Receding Hairline: Signs, Causes and Treatments

  1. What it is
  2. Signs
  3. Causes
  4. What it looks like
  5. Diagnosis
  6. Management
  7. Treatments

A receding hairline can affect both men and women at different ages. But what triggers it, and what treatments are available to restore hair growth? 

We’ll explore how to know if your hairline is receding and how to fix receding hairline and restore your hair to its glory.

What is a receding hairline?

A receding hairline is one of the most common signs of hair loss, particularly in men. Characterized by the hair starting to thin and pull back from the forehead.

At its core, a receding hairline refers to the loss of hair from the temples and the forehead, creating a ‘M’ shaped pattern over time.

A receding hairline can affect men at any post-puberty age, hair thinning could start as early as the late teens or early 20s.

Usually, though, most men will notice at least some recession by the time they reach their late 30s. 

Signs of receding hairline

Most receding hairline types tend to begin above the temples and advance over the top of the scalp.

One common pattern is a ring of healthy growth around the back and sides of the head with thinning hair on top. Hair may continue to grow in patches, such as an island in the centre of the scalp. 

But you could also retain healthy growth in the middle of the scalp while hair loss proceeds from above the temples, forming a V-shaped pattern known as a “widow’s peak”. 

ude Law attends the premiere of 'The Young Pope' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Casino on September 3, 2016 in Venice, Italy

In some cases, men with a receding hairline may also lose their hair at the back and sides of the head, but others may shave these areas to create a voluntarily bald look. 

For women, the back and sides of the head usually retain their hair while the centre part expands across the top of the scalp.

For some postmenopausal women, this might be caused by frontal fibrosing alopecia, a condition that mainly affects the hairline and can occur alongside female pattern baldness.

What causes a receding hairline?

There can be several reasons why your hairline is receding.

The average human scalp is home to around 80,000 hairs. It’s believed that people lose between 50 and 100 hairs each day through this cycle, which is considered as normal hair loss.

But you could lose considerably more for the following reasons:

Male pattern baldness

Androgenetic alopecia (or male or female pattern hair loss) is the most common cause of hair loss at the hairline.

Genetics 

You can inherit a receding hairline from your relatives — you’ll be more likely to lose hair if someone in your family has been impacted by female or male pattern baldness. And the change may start at around the same age for everyone affected.

Stress or illness 

Hair loss related to stress or illness is known as telogen effluvium. This can come on after a particularly difficult period, but you may stop losing hair if you reduce the amount of stress you’re exposed to.

stress can cause hair loss

Medications or medical treatments

Various medications and treatments can contribute to a receding hairline, such as some for blood pressure.

Styling

Certain hairstyles can contribute to a receding hairline, such as pulling the hair back in an excessively tight ponytail. This can cause traction alopecia.

Hormone changes 

Hormonal changes may trigger hair loss in men and women. For example, menopause can contribute to shedding (though not always at the hairline).

What does a receding hairline look like? (Stages)

A receding hairline is often the first sign of male pattern baldness and progresses through several stages before it reaches its distinct M-shape.

With the help of the Norwood scale, we can distinguish the following stages of hair loss at the hairline:

  • Stage I – No sign of hair loss
  • Stage II – Receding starts at the upper corner of the left and right temples
  • Stage III – Hair loss at the temples becomes more prominent, and the hairline forms a noticeable M-shape or widow’s peak
  • Stage IV – Balding continues at the crown or the mid-front
  • Stage V – The hair recedes further, there may be a band of hair remaining between the front and the crown
  • Stage VI – Significant hair loss, the crown recedes further back
  • Stage VII – Pattern hair loss is complete, with a band of hair at the back and sides of the head

How far will a receding hairline go? 

A receding hairline may be the beginning of full baldness on top of the scalp or a mild change that makes a minimal impact on your appearance. You may never experience further hair loss, but it can be challenging to predict. 

And while you may get a glimpse into your future if you look at a parent or older sibling’s hairline, there are no guarantees. 

Whatever the outcome, any form of hair loss can be difficult to live with. Fortunately, various treatments can restore your hairline to a fuller, more youthful condition.

FUE hair transplant receding hairline treatments can achieve lasting success with one session under a local anaesthetic. 

How do experts diagnose an early receding hairline?

It’s recommended that you visit a healthcare provider if you’re concerned about your receding hairline. They’ll ask about your medical history and that of your family.

Let them know about any medications you take, whether or not you think they could be responsible for your hairline recession. 

One common technique doctors use to assess hair loss is the “pull test”. As the name suggests, they will grab a few hairs and tug on them. They’ll check how many come out and how easily the scalp releases them. 

hair problems and trichologist

Your doctor may also perform a biopsy of scalp tissue to identify potential scalp infections triggering hair loss.

They’ll extract a tiny section of tissue from the scalp to determine if an infection or medical condition is to blame. This process can be instrumental in both diagnosing and treating the cause of thinning hair. 

A blood test might be performed too. Your doctor will be looking for signs of a common condition (such as thyroid disease) known to cause receding hairlines.

Mens hairstyles receding hairline

Knowing what haircut to get with receding hairline can do wonders for your appearance.

So what is a good haircut for a receding hairline?

Below, we’ve compiled the 5 best haircuts for receding hairline.

1. Faux Hawk

It’s a style made famous by none other than the legendary David Beckham. The faux hawk draws attention to the centre of your hairline and uses a higher hairline to its advantage by diverting attention from the temples. This makes it a perfect option for an early stage receding hairline.

