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Scalp micropigmentation: A temporary hair tattoo

Published on September 20, 2020
Updated on September 20, 2020
A technician performs micropigmentation on a man's scalp
Micropigmentation is a cosmetic treatment similar to getting a tattoo, but will fade over time.


If you’re struggling with hair loss, your cosmetic options can be somewhat limited. A lot of people try using wigs, toupees, or even hair crayons. But realistically, all of these require daily applications and aren’t very good options – at least, not long-term.

The only way to stop hair loss is by using a hair loss treatment, like minoxidil or finasteride. However, these can take a few months to work. If you’re still exploring your options and want to make your hair look thicker in the meantime, scalp micropigmentation might be the solution for you.


What is scalp micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is essentially a type of temporary hair tattoo. Getting a temporary tattoo on your head might sound strange, but it’s more common than you might think.

Unlike the temporary tattoos you used as a kid, scalp tattoos aren’t stuck on and won’t wash off after a few days. Instead, Hair and Scalp Treatments: A Practical Guide says that micropigmentation is more similar to a regular tattoo, as a pigment or stain is deposited into the upper layers of your skin. This type of temporary hair tattoo is also sometimes referred to as microshading or scalp staining.

Techniques like micropigmentation are used on the scalp, but might also be applied to other parts of the body, like the eyebrows. Most other temporary hair tattoos, like microblading and microfeathering, are only used on the eyebrows. 

Microblading on hair wouldn’t look very good on your scalp as it uses a blade to create hair-like strokes. While these thin strokes may appear natural on your eyebrows, they would look unusual on your head. 

In contrast, a study from the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology says that micropigmentation tattoos on dots or circles to mimic the appearance of hair follicles that have been cut close to the scalp. This results in tattoos that look like a buzz cut or close shave.

Is scalp micropigmentation painful?

Micropigmentation shouldn’t be painful, as anesthesia is applied before each procedure – but it might hurt your pocket. Hair and Scalp Treatments: A Practical Guide says that these tattoo sessions can last as long as 8 hours. Generally, people need at least two sessions, but some need as many as four sessions in total.

The process is semi-permanent and shouldn’t last more than a few years at most. This means that you’ll need regular touch-ups if you intend to maintain your look. If you wanted to get a permanent hair tattoo, this is certainly also possible – but it’s a completely different procedure and shouldn’t be confused with scalp micropigmentation.


Who should get scalp micropigmentation?

Just about anyone can get micropigmentation done, as long you don’t have any medical issues or skin conditions that make the procedure risky. That being said, results can differ a great deal and scalp micropigmentation isn’t suitable for everyone. 

If you’re looking into getting a temporary hair tattoo, you’ll need to talk to a professional. Given that the tattoo is being directly applied to your scalp, your skin’s health makes a big difference. How dry or oily your skin is can also play a role in how well your body takes up the dye. Similarly, skin color can also impact how well the dye shows up after treatment.

Your results can also vary depending on other factors, including your hair type, hair color, and hair density. The amount and type of hair loss you’re experiencing is also very important.


Micropigmentation for male pattern hair loss

Micropigmentation might not be the ideal solution for someone with male pattern hair loss, which is gradual and progressive. Repeatedly reapplying this treatment would be bad for your budget, and eventually, your hair loss would progress to a point where you’d need to shave your head in order for it to look natural.  

That being said, micropigmentation could be a great temporary strategy for someone with male pattern hair loss. If you’re in the process of trying out different hair loss treatment strategies, like minoxidil, finasteride, or low-level laser therapy, micropigmentation could be ideal. It’s an easy way to make your hair look fuller, thicker, and fill in bald spots for a short period of time while you wait for your hair loss treatment to start working.   

Similarly, studies in the Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Global Open Journal and Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America Journal have reported that scalp micropigmentation could be a good strategy if used with hair transplantation techniques. Micropigmentation can fill in patchy areas or scars that can occur from transplants like follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit transplantation (FUT).

Micropigmentation can also be useful for people with other types of hair loss, like scarring alopecias or alopecia areata. In fact, people with alopecia areata, a type of hair loss that tends to temporarily affect multiple parts of the body, might find micropigmentation particularly helpful. If hair loss is affecting multiple parts of the body, the cosmetologist can perform micropigmentation for scalp-based hair loss, then switch to a technique like microblading for hair loss affecting the eyebrows.



Micropigmentation is essentially a temporary tattoo, so it’s just a short-term strategy for hair loss. This doesn’t make it worthless, though. It can last a few years at a time, making it ideal for people trying to hide patchy hair loss or scars.

Scalp micropigmentation can also be a great way of filling in the gaps while you wait for a hair loss treatment to start working. Talk to your cosmetologist to see if micropigmentation might be right for you, and consult your doctor about using an FDA-approved hair loss treatment, like minoxidil, in the meantime.  

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.


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