As you age, it’s normal to notice differences in your hairline. But it can be difficult to distinguish when the changes that are taking place are a natural part of aging, or when they may indicate something more.
In this post, we’re going to discuss both mature and receding hairlines, and you’re going to learn three major things on the topic:
- The difference between a mature hairline and a receding hairline.
- How to tell whether you suffer from male-pattern baldness (receding hairline).
- How to slow further hair loss and perhaps even lower your hairline.
So, if you’re ready to get started, read on.
You can watch our video on the topic as well below:
What’s the Difference Between Mature and Receding?
First things first, let’s get a few definitions out of the way.
The hairline is a line of hair follicles which outline the outermost edges of your hair. Where the hairline naturally lies will depend on genetics and other such factors.
As you age, the hairline will naturally recede. It can do so evenly, moving the entirety of the hairline back a centimeter or so, or it can do so unevenly, moving certain parts of the hairline farther back than others.
With the above two hairline recession types in mind, it’s easy to see that there is a difference between the two.
The first instance of a receding hairline, the one in which the line moves back evenly, is known as a mature hairline. This creates a more distinct hairline, doing away with the more rounded edges commonly seen in the young.
A receding hairline, however, is one which moves higher on the head, but do so more in certain areas. For example, you may notice your entire hairline is moving upwards, but the recession at your temples is more rapid and noticeable.
In the majority of individuals, a mature hairline will develop as they age. In others, though, that mature hairline will continue to recede. This is known as male-pattern baldness.
What Causes a Receding Hairline?
Alopecia is a catch-all term that includes all kinds of hair loss, no matter the cause.
However, a receding hairline is often a sign of one particular type of hair loss known as Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).
AGA is more often known as male-pattern baldness, though it can also occur in women. The tell-tale sign of the condition is the horseshoe pattern of hair loss. As the condition worsens, the pattern will deepen.
But what’s the cause?
Well, genetic and androgen factors combine to promote the development and progression of the condition.
Twin studies have shown that heredity accounts for around 80 percent of the predisposition to baldness (1). However, the actual cause is much more complicated.
The role of androgens (that is, steroid hormones) in AGA is well documented. In particular, the androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is believed to play a key role in follicle miniaturization and eventual hair fall (2).
This is because men and women with AGA have an inherited sensitivity to the androgen which, in turn, leads to inflammation when DHT connects to the follicles.
And why the horseshoe pattern? That’s explained by DHT, too.
There are certain follicles which are more sensitive to the androgen than others. In males, these happen to be at the temples and hairline. In females, they are more likely at the crown.
But there are other factors that are believed to contribute to this pattern of sensitivity as well.
In particular, scalp tension.
The hypothesis is as follows (3):
(1) chronic scalp tension transmitted from the galea aponeurotica induces an inflammatory response in androgenic alopecia-prone tissues; (2) dihydrotestosterone increases in androgenic alopecia-prone tissues as part of this inflammatory response; and (3) dihydrotestosterone does not directly miniaturize hair follicles.
That’s not to say that other factors – such as environment, lifestyle choices, and illness – don’t also play a role.
How To Tell Whether You Suffer from Male-Pattern Baldness
As mentioned above, a receding hairline typically begins to recede after the mature hairline has taken shape. But what if you want to stop hair loss in its tracks and not get to a point where the difference is obvious?
Consider that one of the tell-tale signs of a receding hairline is the distinctive horseshoe pattern. This is caused when the hairline recedes more quickly in the temple areas, either causing balding or thinning of the hair.
If your “mature” hairline has taken to this pattern, then it’s time to consider that male-pattern baldness may be the culprit.
Other early signs of balding include increased hair shedding, irritated scalp, thin, wispy hairs, and slower hair growth.
If male-pattern baldness if your concern, though, another major indicator of whether you may be susceptible to this condition is whether your older male relatives have it. While relatives with male-pattern baldness does not guarantee that you will develop it, you’re at higher risk than others. This is known as genetic predisposition (4).
How to Lower Your Hairline
If male-pattern baldness is the source of your stress, there are a few approaches you can take to stop the baldness in its tracks and lower your hairline.
Step 1: Discover the Real Cause of the Hair Loss
There are a variety of factors which contribute to hair thinning. For those suffering from androgenetic alopecia (also known as male-pattern baldness), though, sensitivity to DHT is the culprit.
It’s important to find the true cause of your hair loss. Even though some treatments overlap, there are those conditions which require more specialized attention.
The easiest way to found out the cause of your hair loss is by visiting a dermatologist. They can perform examinations and tests which will tell them more about the quality of your scalp and hair follicles, as well as pinpoint the most likely cause of loss.
Step 2: Stop It From Worsening
This is easier said than done, of course, but to prevent further recession and keep your hair follicles healthy, you first need to stop any further thinning and/or recession
But how can you do this?
The traditional treatment route includes minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia).
Minoxidil is a topical solution that was originally developed as an oral hypertensive (5). However, one side effect of the drug that patients and doctors noticed was hair growth.
In fact, this side effect became so well known that the drug was often prescribed for off-market use in men with pattern hair loss.
But eventually, a topical solution (Rogaine) was developed and it was later approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) (6). In the years since, it has also been approved for use by women.
Finasteride is an oral prescription that is used in the treatment of male-pattern baldness. It works by inhibiting the activities of 5AR, an enzyme responsible for the production of DHT (7).
This drug is currently only approved by the FDA for use in men, though physicians will sometimes prescribe it to their female patients (8).
A more ‘natural’ approach to hair growth is microneedling. This technique involves a tool (either a roller, stamp, or pen) that utilizes tiny needles to puncture the scalp.
Without causing pain or damage, the dermaroller penetrates the dermal layer of skin, increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and stimulating new cell production (9).
In fact, this technique has been shown to be effective even in men who failed to respond to more traditional (e.g. minoxidil and finasteride) treatments (10).
For thorough instructions on use, go here.
Step 3. Treat the Hair Loss At Its Source.
Now that the cause has been discovered, as well as your scalp being cleansed and prepped for hair growth, it’s time to treat it at the source.
The ‘source’ can be different things for different people, depending on condition or type. As mentioned above, those with androgenetic alopecia are sensitive to DHT.
The majority of hair loss types have solutions, however. For example, fungal infections can be treated with prescription medications and medicated shampoos, and diet imbalances can be treated with nutritional supplements.
While a maturing hairline is normal, especially for those in early adulthood, sometimes it can be a sign of things to come; in this case, male-pattern baldness.
There are steps you can take, though, to stop losing more hair and even stimulate new hair growth.
Do you have questions about hairline maturation and recession, or how to stop your hairline recession from worsening? Let me know in the comments below.
*This article was reviewed by Dr. Debra Rose Wilson