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Does a bad hairline mean that I’m balding?

Published on April 20, 2020
Updated on
Do you feel like you have thinning hair at the front of your head? How about an uneven or eroding hairline? Do you have family members who have gone bald? If so, it’s no surprise that changes to your hairline make you want to panic. As we age, we’re likely to see changes to our hair – and some amount of change to your hairline is just a normal part of getting older. But for some people, a bad hairline is also one of the first signs of hair loss.

Normal vs. abnormal hairline changes

Do you remember what your hairline looked like when you were a teenager? Your hair was probably full and thick. You probably felt like you could have just about any hairstyle and look good no matter what.

Unfortunately, this isn’t all in your head. According to a study in the Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics Of North America Journal, kids all start out with the same concave hairline. By kindergarten, you start to see minimal changes – like the development of widow’s peaks. Other changes to your hairline, like temporal peaks, may start once you hit your mid-to-late teens.

By the time you reach adulthood, your hairline has gradually receded. However, this type of receding hairline is perfectly normal. The main change you’ll see is that hairline growth moves from the concave shape you had during your youth to a convex shape, where the middle of your hairline is thicker than the edges. Some of your hair will also start to grow in different directions, which can affect the way your hairline looks.

For most people, these hairline changes are minimal and gradual. In fact, you’ve probably hardly noticed them happening when you were young.

Hairline recession can also be abnormal, though. Instead of the typical changes that occur, some men and women start experiencing hair loss while very young. In fact, hair loss can even occur to teens.

A man's head, showing an outline where the right half of his head has a normal hairline and the left half of his head has temple baldness

An uneven, receding hairline can eventually turn into much more extreme temple hair loss

Reasons people have bad hairlines

Hairline changes can be a normal part of aging. However, hormones, genetics, and the way you treat your hair can also affect your hairline. If you feel that you have a bad hairline or are experiencing changes to your hairline growth, it’s likely that one or several of these factors has been the culprit.

For example, women and men with long hair often tie their hair back into tight ponytails or buns or braid their hair. The Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics Of North America Journal study says that tight hairstyles like these can lead to a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. When this happens, your hairline is essentially being influenced by repeatedly pulling your hair back.

Hormones and genetics also play a role in your hairline. In fact, genetics is thought to affect up to 50 percent of people’s hair and cause hair loss problems at some point in life. 

According to a study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, a receding hairline is actually one of the first signs of male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). This type of hair loss – which is actually the most common type of hair loss – will typically progress to hair loss around your temples and the very top of your head if left untreated.

What should I do about my receding hairline?

If you’ve noticed your receding hairline, you’re actually lucky. The faster you can address your hair loss, the easier it is to tackle the problem.

If your hairline issues are caused by traction alopecia, there are some pretty simple lifestyle changes you can make to prevent further hair loss. Simply avoiding tight hairstyles and tying your hair back loosely can help immensely. If your receding hairline is quite severe, you may also want to look into different hair loss treatment options. Some people even choose to have hairline correction, which requires a hair transplantation procedure to be performed.

If you think you’re suffering from male pattern hair loss, you should definitely talk to your doctor about your receding hairline. This is the optimal time to look at treatments as you can work preventatively, instead of trying to grow back hair once it’s lost. Your doctor will likely recommend treatments like minoxidil, finasteride, or low-level laser therapy, which have all been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

It usually takes a little while for hair loss treatments to have any effect. If you’re looking for a solution in the meantime, it may be beneficial for you to explore cosmetic options. If you have a patchy hairline that just needs to be filled in a bit, treatments like micropigmentation can help. However, micropigmentation is not an option for everyone, and whether or not it will work well for you will likely depend on your hair type, hair color, hair cut, and hairstyle.  

If you have very short hair, a receding hairline can be particularly problematic. While it may seem counterintuitive, it may actually be sensible to try growing out your hair. The best haircut for a receding hairline will mask any thinning or uneven growth. Even just sweeping your hair to the front so that the thicker hair in the back of your head is pushed forward can help hide a bad hairline.


Changes to your hairline are to be expected as you age – but some people are more likely to experience dramatic hairline changes than others. If you notice thinning hair, an uneven hairline, or hairline changes affecting your temples, your bad hairline will likely be related to a certain type of hair loss.

Talk to your doctor if you think your receding hairline is a sign of hair loss. They can help you determine why you’re experiencing this problem, stop further hair loss from occurring, and determine if a certain treatment strategy can help.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.


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