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“You have such a beautiful hairline,” said no one ever. But just like your eyes or smile, your hairline can impact the way you look — for good or for worse.
Anyone else hear how Kim Kardashian allegedly resculpted her hairline by lasering away baby hairs? If you’ve landed on this page, we assume the issue isn’t too much hair but a lack thereof.
This article will cover various types of hairlines, signs of a receding hairline and treatments that can help promote new hair growth.
People’s hairlines (and the ratio of the forehead to the face) play a role in perceived attractiveness and facial balance. While it might seem like it’s only dudes who complain about a receding hairline, it can happen to women too — and it’s surprisingly common.
Twelve percent of women first develop clinically detectable female pattern hair loss (FPHL) by age 29. The likelihood then shoots up to 25 percent by age 49 and 41 percent by age 69. By their 79th birthday, over 50 half of women have some element of FPHL.
Hair loss in women can show up in many ways, from a wider part to a shrinking hairline. Here, we cover some of the most common hairlines in women.
In one study, a round hairline was found to be the most common. In this type of hairline, the frontal portion is round and appears semicircular when viewed from the front.
With an M hairline, the frontotemporal (think the temples and top sides of the hair) recess is more prominent than the central hairline across the forehead. This type of hairline creates the shape of the letter M.
Known for a linear, straight hairline across the forehead, this hairline looks rectangular when viewed from the front.
A bell-shaped hairline looks similar to a round hairline, only taller with more of the forehead exposed. This gives 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 2 centimeters higher than the midpoint of a round hairline.
This type of hairline includes a frontotemporal recess that’s convex (curved like a circle), and the frontal hairline appears triangular.
Just like faces, no two hairlines are exactly the same. But some other common features include:
Low hairline. Exactly what it sounds like, a low hairline sits low on the forehead.
High hairline. A high hairline may emphasize a large space between your hair and forehead.
Middle hairline. Also referred to as an average or normal hairline, a middle hairline sits in the center of the forehead.
Uneven hairline. Think of an uneven hairline like a widow’s peak — it may run higher or lower at certain points.
Read on to learn about the tell-tale signs of a receding hairline.
While hair loss in women is common, severe hair loss and going completely bald affects less than 1 percent. A receding hairline (or severe bitemporal recession, if you wanna get clinical) is usually seen in males and is less generally common in women.
But hair thinning is more diffuse for some women, involving the parietal and occipital areas of the scalp with a pattern of diffuse alopecia.
This can look like:
A higher hairline than you used to have
Thinning at the temples (sides of the forehead)
Patchy spots at the front of the head
Keep scrolling to learn about what causes a receding hairline.
There may be numerous reasons your frontal hairline is receding. Speak with your healthcare provider to best pinpoint what’s going on.
Some common causes of a receding hairline include traction alopecia, a nutritional deficiency and female pattern hair loss. Here’s what to know.
Tight hairstyles — like slicked-back buns, tightly pulled ponytails or cornrows — can cause stress on the hair follicle if there’s too much tension for a long time. Continuous pulling force can lead to breakage and hair loss, a condition known as traction alopecia, especially seen around the frontal hairline.
Over time, you may begin developing hair loss or thinning hair around your temples or overall hairline, as well as other areas where the follicles are pulled or tugged on constantly.
It’s crucial to treat traction alopecia as soon as you notice the early symptoms. This form of hair loss can usually be reversed if you switch to looser styles.
If you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals through foods, it may eventually lead to hair loss. Micronutrients play an important role in the normal hair follicle cycle. So make sure to eat a healthy diet, and speak to a dermatologist about including supplements for any potential deficiencies.
Also known as androgenetic alopecia, female pattern hair loss is typically caused by a combination of genetics and gradual damage to the hair follicles from androgen hormones. Sometimes, FPHL can develop due to hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Unlike male pattern baldness, which typically causes a bald spot or receding hairline around the scalp or crown, female pattern baldness usually presents as diffuse thinning or a widening part that affects the entire scalp.
Connect with a healthcare provider to figure out if female pattern baldness may be affecting your hairline.
Here are a few treatment options to consider if you’re dealing with a receding hairline.
Minoxidil is the first line of defense for hair loss among most dermatology professionals. Commonly sold under the brand name Rogaine®, it’s a science-backed and FDA-approved treatment for hair loss.
Though its exact mechanism of action is currently unknown, minoxidil is believed to stimulate hair growth by increasing blood flow to the hair follicle. Think of it like a supercharged smoothie for your roots.
Minoxidil comes in a few forms:
Minoxidil drops. Available at a 2% strength, this dropper-style treatment makes it super easy to target specific parts of the hairline and scalp.
Minoxidil foam. This 5% foam spreads quickly on the scalp to treat diffuse thinning.
Oral minoxidil. Not a fan of changing up your styling routine? This once-daily pill helps target hair loss and may be especially helpful for those who don’t respond well to the topical forms.
Men have been using oral finasteride (commonly sold under the brand name Propecia) to treat hair loss for decades. Due to the potential for side effects in women, it wasn’t initially recommended for women. But thanks to topical finasteride spray, dermatologists may prescript it off-label for women after menopause.
Finasteride works by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase isoenzymes. This sets off a chain reaction to reduce the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — this conversion process is considered a primary culprit in female pattern balding.
Spironolactone is typically prescribed to help people treat conditions like heart failure and hypertension, but it’s also commonly prescribed off-label for its antiandrogenic effects — especially for hair loss.
Spironolactone helps decrease testosterone levels in the blood and lessens its effects in certain areas of the body. If you’re dealing with hormonal-related hair loss, this treatment might help.
Switching up your part or getting bangs (even if it’s clip-in bangs) can help change the look of your hairline. Get more inspo and ideas for changing your hairline in our comprehensive guide to haircuts and hairstyles for women with hair loss.
If you feel like your hairline is on the up and up, you can also consider hair transplant surgery — which is exactly what it sounds like. Individual hairs can be transplanted onto the scalp and surrounding forehead to create a lower hairline.
Want to dig a little deeper? Learn more about hair transplants for women in our comprehensive guide.
Your hairline can affect the way you look and how you view yourself. If you feel like your hairline is thinning, remember there are things you can do.
Move fast. Whether it’s avoiding hairstyles that cause too much tension or getting lab tests done, try to figure out the causes of hair loss quickly so you can stop it before it becomes permanent.
Get the right treatment. Once you know the root cause, you can get the proper treatment rollin’.
Be consistent. No matter which hair loss treatments you end up trying, bear in mind you’ll need to be consistent to keep your hairline in its best shape.
If you’ve finished this article and still want to know more about thinning, check out our guide to hair loss in women.
Or if you’re ready to get moving today, start your personalized hair consultation now.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.
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