose an appropriate style

It goes without saying; try not to be too radical with your SMP style. A good artist will be able to guide you as to what will look good and what will not.

An important thing to hold in mind is to try to think about the future when considering your SMP style. What seems to be appropriate now, might not look so good in 5 years time. 

So you want to get something that ages as gracefully as you do, think classic, conservative. Not too young of a hairline and not too old. And remember you can always add a touch here and there to your hairline over time.

Age appropriate style, something that will age well with you

Also try not to get something that is completely different from your former existing hairline. For example, if you once had a peaked hairline, it’s probably best not to get a hairline, which is now as straight as an arrow. You don’t have to go back to exactly what you had, but try to get something, which is in the middle, and leave room for subtle modifications as the session progress.

5: Seek Experience and Reputation

When it comes time to select an SMP artist to work with, try to choose an artist who’s style resonates with you. It’s best not to choose someone who has a “signature” style, which is completely different from what you desire and expect them to do something out of their comfort zone. 

I always encourage all potential clients’ to have many consultations with SMP artists, as you will want to work with someone who you have clear, concise communication with. 

There are many good SMP artists out there, just choose someone who has your best interests at heart, has a good track record and who you communicate well with.

Lastly one of the most important keys to a good SMP is patience. A quality SMP cannot be rushed and a quality SMP is not created in one session. 

Rob James is one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists, working out of his Vancouver SMP studio, Advanced Scalp. 

Rob is always open and enthusiastic to share his knowledge and love of SMP.  

 

info@robjamessmp.com

 

 

 

 

How does SMP look after years?

As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists I consult with many potential clients on a weekly basis.  Most of the questions I answer revolve around the SMP procedure and the desired look the client wants to achieve. However, occasionally someone asks me “How will the SMP look years from now?”

This is a very good question and one I think deserves some attention.

So today’s blog post I will try to answer this often overlooked question.

So, how will your SMP look in years to come?

How will my SMP look years later?

First off let’s assume that you have done your homework, you’ve searched for good, experienced artists, who are creating work you like. You’ve had your consultation with your chosen SMP artist and you’ve set a date to begin your SMP.

(In order to answer this question correctly I can only go on my own experience and style as a reference.)

Typically, my own SMP style focuses on realism and a natural aesthetic. Over the years I have learnt to stick to and perfect the one style, and that’s subtle realism. My goal with every SMP is for it to go unnoticed, nothing makes me happier than when a client returns to my clinic and says, “I love it, and no one has said a thing” to me this is a result.

However, one of the downsides to a subtle, realistic SMP (in my experience) is longevity. It might not last as long as a heavy, solid SMP. A good SMP is finding that happy medium between realism and longevity.

As with all tattoos, conventional and cosmetic there will always be fading. On average I tell my clients that my style of SMP will last anywhere between 3-5 years before a touch up is needed. However some will perhaps need a small touch up after 2 years, whilst others won’t need to touch it for 5 years. This all depends on your own individual immune system as well as how you follow the aftercare.

A conventional tattoo will last a lifetime, primarily due to the pigment depth and placement technique. SMP due to its shallow depth and delicate placement technique will not. The reason being is that for an SMP impression to look like a hair follicle, the pigment must be placed at a shallow depth, with a very tiny needle. Bad SMP is often simply due to pigment depth (too deep) and/or needle size (too thick) resulting in patchy, discoloured blobs, throughout the scalp.

So after several years how will the average properly applied SMP look?

SMP on the left, faded & in need of refresh / SMP on right, immediately after refresh

When applied properly and aftercare is followed adequately, the SMP should evenly fade throughout. The pace of fading does vary from client to client. On average after about 3 to 5 years you will need what is called an SMP touch up. The touch up is not a completely brand new SMP, as the base tone from your original SMP is already there. The touch up usually takes about 2-3 hours to complete and usually brings the SMP back to what it was like 3 years prior, essentially a fresh SMP.

If an SMP which is done correctly and is simply left alone, it will eventually completely fade away.

When an SMP becomes heavy and monotone looking,

This is usually the result of an initial SMP being applied too dense, heavy, dark or deep, and the pigment has merged into one. This risk is also possible if a client insists on too many touch ups in too short a period of time.

A heavy, deep SMP faded out after several years

To minimize these risks, it is best to always wear your surrounding hair as short as possible and to apply a subtle, lighter SMP. It is better in my opinion to have a touch up after two years than be stuck with something unrealistic looking that you’re not happy with.

