Why scalp micropigmentation fades, and how to fight it

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a non-invasive form of treatment for hair loss that is meant to be a permanent solution. Typically, clients will not need a touch-up for 4-6 years. SMP can fade for several reasons, some due to external factors and others for internal reasons. The good news is many of these fading factors are in your control. 

Other factors are more intrinsic and less in your control. Some amount of fading will occur no matter what. This is because of things like natural exfoliation of your skin. Your body’s immune system will always try to remove foreign particles such as SMP pigment. To address intrinsic fading, you may need more SMP sessions, though a full touch-up usually isn’t needed for several years. 

Sun Exposure

One especially strong threat to your hairline is sunlight. You can guard against this by simply wearing a hat or applying sunblock lotion with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun will fade the vibrancy of your SMP. When you leave your scalp’s ink out in the sun, the wavelengths in UV radiation possess enough energy to break down the pigmentation’s molecules. This holds true even if it’s cloudy outdoors. 

On the bright side, preserving your new look is as easy as investing in a high quality sun lotion. Any topical that contains an SPF of 30 or more will block 97-98% of UV radiation. You should also avoid lotions with alcohol near the top of its list of ingredients, which can lead to excessive dryness.


Over time, your immune system can gradually soak up the ink from your micropigmentation and attempt to excrete it from the body. This is because scalp micropigmentation practitioners deposit pigment beneath the epidermis of your skin. This is deep enough that the ink won’t shed with the skin cells at the upper layers, but your macrophage cells treat the ink as a foreign substance and wear away at it. 

The degree to which this happens varies by individual. The extent of this fading will be determined by factors like skin type and your time in the sun. This means certain people will hold on to their pigment much longer, while others will need more frequent touch-ups.

Failing to See Experienced Practitioner

Some untrained artists think that SMP is a simple procedure and not a specialized skill. They offer their services at lower prices to draw you away from getting a certified SMP procedure. But this may result in the use of a low quality scalp micropigmentation ink and an incorrect depth of pigment administration. 

You should check your scalp micro practitioner’s certification and client portfolio before committing to your treatment. Review the practitioner’s client review section to get a sense of what kind of service quality you can expect.

Never form your decision solely on price. Demand exceptional quality and be prepared to pay a little more for it. 

Not Using the Right Scalp Aftercare

After your procedure, your scalp needs to heal. It’s imperative you don’t do anything to interfere with or harm your body’s recovery process. This includes knowing which aftercare products will maintain your pigmentation and which could fade it. 

High on the list of aftercare products to avoid are those that contain alcohol. Many skin and haircare products use alcohol as a fast drying agent, so look over the ingredients for isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, or denatured alcohol. 

Though aftercare recommendations vary slightly across clinics, it’s generally advised you only begin showering and moisturizing the 4th day following your procedure. 

Following that, you should always moisturize your scalp at least once every day. Keeping your scalp hydrated will prevent drying out and potential fading. 

Your Key Takeaway

There are many factors that can cause SMP to fade, both extrinsic and intrinsic. 

Some of the most important threats to maintaining your scalp micropigmentation are spending hours in the sun without protection, choosing an unqualified SMP practitioner, and applying abrasive, harmful, or inappropriate aftercare products. Keep in mind, there is also the natural process of your body breaking down the pigment very slowly over time. 

It’s possible to minimize these threats to your treatment results by making the right choices, such as using natural non-abrasive cleansers. You can check out products specifically made for the scalp offered by Folicule

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