It happens. You wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and notice something different about your hair. Specifically, it seems to have travelled back on your scalp. You might be wondering, is this a receding hairline? Are you balding? Or is this something else?
The fact is that everyone loses some hair on a daily basis. Losing up to 100 strands of hair a day is completely normal hair loss. If you’re noticing your hairline changing though, this can be distressing. What you might be experiencing is a maturing hairline, but should you be worried? Not at all — mature hairline is a normal hairline. But what exactly is a mature hairline?
What is a mature hairline anyway? First, let’s start with understanding what a hairline is. It’s the edge of your hair where it stops growing, usually on the forehead, and it’s also not a static thing. Much like the rest of your body, a normal hairline matures as you age and it’s usually not something to be concerned about.
There are many different reasons why your hairline will change, and a maturing hairline is among them. A major factor in hairline changes is genetics and hormones. Some individuals also naturally have a mature hairline, while others may never experience any hairline changes at all, although this is fairly rare.
In their teenage years, people usually have a full head of hair, known as a juvenile hairline. You can tell if you have a juvenile hairline if you wrinkle your forehead and your hairline reaches the top wrinkle. A juvenile hairline usually is rounded at the edges and straight across the forehead, whereas a maturing hairline will have a peak in the middle and dip back at the edges.
Most men don’t keep their juvenile hairline. Between the ages of 17 to 30, hairlines generally mature as a normal part of aging.
A mature hairline is directly linked to biology. During male puberty, when hormones ramp into overdrive, testosterone plays a key role in hair growth including the hair on your head. Your body metabolizes testosterone to produce something called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It’s this little chemical that primarily determines what happens to your hairline.
DHT binds to hair follicles and causes them to shrink. Hair then falls out. This happens in both maturing hairlines and male pattern baldness (and in many women too). The difference between a maturing hairline vs balding is the amount of DHT your body produces and for the most part, that’s genetic.
But rest assured that almost all men experience a maturing hairline. However, there are other contributing factors to hairline changes, including underlying conditions, hormone treatments, or medications.
It’s also interesting to note that DHT is also responsible for hair growth on other parts of the body.
How can you tell if your hairline is maturing or if you’re balding? If you’re between the ages of 17 and 30, it is more likely than not that your hairline is maturing. It’s just a natural part of the aging process and nothing to worry about.
Caucasian men generally experience a maturing hairline more often and sooner than people of colour, although it’s not uncommon in the latter group.
To tell if your hairline is maturing, take a look in the mirror. If the space between your hairline and the highest wrinkle in your forehead is no more than an inch, you’re probably experiencing a maturing hairline.
The shape a maturing hairline takes usually is an M, meaning you have a peak in the middle of your hairline and it curves back at the temples. While a balding hairline will also start with this shape, a maturing hairline won’t continue to recede and the hairline will generally be quite defined as well.
The terms maturing hairline, receding hairline, and balding hairline are often used interchangeably, which can cause confusion. There are also many reasons why your hairline can change, a maturing hairline just being one of them. But before you start Googling “how to stop balding,” let’s look at the differences between the three.
As mentioned above, a maturing hairline will have the following features:
A maturing hairline is a normal part of the aging process.
While a receding hairline is often used as a catch-all term, and by definition a maturing hairline is still a receding hairline, it’s actually more applicable to hair loss rather than a maturing hairline.
In determining the difference between a maturing hairline vs receding hairline, there are a few rules to follow. A receding hairline will have the following:
Despite popular belief, both men and women can experience a receding hairline, although it is far more common in men. The good news is that there are plenty of treatments for a receding hairline, but you first need to figure out what’s causing it.
Here are a few causes of a receding hairline:
Many of these underlying causes can be discussed with your doctor.
In most cases, a receding hairline is caused by male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, which is not the same as a maturing hairline. To determine if you are experiencing male pattern baldness, there’s a guide you can look at called the Norwood Scale (also called the Hamilton-Norwood Scale). The Norwood Scale shows the seven stages of the balding process.
