How to Stop a Receding Hairline
Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Have you noticed your hairline beginning to recede? It’s one of the first signs of hair loss, which affects many men at some point in their lives.
It’s easy to panic when your hairline creeps backward every year, especially when a high hairline is easy to notice in the mirror or in photos. Luckily, there are several ways you can prevent further hair loss and even regrow hair around your hairline.
Taking finasteride to block the hormone that causes hair loss in men
Using the topical medication minoxidil to stimulate hair growth
Adding a hair loss prevention shampoo to your routine to stop hair shedding
Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in hair-friendly foods
Reducing stress, massaging your scalp and other techniques
We’ve gone into more detail below about these techniques, as well as how a receding hairline can develop in the first place.
What is a Receding Hairline?
Receding hairlines differ from naturally uneven hairlines or widow’s peaks, which are thought to be passed on as a result of your family history.
It’s common to see your hairline receding in the earliest stages of male pattern baldness. You may spot your hair thinning slightly near the temples, or notice your hairline starting to resemble a V, M or U shape when viewed from above.
Receding hairlines can develop at any point in your life, but most guys first notice some degree of hair recession in their 20s, 30s or 40s.
What Causes a Receding Hairline in Men?
There are a few different types of hair loss. However, when it comes to a receding hairline, the culprit is almost always a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
What is DHT?
DHT is an androgen hormone, or male sex hormone. During childhood and adolescence, DHT plays a key role in your development. It’s involved in the development of your male secondary sex characteristics, such as a deep, masculine voice, as well as your facial and body hair.
Your body naturally produces DHT as a byproduct of testosterone. Through the action of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, a small percentage of your testosterone is converted into DHT on an ongoing basis.
As you get older, DHT becomes less critical to your development. However, your body still produces a small amount of this hormone.
DHT and a Thinning Hairline
In some men, DHT can bind to receptors in the scalp and cause the hair follicles to miniaturize, or shrink. Over time, this process stops the hair follicles from producing new hairs, resulting in increased hair fall and gradual hair loss.
The hair follicles at your hairline — especially near your temples — are often the first affected by the miniaturization caused by DHT.
DHT sensitivity can vary between men. Some guys have hair follicles that are highly sensitive to the effects of DHT, while others have hair follicles that continue growing normally even with DHT circulating throughout the scalp.
If you’re sensitive to DHT, you might notice that you see more of the skin around your temples over time, or that your hairline begins to look thinner.
Not everyone with a receding hairline will go completely bald. However, a receding hairline is a common early sign of hair loss, which means it’s also a sign to start taking action to protect your hair before it thins further.
How is a Receding Hairline Diagnosed?
A receding hairline is almost always a symptom of male pattern baldness — a form of hair loss caused by a mix of hormonal and genetic factors.
Most of the time, you can identify a receding hairline yourself by looking at your frontal hairline in the mirror or a photograph. If the corners of your hairline have moved up on your scalp, or if your hairline is starting to develop a V or M-like shape, there’s a good chance it’s receding.
Most healthcare providers diagnose male pattern baldness the same way that you would — by looking at your scalp.
Sometimes, a receding hairline might develop at the same time as other male pattern baldness symptoms, such as:
A bald patch around your crown
Diffuse thinning on the top of your scalp
An increased amount of daily hair shedding
Receding Hairline Treatments
Seeing your hairline start to creep up your scalp can be a stressful experience. Luckily, there are plenty of proven treatments available that can help you stop your hairline from receding further.
In some cases, these treatments can even stimulate new hair growth, meaning you may notice that some thin or empty areas of your hairline start to fill in with more hair.
Before getting into specific treatment options for receding hairline prevention, it’s important to make one thing clear: the sooner you start treating your receding hairline, the more hair you’ll likely keep.
Here are eight recommendations for preventing your receding hairline from getting worse and stimulating new hair growth, starting with the most effective.
Use Finasteride to Lower Your DHT Levels
Research shows that the most effective way to stop male pattern baldness from getting worse is to block DHT using medication.
Right now, the most effective medication for reducing DHT levels is finasteride (also sold as the brand name medication Propecia®), a prescription drug that blocks 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT within your body.
By inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, finasteride reduces your DHT levels and limits the damage that DHT can cause to your hair follicles.
Currently, finasteride is available as an oral and topical medication. The oral version is approved by the FDA as a treatment for hair loss, while the topical version isn’t yet FDA-approved but has been proven effective in studies.
