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Mature Hairline Vs Receding Hairline: What’s The Difference?

If you notice that your hairline isn’t quite as even or low as it once was, you might worry that you’re seeing the first signs of male pattern hair loss. Unfortunately, sometimes this is the case. Genetic hair loss such as androgenetic alopecia (known as male pattern baldness in men) affects around 85% of men by the time they’re 50 and a receding hairline is one of the key symptoms [1].

But receding hairlines are often confused with maturing hairlines, which aren’t always a sign of male pattern balding or thinning hair. So how can you tell the difference between a mature hairline and a receding hairline? And how can you stop a receding hairline from progressing?

Table of Contents

What is a mature hairline?

Many people regardless of sex or gender will experience some degree of hair loss throughout their life. Both cisgender and transgender people experience hair loss. From lifestyle factors to scalp conditions, there are many reasons that people start to find their hair thinning.

One of the most important factors in regard to hair loss and a maturing hairline is age. Individuals with mature hairlines will find that their line of hair will gradually move back about 0.5-1 inch (1cm-2cm) from their original position (aka, their juvenile hairline) over a number of years.

This moving hairline will usually start at the temples, creating a typical widow’s peak effect. Most people find that they start to notice that their hairline recedes early between the ages of 17-30. However, it usually happens so slowly that most people don’t even notice it.

Mature hairlines are nothing to stress out about and are considered a part of the natural aging process.

What does a mature hairline look like?

Examples mature hairlines in both men and women
Male and female mature hairline examples
Mature hairline is celebrities with widow's peaks

To determine if your hairline is mature or receding, you will first need to take a good look in the mirror and look for the following traits:

1. Is your hairline recession straight or even?

Maturing hairlines usually move back in a straight and even line, though it’s not uncommon for men to develop an uneven hairline as they age.

However, in most cases, a maturing hairline will move back in a consistent pattern over time. If you would like to be certain that your hairline is maturing as opposed to receding, consult with a medical professional who is experienced in both hair loss and hair growth.

2. Is your hairline 1 -1.5 inches (2-3 cm) above your highest forehead wrinkle?

Maturing hairlines usually stop receding around 1 -1.5 inches (2-3 cm) above the highest wrinkle on a person’s forehead. If you find that your hairline is receding past this point and into your scalp, you may have a receding hairline.

3. Do you have an M-shaped hairline?

If your entire hairline resembles the letter M, you may have a receding hairline. However, instead of a prominent M-shape, if you find that your hair forms a more subtle V-shape, known as a widow’s peak, then you probably have a mature hairline. 

Find out more about widow’s peaks vs receding hairlines

Example of an M-shaped hairline

Find out what stage you are at on the Norwood Scale

The Norwood Scale is used to help determine what stage a person is at in regard to hair loss. The Norwood Scale is divided into 7 stages and is used to help medical professionals who work in hair restoration or new hair growth determine if an individual is experiencing hair loss or simply has a normal mature hairline.

It should be noted that not all hairlines are the same and take a while to develop. Most men’s mature hairlines take up to 10 years to appear. If you feel or find that your hairline is receding quicker and/or you find uneven hair thinning, you be experiencing male-pattern hair loss.

Norwood Scale for androgenic alopecia
Norwood Scale

What is a receding hairline?

If you have a receding hairline, you’ll typically find that your receding hairline progresses much more quickly earlier in your life. Many individuals start to notice hair loss in their late teens to mid-20s, and the hair loss continues at a rapid pace.

Receding hairlines tend to recede further back than a mature hairline usually across the entire forehead or primarily at the temples. You might also notice that your hair is thinning on the crown of your head or experiencing excessive hair shedding.

Harry Kane's receding hairline
Harry Kane - receding hairline

Both receding and mature hairlines can cause more hair loss on one side of the head than the other, especially in the early stages.

Examples of receding hairlines

Here are some examples of Wimpole patients that had receding hairlines. 

Receding hairline before hair transplant
Receding hairline example - scroll to the end of this article to see his hair transplant transformation
Another example of a receding hairline before hair transplantation
Receding hairline example 2 - scroll to the end of this article to see his hair transplant transformation

Mature vs receding hairline: at a glance

Compare the symptoms of a mature vs a receding hairline at a glance in the table below:

 Mature hairlineReceding hairline
Hair loss speedSlowly, over a period of yearsQuickly, and/or at a relatively young age
SymptomsHairline moves back at the temples slowly, usually up to 1.5cm from original hairlineRapid hair loss at the temples and forehead, sometimes with additional hair loss at the crown. Often recedes beyond 1.5cm.
CausesAgeMale pattern baldness; less often traction alopecia and other lifestyle factors or conditions

Why does your hairline change?

Most hair loss happens as a result of hormone production in the body. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), is a by-product of when testosterone is metabolized. When DHT is produced, it binds with hair follicles which in turn causes them to shrink and eventually fall out.

Certain smaller amounts of DHT in the body will cause a hairline to recede to either produce a mature hairline or in the case of higher DHT, a receding hairline. As a result, men who produce high amounts of DHT are more likely to experience genetic hair loss such as male pattern baldness.

It should be noted, that there are other potential reasons for hair loss around the temples and forehead, too. For example, wearing your hair in a tight ponytail or top knot can cause traction alopecia, which is known to cause hair loss in these areas. However, unlike a receding hairline, this type of hair loss is often reversible.

