How to Tell if Your Hairline is Receding: Signs & Treatment (2024)

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Is your hairline just mature, or is it receding too far?

Co-authored byCourtney Fosterand Savannah Vold

Last Updated: September 18, 2023Fact Checked

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  • Receding Hairline Signs
  • |
  • Causes
  • |
  • Stages of Hair Loss
  • |
  • Treatment Options
  • |
  • Expert Interview
  • |
  • Tips

While a receding hairline might make you self-conscious, it’s important to remember that more than 80 million people in the U.S. alone are suffering from gradual or sudden hair loss.[1] It’s simply a natural part of the aging process that many people have to deal with eventually. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the signs and stages of a receding hairline caused by male pattern baldness or frontal fibrosing alopecia. Plus, we'll provide you with all the best natural and medical treatment options available. Read on—the earlier you catch a receding hairline, the easier it is to restore your hair.

Things You Should Know

  • Some of the most common signs of a receding hairline include thinning or hair loss around the temples, texture or volume changes, and excessive shedding.
  • Effective treatment options include topical hair growth solutions such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, or low-level light therapy.
  • Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet jam-packed with hair growth-boosting foods such as spinach, beans, and berries may help to slow a receding hairline.

Section 1 of 4:

Signs of a Receding Hairline

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  1. 1

    Hair loss or thinning hair around the temples Hands down, the most common sign of a receding hairline is a gradual loss of hair (androgenic alopecia) above your temples, sometimes presenting as a band of visibly lighter skin around this area where you’ve lost your hair.[2]

    • Check for signs of male pattern baldness and/or a receding hairline by examining your scalp in the mirror under bright lighting or by comparing pictures of your current hairline with photos of your hairline from when you were younger.
  2. 2

    An “M” or “V” shape hairline Hair loss or signs of a receding hairline also present as a zigzag pattern or balding patches across the scalp resulting in an “M” or “V” shape hairline. These hairline shapes may also suggest the progression of complete frontal badness making its way toward the back of your scalp.[3]

    • Development of an “M” or “V” shape hairline may begin as a reddish-yellow rash followed by hair loss in that area.


  3. 3

    Texture and volume changes You may have noticed your hair feeling a bit different or becoming more difficult to style as of late. Hair falling flat where it used to stay styled, limited coverage, and changes in texture and thickness are all signs of a receding hairline, otherwise known as male pattern baldness.[4]

    • If your hair becomes hard to work with, requires more product to hold its shape, or feels significantly thinner while styling, you may be developing a receding hairline and/or male pattern baldness.
  4. 4

    Lighting reveals more of your scalp It’s easy to miss early signs of a receding hairline if you’re not often catching a glimpse of yourself when you’re out in the bright light of day. If you notice thinning hair around your temples and the beginnings of an exposed scalp the next time you’re in clear lighting, you may be developing a receding hairline.

    • If you’ve noticed your scalp becoming more sensitive to the sun, it may be due to a diminishing amount of hair.
  5. 5

    Excessive shedding Believe it or not, it’s normal to shed around 150 strands of hair a day! That said, if you notice clumps of hair falling out while brushing, on your pillow, or in the drain, you may be developing a receding hairline and/or male pattern baldness. Though other factors such as stress, weight loss, or a lack of sleep can cause hair loss, excessive shedding is one of the most common signs of a receding hairline.[5]

    • Consult with your doctor to determine the true cause of your excessive shedding to rule out any possible illnesses or disorders such as an under or overactive thyroid.
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  1. 1

    Male pattern hair loss Either biological sex can develop a receding hairline or androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness (MPB) or female pattern baldness (FPB).[6] That said, men are more likely to develop this condition with age, particularly if hair loss runs in the family.

    • High dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels are another significant contributing factor in male & female pattern baldness and a receding hairline. DHT can shrink hair follicles, alter growth cycles, and cause hair to not grow past a certain length.
    • For example, if you noticed your biological father’s hairline receding with age, you’re likely predisposed to androgenic alopecia and may develop a receding hairline yourself.
  2. 2

    Frontal fibrosing alopecia While biological females may sometimes develop a receding hairline, it’s more typical for them to experience thinning and baldness from the top of the scalp, also known as frontal fibrosing alopecia. This condition can cause scarring of the hair follicles, which begins at the front of the scalp and gradually makes its way to the back.[7]

    • Symptoms of frontal fibrosing alopecia include an itchy scalp, a hairline rash, frontal baldness, and hair loss in other areas, such as your legs or arms.
    • Women of color and postmenopausal people are most likely to present with symptoms of frontal fibrosing alopecia.
    • Although the cause of frontal fibrosing alopecia is unknown, researchers believe hormone changes and inflammation may be contributing factors.
  3. 3

    Physical and mental stress Stress has a shockingly powerful effect on our physical and emotional health and can, unfortunately, cause hair loss or a receding hairline. By prematurely forcing our hair follicles into the telogen (shedding) phase of the hair growth cycle, your follicles are more likely to fall out around 2-3 months after a stressful event, such as having a child or the loss of a loved one and may last for about 6 months.[8]

    • Take measures to reduce your stress levels, such as practicing meditation, a proven way to improve your mental and physical health.
    • Other stressors and physically exhaustive treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause hair loss or a receding hairline.
  4. 4

    Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle Nutrient-rich foods fuel your body, so if you haven’t been taking care of yourself the way you ought to, your hairline may be receding as a result. The more you eat delicious vitamin and mineral-packed foods, the better your body will be able to keep those follicles flowing.[9]

    • Maintaining an active lifestyle by going on walks, hiking, playing tennis, you name it may also boost hair growth, as a healthy metabolism contributes to the production of hair follicles.
    • Smoking can also lead to a receding hairline.
  5. 5

    Excessive styling and product issues Exposure to frequent heat and chemical treatments such as dyes, bleach, and relaxers strips your hair of its natural oils and can lead to breakage and/or a receding hairline.[10] The good news is, this cause of a receding hairline can be easily treated by using a heat protectant spray and deep conditioning your hair around once a week.

