A Complete Guide About Receding Hairline Stages, Signs, Causes, And Treatments

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Are you noticing a gradual loss of hair at your hairline? You might be experiencing a receding hairline, a common condition affecting both men and women. 

A receding hairline can be distressing, but it's important to remember that it's a natural part of the aging process for many people.

This guide will delve into the stages of a receding hairline, the signs to look out for, the potential causes, and the various treatment options available. 

Whether you're dealing with a receding hairline or want to be proactive in preventing one, this guide has you covered!

What is a receding hairline?

receding hairline stages

When the hairline moves back from the forehead, a condition known as a receding hairline develops, it's also an indicator that androgenic alopecia, or the gradual thinning of hair over time, has begun to take effect. 

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What causes a receding hairline?

Possible causes of a receding hairline include:

Age

A receding hairline is often related to age, with more men over 50 experiencing hair loss and women more likely to lose hair after menopause.

Hormones

The male hormone DHT can be blamed for the receding hairline. Because DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, less blood can reach them, causing hair loss. Thinner hair and a shorter hair growth phase are the results of this. 

If you don't have it addressed, your follicles will close, and you'll lose your hair. Pattern hair loss happens to both men and women.

Family history

If anybody in your family, including any blood relatives, suffers from hair loss, it is quite probable that you will as well. In addition, it will likely be a different age than it was for them.

Medication or treatment

Certain medications and treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, may cause hair loss. The birth of a child, an operation, a severe disease, etc., all fit into this category.

Stress

hereditary hair loss, hair thinning

Stressful events can also lead to temporary hair loss or a receding hairline. Stressful events can cause hair loss because they trigger the body's fight-or-flight response. This can increase stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol, which can lead to hair loss.

The stress hormone cortisol is produced in excess by the body during chronic stress. This hormone could stop hair from growing normally, leading to hair loss and a receding hairline in the long run. 

As a result, hair growth may slow or stop altogether. Most of the time, stress-related hair loss is temporary and will stop once the cause of the stress is dealt with.

Read this: 9 Effective Methods How To Regain Hair Loss From Stress

Lifestyle

There are several factors related to lifestyle that can contribute to hair loss. These include:

  • Poor diet: A diet low in nutrients and protein can lead to hair loss.
  • Smoking: Smoking can cause hair loss by reducing blood flow to the scalp.
  • Tight hairstyles: Wearing tight hairstyles, such as cornrows or braids, can cause traction alopecia, a hair loss caused by damaging the hair follicles.
  • Excessive styling: Using heat-styling tools and harsh hair products frequently can damage the hair and lead to hair loss.
  • Chemical treatments: Chemical treatments, such as dyes, bleaches, and permanents, can damage the hair and lead to hair loss.

7 stages of a receding hairline

receding hairlines

There are several stages of hair loss that can occur, including a receding hairline. These stages are often described using the Norwood scale, a standardized system for classifying male or female pattern baldness.

The stages of the Norwood scale are:

Stage 1: No hair loss

Stage 1 of the Norwood Scale is often known as the "control stage" since it characterizes full, healthy hair. Stage one patients have not reported any balding except for a little, hardly noticeable thinning of hair around the temples.

Signs of receding hair at stage 1

When male pattern baldness is this early, it is almost impossible to tell because there are no visible signs. In other words, someone in stage one has a full head of hair. But if you have a family history of pattern baldness, you can estimate your stage. 

Treatment

At this stage, it's recommended to follow a healthy diet and consider taking supplements to address deficiencies in nutrients like iron, protein, and essential fatty acids. 

Quitting smoking can also be beneficial for the health of your hair, as it can damage the hair follicles. Reducing stress levels can also help, as stress has been linked to some types of hair loss.

In addition, try to avoid hairstyles that strain the scalp, such as tight ponytails. Use mild and natural shampoos for hair loss that don't have harsh chemicals, and stay away from hair dyes and bleach to keep your hair healthy.

Read this: Does Biotin Shampoo Really Help Shedding, Thinning Hair?

Stage 2: An M-shaped hairline

When someone is in the second stage of hair loss, the receding hairline is minor yet apparent. This thinning is most easily seen in the temple area. An M-shaped hairline will result since the recession is most pronounced near the temples. Crown thinning is a possibility as well.

Signs of receding hair at stage 2

Check the hairline around the temples to see whether you're at stage 2. Which letter, V or M, does it most closely resemble? 

