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Hastings woman leading new scalp procedure trend

Hastings resident Leah Matsch has become a leader in the Scalp Micro Pigmentation field and has helped clients from across the globe. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Leah Matsch is pictured working on one of her clients. The procedure she developed uses tattoo technology to disguise hair loss or scars. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Hastings resident Leah Matsch loves helping people, and she’s got a career now that lets her help out in a pretty unique way.

Matsch, a 1996 Hastings High School graduate, is the technical director for Good Look Ink, a Burnsville business that works to help people through Scalp Micro Pigmentation (SMP).

“It’s a fairly new thing out there, but it’s amazing,” Matsch said. “People love it after they’ve had the procedure done.”

SMP is a procedure similar to tattooing and permanent cosmetics; it uses needles and pigment to create the illusion of hair follicles. It’s popular with men who experience hair loss, and with people who want to camouflage scars on the scalp.

Now, Matsch is credited with developing a specialty technique for SMP that’s only being done at Good Look Ink.

Match’s career took a few different turns before she joined Good Look Ink. After high school, she attended Brown College and got a degree in visual communications for graphic design. She worked in that field for a little bit, but soon felt herself seeking something new.

“I just wasn’t really into sitting at a computer, staring at a screen all day,” she said.

She had always liked drawing, and wanted a job that was hands-on, but finding a career as an artist wasn’t easy.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do with illustration unless you’re lucky,” she said.

Her aunt was good friends with the owners of A Plus Tattoo in Hastings, and Match found a door open into the tattoo field.

“I did an apprenticeship with them and worked there for many, many years,” she said. “They’re like a second family to me.”

After several years doing tattoos in Hastings, Matsch decided it was again time to venture out. She worked at another tattoo shop in St. Paul for a bit, but still wanted to do something a little different. She had developed an interest in permanent cosmetics, which uses a procedure similar to tattooing, so she started looking for another job.

It was her mother, Matsch said, who found it. It was a Craigslist ad looking for a tattoo artist for a new procedure. Matsch responded to the ad and met with the man who would go on to launch Good Look Ink. He had already had the procedure done on himself, she recalled, and when they met he asked her how it looked.

“It looked like he just had a 5 o’clock shadow,” she said.

He asked if she thought she could do the same sort of work, and she said she could not only do it, but do it better.

“It kind of just started from there,” she said.

In 2007, she started working with her new business partner, doing tons of research and development with different pigment machines, pigments, needles and techniques, trying to work out the ideal method.

“It took quite a while,” Matsch said.

To be precise, it took two years. It wasn’t until 2009 that they opened Good Look Ink, then in Edina.

Since then, the business has really taken off. They’ve had several news stories done about their work and even got to be on Good Morning America.

They work with clients from all over the country and all over the world. Most of them – about 80 percent, Matsch said – come from outside Minnesota’s borders. They’ve had clients from Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark and several other European countries. They even had someone from Russia who didn’t speak a word of English.

“We’ve had people from all over the world fly in to get this done,” Matsch said.

Nowadays, Matsch doesn’t do so many procedures herself. As technical director, her job focuses on training the technicians, keeping a close eye on the procedures being done and making sure the process and the end result are just right.

The technique

SMP is distinctly different than tattooing.

“Basically, we’re not going in quite as deep as you would with a tattoo,” Matsch explained.

They use tiny needles that barely enter the skin, deposit a single impression of pigment and then come out. When tattooing, she added, the needle is larger and stays in the skin as pigment is deposited. Tattoos also have the risk of pigment migration, which would be a disaster for SMP.

For SMP, the trick is to create a look that appears to be a shadow. Because of that, it doesn’t have to be as dense or dark as a traditional tattoo, which allows technicians to use a lower-power machine.

Good Look Ink isn’t the only company offering the procedure, but the sheer amount of research Matsch has done makes her a leader in the field.

Other companies often do the procedure in stages, which Matsch said can cause damage to the skin, pigment migration or scarring because the skin is so fragile as it heals.

The work others are doing is showing up at Good Look Ink.

“We’re doing a lot of actual correction work,” Matsch said. “... It’s really sad, because they’re paying money for this and then they end up looking worse than they did before.”

To make sure her clients get the product they’re looking for, Matsch got her certification in laser tattoo removal, so she can remove work that needs to be redone.

To do the procedure well requires a deep understanding and skill, which she’s taken the time to develop. Plus, she had 15 years of tattoo experience before developing her SMP technique.

All about helping

Many of Matsch’s clients are often coming to Good Look Ink for help with issues that impact their self confidence. Some are bald but don’t want anyone to know. Some had hair transplants but were left with horrible scarring. Others are dealing with thinning hair. Clients are men and women.

“They feel horrible, because they’re losing their hair and they feel self conscious about it, and they’re wearing hats every day,” Matsch said.

Her procedure takes that worry away.

“They’re just so happy when they leave,” she said. “I get cards in the mail and hugs and gifts – they’re just so happy.”

It’s work that she said she feels blessed to be able to do, and it’s work that she doesn’t intend to give up anytime soon.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “This is kind of my baby.”

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