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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 baldness. Unfortunately, sometimes this is the case. Genetic hair loss 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. So how can you tell them apart — and what can you do to address your changing or uneven hairline?

What is a mature hairline?

Everyone — regardless of sex or gender — experiences 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 lose hair.

Age is one of the most important factors in hair loss, and it’s typically the cause of a maturing hairline. Mature hairlines move back from their original position over a number of years, usually at the temples, creating a typical widow’s peak effect. This can start early — sometimes from the age of 17 — but it usually happens so slowly most men don’t even notice it.

What is a receding hairline?

Receding hairlines typically progress much more quickly. You’ll start noticing hair loss in your late teens to mid 20s, and the hair loss continues at pace. It also tends to recede further back than a mature hairline, either across the entire forehead or primarily at the temples. You might also notice that your hair is thinning on the crown of your head.

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 hairline Receding hairline
Hair loss speed Slowly, over a period of years Quickly, and/or at a relatively young age
Symptoms Hairline moves back at the temples slowly, usually up to 1.5cm from original hairline Rapid hair loss at the temples and forehead, sometimes with additional hair loss at the crown. Often recedes beyond 1.5cm.
Causes Age Male 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. DHT, a byproduct of testosterone, is responsible for male pattern baldness, which is usually the cause of a receding hairline. Men who produce high amounts of DHT are more likely to experience genetic hair loss [2].

There are other potential reasons for hair loss around the temples and forehead, too. 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.

How to tell if your hairline is maturing or receding

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

If other men in your family have experienced male pattern balding, 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 male relative.

What to do if your 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 and other therapies.

What to do if your hairline is receding

Receding hairlines are a much bigger cause for concern for many hair loss patients. If you’re worried about the rate that your hairline is receding, talk to a hair loss specialist. They’ll be able to gauge your current rate of hair loss, offer treatments to stop you from losing hair, and recommend a hair transplant if necessary.

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

Sources:

  1. Why Do Men Go Bald and What Can You Do About It?
  2. Everything you need to know about DHT
  3. Family history and risk of hair loss
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