For some people, especially women, a widow’s peak can be a thing of beauty and a source of pride. This hairline style, after all, is quite unique. For other people, however, especially men, the widow’s peak can be a source of frustration – the indication of a hairline beginning to recede.
And for many, whether a natural occurrence or caused by hair loss, the question is, “how can I get rid of my widow’s peak?”
In this post, you are going to learn all about the widow’s peak and the role it plays in male-pattern baldness. This will include what causes the widow’s peak to appear in men with receding hairlines and how you can regrow your hair.
What Is a Widow’s Peak?
A widow’s peak (or, widower’s peak in the case of men) is a V-shaped hairline that can appear in both men and women. In some, the peak can be particularly deep. In others, the peak may be barely noticeable.
The name originates from an old wives’ tale – an omen – that women with this distinctive hairline would suffer the fate of a dead husband. This was because the naturally-forming peak appears very similar to the peak created by the widow’s hood, a cap worn by widows while mourning the loss of their husbands.
Of course, we now know that this is nothing but a myth. But, for many, the widow’s peak is still a curse, just not a supernatural one.
What Causes Widow’s Peak?
In many individuals, the widow’s peak is naturally occurring and is simply the way their hairline is shaped. This is due to a strong, inherited trait. For a few men, however, a widower’s peak can be an indication of a receding hairline and, therefore, male-pattern baldness.
The Hairline Recession Process
Typically, hair loss begins at the temples and near the forehead line. This is known as temporofrontal hair loss and is very common in men with Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA, the medical term for male-pattern baldness).
It is theorized that the loss occurs in such a way due to DHT sensitivity, but as recent research has revealed, there is more to the story.
For decades, it has been thought that DHT sensitivity is the sole cause of pattern baldness. This would mean that DHT collects at the hair follicles naturally, and then triggers miniaturization in those follicles with a genetic sensitivity to the androgen hormone.
It is only in recent years that theories other than DHT sensitivity have been implicated in the cause of pattern baldness. One such theory is the scalp tension theory, and it makes a lot of sense (1).
The scalp is composed of different regions, including the temporal, frontal, occipital, and parietal.
The theory suggests that mechanical tension on these regions of the scalp contributes to an increased presence of DHT because DHT is actually an anti-inflammatory (2).
When physical tension occurs, DHT and other such anti-inflammatories will go to the area to mediate the inflammatory response. In the case of DHT, however, these areas also happen to be where DHT sensitivity occurs in those with a genetic predisposition. The presence of DHT, then, will trigger further inflammation. This triggers follicle miniaturization and hair loss.
This theory explains why hair loss tends to occur in the stereotypical pattern.
Mature Hairline Versus Receding Hairline
In general, a natural widow’s peak is present from childhood. It may become more pronounced as your hairline matures, but you will most likely know it is there from a young age.
If you seem to develop a widow’s peak at a later age, then it may be a sign of a receding hairline. In this case, you will notice that the hair at the temples has receded and it will likely continue to do so if not handled.
How to Get Rid of Widow’s Peak
If your widow’s peak is due to a receding hairline, then you are in luck! The methods which are normally used to treat hair loss and regrow hair will work to rid you of your widow’s peak just as they will help you to regrow strong, luscious locks.
Of course, keep in mind that treating hair loss in its beginning stages is easier and more effective in the long run. However, it is possible to grow back the hair that you have already lost. Here is how.
Treat the Root Cause of Your Hair Loss
If you are noticing a recession of the hairline, it is likely you are suffering from pattern baldness. But pattern baldness is not the only cause of hair loss in men and women.
There are many things that can trigger hairline recession, thinning, and hair loss. These include illness and injury, hormone imbalance, nutrient deficiency, and autoimmune disorders.
It may seem overwhelming to find the root cause of your hair loss, but it is a crucial step in treatment.
