Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/26/2021
Everyone loves a good sunset, but when the thing fading over the horizon is your hairline, suddenly that gradual disappearance is something to be stopped at any cost.
Male pattern hair loss is a frustrating problem for many men, but as much as a bald spot on the crown is embarrassing at the wrong angle, a receding hairline can make you self-conscious no matter what direction you’re facing.
There are many “cures” out there for hairline recession, but many of them trade on bogus or limited medical science. And the cosmetic options aren’t all that promising either.
Believe or not, some real options do exist to keep your hair from ceding any more ground. There may even be ways for you to recover some lost territory before things become permanent.
How to fix that hairline? We’ll cover that, but before we get into preventative hair care and reversal solutions, here are a few things to know about why your hair may be retreating in the first place.
On average, there are around 100,000 hairs on the average head, and you’re bound to shed a few of them every day — dozens, in fact.
The American Academy of Dermatology says that losing as many as 100 a day isn’t much of a reason to worry.
When the numbers creep above that range, however, it might be time to talk to someone about it — specifically a healthcare professional.
Individually, hairs that fall out do so for a variety of reasons, but the typical hair follicle falls out because it has reached the end of its life cycle.
You lose hair each and every day because every hair follicle has an independent life cycle consisting of several years.
This cycle can be broken into three phases, which we know as the anagen phase, the catagen phase and the telogen phase.
The anagen phase of hair growth is the growth phase, which takes place over several years.
The catagen phase, which comes next, signals the end of the follicle’s growth.
This phase lasts just a few weeks in total, and is followed by the third and final telogen phase, during which the hair follicle is resting as it prepares to fall out.
There are several types of hair loss that can affect your hair in different phases and for different reasons — and depending on which type of hair loss you’re experiencing — it can inform suggested hair loss treatment options and the likelihood of their success.
The most common form of hair loss in men is androgenic alopecia or androgenetic alopecia, and if you’re reading this, it’s the one you most likely have.
Androgenic alopecia can develop in some men as early as their teens, though it may take time to become visible.
Androgenic alopecia symptoms manifest as the traditional male pattern baldness markers: receding, thinning hairline edges, as well as thinning hair on the crown.
Women can experience it as well. Androgenic alopecia is caused by several factors including genetics, hormones and age.
Luckily, androgenic alopecia is treatable, as a variety of topical and oral medications are available to slow or even stop the recession process and even restart growth in some cases.
Most men experiencing this common form of hair loss have thinning and balding crowns, as well as receding hairlines.
Androgenetic alopecia is a complicated condition, but the easiest way to explain it is that a genetic sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) makes individual hair follicles stop growing.
Other types of hair loss are less common, and can result from various causes including excessive physical or mental stress on the body, physical damage to the hair or autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata.
In many cases these conditions can be arrested (and sometimes even reversed), though they can never actually be cured.
Treating bald spots, therefore, is a question between two solutions: regular or daily therapies like cosmetics, medications (including hair loss shampoo and topical regrowth solutions) and hair pieces; or permanent treatments like tattooing and hair transplant.
Some options are more effective than others, and may make more sense for your lifestyle and reason for hair loss than others, so please check with a healthcare professional before you begin any treatments.
While a severe head injury could definitely inflict some follicle damage, this form of alopecia is typically caused by too-tight hairstyles. But other hair treatments and styles can lead to the issue as well.
Everything from bleaching, to straightening, to coloring as well as particular hair styles like cornrows or the “man bun” can cause traumatic alopecia, which can be permanent if the damage is substantial enough over a long period of time.
The best treatment for traumatic alopecia is taking preventative measures: knock off the bleaching chemicals and other damaging chemical agents, and don’t stress out your hair with those tight hairstyles that cause strain on the follicle.
There are a lot of products advertised to regrow hair on the market, and some of them provide more dubious claims of effectiveness than others.
In some cases it’s unfair to call them ineffective — the research simply hasn’t been done.
Here’s a list of treatments currently considered effective based on science:
There are too many lifestyle influences on hair loss to count. Poor diet, stress, tight hairstyles and other issues can be counteracted with basic lifestyle changes.
If you suspect your diet may be the cause of your hair loss, consider reducing your intake of processed foods and increasing your vitamin intake — particularly vitamin A, vitamin D and biotin.
For more information on the best vitamins for hair growth, check out our guide to Essential Vitamins for a Healthy Head of Hair.
And if you’re regularly wearing a tight man bun, consider stopping. *Cough cough.*
If the factors seem more psychological — as in, you’re stressed — talk to a mental health professional and look for ways to eliminate chronic stress from your life.
Believe it or not, the solution to thinning hair and a growing hairline might be as simple as some style changes.
Everything from the way your hair is cut to the way you dry it can affect the appearance of bald spots.
Consider using a blow dryer after the shower to give your hair more lift, or discuss changes to your normal haircut with your barber.
Effective medications for hair regrowth mostly include oral and topical products like finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride works to reduce the levels of the hormone DHT (the hormone that causes hair loss with androgenic alopecia) circulating in your body.
Taking finasteride on a daily basis has been shown to reduce DHT levels by about 70 percent, which is enough to either stop or slow the effects of male pattern baldness.
The exact ways in which topical minoxidil treats hair loss are not fully understood but studies show that using minoxidil over a 48-week period can result in a 12.7 percent to 18.6 percent increase in total hair count, depending on the concentration used.
If you have thinning hair, the extra thickness provided by minoxidil can make a big visual difference.
One popular supplement, saw palmetto, also helps fight DHT levels and may be an effective way to treat hair loss — especially when used alongside a medication like finasteride.
Saw palmetto may also be an ingredient in certain shampoos, which might also include ingredients like biotin and other essential compounds.
This guide on What to Look For in a Men’s Hair Loss Shampoo contains a full list of the ingredients you should check for in a shampoo.
Of course what everyone wants is a way to hit “undo” on the balding process, and fill the space with, well, real hair.
There are ways you can potentially do this, including by taking prescription medication.
Likewise, products like pumpkin seed oil and rosemary oil have also shown some limited and inconclusive results.
Still, these treatments are far from proven, and typically won’t be recommended by a healthcare professional until after — or concurrently — other treatment options have been tried.
As with more severe options including hair transplants, these should be considered only after proven medications and lifestyle changes have been implemented.
Besides, “laser combs” sound fun in science fiction, but a little scary when your own head is involved.
If your hair loss is mild and that bald spot on your crown is more of a bald-ing spot, this may be an effective, one-and-done treatment option for you.
If you’re reading this, we assume that losing your hair is something you consider a negative, but there are plenty of men walking around without hair, and they look great.
Here’s a bold suggestion — maybe you don’t need hair. One way to fix your hairline could be to embrace it.
Of course, baldness may not be for you, and if that’s the case, there are plenty of ways to prevent and/or treat it.
Whether you’re comfortable with your current look or wanting to take back some control in the follicle fight, educating yourself on what exactly is going on up top is an important next step for success, and for your hair health.
There’s a good reason to give it attention: while hair loss is often the result of aging and other natural processes, it can also be a sign that other health concerns are beginning to get out of control.
One of the best ways to fix a receding hairline is to first consult with a healthcare professional. They can help determine the cause of your hair loss, and help you find workable solutions.
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