From hair system to scalp micropigmentation
The average hair system is a world away from what it once used to be. The bad hairpieces are long gone, assuming of course that the wearer uses a little common sense when selecting their system. They require no surgery, no donor hair and provide the customer with the appearance of a full head of hair. A quality system correctly fitted is usually undetectable.
However, they are still laborious to live with and expensive to maintain, hence why so many hair system wearers contact us about making the switch to scalp micropigmentation. There is undoubtedly a significant demand within the hair system community for something…. well, better.
For the sake of clarity, wigs, toupees, hairpieces and hair systems are all the same thing. The industry calls them ‘hair systems’ because it sounds more advanced and terms like ‘toupee’ have negative connotations associated with them.
What’s the issue with hair systems?
No matter how advanced your system, they are still taped or glued to your scalp and are only removed from time to time for maintenance. This creates comfort and hygiene problems as skin exfoliates and sweat gathers under the system. Over time this can make the scalp feel unclean and uncomfortable, and can even release an unwelcome odour.
Systems are very expensive. Most clients require two systems, so they still have one to wear while the other is being cleaned from time to time by the supplier. The ongoing costs can top £80 (about $120) per month. Perhaps an even greater issue is maintenance. Quite frankly, they’re a pain in the ass to live with and after a few months, drive many users to search for alternatives.
Making the switch
If you’re a hair system wearer and considering scalp micropigmentation, you’ll be pleased to know you’re in a really great position to do so. You see, the single biggest hurdle is explaining your new look, and if you’ve been sporting the appearance of a full head of hair using your system, you simply won’t have this problem.
Imagine the difficulty experienced by those who are totally bald, trying to explain how they suddenly have a full head of shaven hair. There are some trusted excuses, but the bottom line is they usually have to come clean. On the contrary, if you’ve been wearing a full system, all you’ve got to do is tell people you decided to shave your head. The worst case scenario is you have to answer the occasional criticism from those who think you looked better when your ‘hair’ was longer. Hardly a hardship!
I have a couple of nuggets of advice to offer those making the switch from a hair system to scalp micropigmentation.
The first is to prepare for your return to work, by dropping into conversation that you’re thinking of cutting your hair much shorter. Just say you’re fed up with your current style and fancy a change. This will lessen the ‘shock’ factor when you head back to the office after your procedure.
Second, don’t turn up to your treatment sessions wearing your system. Take your system off as early as possible, ideally a couple of days before, and moisturise your head like crazy. This is important because so many former hair system wearers turn up at their clinic with sore and damaged skin, which can really compromise the quality of the end result.
The bottom line is that the transition from hair system to scalp micropigmentation is really easy, as long as you follow these pieces of advice. Like most clients, you will almost certainly feel liberated from the day to day drudgery of system usage, and will be relieved that you don’t have to worry so much about your hair anymore. Not to mention the fact that you’ll save a considerable amount of money in the process.
Cheap scalp micropigmentation deals and what you need to know
Like most people, I love a bargain, but there are certain things worth paying a premium for, and some that you absolutely mustn’t skimp on. I’d like to talk about cheap scalp micropigmentation deals, because although there is nothing wrong with a genuinely good offer (and they do arise from time to time), we see so many people who used price as their main driver and wound up not getting the quality of treatment they were hoping for.
Although scalp micropigmentation is comparatively cheap versus, say, a hair transplant by a reputable physician, the cost remains prohibitive for many people. The average price in 2017 for a standard SMP procedure is £2200 in the UK and $2800 in the US. It isn’t feasible to estimate an average price in the Eurozone due to broad economic diversity from one country to the next, however prices tend to range from €1200 to around €2500.
What is attainable for one client may not be attainable for the next. Hair loss does not pick and choose its targets, and affects men and women with a wide range of incomes and financial commitments. Families to support, mortgage payments, low wages, job insecurity, sickness and unemployment are all common barriers that stand in the way of receiving treatment.
Low prices offered by some providers are understandably tempting, especially to those who would struggle to pay for a treatment at one of the well known clinics. If this is your situation, to advise you to save up and pay the going rate for your treatment would be counter-productive, and the last thing we want to do is to put people off getting a treatment when it could really make them feel better about their appearance. What follows are some suggestions to help those who really want scalp micropigmentation, but want or need a better price than they’ve been quoted so far.
Negotiate a discount at your preferred clinic
Before we dig into some of the more creative ideas, let’s start with the most obvious approach because if you’ve got this far, the chances are you have your ideal clinic in mind, but you can’t afford their rates.
All scalp micropigmentation clinics work very hard to win customers, and rarely will they want to lose your business for the sake of offering a discount. Not all clinics will deviate from their standard rates, but those that do may be convinced to drop their quotation by 10% or even 15%.