David Beckham famous faux hawk 2005

2. French Crop Receding Hairline

Brushed-forward hair is an excellent way to conceal your receding hairline. This haircut creates a somewhat messy and undone look that adds volume to the front of the head.

You can also add a fade into the mix if you’re going for a more polished appearance. These qualities make it an excellent short haircut receding hairline option.

brushed forward haircut

3. Comb-Over 

The comb-over is a vastly popular hairstyle for men, and for good reason. The look works well to conceal hair loss as it uses your receding hairline as the lowest point of your hair’s natural part line. This makes your hair look denser than it actually is.

popular hairstyle for men

4. Quiff

The main advantage of the quiff is that it draws attention away from the hairline onto the crown. Similar to the comb-over, this style creates the illusion of thicker hair.

quiff receding hairline

5. Messy Fringe

Last but not least, a messy fringe is another ideal way to conceal your hairline. Depending on the length of your hair you can also use it to conceal parts of your temples.

The style draws attention away from the hair onto the eyes and the jawline.

hairstyle for receding hairline

The best haircut for receding hairline and thinning hair will depend on your own preferences, but you can be sure to find something that fits all different types of receding hairlines.

Receding hairline men treatment

Currently, there are no treatments available to permanently stop a receding hairline.

Your doctor may discuss hair loss treatments to slow down or even stop your hairline from receding further temporarily, depending on the cause and the severity of hair loss.

It’s always best to get a diagnosis as fast as possible and start treatment at the earliest signs of a receding hairline to achieve the best results.

Potential treatment options include:

Medications for hair growth 

If your hairline recession is due to an immune disorder, your doctor may suggest a drug formulated to suppress overactive immune responses (such as prednisone). 

But they could also advise you to try a medication with hair growth-promoting effects. Topical Minoxidil is one of the most popular options: you’ll apply this over-the-counter hair loss treatment to your scalp and rub it in carefully. 

This is usually more effective at restoring growth in small areas of the scalp, such as the hairline. However, minoxidil can trigger various side effects, including skin irritation. 

Finasteride (Propecia) is another well-known option. It’s a pill taken orally, unlike minoxidil, and can stimulate hair growth. One potential side effect is a slight decrease in male sex drive. 

Both minoxidil and finasteride require a long-term commitment, as they must be taken consistently to maintain results.

The best medication for receding hairline can vary on a case-to-case basis to always consult with a doctor before starting any treatments.

Hair transplant for receding hairline

FUE2 hair restoration for receding hairline

Getting a hair transplant has become a popular solution for people experiencing male pattern baldness or a receding hairline. 

A surgeon transplants healthy hair follicles from the sides and the back of the head to the hairline (or other thinning areas). These implanted follicles encourage new growth and cultivate natural results across 12 – 18 months (on average). 

Multiple transplant types are available, including Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). The former creates seamless growth without the same level of invasiveness and scarring as the latter.

While a hair transplant cannot stop the recession, it can restore hair growth you’ve already lost. Just take a look at these stunning before and after photos from our patients.

PRP for hair loss

Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP)is another way to treat hair loss. This procedure involves drawing a small amount of blood from the patient, which is then put into a centrifuge to separate out the platelet-rich plasma. The plasma is then injected into the scalp, right below the level of hair follicles.

The results rejuvenate and repair the hair follicle, stimulating new hair growth. However, it is important to note that there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies to come to a definite conclusion about the effectiveness of the procedure.

Summary

While there is no cure for a receding hairline, there are several options available to slow down its progress from over-the-counter medication to various therapies.

Additionally, reliable surgical techniques can recreate the density already lost at the front with natural results.

However, finding the right strategy to treat your hair loss will require a tailored approach. To find out what to do about receding hairline it’s always best to talk to a dermatologist, physician or hair restoration expert.

FAQ

Can receding hairline grow back? 

Yes — a receding hairline can be reversed in most cases. However, treatment is determined by the cause of hair loss: for example, minoxidil (Rogaine) is one of the only medical solutions for male and female androgenic alopecia available.

Can you fix receding hairline? 

No treatment is guaranteed to stop hairline recession. However, various treatments and practices can help you maintain your hair’s health for as long as possible.

What causes receding hairline? 

Androgenic alopecia is a hereditary type of hair loss and is one of the most common reasons for receding hairlines. You’re more likely to develop hairline recession if you have a family history of baldness.

What helps receding hairline? 

While there’s no direct cure for a receding hairline, various medications can slow its progression and encourage regrowth. These include minoxidil, finasteride or dutasteride, corticosteroids, anthralin, essential oils, hair transplants, and laser therapy.

How to prevent receding hairline?

To prevent a receding hairline consider using gentle hair care products, avoiding tight hairstyles, eating a balanced diet, managing your stress levels and getting help from a healthcare professional.

How to stop hairline receding?

Certain medications such as finasteride or minoxidil may slow down the progression of your hair loss, but there is no way to completely stop the process.

How to tell if you have a receding hairline?

Look at photos of yourself from a few years ago and compare them to recent ones. Changes in hairline position can indicate recession.

Does a receding hairline mean baldness?

A receding hairline can be an early sign of male pattern baldness, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to complete baldness.

Can a receding hairline grow back?

A receding hairline due to male pattern baldness won’t naturally grow back, but treatments like minoxidil can help restore it. However, the only long-lasting solution to the problem is a hair transplant.

Last medically reviewed on October 10th, 2023

6 Sources
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