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Everything You Need To Know About Hair Tattoos For Men
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on May 21, 2024

A hair tattoo, or scalp micropigmentation (SMP), is a hair loss treatment for men that offers an alternative to a hair transplant. While scalp micropigmentation for women can also have great results, we’ll focus on men for this article. 

A hair tattoo can provide great results for men — a small study from 2021 found that 100% of patients who’d had a hair tattoo would recommend the procedure to others with similar problems [1]. The majority of patients in this study were male. 

Here is everything you need to know about hair tattoos for men, including how they are done, how successful they are, and the benefits and disadvantages. We’ll also share some photos of men before and after SMP treatment for hair loss.

Table of Contents

What is a hair tattoo?

A hair tattoo is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of your hair. It provides an alternative to other hair loss treatments such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, and hair transplant surgery. While SMP is similar to microblading, the two differ in that a manual blade is used for microblading while an electric tattoo device is used for micropigmentation. 

Hair tattoos were only introduced to the cosmetic world around 20 years ago [2], but they’re getting steadily more popular. This is due to the instant results and minimal recovery time available with SMP. 

A hair tattoo uses tiny, layered dots in different shades of black to replicate the appearance of a shadow on your scalp. However, choosing a skilled SMP practitioner is important to avoid scalp micropigmentation regrets

The style used to create a hair tattoo is called pointillism, and it requires expert precision. The practitioner aims to create definition and depth on your scalp that looks like natural hair growth. When a highly experienced practitioner performs the procedure, the cosmetic outcome tends to be excellent [3].

Hair tattoo for men

Which men make good candidates for a hair tattoo?

Hair tattoos can create the impression of thicker hair for men with [4]:

How is a hair tattoo for men done? 

Here, we’ll discuss what happens before, during, and after a hair tattoo procedure. 

Before SMP

You’ll need to wash your head and hair before your appointment. Then, your practitioner will work with you to design your new hairline based on your head shape, age, facial structure, and personal preference. 

With the help of your provider, you’ll select medical-grade pigments that match your hair colour. SMP needles are slimmer and smaller than tattoo needles, meaning the procedure is usually not as painful as getting a normal tattoo. However, you’ll still need a local anaesthetic cream to numb the skin on your scalp [4]. 

During SMP

The procedure may take up to 5 hours, depending on the size of the scalp area being treated. Your practitioner will use a needle to fill in the chosen areas of the scalp with pigment. Dots of pigment are placed carefully, varying in depth, angle, and size to create a realistic appearance. 

You’ll likely need at least 3 sessions of SMP, each several weeks apart [4]. More pigment is added with each treatment, creating the impression of thicker hair.

After SMP

There are very few side effects of SMP, so it won’t be long before you can return to your daily activities. You may experience some redness on your scalp for several hours after the procedure. For several days after the procedure, you should avoid [4]: 

  • Exposing your scalp to direct sunlight.
  • Getting your head wet — avoid swimming, take baths or wear a shower cap. Your practitioner will advise when it’s okay to get your scalp wet again.
  • Steam rooms or hot showers (the moisture from steam can collect on your scalp).
  • Hot environments that cause you to sweat.
  • Strenuous exercise.

How successful is a hair tattoo for men? 

  • 42 out of 43 patients were highly satisfied with the results of their hair tattoo [5]
  • All patients who received SMP for male pattern baldness were highly satisfied with the outcome [5]
  • Minimal fading was observed at follow-up appointments up to 32 months after SMP [1]
  • A 2014 study performed SMP on 43 patients (a mix of men and women). All patients were highly satisfied with the results except one patient, who was dissatisfied because she did not see any remarkable changes. No adverse effects or complications were reported [5].
  • A 2021 study investigated the use of SMP in 22 patients. Participants were a mix of men and women with patterned hair loss, alopecia areata, or scalp scars. Patients were followed up between 7 and 32 months, with a mean of 20 months. Minimal fading was observed at the follow-up appointment [1].
Male hair tattoo combined with hair transplant

Can a hair tattoo be combined with a hair transplant?

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure to move hair to an area that’s bald or has thinning hair. SMP can be combined with a hair transplant to increase the appearance of thicker, fuller hair. Our clinicians specialise in this procedure and can give you the best of both worlds by combining these techniques. 

Research suggests that many men who have had hair transplants and did not get the fullness they wanted can achieve their desired outcome with SMP [6]. As a minimally invasive treatment, SMP is very attractive for people who want more hair after their hair transplant but do not want to or can’t have further hair transplant surgery. 

Hair tattoos for men: before and after

SMP creates the illusion of greater, more even hair coverage and conceals scars on the scalp. Here are some examples of the effects of SMP:

Before and after hair tattoo results
Before and after hair tattoo results fuller density
Before and after hair tattoo results on bald head

Here are some photos to show the effects of SMP in men with various hair loss conditions:

The image below shows a patient with scars on his scalp from multiple surgeries. Before his hair tattoo, the scars and male pattern baldness are clearly visible. After SMP, hair appears to be spread evenly across his scalp.