However, for best results you must take a moderate approach. Technicians know their value, especially the best ones, and are not likely to respond favorably if you ask for a crazy discount. They certainly won’t appreciate it if you play one clinic off against another. Decide which clinic you’d most like to have your treatment at, approach the clinic politely and respectfully, and explain that you’re struggling to meet their price. If your expectations are realistic, they may be happy to agree an alternative price with you.
Pay in monthly instalments
Many providers offer finance now. This usually requires a reasonable deposit in advance, with the remainder spread over time. Some clinics offer 0% finance over a short period like 12 months, while other finance deals are interest-bearing but can be paid off over a longer period of time, maybe 2-3 years.
You will usually require a moderate credit rating to obtain finance. Some providers use finance companies that are more forgiving than others. If you have any issues with your credit score, make your provider aware so they can tell you whether or not they believe their finance company will accept your application.
Almost all providers accept credit cards. A popular method is to use a credit card that offers 0% interest on purchases, allowing you a buffer period before repaying the balance becomes more urgent. You could even earn loyalty points depending on your credit card, for example American Express offer air miles, Tesco offer Clubcard points, and many card providers offer cashback.
Become a case study for marketing purposes
Some clinics offer a decent discount to clients who are prepared to show their face in a marketing video. The deal is very simple – you waive your right to anonymity, and in return you are granted a reduced price for your treatment.
Expect a discount of 25-50%, depending on the clinic. Keep in mind that a large clinic with hundreds of case studies is unlikely to offer a substantial discount. Make sure you understand how and where the video will be used, and that you’re comfortable with the exposure. Deals like these can rarely be changed after the event.
Forego an all-inclusive price
It is common practice for clinics to provide quotations based on how many sessions they think you’ll need. For most clients this is usually 3 sessions, or 4 for those with scarring or alopecia. Your final session is usually a ‘perfecting’ exercise, and could provide an angle to secure a lower price.
Ask your clinic how many sessions they believe you will need. If for example they estimate you’ll need three sessions, ask whether they believe your third session will be absolutely necessary. You will never get a 100% conclusive response to this question as your technician simply won’t know for sure until the time comes, however if they feel your final session is likely to be ‘optional’, you could ask the clinic to exclude that session from the quoted price.
Of course if you do need the additional session, you’ll need to find a way to pay for it.
Tricopigmentation is a short duration form of scalp micropigmentation. Whereas the SMP recipient will typically require a top-up every 3-4 years, the tricopigmentation client requires top-ups every 6-12 months. The flip side is that the entry cost is substantially lower, often around half the rate of the equivalent permanent scalp micropigmentation treatment.
I hesitated when writing this, because tricopigmentation is by no means a ‘cheap’ option and shouldn’t be considered as such. Genuine tricopigmentation is a highly evolved process that offers exceptional quality results when applied by a skilled technician. However, the fact remains that tricopigmentation costs a lot less than permanent SMP in the first instance, and may therefore be of interest to those on a limited budget.
There are legitimate ways to cut the cost of a quality scalp micropigmentation procedure, either by making it cheaper, or by splitting the payments into smaller chunks. Follow the advice in this article, and you may be able to obtain a better deal for your procedure, that ultimately dictates whether or not you can afford to proceed.
However, clients should never take crazy risks. Employing the service of an unknown technician with little experience, purely for financial reasons, is a bad idea. We hear it so often… “I went with a local artist. They said they knew what they were doing…”, only to hear back weeks later from a distressed client who didn’t get the expertise they thought they would. By all means, go with a new technician if that’s your only option, but check with us first to reduce the risk of running into trouble.
Finally, understand that quality comes at a price. You can shop around, negotiate, do videos and be as nice as pie, but the bottom line is that scalp micropigmentation should only be delivered by skilled technicians, and skilled technicians cost money.
Scalp micropigmentation and sun exposure
We all understand the dangers posed by too much sun exposure, and we should all be using some kind of sun protection as a matter of routine. Many cosmetics companies now acknowledge this, and are expanding their use of SPF ingredients in their everyday products.
If you’ve had a scalp micropigmentation treatment and want to protect your new look, it is important to protect your head against harmful ultraviolet rays from strong sunshine.
Why is this important?
Over-exposure on a regular basis can fade your treatment, therefore the use of an SPF-containing product is an important part of your maintenance regimen.
Ever wondered why art galleries don’t have windows? It’s because they don’t want to allow sun to enter the rooms and shine directly on paintings, so that they won’t fade over time. Ultraviolet rays cause fading, be it the paint on your car or the fabric on your couch, and your pigmentation is affected in the same way.
Suitable clothing can offer great protection. Of course if you wear a hat, then you will benefit from a virtual sunblock, but if the material of the hat is thin, you shouldn’t rely on it too much.
You should also consider moisturizing your head in order for your skin to remain healthy. Your skin should receive the proper care it needs so that your scalp treatment will continue looking fresh for a longer duration. You should also hydrate your skin to keep it elastic by drinking plenty of water.
