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7 Ways To Tell Your Hairline Is Receding And The Best Treatments
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on May 27, 2024

If you are looking for ways to tell your hairline is receding, you are likely worried about developing androgenetic alopecia. That is a valid concern, as this condition affects 85% of men by the time they are 50 [1].

Sudden changes in hairline appearance, such as significant distancing from the brow, the emergence of an M-shaped hairline pattern or an uneven hairline can all be signs that it is, indeed, receding.

But the good news is that even if you are experiencing the first signs of hair thinning and balding, there are safe and efficient treatments available which can help restore your hairline to its former glory.

Keep reading this article to find out all you need to know about:

  • What a receding hairline is and how it differs from a normal one
  • The 7 main signs that your hairline is receding
  • Who is the most likely to have a receding hairline
  • The best ways to treat a receding hairline
Table of Contents

What is a receding hairline?

celebrity examples of hairline stages

As people are different and so are their scalps, there are many types of hairline. That is why it is difficult to say exactly what a normal hairline should look like.

Some medical professionals, such as Dr Anthony Youn, believe that a man’s hairline should be 6-8 cm from their brow, while in women, it should be about 5-6 cm [3]. However, that may vary with your genetics.

Moreover, it does not stay the same throughout your life, but changes with age, so it can be difficult to spot the difference between a mature hairline and a receding one.

However, there is consensus among hair specialists that if your hairline suddenly moves back over 1.5-2cm [4] from its original position and is also accompanied by hair thinning at the temples and/or crown, you are likely experiencing a receding hairline.

7 signs your hairline is receding

There are some tell-tale signs that accompany a receding hairline to look for. The most common of these are as follows:

1. Your hairline is suddenly higher

man concerned over his hairline

As you advance in age and your hairline reaches its mature form, your hairline can end up 1.5 – 2 cm higher above your brow than it was in your adolescence. But this would normally happen slowly, over time. If your hairline recedes more than 2 cm in just a few months, you may start suspecting frontal balding.

How can you tell?

Use a ruler or some tape measure to record the distance between your hairline and a fixed spot you choose on your forehead (e.g. your eyebrows) every month. Compare your notes and see if there are any changes.

2. You are developing an M shaped pattern

Example of an M-shaped hairline

An M-shaped pattern occurs when the hair above the sides of your forehead recedes above the strands in the middle, creating the appearance of a letter M (in some people, this can look more like a V if there isn’t much hair on the sides).

The M-shaped pattern does not always mean hairline recession (some have this hairline shape naturally), but it is a strong indicator of it. However, do not confuse this hair loss pattern with a widow’s peak, which is genetic and usually not a sign of hairline recession.

How can you tell?

Use a washable felt tip to highlight the outline of your hairline. Does it resemble an M (or a V) or is it a smoother, straighter line?

3. Your hairline is becoming uneven

Danny Ings uneven hairline
An uneven hairline sported by Danny Ings pre-hair transplant

Did your hairline use to look like an actual line, but now it is more of a zig-zag? Or can you see hair thinning on one side of the head, to the front? If so, you may be dealing with an uneven hairline recession (some portions of it recede faster than others). Football player Danny Ings, before his hair transplant, used to have an uneven hairline, which turned out to be a sign of recession.

How can you tell?

Hold a ruler right under your hairline and see if the two lines are parallel throughout their length. If you see dips or slants that you’ve never noticed before, your hairline has likely become uneven.

4. Your hair is falling out more than usual

example of normal daily hair shedding
Photo showing 100 hairs from a person with short hair (left) and longer hair (right).

Especially in male pattern baldness, a receding hairline is often accompanied by hair thinning or even bald spots on the crown or at the temples. If you notice that your hair is falling out more than usual, it could be a sign that the changes in your hairline indicate it is receding.

How can you tell?

Before washing your hair, cover the shower drain with some gauze. After you are finished, carefully collect the fabric and count the hairs caught in it. While some hair loss is normal in the shower (we naturally lose 50-100 hairs per day), if the hair shedding is abundant and increases over time, it might indicate balding.

5. Your hair is becoming thinner

person pulling back their hair to show their hairline

Sometimes, while your hairline is receding, you may also notice the strands it contains become thinner and softer, making your hairline look diffuse. This can also happen on your crown.

How can you tell?

Compare the appearance and feel of the hair on your hairline and frontal scalp area to the hair on the sides of your head, above your ears. Do they look similar in thickness and texture or are the strands in front thinner and softer?

6. You can see your scalp through your hair

hair loss where the scalp can be seen through the scalp

A receding hairline is often accompanied by hair loss, which means lower hair density. If the density of your hair decreases, you will start seeing skin through the strands. If your hair is so thin you can see your scalp through the frontal part of your head, you may be experiencing balding.

How can you tell?

Shine a light on your hair before looking in the mirror. Change the angles of the light, for a better view. Normally, you should only be able to see the scalp on your parting and around your ears.

7. Your symptoms are getting worse with time

ter Stegen's hairline through the years
Football player Marc-André ter Stegen in 2014, in 2019 and in 2022 - a progressively receding hairline can be seen

One of the most relevant signs of a receding hairline is that it keeps advancing with time, while a maturing one eventually settles at a certain height. If your hairline keeps changing appearance and the shedding doesn’t seem to stop, it may mean you are balding, as happened to football player ter Stegen pre-hair transplant.

How can you tell?

Take photos of your hairline monthly and compare them to see any changes in its height, shape and appearance which may have occurred.

