Hair loss of any kind is distressing, which is why many men worry when their mature hairline begins to develop. However, the maturing of your hairline is no cause for concern. It is completely natural for one’s hairline to mature as a man develops during adolescence and young adult life.
In this article, we will describe the appearance of a mature hairline, differentiate it from receding hairlines and male pattern baldness, describe what it is that causes the hairline to mature, and provide some helpful tips on what you can do about it. Hopefully, this will all serve to put your mind at ease and help you to love your new hair.
What is a Mature Hairline?
Your hairline is the point at which your hair stops growing; it is the outermost edge of your hair. Typically, the hairline will be on the forehead. As a person ages, it is normal for the shape and position of the hairline to shift. This largely depends on a person’s genes, and some people will experience greater changes in their hairline than others. In exceptionally rare cases, a person’s hairline will stay the same as they age, though this is very uncommon.
Teenagers, who typically have a full head of hair, have what is referred to as a “juvenile hairline”. As you age, this hairline will (in most cases) move upwards across the forehead and scalp. This new hairline is referred to as a mature hairline.
What does a Mature Hairline Look Like?
A mature hairline appears when the juvenile hairline recedes. This occurs towards the end of adolescence, when a man is 17 to 18 years old, though it can differ from person to person. It is completely normal and expected for the hairline to move upwards and rearrange itself during adolescence. It is one of the typical symptoms of puberty for men, and it is not (necessarily) an indication of further balding to come.
To see if you have a juvenile hairline, raise your eyebrows. Some creases or wrinkles will appear on your forehead. If your hairline comes into contact with the highest wrinkle, then you have a juvenile hairline.
A mature hairline, meanwhile, will be approximately 2 to 3cm higher than the highest wrinkle on your forehead. If your hairline recedes further than this (particularly if it recedes onto the scalp), then this is not a mature hairline but an indication of balding.
Sometimes, a mature hairline will take the shape of a widow’s peak.
What is a Widow’s Peak?
A widow’s peak is a mature hairline that takes the shape of the letter ‘V’. This means that the hairline will recede a little more at the sides of the forehead than at the centre. This type of mature hairline is often inherited and tends to run in families.
The name of the hairline derives from a headpiece that widows in mourning for their husbands wore in England in the 18th century. These widows wore hoods with a point which extended into the centre of the forehead. A V-shaped mature hairline resembles this garment, which is why it is named after it.
Importantly, those with a widow’s peak will have a very defined and even hairline. Patchiness or thinning along the hairline usually indicates that a person has a receding hairline, rather than a widow’s peak. Moreover, if the hairline recedes substantially at the temples – forming a pronounced M-shape, rather than a subtle V – it is likely that you have a receding hairline or the beginnings of male pattern baldness, rather than a widow’s peak.
When Do You Begin to Develop a Mature Hairline?
As we mentioned, the juvenile hairline usually begins to recede towards the end of one’s teenage years (typically at 17 or 18). However, different men will develop mature hairlines at different times, depending on their own genes and hormonal fluctuations, and recession can begin at any time between the ages of 17 and 30.
This means that some men will develop a mature hairline at 17, others will have their hairlines mature at 20, and others will find that their hairlines have matured at 28. In fact, some men find that it takes approximately 10 years for their mature hairline to form fully.
How Long Does a Mature Hairline Last For?
Once again, the lifespan of a mature hairline varies from person to person. In some cases, a mature hairline can last for the duration of one’s life. In most cases, however, some additional recession and hair loss will occur as the person continues to age. In these cases, it is possible for a mature hairline to become a receding hairline, or for balding to begin.
What Is the Difference Between a Mature Hairline and a Receding Hairline?
Technically speaking, a mature hairline is a receding hairline, because your juvenile hairline has retreated by 2 to 3 centimetres. However, when we refer to “a receding hairline”, we are usually talking about a more severe recession than this. Here are some of the key differences between a mature and a receding hairline:
The Extent of the Recession:
A receding hairline will retreat back much further than a mature hairline. As we mentioned, a mature hairline is approximately 2 to 3 cm higher than a juvenile hairline. A mature hairline will remain in this position and not recede any further. A receding hairline, by contrast, will continue to retreat past this point.
A receding hairline will typically retreat by several centimetres, receding much further up the scalp. This will create a distinctly larger forehead.
The amount of Recession Around the Temples:
As we outlined above, a receding hairline recedes further up the scalp than a mature hairline. In addition to this, a receding hairline can also be identified by the amount of recession around the temples. Typically, a receding hairline will retreat significantly in these areas, causing the hairline to form an ‘M’ shape. By contrast, a mature hairline will not recede as substantially around the temples, and will instead form a more subtle ‘V’ shape.
