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Scalp Micropigmentation Ink Vs Normal Tattoo Ink

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a popular cosmetic procedure involving the use of micro-needles to deposit pigments into the scalp with a view to creating the illusion of hair on the scalp. To achieve a natural-looking result, it is vital to use ink that matches the natural shades and hues of human hair. While superficially, the SMP process may seem similar to the traditional tattooing process, there are some key differences between the inks used for SMP and those used for regular tattoos.

Scalp Micropigmentation Ink vs Normal Tattoo Ink

Importance of the right selection of Ink for SMP

Overall, using ink that matches the natural shades and hues of human hair is essential for achieving a successful SMP result which is also safe and effective.

SMP ink is specifically formulated to mimic the natural pigments found in human hair. The ink is available in a range of shades and colours, allowing the technician to match the client's existing hair colour and create a result that blends seamlessly with their natural hair.

It is important to work with a qualified and experienced SMP provider who will be able to explain the differences between SMP ink and traditional tattoo ink. With his expertise, he can help you arrive at an informed decision about the right ink for your individual needs, keeping in mind the following factors:

Natural appearance

To achieve a natural-looking result in SMP, it is essential to use ink that matches the natural shades and hues of human hair. This is especially important for clients with lighter hair colours. In these cases, the ink must be carefully selected to avoid a harsh or artificial appearance. The technician may also use a blending technique to gradually transition from the client's natural hair to the SMP ink, creating a more natural-looking result.

Longevity of results

The usage of ink that complements the natural shades and hues of human hair helps to create a result that is long-lasting and does not fade over time. SMP ink is designed to fade gradually over several years, which allows the client to make adjustments as their hairline or hair density changes naturally over time. In case the ink is not properly matched to the client's natural hair, the fading process may result in an uneven or unnatural appearance.

Using the wrong type of ink can result in a less realistic result and may even damage the scalp. By choosing the right ink and working with a skilled technician, you can be assured of achieving a natural-looking result that enhances your appearance and boosts your confidence.

SMP Ink Vs Tattoo Ink

While there are some similarities between SMP ink and traditional tattoo ink, there are also some important differences, which are highlighted below:

Pigment Size

  • SMP ink is formulated with smaller pigment particles than traditional tattoo ink - this helps in achieving a natural look by allowing for greater precision and accuracy during the application process. The ink is used to simulate the appearance of hair follicles, which are very small and closely spaced.

  • Using traditional tattoo ink does not give a very realistic result since the ink may not be able to replicate the look of individual hair follicles.

Composition of the Ink

  • A blend of natural and synthetic pigments, along with a carrier solution, forms the composition of SMP Ink, which is specifically designed to match the natural shades and hues of human hair. The pigments used in SMP ink are specifically chosen to imitate the look of natural hair follicles, creating a realistic and natural-looking result. The carrier solution in SMP ink is typically a mix of distilled water and glycerine, which helps to dilute the pigment and ensure even distribution during the procedure.

  • Traditional tattoo ink, on the other hand, is often made up of a mixture of organic and inorganic pigments, carrier solutions and additives that are not suitable for use on the scalp. It is designed to penetrate deeper into the skin than SMP ink - this makes it more difficult to remove and increases the possibility of adverse reactions. Traditional tattoo ink can also contain heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and other harmful additives that may not be safe for use on the scalp.

  • SMP ink has a lower viscosity, which means it is thinner and more easily absorbed by the skin. This allows for more precise application and better control during the procedure, resulting in a more natural-looking result.

  • SMP ink is typically available in a range of natural shades that can be customized to match the individual's hair colour and skin tone. It is designed to mimic the natural colour and texture of hair and has a matte finish to avoid a shiny appearance on the scalp.

  • Traditional tattoo ink, on the other hand, tends to be more vibrant and bolder, with a limited range of colours, which is not suited for SMP.

Longevity of the Ink

  • SMP ink is designed to fade over time, while traditional tattoo ink is formulated so as to be permanent. Thus, the clients have the flexibility to make adjustments to their hairline or hair density as their hair naturally thins or recedes over time.

Application process

  • The application process for SMP is also different from traditional tattooing. In SMP, a specialized needle and machine is used while applying the ink, which allows for greater control and precision. This is important for achieving a natural-looking result that blends seamlessly with the client's existing hair.

  • The SMP needles are much smaller, finer and more precise compared to the traditional tattoo needles, which can be large and irregular in shape. This allows the technician to create fine lines that mimic the natural appearance of hair follicles.

  • The specialized needles used in SMP are designed to deposit the ink at a consistent depth, which ensures an even and consistent result.

