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What is a Receding Hairline?

Adam Hill
Adam Hill

A receding hairline refers to the progressive hair loss experienced by men as a part of male pattern baldness. Often, it begins as a thinning of the hair, first on either side of the forehead. This progresses to become a bald patch on the top of the head. The likelihood that a man will experience a receding hairline is determined by several factors, with genetics playing the biggest role. Most men with receding hairlines are over 25 years of age, but some start to notice thinning in the teen years.

The main direct cause of receding hairlines is the hormone known as dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This hormone normally acts as a sex hormone in males, spurring the development of secondary sex characteristics during puberty. Eventually, DHT outlives its usefulness and can cause unwanted side effects. Principal among these is the inhibition of hair growth.

A receding hairline often begins as a thinning of hair on either side of the forehead.
A receding hairline often begins as a thinning of hair on either side of the forehead.

Not all men experience a receding hairline or other ill effects from DHT activity. In some men, the production of DHT slows down naturally, rather than continuing at a high rate. In others, DHT continues to be produced in excess. In these cases, the DHT builds up in certain places in the body, including the hair follicles. When enough of the hormone binds to a hair follicle, blood flow to it is choked off, starving the hair of nutrients and eventually causing it to fall out.

Drug treatments may be available for men who are experiencing a receding hairline.
Drug treatments may be available for men who are experiencing a receding hairline.

If left to its own devices, a receding hairline will eventually cause permanent baldness over the whole scalp in most cases. Due to the psychological and social implications that this would have for most men, many drugs and other treatments have become available which aim to stop or reverse a receding hairline. Some of these drugs, however, have a potential for negative side effects and interactions with other drugs. Herbal remedies carry less of a risk for these things, but have not been tested and developed as extensively.

Receding hairlines are usually hereditary.
Receding hairlines are usually hereditary.

The presence of high levels of DHT is not the sole deciding factor for baldness or a receding hairline. While this condition is genetic and its expression at some point is more or less unavoidable if the gene is present, certain environmental factors can accelerate baldness in those with this hereditary trait. One example that is observed somewhat often is the effect of emotional stress, especially for long periods of time. Stress can significantly enhance the progression of a receding hairline, once it has begun. Some studies have also found a positive correlation between smoking and hair loss.

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Discussion Comments


What's the best way to deal with a receding hairline?

I'm getting pretty upset and depressed over it lately, and I know I shouldn't.

But you all know where the beginnings of a receding hairline start - at the crown area, near the sides.

It stinks so bad. What's a good way to cope with it? I'm thinking about growing my hair out long to cover up, but I am also thinking about cutting it short to minimize the appearance, but the problem with that is when I cut my hair cut, my cowlicks show up really bad and my hair grows back in looking all funky.


@sunshine31 - I agree about the short hair being a good option for men with a receding hairline. And for other men who find the receding hairline is accompanied with balding areas, I say you would be surprised at how many men look sexy bald!

Even as a woman, I in some way feel their pain as I could not imagine losing my hair (I know women can lose their hair too, but not to the same dramatic effect of most men's hair loss).

In losing your hair you lose the picture of the person you have been for your entire life, and as the article pointed out, your entire life is usually meaning 25 plus years as that is when most balding begins.

My brother started losing his hair young and I think he has handled it really well, and ended up cutting his hair short. Right now he is only thirty three years old and has lost a lot of hair.

I actually thought my husband was beginning to get a receding hairline, but it turns out that his hair is actually patterned in a receding hairline fashion, as I checked out his dad's hairline and he has the same line!


I think a male receding hairline would be frustrating to deal with, but I have a female friend who has struggled with thinning hair since she was young.

She has found some products that have worked to make her hair appear fuller and thicker. Before she started using these products, she was really self conscious about her hair as I would be too if it were me.

I think she will have to continue to use these products the rest of her life if she wants her hair to look thick and full. This is hard for me to imagine because every time I get my hair cut, they comment on how much hair I have.

As I age, I am learning that this is something I am very thankful for.


The role of genetics in receding hairlines is certainly present in our family. All of the males have receding hairlines and this seems to start in their mid to late twenties.