What causes a receding hairline?

The main condition which causes a receding hairline in men is male pattern baldness. It is caused by a combination of age, hormonal and genetic factors. In most people, the production of an excessive amount of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes some of it to bind to hair follicles, which shrink and no longer produce hair.

Typically, the first stages of male pattern baldness, as measured by the Norwood Scale, are marked by hairline recession, which then develops into hair loss at the temples and the balding of the crown.

Norwood scale
Norwood Scale stages 1-7

However, due to the fact that androgenetic alopecia normally has different balding patterns in women, which do not normally involve significant hair loss in the front of the scalp, hairline recession is more likely to be a result of a different condition, such as frontal fibrosing alopecia. This is a type of scarring alopecia which normally occurs after the menopause, causing hairline recession in women and eyebrow hair loss [5].

hairline recession in women

Who is at risk of a receding hairline?

While anyone can experience a receding hairline, the following factors predispose you to developing one at some point in your life:

Risk factors for developing  a receding hairline
AgeAs you advance in age, your hairline will mature, but it also becomes more likely to start receding.
GenderHair loss is more common in men than women, due to hormonal differences. And since their balding patterns are also different, men are more likely to develop a receding hairline as well.
GeneticsMale pattern baldness is frequently inherited, so if other men in your family have a receding hairline, you might eventually develop one too.
HormonesThe quantities of androgenic  hormones and of certain enzymes in your body play a crucial role in developing a receding hairline
Ethnicity You are more likely to develop male pattern baldness if you are Caucasian or African and less likely if you are Asian or Native American [6]

At what age might my hairline start to recede?

Since a receding hairline is often one of the first signs of male pattern balding, it can happen at any time starting with adolescence, so you can even develop a receding hairline at 20. However, the exact time of the onset differs from one person to another. 

About 25% of men experience early-stage androgenetic alopecia by the time they are 21, while 50% notice its initial symptoms by the age of 50 [6]. Typically, men start seeing the first signs of male pattern baldness, such as a receding hairline, in their late twenties to early thirties. 

However, since women most often experience a receding hairline due to fibrosing frontal alopecia, they are likely to see the first signs of this condition after  menopause.

Can a receding hairline grow back without treatment?

Once your hairline has receded, there are few situations where it could grow back on its own, without any kind of medical intervention. In most cases, this happens when recession was not a result of androgenetic alopecia, but of other, temporary causes, such as:

However, it is good to know that most of these conditions normally cause diffuse thinning all over your scalp rather than only affecting your hairline.

The best way to know for sure what causes your receding hairline and whether or not it will grow back is to consult a trichologist.

How can you prevent hairline recession?

If your hairline recession is caused by androgenetic alopecia you will need medical treatment to prevent it from developing, as its causes are not greatly influenced by hair care or lifestyle choices.

However, you can prevent additional hair shedding by maintaining good habits for healthy hair and scalp, such as:

  • Reducing stress and getting enough rest
  • Having a well-balanced, vitamin-rich diet
  • Protecting your hair from UV radiation by wearing sunscreen or a hat
  • Keeping your locks moisturised, to avoid dry, brittle hair
  • Avoiding hair products which contain harsh chemicals and excessive heat styling
  • Not overusing tight hairdos or heavy hair extensions

What is the best way to mask my receding hairline?

man in barber shop chair post-hair cut

There are several things you can do to make your receding hairline less visible. The most effective ones include:

Can you fix a receding hairline?

While you often cannot prevent a receding hairline caused by male pattern baldness, there are some very effective treatments which can fix a messed-up hairline. However, always be sure to see a trichologist before taking any medication, to make sure you are a good candidate.


Studies [7][8] have shown that Finasteride works for a receding hairline, as studies show it stops frontal balding in 70% of men after a year of use. Furthermore, Finasteride can also regrow hair on the hairline of 38% of men.

However, due to unwanted side effects in premenopausal female patients, it may only be recommended to men and postmenopausal women.

results of using Finasteride for hair growth
Photos showing hairline restoration after taking 1mg Finasteride per day at baseline, then after six months, two years, and five years of treatment [8].


Minoxidil works for a receding hairline as well, but not as effectively as for hair regrowth on the crown [9]. However, unlike Finasteride, it can also be safely used by premenopausal women.

Steroid creams

If your hairline recession is caused by frontal fibrosing alopecia, the most efficient treatment is with steroid creams for hair loss, as well as other medications, such as hydroxychloroquine, doxycycline, tetracycline and mycophenolate mofetil [10].

While this treatment will not restore the hair you have already lost, it may prevent your hairline from receding further.

Derma rolling for hair growth

Using a derma roller for hair growth can increase your hair count and at the same time, you can use medicine such as Minoxidil and a derma roller together, as it will improve drug absorption through your scalp [11].

Hair transplant

Treatments work best in milder cases of a receding hairline, but there is one solution which also works well for advanced frontal baldness: getting a hair transplant

Unlike treatments, a hair transplant is permanent and advancements in surgery techniques have ensured that whether you opt for a FUE or FUT type surgery, you will still get a discreet, natural-looking hair transplant.

before and after hair transplant

Wimpole Clinic works only with the best hairline transplant specialists, who have a success rate of 97-100% for this procedure. Check out the before and after hair transplantation gallery to see the results for yourself. 

Book a hair transplant consultation now at your most convenient location and find out if you are a good candidate for this procedure.

7 Ways To Tell Your Hairline Is Receding And The Best Treatments, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on May 27, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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