There are many causes of hair loss—nutrition, genetics, certain conditions, and even stress can all lead to hair loss or thinning. No matter the cause, hair loss can impact the mental health of those who experience it. Studies have shown that hair loss can cause considerable emotional impairment, leading some to avoid certain everyday activities in an effort to hide the condition.
Unlike male pattern hair loss which can target the top of the scalp, female pattern hair loss often results in thinning of the frontal region of the head. Other hormonal conditions can also lead to fallout, particularly along the hairline. This thinning of the front of the hairline can be difficult to mask or hide, leading many to seek long-term solutions.
Microblading, which has become a popular treatment for sparse or thin eyebrows, has begun gaining traction as a potential treatment for thinning hair. If you're unsatisfied with the appearance of your hairline, either from hair loss or just genetics, hairline microblading might be a semi-permanent solution. To understand the risks and benefits associated with hairline microblading, we turned to two experts—Ramon Padilla, founder of EverTrue Microblading Salons, and board-certified dermatologist Craig Ziering, MD—to learn more. Below, we break down everything there is to know before scheduling your first hairline microblading treatment.
Meet the Expert
- Ramon Padilla is the founder and creative director of EverTrue Microblading Salons in New York City and Chicago, which specialize in Hairline Rescue microblading treatments.
- Craig Ziering, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, leading hair restoration specialist, renowned transplant surgeon, and the founder of the Ziering Medical Group.
What Is Hairline Microblading?
Hairline microblading is a form of superficial micro-pigmentation (or tattooing), where pigment is deposited into the skin with the help of a manual device and a blade consisting of stacked needles. It results in crisp, discrete hair-like incisions that last 12-18 months and mimic the appearance of a fuller hairline.
Hairline microblading is a semi-permanent solution to hair loss and thinning, particularly for those experiencing shedding at their hairline or where they part their hair. According to Padilla, microblading can be done for the entire hairline or spot areas such as temples and parts. "It's a solution to a thinning or receding hairline, specifically for women," says Padilla. "Strokes are microbladed into the skin to replicate the hairline and blend with existing hair, giving the illusion of thickness and volume," he explains.
Hairline Microblading vs. Scalp Micropigmentation
Hairline microblading is sometimes interchangeably referred to as scalp micropigmentation, but this is incorrect. Ziering explains that while microblading is a tattooing technique using a flat blade that has multiple tiny needles that implant pigments in a series of strokes to resemble short but distinct hair follicles, scalp micropigmentation (SMP) uses a smaller needle to create small dots in a patient’s thinning areas to create the illusion of having more hair. "At Ziering Medical, we perform scalp micropigmentation, which is a paramedical color implant technique—a form of tattooing—in which nanoparticles of inert pigments are deposited into the scalp mimicking the appearance of short closely shaved hairs on the scalp," explains Ziering.
While hairline microblading and scalp micropigmentation are two different procedures, Padilla warns that the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably. "Microblading is generally understood to be hair-like strokes, whereas micropigmentation is individual pinpricks of pigment that replicate a shaved head. However, the terms can be also used interchangeably, so looking at before and after photos and a full consultation is advisable," says Padilla. There are pros and cons to both treatments, so if you're not sure which procedure is best for your area of concern, schedule a consultation with an expert.
Benefits of Hairline Microblading
The stroke technique used in microblading treatments aims to mimic the appearance of actual hair follicles. In doing so, the treatment aims to boost confidence by reducing the appearance of a receding or thinning hairline. Results are very natural-looking and seen immediately. "It's difficult to see a difference between microbladed hair and 'real' hair. The hairline is designed specifically for the client; we draw on the individual strokes before treatment so they can see what the results will look like," explains Padilla.
Overall, Ziering says it will eliminate the eye seeing the skin color of the patient, which exposes the amount of hair loss a patient has. "One of the biggest complaints patients with thinning hair often share is how light hitting and reflecting off of the scalp magnifies baldness making it appear worse," says Ziering. In addition to reducing the way the light highlights loss, Ziering explains that scalp micropigmentation treatments can also be used to enhance hair transplantation by minimizing the contrast between dark hair and a very light-colored scalp. It can also help patients who are looking to create the appearance of more density but may have limited donor hair achieve the results they desire.
How to Prepare for Hairline Microblading
Before a hairline microblading or scalp micropigmentation treatment, it's important to ensure the scalp is properly prepared. Padilla recommends washing your hair right before doing the treatment, as after you will not be able to wash the treatment area for one week. For his scalp micropigmentation patients, Ziering says patients are asked to refrain from aspirin, vitamin E, and any and all alcohol, caffeine, or blood thinners for five to seven days before the session. Additionally, he says no retinol, glycolic acid, or harsh scrubs or abrasive products should be used in the treatment area for three to five days prior. Finally, Ziering says the scalp must be clean and dry without moisturizer, gel, or any other product on the day of treatment.
What to Expect During a Hairline Microblading Treatment
Padilla explains that hairline microblading treatment technicians start by drawing on the individual hairline strokes using a brow pencil, so the client can see exactly what the results will look like. Next numbing cream is applied; Padilla says there is virtually zero discomfort. Finally, the treatment begins—it can take one to three hours, depending on the size of the area being microbladed.
For scalp micropigmentation, Ziering says patients are first numbed in advance of the treatment. The pigments are then blended to achieve a color match before implanting. Treatment time can vary greatly depending on the amount of area to be implanted, but generally, the procedure takes one to three hours.
When it comes to caring for the area post-treatment, our two experts had slightly different advice depending on the procedure you choose. For hairline microblading, "do not wash the treatment area for a week after treatment," says Padilla. He adds: "To increase the longevity of the results, avoid extensive exposure to direct sunlight and other environmental stressors from fading the microblading hairline."
After scalp micropigmentation, Ziering says patients should refrain from strenuous activities for three to four days following the procedure. After three days, the patient may resume regular cleansing (gently) as well as hair gel, moisturizer, or oils, but hair coloring products should not be used until four to five weeks after the procedure. Ziering says this is a non-invasive procedure, "however, should you experience any discomfort, you may take an aspirin-free medication such as regular or extra-strength Tylenol."
Ziering also shares that it is not uncommon for the pigments to fade after the first treatment in some areas. "Absorption is not necessarily equal in every area or part of the scalp, but about 70-80 percent should be retained in most areas. Second treatments, or even a third, might be required for optimal results and should be scheduled between six and eight weeks post-procedure."
Potential Side Effects
The potential side effects associated with these hairline treatments are similar to those with tattoos, as pigment is being deposited in the skin. There is the risk of the area becoming irritated or infected due to the procedure, which could result in scar tissue formation. Additionally, the color or appearance of the pigment can change over time. If you want to have the pigment removed, it will require laser treatments, which can be uncomfortable and expensive.
Both experts say that the price can vary depending on the size of the area and the severity of the hair loss. For hairline microblading, Padilla says treatments start at $550 at EverTrue. Alternatively, Ziering says that scalp micropigmentation treatment costs range from $2,500 to $7,500—again depending greatly on the number of zones or the overall areas being treated.
The Final Takeaway
No matter what the cause, hair thinning and loss can impact a person's confidence. Both hairline microblading and scalp micropigmentation provide a semi-permanent solution. The results for hairline microblading typically last 12-18 months, while Ziering says scalp micropigmentation results fade over approximately two to two-and-a-half years. If you're considering either treatment, schedule a consultation with a professional and review before and after photos to determine which treatment is best for you.
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