They all seem to handle it pretty well and know there isn't really anything they can do to stop a receding hairline. There is quite a bit of joking and teasing among the brothers.

You always see all kind of advertisements about thinning hair for men, but the guys in my family have just accepted it. I don't think they want to invest much time or money in something that might not work very well anyway.


@nextcorrea - I totally agree, but, you know, worrying about hair loss is not a new thing. Anxiety over this issue is probably as old as mankind. There are lots of instances from the past of crazy hair restoration treatments. There are also lots of instances in history when it was socially acceptable for men to wear wigs. Balding is nothing new. It has been keeping men up at night for centuries now.


Its really a shame that so much emphasis is put on a man's hairline. By and large there is nothing that you can do to save your hair. If you go bald you go bald. If you don't you don't. Its totally random but we treat it like it is a reflection of a person's character.

People can choose to get fat, or have bad skin, or smell bad or wear there hair in an unflattering way, but they can't choose to go bald. It just happens. All the treatments are either ineffective or out right silly. It is something you have to live with. If we lived in a more tolerant society that accepts people for the way they are maybe this would be easier to live with.


I need some real answers. I have had a receding hairline since my early 20s and now it is really starting to get noticeable. I have read a million sites on the internet that talk about keeping or restoring lost hair but I can't seem to get any straight answers.

So I'm going to but this out there. Does anyone know how to stop your scalp from shedding hair. Is there a shampoo, a special diet, a vitamin supplement, anything? I am really desperate and I know that there is not any easy solutions but maybe someone out there has tried something I haven't heard of.


My brother went bald very early. In high school his hairline started creeping back and now, at the age of 26, he shaves his head because he looks so bald when he lets his hair grow.

I have to be honest, this has made me very self conscious. I still have plenty of hair and I am older than my brother, but I don't have as much as I used to.

Thinking about all the nervousness and anxiety baldness caused my brother, I am terrified of losing my hair myself. I haven't yet resorted to rogain or other hair restoration products but I can see them in my future.


@Sunshine31 - Men are really sensitive to their thinning hair, but you know what is worse is when you have a female receding hairline.

I had a friend whose hair was really thin on top and no matter how she styled her hair it still looked bad. I guess we are used to seeing men with a receding hairline, but it is a little unique to see a woman with the problem. I wonder what caused the problem because she was not a smoker, but she did have a stressful job maybe that is what did it.

I didn’t realize that stress can really affect your hair like that. Luckily I don’t have that problem, but I do feel bad for women with receding hairlines.

I think that if you wear your hair repeatedly in a tight ponytail, this can also cause the hair to become thinner because it was constantly being pulled. That is something else to watch out for.

Luckily there are a lot of treatments to regrow a receding hairline, but they are not cheap.


I know that men are really sensitive to their male receding hairlines. I made a comment to my husband that his hair was getting a little thin on top, and I wished I had not said anything.

He was really offended and even denied that he needed any receding hairline treatments. I was trying to help him, but I think that I ended up really hurting his feelings. Now I never bring up the subject.

I think that if a man has a receding hairline it is best to have his hair cut really short so that it does not emphasize the receding hairline. I have seen men that have long hair but have a receding hairline and I think that it actually draws more attention to the receding hairline and it is not a flattering look.

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    • A receding hairline often begins as a thinning of hair on either side of the forehead.
      By: sparkmom
      A receding hairline often begins as a thinning of hair on either side of the forehead.
    • Drug treatments may be available for men who are experiencing a receding hairline.
      By: igor
      Drug treatments may be available for men who are experiencing a receding hairline.
    • Receding hairlines are usually hereditary.
      By: maska82
      Receding hairlines are usually hereditary.
    • Baldness may be reduced with some prescription medications.
      By: vasilisa_k
      Baldness may be reduced with some prescription medications.
    • Male pattern baldness -- a receding hairline at the forehead and a bald patch at the back of the head -- can be caused by genetics and related to the hormone testosterone.
      By: draganica
      Male pattern baldness -- a receding hairline at the forehead and a bald patch at the back of the head -- can be caused by genetics and related to the hormone testosterone.