For more information regarding the correct application of SMP or to find out if SMP is for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me at my Vancouver SMP clinic, Advanced Scalp with Rob James. I am always more than willing to answer any SMP related questions.

 

How much does SMP cost in Vancouver?

As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists based in Vancouver, I receive many emails each week from individuals interested in SMP. However, frequently I get email or DM’s with a simple question “How much does SMP cost?”

This is a very difficult question to answer without specifics on the individual’s hair and hair loss situation.

When I receive a generalized none specific question like this, I can only provide a broad range of my SMP prices. As it is impossible for me to see the individual’s own hair loss pattern and therefore give an accurate price.

So in order for me to best advise, I always recommend that they come in for an in person consultation. If this is not possible, then I will request they send me some photos of their scalp or do a Face Time consultation.

This way I can assess their hair loss, hair colour, hair pattern and hair density, and once I’ve seen this, I can provide an accurate price.

Price of SMP

As a general rule my own personal prices here at my Vancouver SMP clinic are based on the five procedures which, on average I perform on a regular basis. These are as follows:

  • Full SMP: $3200-$3600 (Occasionally $4000)
  • Full male/female density: $2800-$3200
  • Crown density: $1800-$2200
  • Hairline density: $1800-$2200
  • Scar concealment: $1200-$2200

I believe in being as transparent as possible with my procedure prices and expectations.

However, these are an “average” price example, of course there are always exceptions.

Most full SMP’s are achieved in 3 sessions and cost between $3200-$3600

Most full SMP’s and full density treatments will be achieved in 3 sessions. Hairline and crown densities can be achieved in 2 sessions, as well as most scar concealment treatments. All sessions come with a complimentary touch up, 2-6 months after the final SMP session.

Price is based on hair loss and sessions needed

As mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to every rule; the prices and the amount of sessions recommended are based on past results and my averages. Occasionally and for reasons out of my control some individuals may fade faster, have pigment retention issues and therefore might require additional sessions.

Also as mentioned earlier, I do not give final prices without seeing an individuals scalp either in person or via Face Time or photos.

Many times I will suggest to an interested individual to take a look at my Instagram page @robjamessmp . Once there, they might find something similar to what they are looking for.

As a side note, most of the SMP’s on my Instagram page are full SMP’s, therefore three sessions plus a touch up. Prices of which, would range from $3000 to $3600.

If you have any questions regarding SMP or SMP pricing in Canada, do not hesitate to contact me for a consultation.

I am always available to offer free advice and information from

Our Vancouver based SMP clinic.

 

Is SMP better than a hair transplant?

As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists a frequent question I receive is:

“Is SMP better than a hair transplant” or “should I get SMP rather than a hair transplant?”

It’s important to note SMP and a hair transplant are very different procedures with very different results, so let’s explore this topic further.

Hair transplant vs. SMP

Is SMP better than a hair transplant?

As you probably know a hair transplant is a medical procedure where actual hair is harvested from the back of the recipient’s head and transplanted on to other areas, where the hair has thinned or disappeared from (usually hair line to crown).

If the transplant is successful the individual will generally want to keep their hair a little longer, rather than sport a shaved look, which is traditionally the SMP aesthetic.

Asking the right questions

So, the primary question you need to ask your client when they are trying to choose between hair transplant and SMP, is what is their long-term hair goals? Do they want to grow their hair? Maintain it at the current length? Cut it short? Or add density to their existing hair? The answer will help guide the client and SMP artist.

SMP Artist

Adding density to transplanted area short hair

Adding density for longer hair

If they want to sport a dense super short, shaved look then I would absolutely recommend SMP. However if they want to wear a fuller head of mid length to long hair, then only a transplant can accomplish this.

However, there are those who receive a hair transplant and then choose SMP to help conceal scarring as well as to increase the appearance of more volume (density treatment).

When done properly this is often a good pairing of the two procedures.

Pros and cons of a hair transplant

Several things to keep in mind when it comes to a hair transplant are:

Cost, a hair transplant is significantly more expensive than SMP.

Scarring, weather you’re receiving an FUT or FUE, there is always scarring to contend with.

Down time, a hair transplant is a medical procedure, with a significant amount of down time and recovery.

Continued hair loss, many times a recipient will receive a transplant to a certain area of the scalp, but continue to lose hair elsewhere.

Rejection, sometimes the newly transplanted hair is not suitable and fails to grow.

Pros and cons of SMP

Several things to keep in mind when it comes to SMP are:

Longevity, SMP will not last forever (about 3-5 years before refresh is needed).

