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!