The basic premise behind scalp micropigmentation is the placement of tiny pigment particles within the scalp, making them look like hair follicles. This is a great way to turn a bald head into one that just looks shaven, or to extend and modify one’s hairline as desired. Though this is sometimes thought of as a permanent method of getting rid of balding and associated conditions, the truth is that the pigment used in scalp micropigmentation changes over time. This is why clients are advised on top ups every few years depending on the nature of the initial scalp micropigmentation. There are various ways in which the pigments change over time.
Typically, the pigments used in scalp micropigmentation are placed at a depth of around 0.25 to 0.5 mm beneath the surface of the skin. This layer of the skin, the epidermis, is usually served by a small number of immune cells. Compared to the immune cells, the pigment molecules are usually massive, which means that they can’t ingest them and get rid of them as they would any other foreign object. As a result, chemical action from the immune system can cause the pigment molecules to slowly break down over years.
When a fragment of the molecule is small enough, it is ingested by macrophages and disposed of by the body. When this happens repeatedly over years, it results in a reduced concentration of pigment molecules on the scalp, which in turn leads to fading. In order to counter this, the pigment is usually reapplied around 2 to 5 years depending on many factors including the type of scalp micropigmentation one chose to have.
The top of the head is most exposed to sunlight, and ultraviolet radiation by extension. UV radiation carries energy from the sun. When it is absorbed by the dark molecules in the pigment, it could result in a variety of actions including a change in the pigment color such as fading, or a breakup in the physical structure of the pigment. The latter then makes it easier for immune cells to phagocytose the smaller pigment molecules, thus removing them from the scalp.
In fact, this is the basis for tattoo removal, where laser energy in the form of light is directed towards the tattoo to break up the pigment particles to make them smaller and therefore easier for the immune system to get rid of them. In the case of scalp micropigmentation, you can prevent UV radiation from the sun from doing the same (albeit at a much slower rate) by simply wearing a hat or using anti-UV creams on your scalp.
These are the common ways in which pigment used for scalp micropigmentation fades over time. The rate of fading can be influenced by a variety of factors including the quality of the pigment initially used. The higher the quality, the slower the rate of fading due to any of these reasons. Professional application will also significantly slow down the rate of pigment fading or color change.