Just like your eyes, nose and mouth, your hairline has a significant impact on the appearance of your face.
In fact, in a way, your hairline acts as part of a frame for your face that draws attention to certain features and away from others.
Hairlines come in many shapes and sizes, from low to high and straight to bell-shaped. Just like other facial features, hairlines can vary hugely from one person to another, or between men and women.
Below, we’ve listed the most common types of female hairlines, as well as the key features that define each hairline shape.
We’ve also discussed how issues such as female pattern hair loss can affect the female hairline, part line and other aspects of your appearance.
Finally, we’ve explained what you can do to change the shape and appearance of your hairline using styling techniques, cosmetic procedures and other treatment options.
Although all hairlines share certain characteristics, hairlines can vary hugely from one person to another.
In fact, if you were to take a random sample of 100 people, you’d be able to see a diverse range of different hairlines, from low hairlines that sit close to the eyebrows to high hairlines that begin above the temples.
A variety of factors determine your hairline’s height and shape, including your genes, hormones, hair styling habits and even your age.
Although hairlines can vary in appearance, most female hairlines fall into one of five categories: round, M-shaped, rectangular, bell-shaped or triangular.
A round hairline is exactly what it sounds like — a hairline with a smooth, round curve that gives the forehead a semicircular shape.
This type of hairline is very full, with little to no recession in the frontotemporal area (the area at the front of your scalp, around the temples).
Many women have an M-shaped hairline — a hairline with higher temples and a noticeable point in the center of the hairline.
This type of hairline is occasionally referred to as a widow’s peak. Research has found that this type of hairline is common, with one study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery noting that 81 percent of women display some form of widow’s peak.
A rectangular hairline, or straight hairline, runs horizontally across the front of the scalp. Unlike the round hairline, which has a concave shape, a rectangular hairline has a sharper angle at the frontotemporal area of the scalp.
A bell-shaped hairline looks similar to a round hairline, but has a taller shape that exposes more of the forehead, giving it an appearance similar to the top half of a bell-shaped curve.
On average, the height of the frontal midpoint of a bell-shaped hairline (the area at the center of the hairline) is 2cm higher than the midpoint of a round hairline.
A triangular hairline has a similar height and shape to a round hairline, albeit with straighter lines that run from the center of the forehead to the temples instead of a concave shape.
People with this type of hairline often have lots of vellus hairs — short, thin hairs that grow at the edges of the hairline.
While most hairlines can be described round, M-shaped, rectangular, bell-shaped or triangular, there’s a huge amount of variation within each hairline.
Depending on its height and symmetry, your hairline may be described as a:
A receding hairline is a classic sign of hair loss. However, it’s much more commonly associated with men than with women.
Several factors play a role in your hairline’s shape and height, including your genes, your levels of hormones and even the way you style your hair.
Although genetics play a role in your hairline, researchers haven’t yet detected which genes are responsible for hairline shape.
Contrary to popular belief, there doesn’t appear to be a “widow’s peak gene” or other single factor that explains why your hairline looks the way it does.
Over time, your hairline may recede or become thinner as a result of hair loss. Several different types of hair loss may affect your hairline, including female pattern hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia (or androgenic alopecia), is a form of hair loss that’s largely caused by the effects of the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
In people prone to hair loss, DHT can bind to receptors throughout the scalp and cause the hair follicles to miniaturize.
As the follicles slowly become smaller, they start to produce shorter and thinner hairs, until eventually the hairs fail to penetrate through the outer layer of skin.
The male form of androgenetic alopecia, called male pattern baldness, often causes a receding hairline or hair loss around the crown.
For women, excessive hair loss usually causes your hair to become thinner around the part line — the natural line at which your hair parts from left to right.
If you’re prone to female pattern baldness, as your hair becomes thinner, your hairline may start to look weak, thin and lacking in volume and density.
When this type of hair loss is severe, it may cause your hair to become very thin, resulting in an almost see-through appearance that exposes the top of your scalp.
Our guide to female hair loss goes into more detail about how this surprisingly common form of hair loss can develop.
Traction alopecia is another form of hair loss that can affect your hairline. Unlike female pattern hair loss, it isn’t caused by hormones — instead, it occurs when your hair is styled in a way that creates a pulling tension on your hair follicles.
Over time, this tension can loosen the hair from the hair follicle, causing symmetric hair loss around your hairline.
Hairstyles that can cause traction alopecia include braids, cornrows, tight ponytails, heavy locks and weaves. This type of hair loss is particularly common in African-American women, as well as gymnasts, ballerinas and other women who need to wear their hair pulled tightly back.
Our guide to ponytails and hair loss discusses the causes and symptoms of traction alopecia in more detail.
There are several ways to raise, lower or change the shape of your hairline, including cosmetic procedures and techniques that you can perform at home. If you’re unhappy with your hairline, your options include:
If your hairline is thinning or receding due to female pattern hair loss, the best way to treat it is with medication.
The most effective treatment for female pattern hair loss is minoxidil, a topical medication that works by moving your hairs into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle and by stimulating blood flow to your scalp.
Minoxidil is easy to apply and can produce a noticeable improvement in your hair density after just three to six months of regular use.
Just like height, hair color, skin tone and countless other features, hairline height and shape can vary hugely from one person to another.
If you’re unhappy about the height or shape of your hairline, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider to discuss your options.
If your hairline is starting to recede or thin due to female pattern hair loss, hair loss products and medications such as minoxidil can help to stop shedding and restore density.