Mature Hairline: Causes & Treatment Options
Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
You don’t have the hair you used to. That juvenile hairline, those luscious locks, that full head of hair -- it’s all thinned with time. And you’re understandably worried.
It’s normal to be nervous when you notice the early signs of a maturing hairline. You might start to try new hairstyles to hide it, or take to shaving it all off. But without intervention, your hairline will keep receding and your bald spots will get bigger, regardless of your styling techniques.
Call it a mature hairline, thinning hair, a receding hairline, hairline maturation, balding or simply hair loss -- the thinning cover of hair on your head is likely due to male pattern baldness, also referred to as androgenetic alopecia.
The good news is that a mature hairline doesn’t need to be something you worry about. If you respond quickly, it’s very possible to prevent a mature hairline from developing into further hair loss or complete baldness.
Below, we’ve explained what a mature hairline is, as well as why you might notice your hairline starting to mature in your 20s, 30s or 40s.
We’ve also discussed your options for treating a mature hairline and stopping more of your hair from falling out over time.
What is a Mature Hairline?
The term “mature hairline” usually refers to a receding hairline -- a hairline with some degree of hair loss around the temples. Many men start to develop a more mature, M-shaped hairline as they enter their 20s or 30s.
If you’re starting to develop a mature hairline, you may notice that the corners of your hairline sit higher on your forehead than previously, or that your hairline has a more visible “M” shape than it once did.
A mature hairline is a symptom of male pattern baldness -- a common form of hair loss that can affect as much as half of all men by age 50.
Instead, male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetic factors and the effects of a male sex hormone, or androgen hormone, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Your body produces DHT as a byproduct of testosterone. During childhood and adolescence, it plays a key role in your physical development, including the growth of your penis, body hair and prostate.
However, as an adult, DHT can cause certain unwanted effects within your body. For example, if you’re genetically prone to male pattern baldness, DHT can bind to androgen receptors found in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to undergo a process called follicular miniaturization.
The life cycle of a normal strand of hair lasts for several years, during which it grows from a hair follicle for two years to six years before entering a resting phase and falling out. Once it falls out, a new hair begins growing in its place.
As your hair follicles begin to miniaturize, the anagen phase of your hair growth cycle (the phase in which your hair actively grows from your scalp) can shorten, resulting in smaller, weaker hairs that eventually fail to penetrate through the outer layer of your skin.
In more technical language, in male pattern baldness, the growing phase, or anagen phase, can become shortened. The resting period, known as the telogen phase, can increase. The hair that does manage to grow from your scalp may be shorter and thinner than before.
This process usually affects the hair follicles around your hairline and vertex scalp first, resulting in the mature hairline and bald patch at the crown (the area near the top of the head) that many men develop in the early stages of hair loss.
Not everyone is equally sensitive to DHT, which is why some men develop a mature hairline and noticeable baldness early in life, while others may experience minimal hair loss even as they get older.
Our guide to DHT and male pattern hair loss goes into more detail about this process, as well as the role that hormones and genetics play in hair loss.
Characteristics of a Mature Hairline
Because the term “mature hairline” normally isn’t used clinically, there’s no diagnostic criteria for this type of hair pattern. By this, we mean that a dermatologist or primary care physician usually isn’t going to fill in a checklist, then diagnose you with a “maturing” hair pattern.
However, mature hairlines do have a few identifiable characteristics that differentiate them from other hairlines. These include:
Mild hair loss around the temples. Many guys start to experience hair loss around the temples as they enter their 20s, 30s or 40s. It’s common to spot some recession around this area as your hairline begins to mature.
A slight V or M-shape. While a mature hairline generally doesn’t have the harsh M or V shape of a strongly receded hairline, it won’t be perfectly straight either. Most of the time, a mature hairline will display some mild signs of a M, V or U shape.
A relatively high hairline. A mature hairline may sit slightly higher than the hairline you had as a teen. You may notice that your hairline naturally sits around one inch above the highest wrinkles on your forehead.
Little or no hair loss elsewhere on your scalp. A mature hairline usually doesn’t come with hair loss elsewhere on your scalp. You may notice your hairline receding slightly, but it generally won’t be accompanied by a bald patch at your crown or diffuse thinning.
How to Tell if Your Hairline is Maturing
It’s normal to develop a mature hairline as you grow older, and noticing some minor changes in your new hairline isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re destined to go bald.
However, it’s important to pay attention to your hairline, especially if it’s starting to change quite rapidly. Use the following techniques to check for signs of maturation in your hairline:
Check your hairline in the mirror. One simple way to check for a maturing hairline is to take a quick look at your hairline in the mirror. Pull your hair back and look at the temples and general shape of your hairline, as these will often show signs of recession.
Compare your hairline to old photos. If you don’t spot any changes by looking at your hairline in the mirror, try comparing the shape of your hairline to photos of yourself taken two to three years ago. Make sure to use photos taken in similar lighting conditions. Avoid photos taken using a wide-angle lens up close (for example, very close selfies) as these can often make your forehead look overly short or long due to lens distortion.
Look for excessive hair shedding. It’s normal to shed 50 to 100 hairs per day as part of your hair’s natural growth cycle. However, noticing an excessive amount of hairs on your pillow or in your hairbrush could be a sign that you’re starting to lose hair.
Ask friends, family or your partner. Sometimes, identifying change in your hairline is much harder than spotting it in someone else. If you’re worried about hair loss but can’t see it yourself, try asking a trusted friend, family member or partner for their opinion.