The Neatness of the Hairline:
A receding hairline will recede unevenly, as parts of the hairline will retreat further than others. Typically, the hair around the temples will retreat the most. A mature hairline, however, will retreat evenly. The only exception here is if your mature hairline forms a widow’s peak (in which case the sides of your hairline will retreat further than the centre, forming a ‘V’ shape). Nevertheless, a widow’s peak is roughly symmetrical and uniform, whilst it is unusual for a receding hairline to be so.
The Speed of the Recession:
A receding hairline will retreat much faster than a mature hairline. Consequently, the recession is far more noticeable than it is with a mature hairline. Mature hairlines tend to retreat without being noticed, whilst receding hairlines will be spotted.
The Amount of Hair Shedding:
As a receding hairline retreats further back up the scalp than a mature hairline, it causes more hair loss. As a result, you are likely to notice excessive hair shedding if you have a receding hairline. You may start to notice more hairs on your pillow, for example. This will not happen if you have a mature hairline. However, it is important to note that other factors can cause excessive hair shedding (such as stress or a medical condition), so this is not a conclusive sign that you have a receding hairline.
The Cause of the Hair Loss:
Although this is not a visible sign that will not help you to differentiate a mature hairline from a receding hairline, another key difference between the two is the cause of the hair loss.
A mature hairline is caused by the body’s natural ageing processes. Specifically, it is caused by the presence of a sex hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which appears in men during puberty (as we will discuss in further detail below).
Whilst a receding hairline can also be the product of hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors, it can also be the consequence of lifestyle factors, such as smoking, stress, or excessive treatment of the hair. Similarly, it can be the product of illness, the use of anabolic steroids, treatments such as chemotherapy, or the use of certain medications.
Clearly, there is a much more extensive list of possible causes for a receding hairline than for a mature hairline. A mature hairline is, solely, a natural consequence of normal aging.
What is the Difference Between a Mature Hairline and Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in men. It is the product of genetic factors, and those with a family history of baldness are most likely to inherit and suffer from it. Although male pattern baldness can begin in one’s teenage years, it usually occurs in adulthood and a person’s chances of having it increase as they age.
The development of a mature hairline in one’s teens and twenties will not inevitably lead to male pattern baldness. A mature hairline will form when the juvenile hairline begins to recede, which is the natural consequence of a man growing and maturing. It is not necessarily a sign that the hairline will continue to recede and eventually lead to baldness.
However, as we mentioned, it is possible for male pattern baldness to begin in one’s teenage or young adult years. This means that, when your hair first begins to recede, it can be difficult to tell whether you are simply beginning to develop a mature hairline, or whether you are beginning to develop male pattern baldness.
To help you spot the difference, here are some key differences between a mature hairline and male pattern baldness:
The Extent of the Recession:
A mature hairline will recede by approximately 2 to 3 cm above the juvenile hairline. It will not recede any further beyond this point. However, a hairline that is undergoing male pattern baldness will retreat much further beyond this point.
Additionally, those who suffer from male pattern baldness will usually notice thinning along the hairline. The hairs along the outermost edge of the hair will shrink and look patchy. Those who have a mature hairline, meanwhile, will not notice this thinning. Although the juvenile hairline has receded by 2 to 3 cm, the mature hairline remains even, as the entire hairline retreats at approximately the same distance. This means that there will not typically be any patchiness.
A Family History of Baldness:
Male pattern baldness is hereditary – it is genetically inherited. This means that, if you have a family history of baldness and you begin to notice your hairline receding, it is possible that the recession is an indication of male pattern baldness rather than the formation of a mature hairline (though this is not conclusive, of course).
The Area of the Scalp that is Affected:
A mature hairline develops on the frontal region of the head, as the juvenile hairline retreats upwards across the forehead. Male pattern baldness, meanwhile, affects the entire hairline. This means that, if you suffer from male pattern baldness, you will notice your hairline retreating and thinning on the back and the sides of the head as well as the frontal region.
An ‘M’ vs a ‘V’ Shape:
As with a receding hairline, a hairline that is undergoing male pattern baldness will show significant recession at the temples, whilst a mature hairline will show more subtle recession in these areas. This means that sufferers of male pattern baldness will notice their hairline forming a prominent ‘M’ shape, whilst those who have a mature hairline will notice a more subtle ‘V’ shape.
How Can I Detect a Mature Hairline?
As we mentioned, the best way to determine whether you have a mature hairline is to raise your eyebrows. If your hairline is roughly 2 to 3 cm above the highest wrinkle on your forehead, then you have a mature hairline.