Your hairline will be V-shaped if there is little to no recession around the temples, and you don't need to worry about anything other than the natural aging process. 

If your hairline is in the shape of an "M," you are probably in the second stage of treatment for male pattern baldness, which is when you start to lose a lot of hair around your temples.

Treatment

You can maintain healthy hair follicles and prevent additional hair loss if you're in the early stages of thinning hair by following the lifestyle suggestions we stated in Stage 1. Also, consider beginning treatment for hair loss.

Stage 3: A u-shaped hairline or even balding at the crown

The third stage of hair loss is when it's most noticeable. At this point, individuals exhibit symptoms consistent with a "balding" clinical diagnosis.

Signs of receding hair at stage 3

A severely receding hairline characterizes stage 3 progressive hair loss. Thus, the hairline will either take the form of an evident M-shape or recede even more at the temples, taking the form of a U-shape.

Treatment

Here are several treatments that one can utilize to slow or stop the progression of hair loss and potentially restore the lost hair.

Finasteride and minoxidil are commonly prescribed medications that can help to halt hair loss in its tracks. For those seeking a more hands-on approach, using a derma roller may also prevent further hair loss.

The most effective treatment option for those at stage 3 of the Norwood scale is hair transplant surgery, specifically a follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure. 

So don't despair if you are at stage 3 of the Norwood scale. You can restore the full head of hair you desire with the right treatment plan.

Stage 4: Severe frontal hair loss

As you progress to stage 4 of the Norwood scale, it becomes increasingly clear that your once full head of hair is thinning at an alarming rate.

Signs of receding hair at stage 4

The hairline has receded significantly, forming a deep U-shape that is hard to ignore. The bald spot at the back of the head has also grown in size, though it is still separated from the hairline by a thick band of hair. 

It is no longer possible to hide the fact that you are experiencing significant hair loss.

Treatment

Even though it may be hard to stop hair loss at this point, treatments like finasteride and minoxidil can still restore and thicken the hair that is left. 

People at stage 4 of the Norwood scale can also get hair transplants. You should talk to a specialist about how this procedure might help you with your hair loss.

Stage 5: Near-total hair loss at the top of the scalp

The severity of the previous stage is increased even more in stage 5. When this happens, the hairline and bald spot remain distinct but are separated by a smaller and narrower strip of hair.

Read this: 5 Most Effective Ways How To Regrow Hair On Bald Spot Fast?

Signs of receding hair at stage 5

At the fifth stage of the Norwood scale, a thin strip of hair between the hairline and the bald spot is the most important sign. At this stage, you may also start to see the horseshoe-shaped hair loss pattern typical of male baldness.

Treatment

Even though treatments like Finasteride and Minoxidil might no longer work, a hair transplant might be a good choice for some people. 

But it's important to remember that not everyone can get an FUE hair transplant. You should talk to a specialist to determine if you have enough donor hair for the procedure. 

As the stages of male pattern baldness progress, treatment options become increasingly limited.

Read this: The 12 Best Natural and Drug Hair Transplant Alternatives

Stage 6: Total hair loss at the top of the scalp

The merging of the receding hairline and the bald area characterizes sixth-stage baldness. Some hair may remain on the back and sides of the head, but there's almost none in the crown.

Signs of receding hair at stage 6

The top of the head is now completely bald, with a horseshoe-shaped pattern of hair remaining on the lower half of the scalp. Some individuals may still have some hair on the top of their heads at this stage, but it will be very thin and weak.

Treatment

Most of the time, an FUE hair transplant is the best way to treat male pattern baldness at stage 6. But it may take more than one appointment to get hair back on the head, and if hair loss is very bad, it may not be possible to cover the whole scalp. 

The availability of the donor's hair will also determine whether or not you are eligible for a transplant.

Stage 7: Thinning of the remaining hair

The most advanced level of a receding hairline is called stage 7. Only a thin band of hair remains around the back and sides of the head. There may be a minimal amount of hair, but if so, it is likely extremely thin or fine.

Signs of receding hair at stage 7

Look at the horseshoe-shaped hair on the back of the head. The hairs within it will be thinner, finer, and frailer, and the follicle itself may have shrunk. 

Treatment

At stage 7 of male pattern hair loss, treatment options are limited. Some choose to shave the remaining horseshoe of hair and embrace a bald look, while others may opt for hats, hairpieces, or wigs. 

