You slather on the SPF to ward away sun spots, deliberately apply night creams to prevent fine lines, and load up on lash serum to compensate for sparse lashes — all in the name of slowing down time and accounting for all of the changes your skin and body goes through as it ages. When it comes to hair, thinning is one of the most common issues people face as they get older. Sure, you can use volume-boosting styling products and at-home root cover ups to mask thinning and hair loss, but for many people, this just doesn’t cut it. Cue micropigmentation, microblading’s cousin that uses cosmetic-grade, permanent ink to offer a more permanent solution to thinning along the hairline and on any bald spots you may be experiencing. This treatment, like microblading, also involves fine needles, but penetrates deeper than microblading and may last longer. Not to mention, there’s less pain involved, which is comforting to know if you’re needle-shy.
There’s a lot to uncover when it comes to tattooing along the hairline, including the process, duration, and of course, results. If you’re curious to learn more, keep reading to find out all about female hair loss and if this treatment is right for you.
What Causes Female Hair Loss?
There are several factors that may contribute to why you may be losing hair. For one, hormones. According to Dr. Ife Rodney of Eternal Dermatology, your estrogen and testosterone levels change as you age, leaving you with an imbalance of more androgens (testosterone), to which your hair follicles respond to by shrinking. “This results in female-pattern baldness, thinning, or hair loss,” she says. Another reason you may be experiencing thinning or hair loss is due to a genetic predisposition. “Your genes affect how sensitive your scalp is to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shortens the growth phase of your hair,” says cosmetic injector and registered nurse Revay Plunkett. “Your hair follicles also become smaller in response to DHT, and you may subsequently produce fewer and finer hairs.”
Tight hairstyles may also be to blame for those bald spots or thinning — constant stress on the follicle over a period of time may eventually cause hair loss known as traction alopecia. This is common among those with curly hair types who often style their hair in braids or weaves, says Dr. Rodney, as well as women whose profession requires them to wear their hair in tight buns, which causes strain on the hair follicles. “Over time, the hair follicles develop scarring and cause chronic scalp inflammation, making hair loss permanent,” warns Dr. Rodney.
Beyond these factors, things like childbirth, stress, diet, thyroid imbalances, rapid weight loss, and environmental factors can all have an effect on hair loss and density.
Micropigmentation For Hair Thinning
Scalp micropigmentation is a cosmetic treatment that involves adding “small impressions of ink that replicate the hair follicle to create the look of hair density,” says Steven Greitzer, co-founder of cosmetic tattoo studio, Sculpted Studios. “This is very beneficial for individuals who are experiencing hair loss and want a fuller, voluminous look to their hairline.” Greitzer says micropigmentation is the preferred treatment for the scalp and hairline as opposed to microblading (which is commonly done on the eyebrows). This is because the skin on the scalp is thinner than other areas, is more prone to producing oil, and is affected by sun exposure, all factors that can cause the pigment to oxidize and change color over time when placed on the hairline.
As far as the micropigmentation process, it’s fairly straight-forward. “After assessing the skin, the treatment area is mapped out and a custom pigment mix is made based on the client's skin tone and hair color,” explains Greitzer. “Then, the provider will apply little dots all throughout the hair loss areas while blending it into the existing hair.” The entire process typically takes around one to two hours, and you’ll have to let the area heal for one to three weeks before repeating the process two more times, “each time layering the dots to create a more realistic look,” Greitzer tells TZR. Taking a layered approach and spacing the sessions a few weeks apart creates a more permanent outcome, with touch-ups sometimes needed every five to seven years, if at all.
Performing this treatment on the hairline specifically is slightly nuanced. “On the hairline, the provider must try to get a color as close to the client’s hairline as possible — if it appears too heavy or defined on the hairline, it’ll appear unnatural,” says Dr. Rodney. “Also, the micropigmentation must gradually increase in thickness as it moves away from the hairline for the best results.” Suffice it to say, it’s important to do your due diligence when choosing your provider. You should look for someone who is trained, licensed, and has photos to show for their work. Many providers will offer a consultation visit, to which they should be able to answer any and all questions in detail, says Greitzer, who adds that their work should be so natural that it should be undetectable to the human eye.
Micropigmentation Vs. Microblading
While both micropigmentation and microblading are semi-permanent treatments, micropigmentation may come with more benefits. Beyond giving the appearance of a fuller-looking hairline, there’s no pain involved with micropigmentation (some clients even fall asleep during the treatment, says Greitzer), plus it gives a more natural look due to the “faded” look it gives especially as it blends with the rest of your hair (versus the “hair-like” strokes of microblading). Results are also more permanent, as micropigmentation delivers pigment deeper into the skin compared to microblading, whose longevity depends on how deep the cuts were made and may require touchups within one year.
The tools used are different, too — while micropigmentation involves a refined tattoo machine that uses a tiny needle to make very tiny, precise punctures into the skin, microblading uses a handheld “blade-shaped tool with a row of tiny, barely-visible needles to create hair-like strokes while depositing pigment into your skin,” notes Plunkett.
While micropigmentation takes roughly two weeks to heal and microblading takes about a month, the two treatments follow similar aftercare protocols. For the first few days you’ll want to avoid sweating, exposing the area to sunlight, touching or picking, and getting the area wet. After that, things like sunbathing, lasers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion should be avoided. Many micropigmentation specialists will also advise against using certain hair products (example: those with fragrance) once you have the green light to shower. You should always follow your provider’s specific instructions when it comes to the healing process.
In any case, if the skin is oozing yellow fluid or crusting, Dr. Rodney says this is a clear sign of an infection. “Another possible sign of infection is itchiness and/or redness with no signs of improving,” she says. “You can avoid infection by not touching the scalp, especially immediately after the procedure.” Also, if you’re prone to keloids or scarring, discuss your options with a dermatologist first before proceeding with micropigmentation (or microblading, for that matter).
All in all, thinning hair doesn’t need to be an issue, not with treatments like micropigmentation available. Cheers to having a bright future of great hair(line) days.