However, to ensure that your hairline is mature and not receding, here are some other methods which you can employ to assess your hairline:
Examine your Hairline:
A mature hairline recedes neatly and uniformly. This means that it will, largely, resemble your juvenile hairline, only it will be 2 to 3 cm higher.
Examine your hairline and check to see whether there is substantial recession around the temples. If there is a little recession here, the hairline may still be developing into a mature hairline, as it may be forming a widow’s peak. However, if the hairline is significantly retreating in the temples (particularly if it begins to form an ‘M’ shape), then you may have a receding hairline.
Apply the Norwood Scale:
The Norwood scale (which is sometimes referred to as the Hamilton-Norwood scale) is a classification system that is used to measure the different stages of balding. It is used by doctors and hair specialists to determine the level of hair loss undergone by their patients.
According to the Norwood scale, there are seven stages of hair loss. As you would expect, the first stage is a full head of hair with a juvenile hairline. The second stage shows some evidence of recession, though the recession is only truly noticeable by stage three.
The fourth stage shows considerable hair loss. Those who suffer from this degree of the recession may find that their hairline resembles the letter ‘U’ when their scalp is viewed from above.
The fifth stage displays further hair loss, and, by the sixth stage, the crown and the front of the head are mostly bald. By the seventh stage, the sides of the head have begun to experience hair loss, and there is only a thin circle of hair skirting the outside of the head.
If you have a mature hairline, your hair should resemble the second stage of the Norwood scale. Examine your hairline and compare it to the scale; if it looks like the second picture, then your hairline is most likely mature.
What Causes a Mature Hairline to Form?
Hair loss is the consequence of hormonal fluctuations in the body. Specifically, the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, triggers hair loss, recession, and baldness in men.
DHT is an androgen. This means that it is a sex hormone which stimulates the development of what is considered ‘masculine’ features, such as chest hair, increased muscle mass or a deepened voice. During puberty, the male body is flooded with DHT, which leads to the development of these characteristically ‘male’ features.
As we discussed above, the rearrangement of the juvenile hairline into a mature hairline is one of the normal bodily processes that occur as a man grows and develops. Consequently, the formation of a mature hairline is one of the many effects caused by the presence of DHT in the body. The sex hormone causes hair follicles to shrink, which can make hair fall out. This is why a person’s mature hairline usually appears during adolescence.
Ultimately, therefore, the formation of a mature hairline is caused by the body’s normal ageing processes, and should not be a cause of alarm.
What Can I Do About My Mature Hairline?
In this article, we have emphasised that the formation of a mature hairline is a natural and perfectly normal product of ageing. Most men will develop a mature hairline at some point in their lives. In fact, only 5% of men maintain a juvenile hairline for the entire course of their life.
This means that you do not have to do anything about your mature hairline. However, if your hairline is having an impact on your confidence and you would like to do something about it, here are some ideas:
Experiment with New Hairstyles
If you are unsatisfied with your new hairline, try changing your hairstyle. You may find that parting your hair on the side, slicking it back, or leaving it untidy, suit your new hairline more.
Take Time to Adjust to Your New Hairline
Often, we are unsatisfied with something simply because we are not accustomed to it. If you take time to get used to your new hairline, and it is likely that you will come to appreciate it.
Remind Yourself that it is Natural for Your Hairline to Have Matured
95% of men develop mature hairlines. They are a natural and predictable consequence of ageing. Moreover, it is important to remember that a maturing hairline is not necessarily an indication of further balding. You may find that what you dislike about your new hairline is that it makes you worry that you will undergo further hair loss. Reminding yourself that it is normal for hairlines to mature and that this is not a sign that you will experience further balding may help you to love your new hairline.
Consult a Hair Specialist or a Dermatologist
If you are unsure whether your hairline is maturing or receding, and changes to your hair are creating distress, it is best to consult a specialist. A doctor will examine your hairline and provide you with a professional diagnosis. This may put your mind at rest and will let you know whether to expect further hair loss. Furthermore, a doctor can direct you towards medications or specialised products which may slow down the rate of hair loss, or provide other helpful tips on how to retain your hair.
Ultimately, a mature hairline should not cause alarm. The maturing of the hairline is a completely normal and expected bodily process, not unlike the development of hair under the arms or the growth of facial hair. It is the product of puberty and growth, and not an indication of impending baldness.
Examining your hairline using helpful tools like the Norwood scale should help you to put your mind at ease and remind yourself that the maturing of the hairline is natural and experienced by the vast majority of men.
However, if you find that you continue to feel worried about your hairline, visit a medical professional and have it expertly examined. More often than not, your doctor will reassure you that your hairline is mature and not receding and that you do not need to worry about further balding.