A receding hairline is often caused by, or the beginning of, male pattern baldness with 25% of men seeing the beginnings of a receding hairline before 21 years old (1).
Experiencing a receding hairline that is progressing can feel like you have no way of stopping your hair loss, and it can also affect your self-image, especially if you didn’t expect to start seeing hair loss.
If you want to stop a receding hairline from progressing further then there are a few options available, however, non-surgical methods should be tested first, while surgical methods, such as a hair transplant being performed as a last resort. Even though a hair transplant is permanent you could still continue to lose your existing hair.
In this article, we will break down topics such as how to stop a receding hairline, what causes a receding hairline, and the best ways to disguise a receding hairline. We’ll also look at the cost of a receding hairline transplant in 2023.
What causes a receding hairline?
A receding hairline happens when hair begins to recede at the temples and the hairline. This can happen due to conditions such as male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is most often caused by a genetic tendency to balding. As a receding hairline is a sign of male pattern baldness, it is, therefore, safe to assume that a receding hairline is caused by a genetic predisposition.
Male genetic hair loss happens when testosterone is converted to the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone in men, which then attaches to receptors in the scalp and causes hair follicles to shrink .
DHT is a male sex hormone and is produced by the body as a derivative of testosterone. It is responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics earlier in life, but it is not as important regarding development later on.
It is often the hair follicles at your temples and hairline that are the first to be targeted by the DHT hormone, which is why a receding hairline is often the first sign of male pattern baldness .
How to stop a receding hairline
There are a few ways to stop a receding hairline, however, different methods may be more successful for different people.
It all depends on where you are on the Norwood scale, for example, someone at Norwood 2 or Norwood 3 has a better chance of seeing success when using Minoxidil compared to someone at Norwood 5. This is because the more male pattern baldness and receding hairline progresses, the more difficult it is to achieve regrowth.
Medication for hairline hair loss
Finasteride is the most common medication used to treat male pattern baldness and a receding hairline . It works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone responsible for pattern hair loss in men .
One study, comprising 1879 men aged between 18-41 years with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia, tested the efficacy of 1mg oral Finasteride on male pattern baldness, focusing on crown hair loss and frontal hair loss .
The part of the study which focused on frontal hair loss saw a 70% reduction in hair loss over the course of 12 months, where individuals were administered 1mg of oral Finasteride daily.
It is important to understand that though Finasteride is effective in combating hair loss, it can take time to work. When it comes to how long Finasteride takes to work, the medication actually begins reducing DHT production as soon as you take it, however, it can take around 3-4 months to see noticeable results.
A study conducted over 5 years investigated the efficacy of 1mg oral Finasteride on 126 Korean men at different stages of androgenetic alopecia . 108 men showed improvement after 5 years, and most patients experiencing frontal hair loss began to see improvement between 3 months and 1 year after starting treatment.
If you want to use Finasteride to tackle a receding hairline, only a doctor or clinician can prescribe the medication. It is also important to note that Finasteride is not available on the NHS and so must be obtained via a private prescription.
Minoxidil can be used for a receding hairline, however, hair growth depends on your level of hair loss. This means that those who are at more advanced stages on the Norwood scale, for example, stages 4 and up, are less likely to see success when using Minoxidil for a receding hairline, while individuals at a less advanced stage have a better chance of seeing successful results.
Minoxidil comes in the form of a tablet, liquid, or foam, with the latter forms being directly applied to the scalp.
Scientists think that Minoxidil works as a vasodilator, widening the blood vessels in the scalp and encouraging hair growth. When applying Minoxidil, 1ml of the 2% or 5% topical liquid form is usually applied to the scalp twice daily .
One study tested the efficacy and safety of oral Minoxidil in 30 male patients who were experiencing androgenetic alopecia. The Norwood stage of the individuals ranged from Norwood 3 vertex, to Norwood 5, with the most common stage being Norwood 4.
The individuals were administered 5 mg oral Minoxidil daily for a period of 6 months. Hair count was found to be significantly higher by the 12 and 24-week marks.
The images below show a male who participated in the study; he had a receding hairline and by the 24-week mark (picture C), there is an improvement in hair density around the temples compared to the beginning of the study (picture A) .
There are a few hair loss shampoos available over-the-counter, from well-known brands such as Rogaine, which contains Minoxidil, to Alpecin, which contains caffeine.
Minoxidil shampoo is designed to slow hair loss whilst also cleaning your hair. It contains 1-2% Minoxidil and is applied to the scalp when bathing. Some common Minoxidil shampoos are Rogaine and Foligain.
Currently, there is not a lot of research available on the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo, compared to Minoxidil results, however, one double-blind placebo-controlled study tested the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo over a period of 4 months.
The study does not state the level of hair loss in the patients, however, it does state that the majority of participants were experiencing genetic hair loss.
After 4 months, there was an increase in hair growth in the Minoxidil shampoo users, however, the hair growth was not significantly superior to the placebo result .
It is also important to note that Minoxidil shampoo has a very limited contact time with the scalp- around 3 minutes. Research shows that for Minoxidil to take effect on the scalp, it needs at least 4 hours of exposure time .
DHT-blocking shampoos contain ingredients that are proven to block the DHT hormone. These ingredients include saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, caffeine, and rosemary oil.
Nizoral shampoo contains the active ingredient Ketoconazole, which is a DHT blocker, while Alpecin shampoo is a caffeine-containing shampoo that uses caffeine as a natural DHT blocker.
Ingredients such as Rosemary oil and Pumpkin seed oil have also been deemed effective in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.