The Norwood Scale was developed between the 1950s and 1970s by Dr. James Hamilton and Dr. O’Tar Norwood. It’s a classification system that helps determine if the hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness and if so, what stage your hair is at.
Stage 1: This is called the “control stage” where hair loss is not usually noticeable. Most people who consult the Norwood Scale will already be past Stage 1.
Stage 2: Slight evidence of a receding hairline that occurs usually around the temples. It’s easy to confuse Stage 2 with a maturing hairline.
Stage 3: This is when hair loss starts to become more noticeable. The hairline recedes back and starts to form a defined “M” pattern.
Stage 4: Significant hair loss has occurred in this stage and the hairline might start resembling a “U” shape. There is a bald spot on the crown that is noticeable but there is a strip of hair still between the front and the crown.
Stage 5: Stage 5 is a more severe version of Stage 4. While there is still a strip of hair between the front and the crown, this strip will be noticeably smaller and thinner.
Stage 6: Baldness is almost complete at the front and top of the head in Stage 6, where the top and the crown now join together. There is a defined “U” shape from the top. There will usually still be hair at the sides.
Stage 7: Baldness begins at the sides now as well, leaving a thin ring of hair around the sides of the head. The remainder of hair that does grow is thinner and weaker.
While there can be a number of causes of a balding hairline, you don’t necessarily have to do anything about it. Many men live with a balding hairline and there are many different hairstyles (including shaved!) that you can choose from.
Now that you know your hairline is maturing, what should you do about it? Well, technically nothing. You don’t need to do anything about it at all, or worry about it for that matter. A maturing hairline is a completely normal hairline.
Having said that, it’s also completely understandable to be concerned about your hairline. Much like the rest of our bodies, our hair can tell us a lot about our health and physiology. This doesn’t always mean that hair loss is indicative of health, it can simply mean different hairlines can be attributed to genetics, hormones, etc.
If you do want to do something about your maturing hairline, here are a few things to consider:
Your doctor is always a great (and highly recommended) resource. Your doctor can help you with a receding hairline — if that’s what you’re experiencing — and treatments. They can also look at underlying conditions which might be contributing to your hair loss.
Believe it or not, hairstylists know a lot about different hairlines. They see them all! Ask them to help you determine the difference in your hairline and if it’s maturing, maybe some hairstyle recommendations.
From Instagram influencers to hair product ads, both men and women are put under pressure about their appearance. Having a full head of glossy locks appears to be the pinnacle of beauty, and men are no exception to this onslaught. But is this really healthy or even true?
When looking at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself what is it you are expecting? Knowing that your maturing hairline is a natural and normal part of the aging process should give you comfort. It also helps to know that you’re not alone.
So maybe reconsider those Instagram influencers or product ads.
Gone are the days when men only had one hairstyle to choose from (Don Draper, anyone?). Now there’s a plethora of hairstyles for men — and hair colours too — that you can experiment with. From the man-bun to the retro fade, there is a hairstyle that will look perfect on you.
If you didn’t have a maturing hairline, you’d be the exception. This makes your hairline — and you — completely normal. That’s a great thing. While you may have dreamed of thick, luscious hair, this becomes far less likely as you age. In fact, about half of all people experience some type of thinning hair by age 50.
If you’re at all in doubt or worried about your changing hairline, consult a healthcare practitioner. Knowing is better than not, and equipping yourself with information and possible treatments is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Can You Change Your Hairline?
Yes, you can change your hairline if you’re experiencing a receding hairline due to hair loss and want to take steps to limit it or partially reverse it. Various treatments are available depending on your budget and hair restoration goals. You can also make lifestyle changes to manage and mask a receding hairline.
If you’re noticing that your hair isn’t as thick as it used to be, it could be an excellent time to explore medications and topical treatments to treat hair loss and restore your hairline. These are relatively affordable and non-invasive compared to other treatments, so they’re often the first line of defence for people who want to tackle the hair loss they’re experiencing. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, is a topical treatment that comes in foam and liquid formats that you can apply daily to treat hair loss and restore your hairline.