A hair transplant may still be an option if these options do not appeal. However, it is unlikely that full coverage can be achieved.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) surgery, also known as strip surgery or the strip method, is the most effective option for this type of transplant. 

This surgery involves removing a strip of skin from the back of the neck and transplanting the hair follicles from the strip into the scalp. It is more invasive than FUE surgery.

What is the best treatment for a receding hairline?

The best way to treat a receding hairline will depend on the cause of the hair loss, the person's preferences, and how they live their lives. Some options for treating a receding hairline include:

Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine

Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine for treating male pattern baldness

The Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine is a unique and effective way to help combat the effects of receding hair and promote hair growth.

This innovative product is filled with a blend of powerful ingredients that work together to nourish and revitalize the scalp and hair follicles.

The formula contains biotin, a vital nutrient that helps promote strong, healthy hair. In addition to biotin, the routine also includes ingredients that help strengthen and protect each strand. 

Together, these powerful ingredients fortify and repair damaged hair, making it feel thicker and more resilient.

Hair Growth Routine | For Men
Hair Growth Routine | For Men
Formulated to combat shedding & signs of balding

Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Formulated to combat thinning hair & visible scalp

Medication

hairline recedes, grow hair

Male pattern hair loss, the most prevalent reason for a receding hairline, can be treated with medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride

Minoxidil widens blood vessels and increases blood flow to the scalp, whereas Finasteride may protect hair follicles from DHT. 

When more blood flows to the scalp, it gives the hair follicles the oxygen and nutrients they need for new hair growth.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Injecting the patient's platelets into the scalp, a process known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, has been shown to stimulate hair growth. 

PRP treatment involves activating the weak hair follicles that have been the cause of the problem. Platelet-rich plasma from your body will stimulate local tissue and cell regeneration. Collagen and elastin are two skin proteins that the PRP produces.

Laser therapy

Low-level laser therapy, in which photons are sent to the scalp, is also called "red light treatment" and "cold laser therapy." By taking in these photons and using them to strengthen weak cells, you can make your hair grow faster. 

Most people agree that the method is safe, easy to deal with, and less painful than hair transplant surgery.

Scalp micropigmentation

Minimal hair loss or recession can also be remedied with scalp micropigmentation. Scalp micropigmentation helps strengthen and add density to thinning hair regions by perfectly reproducing your natural hair follicles and color.

Manage anxiety and stress

Keeping your stress and anxiety under control will help you avoid those pesky hormones and keep your hair from falling out. Physical activity, meditation, therapy, and healthy living are all good ways to deal with stress.

Follow a healthy diet

Your diet plays a crucial role in the health of your hair. Like the rest of your body, your hair needs a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay strong and radiant. 

So if you want to keep your hairline looking its best, it's essential to ensure you're getting all the proper nutrients.

But what should you be eating? A diet rich in protein, vitamins A and C, and iron can help encourage hair growth. 

Foods like eggs, nuts, and leafy greens are all great choices. You should also ensure that you stay hydrated, as dehydrated hair is more prone to breakage and loss.

Read this: Top 7 Foods For Vegetarian Hair Growth According To Doctors

Hair transplant

receding hairline stages

If your hairline is receding, consider getting a hair transplant, which moves hair from the back and sides of your head to the receded region. Hair follicles are transferred from a donor area to a balding part of the scalp in hair transplant surgery.

Can a receding hairline grow back?

hair loss treatments

If your male or female pattern hair loss is due to genetics, it's unlikely that your hairline will grow back on its own. But there are treatments that can help stop hair loss or even make it grow back in some cases.

These include medications like minoxidil and finasteride, as well as hair transplant surgery.

On the other hand, if your hair loss is due to a medical condition or another treatable cause, your hairline may grow back once the underlying issue is addressed.

For example, if your hair loss is caused by not getting enough of a particular nutrient, getting enough of that nutrient may help your hair grow back.

To sum up, a receding hairline can grow back, but it depends on the cause of the hair loss. If you're concerned about hair loss, it's a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a guide to the stages, signs, causes, and treatment of a receding hairline. By now, you must understand the different stages of hair loss and the common causes and treatment options available.

Remember, if you're experiencing extreme hair loss, you must consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation. They can help you know the cause of your hair loss and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

So don't let a receding hairline get you down. Take control of your hair health and work with a healthcare professional to find the best treatment plan. Your luscious locks will thank you!

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.