Realism, SMP is a two dimensional cosmetic tattoo, which can only produce the illusion of increased short hair or conceal bare scalp and lighter coloured scar tissue.

Quality: SMP results can vary greatly depending on your selected artist’s experience, your skin chemistry or immune response as well as your aftercare adherence.

It is difficult to change the style or repair heavy, blown out areas without laser removal. For these reasons experienced guidance, clear communication, realistic expectations are vital in order to avoid negative outcomes.

Adding density to longer transplanted hair

About Rob James:

Whether you’re considering a hair transplant or SMP, it is always advisable that you sit down with an experienced practitioner. This way you can garner all of the right information in the right order and make the best possible decision.

My mantra when it comes to SMP is, slow and steady wins the race and you can always add more, you cannot take away.

Rob James works out of his private clinic in Vancouver BC and is always available for a stress free, pressure free information session regarding SMP.

Top five ways to find good SMP Training in Vancouver

SMP training in Vancouver

Whether you are thinking about a new career or adding to your existing PMU skill set. Finding quality Scalp micropigmentation training is your first step towards success. With the rising popularity of SMP there is now a plethora of SMP artists as well as SMP trainers touting their skills. Your primary goal with any training is getting the right skills in order to quickly provide great results for your prospective clients. SMP is a practical, tactile skill set, incorrect application due to poor training will soon result in poor results.

My motto is train once train right!

But how do you know whom or what SMP training course is right for you?

This week my blog post succinctly highlights 5 points that will help you make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a good, well-rounded SMP training course in Vancouver or elsewhere.

1: SMP Experience and Results

Facility has consistent SMP results

SMP is a craft, and like all crafts they take time to hone and perfect. This seems obvious, but would you take driving lessons from someone who’s been driving for 12 months and has had several accidents? I didn’t think so! So why would you learn a highly detailed skillset from someone who’s minimal experience and results are not quite there yet?

My advice would be to learn from someone who has at least 3 years experience and a portfolio that represents a level of work, which you would like to replicate. Remember, artists will only show their best work, so if it doesn’t look good and there isn’t much of it, how can you possibly learn something different than what your teacher is producing.

2: Past Student experiences

Quality prior student results

An experienced, quality teacher will have a following of happy, successful students. Of course not every single past student will be a success story, as natural ability, business acumen and passion does play a factor. However, a good SMP trainer should be able to provide you with details of successful working artists who have been trained by them. However this isn’t to say that someone who is starting out as a teacher isn’t good, as we all have to start somewhere. I would just emphasis the teacher’s experience and results as an SMP artist.

3: Comprehensive training

A successful SMP training program should leave a student feeling confident and knowledgeable on a broad range of hair loss topics and skin conditions as well as all practical aspects of SMP application, equipment and mechanics.

On average the majority of SMP consultations and SMP clients will generally fall into two specific hair loss groups. However, there is also a myriad of less common hair loss challenges and skin conditions, as well as a wide variety of questions you will be asked on a regular basis regarding hair loss and its treatments. Not to mention questions and requests regarding SMP styles, where you will have to make clear judgment calls on what is achievable or appropriate and what is not. Make sure your training itinerary reflects all the aspects of what an SMP artist will face on a daily basis. A comprehensive itinerary should be available for all prospective students to view and discuss with the trainer during the SMP training consultation.

4: Communication

SMP training courses are relatively short and there usually is a lot of information to digest. So clear concise communication between student and teacher is important. Besides the practical aspect of the SMP mechanics, there is much auxiliary knowledge that is needed in order to be a well-rounded practitioner. From initial client consultation, where a comprehensive knowledge of hair loss and hair loss treatments is needed, to how you approach your client’s individual and unique hair loss situation and their requested SMP style. Not to mention a thorough understanding of equipment and SMP setup. There is also the topic of running of your business on a daily basis. So good, clear communication between teacher and student is vital in order to get the most value out of your training experience.

5: Support (post and pre)

Venturing into a new career can be an exciting and daunting experience. A good trainer should be able to provide you with the time and knowledge to discuss the business of SMP and the SMP course in detail. I personally like to have a training consultation with my prospective students before they sign up. That way I can gauge a student’s experience level and their expectation regarding the SMP business. This is also very helpful for the student as they can garner vital pre information regarding the business of SMP and the SMP course. I always feel that once the course is over, the real work begins. So it’s imperative to find a trainer who can be available and approachable once your training is over. It’s only natural that you’ll have a little trepidation when you start meeting clients of your own. Knowing that you have support is a total game changer.

