“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.