This client makes a really interesting case study, especially for those who are considering keeping their hair a little longer after their SMP treatment. The process is ultimately the same, but the purpose of the treatment is very different.
Whereas with a regular shaven SMP approach the intention is to mimic real hair follicles, this longer hair approach means that it is impossible for the pigment dots to do that. Dots are 2D, longer hair is 3D. Instead, the dots lay a 'base' of hair underneath the longer hair, reducing the contrast in color between the hair and the scalp. Just like concealers, this creates a fuller, denser look.
For anyone interested in this approach, there are a couple of important considerations:
Your hair loss pattern must be compatible. In the example below you'll notice the client has a generalised diffuse pattern of hair loss. In other words, despite the fact that he's lost a significant amount of hair, his frontal hairline, side profiles and crown are still relatively intact. This is essential, as without these factors in place, this approach is not feasible. If you have a decent amount of hair at your crown and good overall coverage, this may be an option for you. If your hairline has started to recede but you meet the other criteria, this is still a possibility, but your hairline placement is restricted by the position of your existing hairline.
The second consideration is this - virtually any company in the world can shade your scalp regardless of their skill level, as long as they use the right pigments that won't turn blue (many do not). They can do this for you because lower quality work is essentially hidden beneath your real hair. The practice of 'getting away' with low quality treatments is widespread, with the companies delivering these services usually using the fact that you can keep your hair long as a selling point. However (and this is a biggie), when you inevitably continue to lose hair, your pigments MUST accurately replicate real hair follicles. Sooner or later you're going to have to shave it all off, and if the treatment you receive is sub-standard, you're storing up major problems for yourself in the future.
Approach the option of keeping your hair longer with caution. For some it is a viable and very agreeable approach, but it's not always possible and you must have one eye on your future at all times. If you're thinning in a diffuse pattern and are therefore eligible for this approach, you will almost certainly have less hair in the future, so your treatment needs to be good enough to allow for both scenarios.
There is a discussion taking place regarding this in our forum, on this thread