The best place to start is by setting up an appointment with your physician. Your primary care physician can help to rule out many of the easier-to-find culprits, such as nutrient deficiency and hormone imbalance. Once these are ruled out, your doctor may refer you to a hair loss specialist.
The hair loss specialist will ask you for your medical history to get a better picture of your health, and they may also ask for family medical history.
A hair loss specialist can also perform a physical examination of the scalp and hair follicles. The results can help them to pinpoint the most likely culprit. Once you have that information, you can work with the doctor to find a treatment solution that works for you.
It is not uncommon for hair loss specialists to first recommend drugs like finasteride and minoxidil for hair loss treatment. They may also know of more naturalistic techniques, such as microneedling and laser therapy.
Increase Blood Flow to the Scalp
There are many causes of hair loss in which an increase in blood flow to the scalp can stimulate hair growth. This includes DHT sensitivity and scalp tension.
Blood is the body’s way of delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues throughout the body, including the hair follicle. With an increase in blood flow to the scalp, your hair follicles can continue to receive what they need to promote hair growth.
There are a few ways to increase blood flow to the scalp.
As the first medication to be FDA-approved for the treatment of pattern baldness, minoxidil has a unique place in the treatment of hair loss.
Minoxidil, sold under the brand name of Rogaine, is a topical solution. It is applied to the scalp once or twice per day, and it is available in liquid or foam formulations.
There are a few mechanisms by which minoxidil is believed to work.
For one, minoxidil is believed to contribute to the upregulation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in dermal papilla cells (3). Put simply, it promotes the anagen phase of hair growth.
But another likely cause of its efficacy is its vasodilation capabilities.
As an anti-hypertensive, minoxidil dilates the blood vessels. This ensures the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, even when hair follicle miniaturization is present.
Scalp Massage and Microneedling
Whether instead of, or in addition to minoxidil, scalp massage and microneedling are also effective ways to promote blood circulation to the scalp.
Scalp massage and microneedling are manual techniques that promote blood circulation naturally. Scalp massage has the added benefit of reducing scalp tension, while microneedling may lead to hair follicle regeneration (4, 5).
And just like minoxidil, both scalp massage and microneedling can be done at home.
Scalp Tension Reduction Device
If you want to treat your hair loss at its source, then a scalp tension reduction device is a must.
As mentioned above, scalp tension is a major contributor to the hairline recession process. From scalp tension is where all other causes, including DHT and miniaturization, are triggered. Because of this, the use of a scalp tension reduction device is an effective way to stop recession in its track. Here is how it works.
The device works similarly to a scalp massage. The device is placed on the head, where the headband will rest on four main regions of the scalp: occipital, parietal, frontal, and temporal.
The device will be pumped (either manually, or through a digital mechanism). The pump will fill the chambers of the headband with air, which will lightly apply pressure to the regions of the scalp. This pressure, when used correctly and on a regular basis, will relieve muscular tension. This will indirectly reduce inflammation and, as a result, stop and even reverse hair follicle miniaturization.
A device such as this can be used alongside scalp massage and microneedling, or as a standalone treatment.
Consider a Hair Transplant
Even once you have gotten your hair loss under control, you may find that there is quite a bit of recession that remains. This is common in individuals who suffered from long-term (five or more years) hairline recession.
If you are not a fan of your late-in-life widow’s peak, then the solution beyond treatment may be a hair transplant.
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure. It involves the removal of hair follicles from one part of the scalp (the donor site) and implantation into another part of the scalp (the recipient site).
There are risks associated with hair transplants, including scarring, numbness, and tissue rejection. However, these risks can be reduced when you work with a highly-regarded surgeon and choose the appropriate transplantation technique.
A hair transplant is not a cure for hair loss. It is important to remember that recession can reoccur. This is why it is recommended that you get your hair loss under control before you consider such a procedure.
The widow’s peak is a point of pride for some, and a curse for others. If you are one such individual who is gaining a widow’s peak due to a receding hairline, then you will be happy to know there are many things you can do to reverse it, including the options highlighted above.