    • Tight hairstyles like ponytails and braids can lead to traction alopecia or breakage-related hair loss.
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Section 3 of 4:

Stages of Hair Loss

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  1. Hairlines typically recede in 7 stages. To determine which stage of hair loss you’re at, a board-certified dermatologist will assess your symptoms based on the 7-stage Norwood scale, which can be described as the following:[11]

    • Stage 1: The hairline begins to recede gradually at and around the temples.
    • Stage 2: Hairline recession becomes exaggerated at the temples, resembling an “M,” “U,” or “V” shape.
    • Stage 3: Hair loss at the center of the forehead becomes more visible and pronounced.
    • Stage 4: A bald spot begins to form at the crown of the head.
    • Stage 5: The hair around your temples recedes further as the bald spot at the crown increases, resulting in a thin strip of hair between these areas.
    • Stage 6: Hair loss around the crown, and the temples begin to connect.
    • Stage 7: Hair loss at the top of the scalp becomes easily visible, as only a band of hair remains around the head, also known as a “hoop.”

Section 4 of 4:

Treatment Options

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  1. 1

    Wash your hair with hair loss prevention shampoo. An easy and effective way to start taking preventative measures against a receding hairline is to use a hair loss prevention shampoo with growth-boosting ingredients such as rosemary oil. Rosemary oil has been proven to be as effective at promoting hair growth as Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine![12]

    • Remember, a receding hairline doesn’t mean you’ll go bald. The earlier you start treating your thinning hair, the better!
  2. 2

    Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Consume hair-growth-boosting foods such as spinach, berries, nuts, and antioxidants like vitamin C to help set your hair growth into overdrive. Supplements such as zinc or biotin are believed to increase hair volume and thickness, though research is limited.[13]

    • Be sure to consult your doctor before adding any vitamins or supplements to your routine.
  3. 3

    Use Minoxidil to increase blood flow to the scalp. Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, works within 4-8 weeks of use to widen the hair follicle so more blood flow can get to the scalp, thus promoting hair growth.[14] This treatment works best when used early on in the hair recession process, so the sooner you start using it, the better.

    • Talk with your doctor about whether taking or applying Minoxidil might be an effective hair-growth option for you, though some minoxidil treatments are available without a prescription.
    • Minoxidil has not been proven to improve frontal fibrosing alopecia
  4. 4

    Opt for Finasteride to block hair-loss-causing DHT. Finasteride, also known as Propecia, promotes hair growth by stopping testosterone from becoming dihydrotestosterone, a hair growth inhibitor present in both men and women.[15] Finasteride starts working around 3-4 months after beginning treatment and must be prescribed by a doctor.

    • Finasteride can cause several side effects, such as congenital disabilities.
  5. 5

    Try PRP therapy to improve follicle growth and density. Platelet-rich-plasma works to boost hair growth by injecting your blood into your scalp.[16] Studies have shown that this treatment significantly increases hair density and works especially well in conjunction with Minoxidil.

    • Platelets can trigger cell reproduction resulting in a healthier scalp, ready and able to grow new hairs!
  6. 6

    Treat frontal fibrosing alopecia with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are particularly helpful in treating frontal fibrosing alopecia, as they work to reduce inflammation-causing follicle scarring.[17] While scientists are hopeful that this treatment will prove effective, more research is necessary.

    • Corticosteroids can be applied to the scalp by a licensed healthcare professional via shots or topical creams.
  7. 7

    Stimulate cell and follicle growth with low-level light therapy. Laser therapy, or low-level light therapy (LLLT), can help to fight a receding hairline by prompting hair into the growth phase.[18] Low-level light therapy may be particularly helpful in treating genetic hair loss or hair loss caused by chemotherapy.

    • LLLT’s effectiveness at treating frontal fibrosing alopecia is inconclusive.
  8. 8

    Consider a hair transplant for treatment-resistant hair loss. This pricy but effective surgical procedure involves moving hair from healthy areas of your scalp to cover a bald area or patch. A natural-looking outcome can be difficult to achieve, so be sure to do your research by reading reviews before booking this procedure.[19]

    • Those with treatment-resistant hair loss are especially good candidates for a hair transplant.
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Expert Q&A

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      • Hair recession is a natural part of the aging process. As you mature, your hairline may move about an inch (2.5 cm) above the top of your forehead.


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      Expert Interview

      Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about hair care, check out our in-depth interview with Courtney Foster.

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      About This Article

      How to Tell if Your Hairline is Receding: Signs & Treatment (37)

      Co-authored by:

      Courtney Foster

      Certified Hair Loss Practitioner

      This article was co-authored by Courtney Foster and by wikiHow staff writer, Savannah Vold. Courtney Foster is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Certified Hair Loss Practitioner, and Cosmetology Educator based out of New York City. Courtney runs Courtney Foster Beauty, LLC and her work has been featured on The Wendy Williams Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and in East/West Magazine. She received her Cosmetology License from the State of New York after training at the Empire Beauty School - Manhattan. This article has been viewed 12,133 times.

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      Co-authors: 4

      Updated: September 18, 2023


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