Research shows that finasteride not only prevents DHT-related hair loss from getting worse, but can also stimulate new hair growth.
For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that finasteride helps to increase hair count in balding men.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate for you.
Apply Minoxidil to Stimulate Hair Growth
Minoxidil is a hair loss medication that’s available over the counter. Although it doesn’t reduce your DHT levels, experts believe it can stimulate hair growth by moving your hair follicles into a state of active growth and promoting blood flow to your scalp.
Currently, minoxidil (also known as Rogaine®) is FDA-approved as a topical liquid and as a foam. It’s also used off-label in its oral form as a treatment for hair loss, although this is less common.
Minoxidil works well on its own due to its effects on blood flow, but it’s especially effective at protecting your hairline when used with finasteride.
In one small study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, 94.1 percent of men with hair loss showed improvements after using minoxidil with finasteride.
It’s important to keep in mind that minoxidil, like finasteride, has a catch: if you don’t use it, you lose it. To maintain your hair growth and prevent your hairline from receding further, you’ll need to keep using minoxidil (as well as finasteride) on an ongoing basis.
Wash With a Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo
Can the shampoo you use save your waning mane all by itself? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it can't help.
While shampoo usually won’t have as much of an impact on a balding hairline or diffuse hair loss as medication, it can still work as a valuable part of your toolkit for treating and preventing hair loss.
Eat a Diet That Promotes Healthy Hair Growth
There’s no miracle diet for preventing male pattern baldness. However, eating a healthy diet rich in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients may promote consistent hair growth and stop some hair-related issues, such as hair breakage and shedding.
The good news is that there’s no need to follow an impractical, difficult diet to maintain a healthy head of hair. In fact, many of the foods that are rich in hair-friendly nutrients are probably part of your diet already.
Our guide to what to eat for hair growth shares more than 15 foods that you can add to your diet to make sure you’re supplying your hair follicles with the nutrients they need for healthy growth.
Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair
Other Techniques for Promoting Hair Growth
When it comes to stopping and reversing a receding hairline, most of the heavy lifting is done by finasteride and minoxidil.
However, there are also other techniques that, while not as effective as medication, can promote good general hair health. Try the following approaches — in combination with medication, of course — to keep your hair follicles functioning at their best:
Massage your scalp. As strange as it might sound, massaging your scalp might help to stimulate blood flow and strengthen hair growth. In a 2019 study, researchers found that people who practiced scalp massage daily had improvements in hair growth.
Minimize stress. Stress is a common cause of telogen effluvium — a form of temporary hair thinning that can affect your entire scalp. Try to reduce stress by avoiding common stress triggers and using relaxation techniques whenever you feel anxious.
Try a biotin supplement. Biotin deficiency is a rare health issue that may cause you to shed hair. Although it’s not essential for hair growth, adding a biotin supplement to your daily routine could reduce your risk of becoming deficient and promote healthy hair.
For Severe Hair Loss, Consider a Hair Transplant
Hair transplantation is a surgical hair loss treatment that involves extracting actual hair follicles from the sides and back of the head, then transplanting the follicles to areas with bald spots and thin hair.
When done by a skilled surgeon, a hair transplant can make your hair look full, thick and identical to a natural hairline that’s unaffected by male pattern hair loss.
Although hair transplant surgery is effective, it has a major downside: it ain’t cheap. If you have an obvious receding hairline and noticeable hair loss, this type of hair restoration procedure can come with a minimum price tag of several thousand dollars.
You can learn more about this type of procedure, its advantages and disadvantages, different techniques and more in our guide to hair transplants.
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No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.
The Bottom Line on How to Fix a Receding Hairline
There’s no such thing as a bad hairline, meaning you shouldn’t panic or feel as if your youthful good looks are on the way out if you begin to notice some signs of recession.
However, if you’ve recently noticed your hairline creeping backward and want to do something about it, it’s important to act quickly to stop your hair loss from getting worse.
You can do this by:
Using FDA-approved hair loss medications like finasteride and minoxidil to address the root causes of hair loss and stimulate new growth.
Adding a hair loss prevention shampoo and conditioner to your daily hair care and hair regrowth routine.
If all else fails, or if your hair loss is already severe, consider undergoing hair transplant surgery to fill in your hairline, top of the head and other areas with visible thinning.
If you’re starting to experience hair loss, you can learn more about your options and get started with these medications by taking part in a hair loss consultation via our telehealth platform.
You can also learn more about keeping your hair thick and healthy in our complete guide to the best treatments for thinning hair.