  • The machine used for SMP ink application is also specialized for this procedure. The machine is typically lighter and more compact than traditional tattoo machines, which allows for greater precision and control during the application process. Further, the SMP machine operates at a lower frequency, which lessens the risk of tissue damage or scarring.

  • The specialized needle used in the SMP process is typically disposable, which means that it is used only once and then discarded. This reduces the risk of cross-contamination and ensures a high level of hygiene and safety during the procedure.

Allergic reactions

  • Traditional tattoo ink particles, being larger and more irregular in shape, can trigger inflammation and irritation in some individuals.

  • The smaller pigment particles of the SMP ink are less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. Being smaller and more uniform, the particles in SMP ink rarely cause these types of responses.


  • The aftercare requirements for scalp micropigmentation (SMP) ink are less complex and intensive than those for traditional tattoo ink:

  • Post an SMP procedure, any exposure to sunlight and water should be avoided for some time. Sunlight can cause the ink to fade, while water can cause the ink to blur or run. The scalp should be kept dry and clean for the first few days after the procedure to allow the ink to settle correctly.

  • Traditional tattoos often require the application of ointments or creams to the affected area to help with healing, but this is not necessary with SMP ink. In fact, applying ointments or creams can be harmful to the scalp, as it can cause the ink to blur or fade.

  • It is also important to avoid scratching or rubbing the scalp after an SMP procedure. This can cause the ink to become dislodged or damaged, which can result in an uneven or unnatural appearance.

  • In most cases, SMP is a safe and effective procedure with minimal aftercare requirements. Having said that, do remember that it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention in case you experience any unusual symptoms after an SMP procedure, e.g., excessive redness or swelling.

The role of fading in SMP ink and its impact on long-term results

Fading is a natural part of the SMP process. Like all tattoos, SMP ink tends to fade over time due to various factors. However, the extent of fading and its impact on long-term results can vary depending on a few factors, as enumerated below:

  • The ink quality is one of the most significant factors affecting SMP ink fading. High-quality SMP ink is designed to be long-lasting and resistant to fading. In contrast, lower-quality ink may fade quicker, resulting in a less natural-looking result.

  • The skill and technique of the SMP provider will also decide how quickly the ink fades. A skilled and experienced SMP provider will use the appropriate needle size and depth and the correct ink saturation and application technique to ensure that the ink settles evenly and stays in place for longer.

  • The individual’s skin type and lifestyle can impact the long-term results of SMP. Individuals with oily skin or exposed to a lot of sunlight or water may experience more fading than those with dry skin or less exposed to the elements. Additionally, certain medications or health conditions may speed up the SMP ink's fading rate.

Excessive fading of the SMP ink can cause the scalp to appear patchy or uneven and may hurt the overall appearance of the procedure. In such cases, touch-up procedures may be required.

One can minimize the impact of fading on the long-term results of SMP by selecting a skilled and experienced SMP provider who uses high-quality ink and follows best practices for application and aftercare. Additionally, individuals can take steps to protect their scalps from excessive sun, water, and other factors that can contribute to fading.

The risks of using traditional tattoo ink for scalp micropigmentation

Some providers may use traditional tattoo ink for SMP. This, however, may not be the best option for achieving a natural-looking and long-lasting result as it can pose several risks as outlined below:

  • Possibility of ink migration - Traditional tattoo ink is designed to penetrate deeper into the skin than SMP ink, which can cause it to spread beyond the intended area. This can result in a blurry or uneven appearance that can be difficult to correct.

  • Allergic reactions/irritation - Traditional tattoo ink can contain harmful chemicals and additives that may not be safe for use on the scalp. These chemicals can cause allergic reactions, irritation, and other adverse effects that can impact the overall result of the SMP procedure.

  • Artificial appearance - Traditional tattoo ink tends to be more vibrant and opaque than SMP ink, resulting in a scalp that looks artificial or "tattooed" rather than natural. The result is not very natural looking.

Considering the above, it is always advisable to choose a qualified and experienced SMP provider who uses specialized SMP ink containing safe and effective ingredients specifically designed for scalp use.

The role that ink selection plays in the overall pricing of an SMP

The cost of SMP can vary depending on several factors, including the provider's experience and reputation, the complexity of the procedure, the size of the area being treated, the level of hair loss and the ink selection.

The ink selection is an essential factor that can influence the overall cost of SMP. High-quality SMP ink is typically more expensive than traditional tattoo ink but is designed to last longer and provide a more natural-looking result. The cost of SMP ink can vary depending on the brand, quality, and the amount of ink needed for the procedure.