Our guide to identifying a receding hairline shares other techniques that you can use to see if you’re losing hair.
If you have multiple photos of your hairline over the course of several years, you can compare them to the Norwood scale to assess the severity of your hair loss.
If your hair loss exceeds a Norwood 2 or Norwood 2a, you might want to consider looking into your options for treating hair loss.
Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair
Mature Hairline vs. Receding Hairline
Technically, a mature hairline is a type of receding hairline, although the two terms are generally used in slightly different ways.
For most men, the process of losing hair around the hairline is gradual. Put simply, it’s very rare to suddenly develop a receding hairline in a few months. Instead, although it may be something you notice suddenly, the process of losing hair takes time -- typically, several years.
The term “mature hairline” is generally used to refer to a mildly receded hairline that retains lots of definition. A mature hairline will typically show some signs of recession near the temples, but it won’t have the strong M or V shape of an obvious receding hairline.
Think of Don Draper in Mad Men -- he has a hairline that clearly belongs to a grown man, not a juvenile hairline like you might see in your teenage years. But it’s also not a strongly receded or balding hairline.
Another characteristic of a mature hairline is that while it might be receding, it isn’t receding very quickly. Put simply, a mature hairline moves back fairly evenly, and at a slower pace that’s closer to “getting older” than “rapidly losing hair.”
How to Deal With Hair Loss and Balding
Hair loss can have a serious impact on your wellbeing, including your psychological health. It’s far from uncommon to experience a significant drop in confidence when you notice your entire hairline is starting to mature, or that your hair is beginning to thin.
These mental effects are sometimes trivialized by people not suffering from hair loss. For them, it’s just “not a big deal.” But you know differently. Going bald isn’t easy, and conditions such as depression and anxiety can all too often go hand-in-hand with androgenetic alopecia.
The good news is that if you’re not interested in going bald, proven options are available to help you stop the process.
A few decades ago, noticing the early signs of balding almost always meant that you would lose your hair, with your options limited to either accepting the hair loss or turning to wigs, hairpieces or other options to hide it from others.
Today, male pattern baldness is no longer an untreatable condition. In fact, several medications, as well as surgical procedures, are available to either slow down the effects of hair loss, prevent it from getting worse or, in some cases, even help you regrow hair you’ve lost.
If you’re not alright with rocking the bald look and continuing your hair loss journey, it’s important to take action as soon as you can to protect your hairline and promote healthy hair.
Medications for Hair Loss
Currently, the most effective way to deal with a maturing hairline, receding hairline or other signs of hair loss is to use medication such as finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is an oral medication for treating male pattern baldness. It works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT -- the androgen hormone that attaches to receptors in your scalp and miniaturizes your hair follicles.
If you’re starting to lose hair, taking finasteride can help to prevent your hair loss from becoming worse. In some cases, it can even stimulate regrowth in areas of your scalp with noticeable hair loss.
In a series of two one-year trials, researchers found that men who used finasteride experienced a significant increase in hair count in areas of balding scalp, indicating new hair growth.
We offer finasteride online, following an online consultation with a physician who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Minoxidil is a topical, over-the-counter medication that works by stimulating blood circulation in your scalp and moving inactive hair follicles into the anagen, or active growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
Although minoxidil doesn’t block DHT, it often helps to reduce hair loss and stimulate the growth of new hair.
For example, one study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy found that 59 percent of men with male pattern baldness showed improvements in their hair after using minoxidil over a period of 12 months.
Interestingly, the same study found that minoxidil is particularly effective as a hair loss treatment when it’s used with finasteride, with 94.1 percent of men who used both medications displaying improvements.
Hair Transplant Surgery
If you have significant hair loss that you’d like to treat, you may want to consider getting a hair transplant -- a type of hair restoration surgery.
A hair transplant is a cosmetic procedure that involves carefully removing hair follicles from the back and sides of your scalp -- areas that are resistant to the effects of DHT. These hair follicles are then relocated to areas with hair loss, such as your hairline or crown.
Unlike the artificial-looking hair plugs of the 80s and 90s, modern hair transplant surgery creates natural-looking results, particularly when it’s performed by a capable, experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
However, it isn’t cheap. Hair transplant surgery can vary in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on your location, the severity of your hair loss and the number of hair follicles that need to be relocated to balding areas of your scalp.
Still, it’s an option that’s certainly worth considering if you’re starting to develop noticeable hair loss around your hairline and want to do something about it for good.
Aside from true medical and surgical options, the internet will have you believe there are herbs, salves and snake oil solutions that can undo what DHT, genes and the hands of time are doing to your hairline.
In most cases, in this regard, the internet is largely full of it. Talking with a medical professional about hair loss solutions is the quickest way to cut through all the noise and take real action to slow or reverse your hair loss.
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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 Dealing With a Maturing Hairline
We all get older, and part of this is dealing with noticeable changes that occur in our bodies. For many men, this means watching as a minor widow’s peak turns into a more pronounced mature hairline, often complete with visible hair thinning and other signs of male pattern baldness.
The good news is that provided you act in an early stage of hair loss, it’s usually possible to stop a maturing hairline from developing into severe hair loss.
If you’re interested in stopping hair loss for good, you can view our range of hair loss treatments for men online.
You can also get started by filling in our hair loss assessment online. If appropriate, you’ll get access to proven, FDA-approved hair loss medications such as finasteride to help you stabilize your hair loss, control shedding and potentially regrow your hair.