A study conducted on patients with androgenetic alopecia compared the efficacy of rosemary oil with 2% Minoxidil. After 6 months, the study showed that rosemary oil was as effective as 2% Minoxidil at stimulating hair regrowth .
Another study tested the efficacy of pumpkin-seed oil on 76 patients with mild to moderate male androgenetic alopecia, compared to a placebo. The study took place over 24 weeks, with the results concluding that the pumpkin-seed oil group saw a 40% mean hair count increase at the end of the trial .
Hair transplant for receding hairline
As a hair transplant is permanent, opting for a hairline transplant is an effective and lifelong solution to stop a receding hairline. A surgeon will harvest grafts from a donor site on the scalp and transplant them into the affected area, such as the hairline; this can be performed using the FUE or FUT/Strip transplant method.
When it comes to how much a receding hairline transplant costs it depends on the level of your hair loss and how many grafts you’ll need. At Norwood 2, which is the minimum level of hair loss needed to undergo a hair transplant, you’ll usually need 500-1500 grafts which can cost around £1,625.
Regarding which method of transplantation is best for a receding hairline transplant, an FUE may be preferable due to the reduced amount of visible scarring on the hairline and temples and the reduced post-operative healing time .
This Wimpole patient had temple hair loss due to a receding hairline. After an FUE transplant consisting of 700 grafts, the hair in the temple area has been restored and looks natural.
As you can see here, this Wimpole patient had significant hair loss around the temples and the hairline. The patient received 2400 grafts through the FUE method which restored a natural-looking hairline.
It is important to remember that a cheap hair transplant will not be a good, safe hair transplant. You should ensure that the clinic and surgeon you choose are reputable, and do plenty of research beforehand in order to avoid any hair transplant regrets.
Is a receding hairline always hereditary?
A receding hairline is nearly always hereditary, with 80% of male pattern baldness cases owing to a genetic predisposition .
You can experience a hairline that appears to be receding, however, this may not be due to male pattern baldness, but due to other factors such as medications that cause hair loss, nutrition, lifestyle habits, and stress-related hair loss.
Factors such as these usually cause non-patterned conditions such as telogen effluvium or diffuse thinning. These conditions do not develop or progress with a pattern like androgenetic alopecia, they are usually temporary and can appear anywhere on the scalp.
A trichologist can perform a panel of tests to determine the type of hair loss that you are experiencing, and the most suitable treatment.
How do I know if I have a receding hairline?
With a receding hairline, you may begin losing hair in your mid-20s, and this can happen quite quickly; this could be due to the beginnings of male pattern baldness.
If you are genetically disposed to male pattern baldness, for example, if your father or other male members of your family experience it, and you are seeing hair loss around your temples and hairline, then there is a good chance that you have a receding hairline.
Norwood himself categorises the beginnings of a receding hairline as Norwood 2, and describes the stage as ‘triangular, usually symmetrical areas of recession on the frontotemporal hairline’. The good news is, if you are at Norwood 2 and your hairline is receding, treatment is more likely to be successful as hair loss is in the early stages of progression .
Some men experience hair loss on one side of the head with a receding hairline, however, a doctor may deem this to be normal and you can still access treatment .
Often, receding hairlines are confused with mature hairlines, however, there is a difference between a receding hairline and a mature hairline; a mature hairline happens with age and moves back in a straight and even line slowly, while a receding hairline is due to a genetic predisposition to hair loss, and recedes around the temples and hairline, creating a triangular recession- this happens quite quickly.
Harry Kane (left) has a receding hairline, Jack Wilshere (right) has a mature hairline
You cannot stop a mature hairline as this is a natural progression of the hairline due to age, however, it is possible to stop or reduce the appearance of a receding hairline.
Hairstyles to disguise a receding hairline
There are a few ways to disguise a receding hairline, including male hairstyles that can disguise a receding hairline, and female receding hairline hairstyles.
One of the best ways to disguise a receding hairline is to keep your hair short, for example, a crew cut, a fade, or a ‘short back and sides’ with a long top as this disguises the recession and hair loss at the temples and hairline.
Long hairstyles are a great way to disguise temple and hairline recession too, for example, growing your hair out to cover the receding areas, or more specific styles such as ‘long on top’, and even 90s style (which is coming back into fashion!).
To completely eliminate the appearance of a receding hairline at all times without any treatment, some people prefer to rock a full, clean head shave.
Get help for a receding hairline
If you’re worried about a receding hairline there are a few options available to you, either non-surgical or surgical.
We provide services for receding hairlines such as hairline transplants and FUE hair transplants, as well as alternative hair loss treatments such as laser hair therapy.
Our trichology team are on-hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have and to diagnose any underlying conditions via a consultation.
Book your free consultation today.
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- Minoxidil | NCBI
- Efficacy and Safety of Oral Minoxidil 5 mg Once Daily in the Treatment of Male Patients with Androgenetic Alopecia | Springer Link
- The Effect of Minoxidil 1% Shampoo On Androgenetic Alopecia: A Clinical Trial Study
- Exposure Time Needed for Minoxidil to Work | NCBI
- Rosemary Oil in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia | PubMed
- Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia | Hindawi
- Benefits of the FUE Transplantation Method| NCBI
- Cause of Androgenic Alopecia- PubMed
- Role of DHT in Male Pattern Baldness- NCBI Bookshelf
- Is Male Androgenetic Alopecia Always Genetic?- NCBI Bookshelf
- Classifications of Hair Loss- The Norwood Scale- NCBI
- Asymmetry of the Receding Hairline in Men With Early Androgenetic Alopecia | NCBI
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