I personally have a good relationship with all my past students as an advisor and mentor.

In my experience this is the single most valuable aspect of any training experience, accountability and support once you’re on your own.

I do hope you find these guidelines helpful if you’re considering a career in scalp micropigmentation (SMP). As one of Canada’s busiest SMP artists I am always available for an un-bias consultation. Where I can hopefully provide you with some useful information regarding the business and art of SMP.

Rob James works out of his SMP studio Advanced Scalp Micropigmentation in Vancouver BC.

Top 5 ways to achieve a natural looking SMP in Vancouver

Best SMP artist in Vancouver

How to get natural SMP results in Vancouver

Whether you’re looking for a completely new hairline or looking to add density to a thinning scalp, many people want something that does not look like they’ve had SMP. In other words, a natural looking head of short hair. But how do you know that is what you’re going to get?

Many people seek me out as an artist because this is pretty much all I do (natural looking scalp micropigmentation) If someone wants super sharp, super straight lines, I generally send them somewhere else because I’m sure there’s many artists who do that better than me. The beauty of SMP is that (if done properly) it can be catered to your wants, needs and style.

In my opinion natural means, unobtrusive, subtle and inconspicuous an addition to your existing hairline and scalp density that does not draw unnecessary attention. A natural looking SMP should blend seamlessly into your surrounding hair. Has a shape that is complimentary to your face and a tone that does not look out of place. Natural also means something that is appropriate for your age and stage in life, as well as something that will stay relevant as you mature.

So if you’re looking for natural looking scalp micropigmentation in Vancouver I have created a 5 point list of things which (I think) you should be looking for if you want to achieve a natural looking SMP in Vancouver. A good artist will be able to discuss these aspects of the process with you and make sure you’re on the right track.

#1 Design: Most of the time a natural hairline is never perfectly symmetrical and it is not made up of sharp right angles. The face should not be narrowly framed by a razor sharp box and the hairline should not be too low on the forehead. This will result in a narrow, short forehead and a look that just isn’t natural. A natural design can be straight and it can be lower, but it does have to compliment your facial structure and resemble your pre existing hairline to a degree. I always like to see old photos of a client’s hairline and use that as a guideline. (As a sideline, we are all different and some individuals do possess a very straight hairline).

Best Natural looking SMP in Vancouver

Modest design for natural SMP results

#2 Blending: A natural SMP should blend perfectly into your surrounding short hair, there should be no heavy defining line where natural hair meets two dimensional cosmetic tattoo (SMP hair). A straight line where your SMP starts and you natural hair ends will definitely draw attention, taking away from the natural look you desire. And experienced artist will know how to blend seamlessly.

SMP Artist

#3 Impressions: The individual SMP impressions should match your existing short hair width. I’ve seen so many SMP’s where the impressions are far too large in comparison to the surrounding natural hair. Often the contrast between SMP impressions and the client’s natural hair width is too evident and this does not allow for a convincing blend. This ultimately comes down to the artist’s cartridge selection and impression depth.

A natural looking SMP in Vancouver

#4 Tone: Using the correct pigment tone is of vital importance in achieving a natural looking SMP. Depending on my client’s skin tone and hair colour, I tend to select two tones to use throughout the process. I blend the sides into the existing short hair with an identical grey scale tone and for the top I use a tone just a tad darker than the existing hair. This will compensate for fading over time and will give a desirable fade appearance as the SMP transcends from slightly darker on top into perfectly blended sides. The hairline is also a shade lighter and less dense than the forelock and mid scalp, creating a natural feathered hairline.

#5 Artist: SMP is an art, no two artists are alike, and everyone has their own style and skill level. Select your artist carefully, knowing what style you want will help you and the artist know if you’re a good fit for one another. Initially you can choose an artist via their body of work, does it resonate with you and your desired style? Then I advise meeting an artist in person, so that you can discuss your desired end result. If you’re looking for natural, choose an artist whose work consistently looks natural. Do not expect an artist to do something completely different looking from their existing body of work. Good communication is paramount, as you will both want to have a clear understanding of what you are hoping to achieve.

Aim for experience & natural results

I tell all my clients, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to creating a great looking SMP. Do not rush and do not expect the finished result in a matter of hours. And if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Remember, this is your head, so do it once and do it right!

With well over one thousand SMP’s to his name, Rob James is one of Canada’s most requested SMP artists known for his ultra natural SMP results.

Rob James works out of his Vancouver SMP Clinic Advanced Scalp. 

Contact info@robjamessmp.com for a free consultation.