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Is my hairline receding?

Is my hairline receding?

Have you been noticing that your hairline is slowly (or quickly) moving further up your head? If so then we’re sorry to say but this could be due to a receding hairline. It’s a very common issue that affects men all over the world. An estimated 42% of men aged 18 to 49 suffer from moderate to extensive hair loss.

If you identify a receding hairline then there are steps you can take to slow it down and hold onto your hair for longer.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead
- Last updated August 02, 2022
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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
on August 02, 2022.
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What is a receding hairline?

A receding hairline is a common problem that can affect both men and women, but it typically affects men more. It can lead to male pattern baldness, particularly in older men, but it can begin as early as puberty. Most men will start to see their hair become thinner and their forehead start to appear more prominently.

Although a receding hairline is not a serious health problem, it can have an impact on mental health. Some men experience a loss in confidence due to the change in their appearance. Hair is a distinctive physical feature, and it can be stressful if you don’t know how to treat a receding hairline. You might also choose to avoid thinking about it, which means that you can miss the early signs and make it harder to treat.

There have been great advances in medicine and technology that help to treat issues like these. So, by finding ways to solve this problem early, you can avoid having to take more drastic measures, such as a hair transplant.

It can be hard to know exactly what a receding hairline looks like, particularly because there are a lot of misconceptions about a male hairline. The main one being that there is one ‘normal’ hairline. There is no standard, and hairlines can be very different in shape, from straight to round. Some hairlines are naturally higher and some lower. A high hairline may not necessarily mean a receding hairline. This is defined by how your hairline moves. If you find that you’re losing hair and that your hairline is moving higher regularly, then this is receding. It can be an early sign of male pattern baldness, in fact the Norwood scale includes a receding hairline as a characteristic in the first two stages of the seven stage scale.

There’s no fixed pattern that a receding hairline follows, but there are tell-tale signs which can indicate that this process is beginning. It’s key to know the difference between a receding hairline and a maturing hairline. The main distinction is that a maturing hairline will move back in an even manner, whereas a receding hairline will be uneven, creating the distinguishable ‘horseshoe’ or ‘M-shape’ pattern. You will also find that the hairs on your temple will recede more than on your forehead.

You’ll know your hair better than anyone, so keep a regular close eye on it to detect any slight changes, such as if you can’t style your hair in the same way as before, or a cowlick has disappeared. Differences aren’t always noticeable or even, so check different areas to spot changes, particularly noting corners.

Another sign of a receding hairline is shedding. It’s important to be aware of a normal amount of shedding, most people will shed between 50-100 hairs per day . If you notice the amount of hair that you shed on a daily basis increases, this could be an indication of hair loss. A proactive way to keep track of changes is to take photos of your hairline and look back at any developments. Changes can be so small that you can miss the early signs.

There are lots of different types of healthy hairline that you can have. It’s useful to find out which type of hairline you have, especially as you get older, so that you can know how to maintain it. They’re characterised by how high or low they are on your forehead or towards your crown. The most common types are low hairline, mid hairline, high hairline, rounded hairline, uneven hairline, cowlick hairline and widow’s peak.

A low hairline is most common in children and adolescents. At this age, you haven’t typically experienced any hair loss yet. When this type of hairline follows a straight line across the forehead, it’s usually called a juvenile hairline. A low hairline will begin closer to the eyebrows than most average hairlines, and you’ll usually have very thick hair growth.

Another common type is the middle hairline. Men with middle hairlines have foreheads that appear more proportional so it’s typically the preferred hairline. It’s the average hairline for men in their teens and twenties. A middle hairline can be uneven or asymmetrical sometimes, but also straight or rounded.

A high hairline will start at the crown, and your forehead will appear larger. You could still have full and thick hair, or it could show thinning from your younger, lower hairline.

A rounded hairline is usually a sign of thicker hair, as it requires a more even distribution of hair. And it doesn’t have edges, whereas most men will have edges along their hairline.

The cowlick hairline consists of swirls of hair, usually at the crown of your head, growing in a different direction to the rest of your hair. They are more commonly seen in men with short hair, and can make your hair appear messy.

Finally, the widow’s peak hairline, also known as the V hairline, is characterised by a prominent peak. It usually occurs in older men.

What causes a receding hairline?

A receding hairline can start to appear for a variety of reasons. If you see signs of it happening, it’s worth researching why your hairline is receding to better understand how you could treat it. The main causes are age, hormones, genetics, medication, stress, illness and lifestyle.

Hair loss is a natural sign of ageing, in fact 80% of European men will suffer from hair loss by the age of 80 . There are around 100,000 hairs on an average scalp growing from follicles beneath the skin. It’s normal for these hairs to fall out daily, and be replaced by new ones. But when the growth cycle is damaged this leads to hair loss and a receding hairline.

Another cause of a receding hairline are changes in hormones. One particular hormone, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is thought to be linked to male pattern baldness, because it causes the hair follicles to reduce and no longer grow.

Genetics is thought to play a part in hair loss. If men in your family have a history of baldness it’s more likely that you’ll experience this too. The timing of hair loss will be similar across generations. It’ll usually be gradual, with bald spots appearing.

If you have taken certain medications or treatments, this can trigger hair loss. A common example is radiation which is known to cause hair loss in a short period of time. Also, certain drugs that need to be taken for common illnesses such as depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart problems can cause hair loss.

Illness or stress can also result in a receding hairline. People who are experiencing stressful situations, such as getting surgery or losing a relative, may see sudden shedding. However, this type of hair loss is usually temporary and can be reversed.

There are certain lifestyle choices that can also cause a receding hairline. For example smoking, colouring your hair, not eating enough protein, and nutrient deficiencies.

Can a receding hairline grow back?

It’s possible to stop a receding hairline, but it will depend on the cause of the hair loss. If it’s due to a lifestyle choice (such as smoking) and you decide to quit then you could prevent further receding or even see growth. However, if it’s caused by age, hormones or genetics then it’s much harder to reverse a receding hairline.

But there are ways to slow down the loss of hair. You can use shampoos that don’t have harsh chemicals, less hot water when washing your hair (which can harm hair follicles) and a derma roller to stimulate blood flow. Another way is to think about your diet, and make sure that you choose nutrient dense options such as leafy greens, proteins and whole grains. Regular scalp massages can also be effective to stimulate hair growth.

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When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

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