There are a lot of questions from young adults asking about thinning frontal hairline, whether it’s normal. Frontal hairlines can gradually recede higher with age. This may signal a condition called maturing hairline. It occurs naturally, which is perfectly normal. However, sometimes androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) is also to blame. Here are pieces of helpful information to understand the distinction between the two is.
Frontal hairlines recede naturally as part of ‘maturing’
Men, when we were in early 20s, did you notice frontal hairline that recedes higher than your juvenile hairline. And then you may get in a flap wondering if something wrong was going on. The good news, hairline recession at this age range is not always linked to male pattern baldness. Even many times it is just a maturing hairline.
Maturing hairline affects most men. It is a natural part of aging changes so there should be nothing to worry. It has nothing to do with genetic predisposition like what we find in androgenic alopecia.
In time, the body changes including hairline. Hairline will become slightly higher. Once the process is complete, you have a ‘mature’ hairline and the recession will stop on its own. So again, it’s actually a normal process.
In most boys, their frontal hairline is usually in line with their highest forehead wrinkle. Then as they age, they will have a mature hairline in which the hairline becomes less defined and recedes by about 0.5 to 0.75 inches higher than their juvenile hairline.
The rate and length of time for this natural recession vary by individual. Although it usually occurs in early 20s, it can also begin to occur at the age of 17. Furthermore, the process for complete maturing hairline may take decades in some men – while in others, it is only over the course of 5 years.
In addition, your hair color and thickness will also change with age. These changes may occur naturally in years after maturing hairline.
As we age, hair follicles will make less melanin, our hair pigment. This will make gray hair more likely. Gray hair can start in the age of 30s, which then eventually may turn white . Also, hair thickness changes over time! Hair strands will get smaller, resulting in thin and light-colored hair.
Frontal hairlines recede as part of androgenic alopecia
The natural recession from maturing hairline is likely to move back evenly. We don’t know the goal of this process. But we can say it just creates a more distinct frontal hairline, slightly higher up. It just gives you the more rounded edges, which are very common in young adults.
But the story is different if the problem has to do with something else. Androgenic alopecia causes hairline recession worse than maturing hairline. The hairline will move higher on your head (beyond 0.75 inch), which is especially true (more aggressive) at the temples.
Men with androgenic alopecia can also have early sign of the problem before they achieve the age of 21, according to the American Hair Loss Association . So it’s not always easy to distinguish the two in young men.
What to understand, the hairline that keeps receding when your mature hairline has taken shape should be considered abnormal. In such case, androgenic alopecia may be the culprit. This is particularly true if you have distinctive horseshoe ‘U-shaped’ pattern in which the hairline at the temples recedes more quickly.
As the name implies ‘pattern’, men with the condition will lose their hair gradually in a consistent way. This may lead to partial or complete baldness if left untreated.
Before a ‘U’ shape appears, it usually starts with a gradual retreat of hairline away from your forehead to form an ‘M’ shape. In time, the affected area becomes thinner and may get worse to create a ‘U-shaped’ pattern of hair left upon the back and sides of your head.
Your genes have an effect
The good news, androgenic alopecia is less likely to affect men without a genetic predisposition. In general, mostly the condition is related to genetic factor and male hormones.
Not all men are sensitive to DHT. That’s why we believe that other factors have a role, and your genes are to blame. In many men with the condition, it’s caused by genes they get from their family. Experts believe that genetic factor can affect how sensitive the follicles to DHT.
So in general we can say that if you have a relative with the condition, it’s likely you to develop one as well. But if you don’t have this genetic trait, your hair recession is likely just a maturing hairline.
First things first, it’s important to figure out the exact cause of your hair loss. For accurate diagnosis of whether it’s androgenic alopecia or something else, see a dermatologist. Or wait-and-see is probably your best bet (if you’re a teenager) until your mature hairline has completely taken shape.
Treatment is not always necessary since it’s usually nothing more than a cosmetic issue (harmless). As long as you can enjoy with your new appearance, you may not need treatment. Some receding hairline hairstyles are available. Also, going bald is not always bad. Many men with baldness still look attractive and have good careers.
On the other hand if you choose to treat it, early treatment may help you a lot. Because sometimes it’s relatively easier to preventing hair loss than growing hair! Also, certain treatments may not stimulate hair regrowth, but will only help stop or slow down hair loss. So once you know that it’s more than maturing hairline or if you do believe that it has to do with androgenic alopecia — see a dermatologist to get appropriate treatment as early as possible!
A number of treatment options for androgenic alopecia are available. Surgery (hair transplantation) is probably the most powerful one, though it is costly.
What to remember, most non-surgical treatments will not provide a ‘cure’. Typically, you need to keep using the treatment to maintain your hair growth. Also, the traditional route like minoxidil or finasteride, is not always effective to stimulate hair regrowth. That’s why sometimes people resort to surgical procedure (hair transplantation) instead.
There’s no one treatment which is universally effective for everyone. Many times, treatments can be hit-and-miss. Even not all patients are good candidate for hair transplantation.
That’s why new treatments are always exciting — several studies are continuously going on. These will give people more alternative ways that may be more effective.
There are a number of factors and conditions that can contribute to abnormal hair loss. Androgenic alopecia is likely to blame if your hairline’s retreat occurs slowly and gradually in a consistent way, particularly true if you also have a genetic trait of the same condition.
But when you hairline fall out suddenly instead of gradually moving higher or thinning over time, it is unlikely related to androgenic alopecia. In such case, the cause could be something else other than androgenic alopecia, which may include :
- Stress and hormonal imbalances. Chronic, uncontrolled stress can affect the life cycle of your hair. The same goes for changes in hormones such as during menopause and pregnancy.
- Something wrong with your diet, the imbalance of nutrition such as; too much vitamin A, lack of protein and iron, or a dramatic change in weight.
- Certain medications, e.g. anabolic steroids, blood thinners, radiation, chemotherapy, and birth control pills.
- Poor hair care practices, e.g. frequent bleaching, excessive use of hair dryer, and hairpin /rubber bands.
- Infections on the scalp such as fungal infections.
- Certain health conditions, like thyroid disorder and anemia.
- Other hair loss problems such as alopecia aerate (round patches of hair loss caused by autoimmune disease) and scarring alopecia.