Finasteride, also known as Propecia, is an oral hair loss treatment that can prevent a further receding hairline. With minoxidil and finasteride, you must use the treatments consistently to maintain results. Laser treatments and hair transplants can also be effective for more advanced hair loss, although these will be more costly.
What Does a Receding Hairline Look Like?
A receding hairline looks different since people start with different natural hairlines. However, there are some common signs of a receding hairline to look out for. The earlier you begin to treat hair loss once it begins, the better your results are likely to be and the longer you’ll be able to maintain your hairline.
Most people notice the first signs of a receding hairline when the hair along the hairline is thinner, or there may be tiny hairs in front of the hairline, indicating that it has moved back. Doctors use a classification system called the Norwood Scale to identify how far along a patient's hair loss process is, and you can use this same scale while examining your hairline to help understand your hair loss.
The Norwood Scale has seven stages, the first being the “control stage,” where hair loss is not noticeable, and the final stage is a thin ring of hair around the sides of the head and near-complete baldness everywhere else. A receding hairline may be detectable in stage two, where hair recession is apparent around the temples, or stage three when the hairline recedes and starts forming an “M” pattern.
What Is a Mature Hairline?
A mature hairline is a hairline that has gone through a change that distinguishes it from a juvenile hairline. However, this is distinct from receding or hair loss because a person may keep their relatively unchanging mature hairline for many years. The whole head of hair most people enjoy in their teenage years is called a juvenile hairline.
If you wrinkle your forehead and your hairline reaches the top wrinkle, you probably still have a juvenile hairline. Due to genetics and hormonal changes, most men will develop a mature hairline sometime between 17 and 30.
In comparison, a juvenile hairline is typically straight across the forehead and rounded at the sides, mature hairline peaks in the middle and dips back around the edges. The change from a juvenile to a mature hairline is a normal part of aging from adolescence into adulthood. Some people may always have a mature hairline, and others can keep their juvenile hairline, but in most cases, a juvenile hairline will change into a mature one between the late teenage years and the early 30s.
How to Tell if You Have a Receding Hairline?
You can tell if you have a receding hairline by pulling your hair back in a mirror and observing changes to your hairline. For most people, hair loss is gradual and subtle at first. Since we see ourselves in the mirror every day, it can be easy to miss signs of a receding hairline because it happens so gradually that we think our hairlines have always been this way.
If you pull your hair back with your hand, you may be able to tell more quickly if the hairline looks different than it used to. You may notice thinning patches or thinner hairs in front of the main hairline, both of which indicate a thinning hairline. If your hair feels different when you style it, that can also indicate that the hairline is receding and the hair has thinned.
Looking at photos from a few years ago can also help you see if the hairline has changed gradually without you noticing it. Taking photos of your hairline every few months is an excellent way to monitor change over time. By comparing pictures of your hairline for a year or longer, you’ll be more easily able to notice changes that are too gradual to see otherwise.
What Is a Hairline?
The hairline is the edge where the hair grows on the head. Typically when people refer to the hairline, they refer to the front edge that runs across the forehead and down the temples. This is where hair loss is typically first noticed because the hairline will move back and change shape as male-pattern hair loss progresses.
Different people have differently-shaped hairlines naturally, and it’s normal for a person’s hairline to change somewhat over time, especially as they grow into adulthood, even if they don’t experience significant hair loss. One standard change that nearly all men experience is the change from a juvenile hairline to a mature hairline.
This usually occurs between 17 and 30 due to genetics and hormonal changes. The juvenile hairline is typically straight across the forehead and rounded at the sides. In contrast, a mature hairline typically has a peak in the middle and dips back around the edges. A mature hairline is not a sign of hair loss but a normal part of maturation. Some people maintain their mature hairline for years before any hair thinning or hair loss begins.
The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Health Guide, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.