Is a mature hairline a sign of male pattern baldness?

While mature hairlines are caused by the same hormone as receding hairlines, a maturing hairline isn’t always a sign of genetic hair loss.

All men produce testosterone and DHT, so it’s normal to experience some shedding across your hairline. However, not all men generate DHT in the volumes required to cause the rapid substantial hair loss behind a receding hairline.

So if you’re experiencing a slower rate of hair loss that corresponds to your age, you don’t need to be concerned about pattern balding just yet.

What’s the difference between a man’s and a woman’s receding hairline?

Although it is uncommon for women to experience hair loss or even baldness in the same way that a man does, some women will develop female temple hair loss.

Usually, if a woman is experiencing hair loss, they will find that it is more subtle and not as noticeable as a prominent receding hairline. Whereas men might lose hair rapidly or notice hair loss with an M-shaped receding hairline, women will most likely lose their hair more slowly. This will usually begin with thinning hair at the crown of the head and eventually spreading evenly across the entire scalp (diffuse thinning).

For women, a receding hairline could be a sign of something more serious such as frontal fibrosing alopecia. Fortunately, female pattern baldness in women will not usually result in complete baldness but instead overall hair thinning across the entire scalp and not just in a targeted area.

Example of a receding hairline in a woman
Female Receding Hairline

How can you tell if your hairline is maturing or receding?

There are many ways to differentiate between a mature and receding hairline.

1. Appearance

If your hairline has receded more than 2cm from its original position, you’re probably experiencing a receding hairline.

If your hairline hasn’t moved back this far and seems to correspond with your age, it’s more likely to be a mature hairline.

2. Age

While both mature and receding hairlines can start at a young age, receding hairlines are much more noticeable in your late teens and early to mid-20s. If your hairline starts to move back later in life, your hairline is probably just maturing.

3. Family history of baldness

Sadly, hair loss is hereditary. If other men in your family have experienced androgenic alopecia, there’s a high chance you will, too [3]. Consider if your hairline recession follows a similar pattern to the hair of your dad, grandpa, or another genetic male relative.

Hair loss in a man
Example of male hair loss

What can I do if my hairline is maturing?

Mature hairlines don’t usually result in substantial hair loss. Instead, they often give men a distinguished look that corresponds with their age. As a result, most men with a mature hairline don’t seek to restore the hair they’ve lost from around their temples.

However, if your retreating hairline has knocked your confidence, there are ways to stall your hair loss, including medication, laser hair regrowth therapy, and other treatments. Here are some things you can do to keep your hair happy and healthy while it ages.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Even though a maturing hairline is a perfectly natural and healthy occurrence, there are some things you can do to delay further hair loss due to other health-related conditions.

Get active

Exercise is key to maintaining not only a healthy body but also aids in keeping hormonal balances in check. Not only is exercise good for the body but it is also good for the soul. Many find exercise as a way to cope with the daily stresses of life.

Eat well

Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet will not only keep your body healthy but also aid in overall hair health. Try to maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. As always, make sure that you are properly hydrated and drink plenty of water. Limit your consumption of alcohol and stay away from processed foods or any other foods with high sugar, sodium, and/or fat.

Keep it clean

Everyday pollution in the environment can have a negative impact on the health and shine of your hair. Try to steer away from smoke (and smoking) and hazardous conditions and of course, practice good hygiene with regular washing and maintenance.

Manage your stress levels

Ever get so stressed by work and daily life that you find yourself both mentally and physically worn down? As it turns out, higher stress levels can be damaging not only to the body and mind but also to your overall hair health and can even result in hair loss.

So what is there to do when you are feeling under pressure? According to experts, the best advice is to find your own safe and healthy way of relieving stress. This can include self-care practices such as meditation, exercise, or simply taking a little break every once and a while to decompress.

It’s also important to take the time to rest. This includes getting enough quality sleep each and every night.

What to do if your hairline is receding

Receding hairlines are a much bigger cause for concern for many hair loss patients. While there are ideal hairstyles for a receding hairline, you should talk to a hair loss specialist if you are worried by the rate of hair loss.

They’ll be able to gauge your current rate of hair loss, offer male hair loss treatments to stop your hairline receding (such as Finasteride or Minoxidil for a receding hairline), and recommend a hairline transplant if necessary.

Alternatively, you may consider a hair transplant. The Wimpole Clinic is proud to be one of the longest-serving hair transplant clinics in the UK. Our team of medical professionals has helped to contribute to the advance of hair restoration not only in the United Kingdom but worldwide, and have 20 years experience of working together.

Here are examples of Wimpole Clinic’s work for the previous illustration of a receding hairline transplant.

patient before and after 2500 graft hair transplant
2,500 graft hairline transplant after 10 months
patient's hairline before and after hair transplant surgery
1,500 graft FUE hairline transplant after 8 months

Learn more about hairline transplant costs and how many grafts you may need

We have conducted over 10,000 hair transplants with consistently high-quality results and our staff takes pride in offering a welcoming environment for all those patients who are suffering from hair loss, which is why we have been awarded hair transplant clinic of the year three years running from 2020 to 2023.

Find out more about choosing the right time for a hair transplant and UK hair transplant costs.

Mature Hairline Vs Receding Hairline: What’s The Difference?, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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