When is this important?
The vast majority of people don’t want to use a sunscreen daily. Sun protection creams and sprays are usually oily and can cause the scalp to shine, they can sometimes feel heavy on the skin and are generally best used when there is a specific need for the product.
You should use sun protection whenever it would have been advisable to do so, prior to your scalp micropigmentation treatment. So, if the sun is strong enough to warrant using SPF anyway, this is the time to dig out your preferred cream and use it on your scalp. Depending on where you live, this may be an occasional thing when you’re away on holiday, or it may be every day.
What products should you use?
Sunscreens have come a long way in recent years, and a wide range of products are now available to suit all requirements and budgets.
One important consideration is anti-shine. Most of us want to avoid shine wherever possible, however SPF products create shine as a matter of course. However, for people willing to spend a little more, a range of matte anti-shine products are now available, and most are pretty good.
My favorite product is Murad Oil Free Sunscreen, but it is undeniably expensive, as is Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Sunscreen. Great (and much cheaper) alternatives are Obagi Medical Sun Shield and Lotus Herbals Safe Sun.
What happens if you don’t protect your skin?
Quite simply, your treatment will fade faster and you will have to visit your scalp technician more often for top-ups.
This really isn’t an end-of-the-world scenario. Of course there are numerous health benefits associated with proper sun protection, but these are beyond the scope of this article. From a scalp micropigmentation point of view, it is important not to obsess about your treatment, but to take sensible steps to protect your scalp as and when required.
Why Transparency and Collaboration is better for Everyone
Over the past 12 to 18 months, the Scalp Micropigmentation industry in general has opened up and we’ve seen much more collaboration among veteran artists, which lead to the exchange of ideas and techniques. More and more artists are visiting each other & training together. The most striking progression in technique was that the artists that used to use one single type of needle evolved and started incorporating techniques with two different types of needles. This, in my opinion, produces better and more realistic results.
The industry was started with HIS Hair Clinic, founded in the UK in 2009, by Ian Watson and Ranbir Rai-Watson. It quickly expanded into the USA and a few locations around the world. Many of the original HIS technicians were trained to use 3-point (3 round liner) needles. This produced, in my humble opinion, satisfactorily adequate results that looked natural from a distance as well as in photographs. Soon after, USA clinics started to pop up, most notably Scalp Aesthetics, which exclusively used a single (1 round liner) needle. This technique created a very realistic hair follicle impression when looked at up-close and in person. However; because of the small size of the needle, and to create sufficient density caused the look to appear more like a shadow as opposed to defined, individual hair follicles. In other words, it was lacking texture when seen from a distance or in photographs. Most of the master artists and leading providers in the world today either came by way of HIS or Scalp Aesthetics (with a few exceptions).
Since then many artists from both schools of techniques as well as from both sides of the pond have collaborated and exchanged ideas, whether it be in person, through Facebook groups or through conventions such as the upcoming second annual “Meeting of the Minds” in Manchester, UK in May 2018, hosted by Scalp Guru. The majority of successful artists today took it upon themselves to learn how to incorporate the different techniques, and some have gone further with testing even newer techniques. Such as varying angles of needle insertion and approaching the scalp from different directions so as to create a more random pattern. It must be added or noted that “experimenting” should not be attempted by artists without a significant number of years of experience, because after all, the procedures are done on humans.
My motive behind establishing International Hairlines as a community of experienced artists, alongside newer artists, is to provide continued mentorship and collaboration along with the SMP Training Center where artists from around the world can collaborate in their trainings. This is my effort to ensure that progression and advancement in scalp micropigmentation techniques continue, and to lessen the cases of botched work we see that seem rampant everywhere you look nowadays. In my practice I see at least one botched job per week that seek me for repair which never ceases to break my heart. Having said that, generally speaking I still very optimistic about the future of scalp micropigmentation as long as we continue to collaborate and innovate collectively.
A Shift in Consumer Awareness
Traditional questions a potential client might ask during a consultation such as what is the cost? How many sessions will I need? How long between sessions? What is the artist’s experience? What pigments are used, etc… are a good staring point. However, as the consumer becomes more educated about scalp micropigmentation (and no longer refers to it simply as a “hair tattoo”) and as more sources of information become available, there are now some deeper questions that could be added to the list that a consumer might want ask a practitioner during a consultation. Examples are: What techniques does the artist use? How do they achieve the desired results that particular consumer is looking for? Are they able to provide that individualized look as apposed to the “cookie cutter” looks of the past? Are they comfortable and proficient with different needles and pigments?
As we always advise in this business, please do yourself a favor, do your research and choose your practitioner wisely. Cost should really not be in the top half of your priorities when it comes to choosing your scalp micropigmentation practitioner. There are many more important factors that could potentially affect the rest of your life!