Hair tattoos for men before and after for man with scars and male pattern baldness
Before and after hair tattoo to cover up scars and mask male pattern baldness

This photo shows a patient with scarring alopecia before and after SMP treatment. Scars, discolouration and hair loss are clearly visible on his scalp before treatment. After treatment, he appears to have short hair spread evenly across his scalp, and the appearance of his scars and discolouration is greatly reduced [7].

Hair tattoos for men before and after scarring alopecia
Before and after hair tattoo to mask scarring alopecia

The picture below shows the effects of SMP on alopecia areata. Prior to treatment, the patient has clearly visible bald patches on his scalp. After treatment, SMP gives the impression of an even, full head of hair that has been shaved down to a buzz cut [7].

Hair tattoos for men before and after alopecia areata
Before and after hair tattoo to disguise alopecia areata

This image shows a patient with a scar from hair transplant surgery. The scar is obvious before hair tattoo treatment but SMP conceals it well, giving the impression of even hair density across the scalp [7].

Hair tattoos for men before and after hair transplant scar
Before and after hair tattoo to mask hair transplant scar

Benefits of hair tattoos for men

There are many reasons that increasing numbers of men choose hair tattoos to create the impression of thicker hair. These include: 

Long-lasting results 

Although hair tattoos aren’t a permanent solution to hair loss, they usually retain their appearance for at least 4 years [4]. This contrasts with hair loss medications, which usually require daily use to prevent your hair loss symptoms from returning. 

Minimal recovery time 

Hair tattoos take less than 2 weeks to recover from [2]. The procedure itself is less invasive than a hair transplant and does not cause any scarring. In fact, hair tattoos are sometimes used to disguise scars from a hair transplant.

Rapid results

You’ll see instant results after your first hair tattoo session. Although you’ll likely need several sessions over several weeks to achieve the final results, this is still much quicker than other common hair loss treatments. 

For example, a hair transplant usually takes 8-12 months for the final results to be visible [8]. For minoxidil, a medication commonly used to treat hair loss, it takes around 2 months to see initial results [9].

Benefits of hair transplant vs hair tattoo for men

Convincing appearance 

Hair tattoos convincingly replicate the appearance of a short buzz cut. They can look good whether you have small areas of hair thinning, a single bald spot, or a fully shaved head [10].


A hair tattoo isn’t the cheapest solution for men with hair loss. However, it is generally cheaper over time than the cost of a hair transplant [11]. 

Disadvantages of hair tattoos for men

Like any treatment, hair tattoos aren’t perfect. If any of these downsides concern you, you may want to investigate other types of hair loss treatment. Here are some of the disadvantages:


Each session of SMP can take up to 8 hours, and you often need several sessions to complete the treatment. This is significantly more time-consuming than medication for hair loss, which usually requires taking a pill or applying some daily ointment.

No actual hair regrowth

Unlike hair transplants or hair loss medications, SMP does not prevent balding or encourage the regrowth of new hair. It can disguise thinning hair or baldness, but a short buzz cut is the only style SMP can recreate for someone with large bald areas. 

Men hair tattoo realistic results

Not suitable for everyone

People with natural red or platinum blonde hair don’t make good candidates for SMP. It’s very difficult to match these hair tones with any shade of grey, so the results would look unnatural. 

Realistic results, but not perfect 

The results of a hair tattoo can be very convincing from a short distance. However, it will be obvious to someone up close that your hair tattoo does not look or feel like natural hair. Your hair tattoo may start to look less realistic if the surrounding hairs turn grey as you age.

Results aren’t permanent 

Although a hair tattoo lasts several years before it starts to fade, it will require touch-up sessions every few years to maintain results. In contrast, a hair transplant is a permanent cure for hair loss.  

Risks of treatment

All medical procedures carry some level of risk. Possible risks of SMP include [4]:

  • Infection from needles that haven’t been sterilised properly
  • Unnatural appearance or an uneven hairline after treatment
  • Allergic reaction to the pigments 

To reduce these risks, choose an experienced SMP practitioner, such as those at Wimpole Clinic. Ask for photos of their previous work and discuss any allergies before you begin treatment. 

Choosing the right practitioner for your hair tattoo

It is vital to select the right practitioner for your SMP treatment. The final results of your hair tattoo are dependent on the skill level of the practitioner performing the procedure.

That’s why SMP practitioners at Wimpole Clinic make a great choice. Our practitioners are highly experienced in hair tattoos for men, and can combine SMP with a hair transplant for comprehensive hair restoration. Book a consultation today to get started.

Everything You Need To Know About Hair Tattoos For Men, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on May 21, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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