Though using lower-quality ink for SMP may result in a lower upfront cost, it can lead to additional fees. Lower-quality ink may fade quickly, requiring touch-up procedures to maintain the desired result. This can add to the overall cost of SMP over some time.


In summary, the cost of SMP can vary depending on several factors, including the provider's experience, the complexity of the procedure, and the ink selection. While high-quality SMP ink may seem more expensive, it can provide a more natural-looking and long-lasting result, eventually saving money. Making the right choice of a qualified and experienced provider who uses high-quality SMP ink, which allows for long-lasting and natural-looking results for the user, goes a long way in ensuring a successful and safe SMP procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use tattoo ink for micropigmentation?

No, tattoo ink should not be used for scalp micropigmentation (SMP). SMP requires specialized pigments specifically formulated for the scalp and designed to mimic the appearance of natural hair follicles. These pigments are different from tattoo inks, as they are specifically developed to match the colour and texture of the scalp and provide long-lasting, realistic results. Using tattoo ink for SMP can lead to undesired colour changes, poor longevity, and unnatural-looking outcomes. It is crucial to use high-quality SMP pigments made explicitly for this purpose to ensure the best results.

Is SMP ink the same as tattoo ink?

No, SMP ink is not the same as tattoo ink. SMP ink is specifically formulated for scalp micropigmentation, while tattoo ink is designed for permanent body art. SMP ink is created to replicate the look of natural hair follicles on the scalp, matching the colour, texture, and depth required for realistic results. It typically contains specialized pigments that are more stable, fade-resistant, and less likely to change colour over time. Additionally, SMP inks often have a smaller particle size to ensure precise application and a natural appearance. Using tattoo ink for scalp micropigmentation can result in less satisfactory and less realistic outcomes. It is crucial to use SMP ink specifically designed for this specialized procedure.

Does SMP ink spread?

No, scalp micropigmentation (SMP) ink is designed not to spread. SMP ink is specifically formulated to stay in place and maintain its defined shape after application. The ink is carefully deposited into the upper layers of the scalp using specialized needles, ensuring precise and controlled placement. Unlike traditional tattoo ink, which may spread or blur over time, SMP ink is formulated to minimize diffusion or migration. This helps to maintain the crisp, natural-looking appearance of the individual hair follicle impressions created during the SMP procedure. Proper technique and using high-quality SMP ink contribute to achieving the desired, non-spreading results.

Can hair grow over micropigmentation?

Yes, hair can grow over scalp micropigmentation (SMP). SMP does not inhibit hair growth as it is a cosmetic tattoo that applies pigmentation to the scalp to mimic the look of hair follicles. If natural hair grows in the treated areas, it can combine with the visual effect of SMP to create a fuller appearance.

Can you tell if someone has scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is designed to be subtle and mimic the appearance of natural hair follicles. When done professionally, it can be not easy to distinguish SMP from actual hair follicles. However, the detectability can depend on the practitioner's skill, the pigments' quality, and the individual's skin type and colour.

Can a tattoo artist do scalp micropigmentation?

While a tattoo artist has the equipment and skill to perform tattooing, scalp micropigmentation is a specialized process that requires specific training. It's best served by a practitioner trained in SMP techniques, which differ from traditional tattooing in terms of the pigments used, the depth of needle penetration, and the intricacy of the hair-like patterns created.

Do tattoo inks carry carcinogenic nanoparticles?

Concerns about the potential health risks of tattoo inks containing nanoparticles have been raised. There is ongoing research into the long-term effects of these substances on the body. Some pigments used in tattoo inks have been found to break down into potentially toxic chemicals in the body, which can be a health risk. It's essential to use high-quality inks from reputable sources and to discuss any safety concerns with the practitioner.

Are hair dye and tattoo ink the same?

No, hair dye and tattoo ink are not the same. Hair dye is designed to colour hair strands temporarily and is applied to the hair shaft. In contrast, tattoo ink is used to deposit colour permanently into the dermis layer of the skin. The formulations of these products differ significantly in terms of their ingredients and intended use.

Is tricopigmentation the same as scalp micropigmentation?

Tricopigmentation is a form of semi-permanent cosmetic tattooing similar to scalp micropigmentation, but it typically uses different pigments designed to fade after a while, usually for 1-2 years. SMP, on the other hand, uses more permanent pigments. The choice between the two can depend on whether the individual desires a long-term or a short-term solution.

How much does SMP ink cost?

The cost of SMP ink varies widely depending on the provider, the quality of the pigments, and the quantity needed. The total cost of an SMP treatment, including the ink and the service, can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the extent of the area being treated, the number of sessions required, and the practitioner's expertise. It's best to consult with a few different providers to get an accurate estimate.


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