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Ink for hair: new business promises solution to hair loss – Allentown Morning Call

Posted in Tattoo Shop on Aug 11, 2017

A discerning pair of eyes would have to get within six inches of Steve Littles head to see the carefully crafted illusion. The apparent stubbles of a shaved head are actually tiny bits of ink imprinted all over his scalp.

Seeing is believing, said Little, who liked the result so much he started his own scalp-tatooing business.

Hair tattoos are the latest solution in the multi-billion-dollar hair growth industry that has churned out product after product.

After a New York tattoo artist moved Littles hairline closer to his forehead and filled in his balding spots, he became a believer. Last year, he opened Tailored Micro, in Allentown, where he sees about three clients a week for micropigmentation, the industry term for a scalp tattoo.

Once a subversive act against mainstream culture, tattoos have become ubiquitious. There are dozens of shops in Lehigh Valley that do body art or permanent make-up, which is using ink to thicken eyebrows or color lips. Micropigmentation isnt as well known, partly because, as Little noted, people who have it done prefer to keep it private.

It illuminates part of you thats insecure or unhappy, he said.

Kaebea Dennis, who lives in Norwood, Delaware County, was prepared to travel to Minnesota before he noticed Littles advertisement on Facebook.

He did research for more than a year before settling on the Allentown business.

You have to make sure the person youre going to, thats going to be your person, he said.

He was happy with the results, which is subtle to give the impression of nothing more than stubble. People are shocked, he said, when he tells them his head is tattooed.

The procedure uses needles to embed pigment under the skin, closer to surface than ink is in body tattoos. A session can take three-to-five hours and a couple sessions may be necessary to get the desired color. Because the tattoo is so close to the top of the skin, touch-ups may be required every few years. Little charges anywhere from $500 to more than $2,000, depending on the extent of the work.

Risks are mostly the same as those associated with general tattooing, notably an allergic reaction or infection.

But there is one specific to micropigmentation: polka dots. Nobody wants to walk out with those, said Rose Marie Beauchemin, a New Jersey artist and the president of the American Micropigmentation Academy. A lack of standards for a process that involves sharp needles and permanent ink, however, makes polka dots a possibility for those who dont do their research.

The requirements for opening up a tattoo shop vary from place to place and efforts by state legislators to impose rules have not been successful.

Philadelphia requires tattoo artists to complete a three-year apprenticeship to get licensed. Outside the city, many places, including Allentown and Bethlehem dont have rules for tattoo artists. Easton health administrator Joe Gill inspects tattoo businesses to make sure theyre clean, safe, and following the citys rules for tattoo artists: to wear gloves, keep records of tattoos, use razors only once and report infections to the city, Gill said.

As the popularity of tattoos and permanent make-up and hair rises, some states such as New Jersey, are going even further and requiring artists to train and pass a test.

Nobody knew what to do with us, Beauchemin said of tattoo artists. She said Philadelphias rules are stifling and the rest of the states lack of rules too risky.

Tattoo artists should be trained how to clean their supplies and manage health risks, particularly for the scalp, she said.

The head sweats, theres bacteria, and can become infected easily, she said.

At Littles office, two certificates neither required by Allentown or the state hang on a wall. He earned one after he trained two weeks with an artist in New York City. For the other, he completed a 30-minute online lesson on infectious diseases transmitted through blood.

Little asks his clients to sign a form to make sure theyre sober and healthy and understand the risk of infections, scarring and allergic reactions. And he sends them home with information to care for their fresh tattoos.

Most people in Littles office are more worried about whether the ink will look like hair. Some already have tried more drastic measures, such as a hair transplants. They end up in Tailored Micro because nothing else worked, Little said.

And for some, the ink works better than the supplements and procedures.

People are so elated, Little said. They float out of here.

When Little opened his business, he was careful and stayed on the lighter side with tattoos, building the trust that is critical in any business, especially in the tattoo industry.

In a way, he noted, reputation can be a free market force that kicks out unhygienic and untrained artists.

Bad news spreads faster than good news, he pointed out.

It helps that Little understands why his clients want their scalps tattooed. He started losing his hair in high school and said he never felt comfortable with his growing bald spot.

Nothing he tried, including topical applications such as Rogaine, made hair grow back. Then he found permanent ink.

Indelible and effective, it created what he hoped.

The goal, Little says, is to fool everyone into thinking its real hair.


What: Micropigmentation or scalp tattooing

Why: To give the illusion of a shaved head or stubble.

How? Using needles, pigment is embedded under the skin. More than one session may be required to get the desired color and touch-ups may be necessary every few years

Twitter: @Bhuang2012


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Ink for hair: new business promises solution to hair loss – Allentown Morning Call

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