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Scalp Micropigmentation vs. Microblading

How to get the Best Cosmetic Treatment for Your Hair Loss

For the right hair-loss conditions, scalp micropigmentation and microblading can produce excellent cosmetic results, without surgery. The two procedures are similar, but the effects they create and the best ways to use them are very different.

Which procedure is right for you? How do you choose the right technician to perform the work? We talked to Bosley Medical Director Dr. Ken Washenik, M.D., Ph.D., and Bosley’s lead Scalp Micropigmentation Technician, Clint Ruth, to find out.

What exactly are microblading and micropigmentation?

“Micropigmentation and microblading are ways to introduce pigment into the skin — like a tattoo but less deep — in a way that mimics natural hair,” says Dr. Washenik.

Both procedures create the appearance of hair without surgery. During micropigmentation, a technician uses a device with multiple 0.30-millimeter needles to embed microscopic dots of ink in the scalp and create the look of realistic hair follicles.

“Micropigmentation looks like a shaved or closely cut shaft of hair,” explains Dr. Washenik.

With microblading, on the other hand, the technician uses a single blade or stylus to cut a fine line of ink into the skin. “Microblading gives you a stroke of pigment, like a strand of hair with gel on it,” says Dr. Washenik.

What are the best applications for microblading and micropigmentation?

In general, microblading works best where single strands of hair are highly visible and create the greatest impact, like the individual hairs in eyebrows and along the hairline framing the face.

“The blading mimics the manicured, groomed look of eyebrows,” says Dr. Washenik. “It also has a very targeted benefit along the hairline. But it has to be done with great care and skill for it to look natural.”

Micropigmentation has a much broader range of applications.

“A person who shaves their head is a good candidate for micropigmentation,” says lead technician Ruth. “For men who wear their hair shaved or buzzed — but who want to look like they have a fuller head of hair — micropigmentation creates that five-o’clock-shadow look on the scalp.”

“If you have see-through areas with thinning hair, we can use microdots to help conceal the difference between skin and hair,” says Dr. Washenik. Micropigmentation can also obscure scars and skin conditions like alopecia or create a fuller look after a hair transplant.

Micropigmentation can even help people who aren’t candidates for hair transplants, like women with diffuse hair loss. “When people have diffuse thinning, transplants can’t help,” says Dr. Washenik. “But micropigmentation might give less see-through to the scalp.”

Cosmetic hair procedure results can vary wildly. How to you choose the best technician for your procedure?

“Both microblading and micropigmentation can be wonderful or come out poorly in the wrong hands,” says Dr. Washenik. “It’s like hair restoration. You have to be very technically skilled to create a natural-looking appearance.”

According to Ruth, there are many ways for either procedure to go wrong. “Pigment that doesn’t match natural hair colors. Too much pigment or pigment at the wrong depth. Too much hand pressure.”

Whether it’s microblading or micropigmentation, it takes a delicate combination of technical skill and artistry. “The work has to be gentle, consistent, and properly spaced, with a natural color to match the person’s hair and skin tone,” says Ruth.

So how do you choose the best technician for your procedure? According to Ruth, it’s pretty simple: “Does their work look natural?”

“Ask for before and after photos,” recommends Ruth. “Look for blurring and blown-out dots. Look at the color of the pigment. Any time you notice an odd trait, your eyes are drawn to it.”

If your eye spots a problem, no matter how small, move on to another provider.

How do you decide whether microblading or micropigmentation is right for you?

The best way to evaluate any restorative hair treatment is to meet with a skilled specialist who can assess your condition and talk to you about your goals.

“Nothing we do is cookie cutter,” says Dr. Washenik. “We have to take in all of the specifics — hair quality, color, density, diameter — and what the patient wants to accomplish.”

During your free consultation at Bosley, a physician who specializes in hair restoration will explain every option that’s right for your condition, including some options we don’t offer — like microblading.

“For scalp applications, scalp micropigmentation is more appropriate. For eyebrows, and the way they look cosmetically, we‘ll refer you out to have microblading,” says Dr. Washenik. “Both are viable techniques. It all depends on the results you want.”

 Scalp MicropigmentationMicroblading
What is it?Nonsurgical, precision tattooing that simulates the appearance of natural hair folliclesNonsurgical, precision tattooing that simulates strands of hair
What does it look like?Like a shaved or closely cut shaft of hairLike single strands of hair
How is it applied?A technician uses a device with multiple needles (each about 0.30 mm in diameter) to apply follicle-sized dots of pigmentA technician uses a fine blade or stylus to apply ink in single strokes
What is its best use?
  • Filling in areas of thinning hair for men and women
  • Disguising scar tissue and skin conditions like alopecia
  • Recreating a shaved-head look for men with male-pattern hair loss
Restoring eyebrows and some limited applications on the scalp along the hairline
How long does it take?Usually two to three sessions over several weeks; each session takes about three to five hoursA two-to-three-hour session followed by a one-to-two-hour touch-up session four to six weeks later
How long does it last?Eight to ten years, with touch-ups every three to five years12 to 18 months

What to do next?

To learn more about your hair restoration options and the average hair transplant timeline, The Complete Book on Hair Restoration, to see how great your hair can look. If you’re ready to do something about that bald spot or thinning hair now, schedule a FREE in-person or video consultation with a trained Bosley hair restoration specialist. Together with a Bosley Physician, we can help you find out what’s causing your balding and what treatment solution is right for you.

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