This article was originally published in the November 2014 edition of Paradise Valley Lifestyle magazine.


paradise-valleyWhat do you do to feel good about yourself? Buy a new outfit? Run an extra mile? Give to someone in need? However you boost your self-esteem, having confidence gives us all the fearlessness we need to face the world.

Sometimes, such courage can be hard to find, especially for people tormented by hair loss, whose worlds may seem a little less inviting. Take Bryce Cleveland for instance. At 19 years old, Bryce started balding.

“My hair was everything; the Mohawks, blowouts, every color you could think of,” he says. “I was the absolute hair trendsetter. When I started balding, it felt like I was losing a piece of me, almost as if it were a limb. It affected my confidence, the way I approached situations in business, my personal life, and of course, my love life.”

Throwing on a hat was always the easiest option, but hats aren’t always appropriate. Creams and sprays were always available, but they were messy and didn’t work. Eventually Bryce considered a hair transplant, but it was too expensive, and the scars would have been obvious forever.

Discouraged and desperate for a solution that would restore his self-worth, Bryce started researching hassle-free ways to achieve the illusion of a full head of hair. He remembered getting pretty realistic results the time he’d used a Sharpie and wondered if there was a way to get those ink dots under the skin where they couldn’t wear off.

He ran the idea by some friends who happened to be tattoo artists, and it seemed like a hair tattoo could be the answer. After practicing with different needles and techniques, Bryce perfected a process called scalp pigmentation, which permanently implants color into the scalp. The end result is the look of new hair growth where there was none before.

Unlike commercial tattooing, scalp pigmentation uses a needle small enough to replicate a thousand follicles per square inch and charcoal-based ink custom mixed to match any hair color and resistant to turning blue over time. Plus, the needle only penetrates the skins outer layer as opposed to all three layers, preventing ink from spreading into surrounding tissue. If properly maintained, the procedure can last up to 10 years.

With the concept fully developed, Bryce began working on buddies who would shave their heads just for the cause. He received such positive feedback that he decided to open his own business, Scalp Aesthetics, in Rochester, New York, where he grew up.

“It just felt so good to be able to empathize with other people,” Bryce says. “To be able to help them like I helped myself was amazing.”

Bryce says years passed before the company had built up enough credibility to convince outsiders that the process is legit, but their client list eventually started growing to include even celebrities. George Farah, a pro bodybuilder (and Dwayne “TheRock” Johnson’s conditioning coach), is a client and spokesperson for the brand.

Since opening in New York in 2001, Scalp Aesthetics has expanded to 22 locations worldwide, including a facility in Scottsdale.

“We really create a community of people, and they feel like they’re part of it because they were suffering,” Bryce says. “This is a real issue. It’s something men really deal with”.

Since Bryce knows that struggle firsthand and believes so strongly in this innovative solution, he is committed to spreading the love. Twice a year, Scalp Aesthetics donates a procedure to someone with cancer or alopecia.

“We will start with your head and heal your heart,” he says. “It might seem dramatic, but it’s true. It’s the most rewarding thing ever.”