Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/28/2020
You don’t have the hair you used to. That juvenile hairline, those luscious locks, that full head of hair — it’s all thinned with time. And you’re afraid.
It’s normal to be nervous when you notice the early signs of a maturing hairline. You might try new hairstyles to hide it or take to shaving it all off. But without intervention, your hairline will keep receding and your bald spots will get bigger, no matter your styling techniquest.
Call it a mature hairline, thinning hair, a receding hairline, hairline maturation, balding or hair loss — the thinning cover of hair on your head is likely due to male androgenetic alopecia, also known as androgenic alopecia.
And for many men, it’s part of the aging process.
Androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness is common, affecting as many as half of all men by age fifty. In most, it follows a predictable pattern, first receding at the temples and the middle of your frontal scalp.
This hair loss is genetic; it won’t happen from wearing a hat too much or taking certain medications. You’re getting a new hairline whether you like it or not, and whether you have otherwise healthy hair or not.
This type of hair loss is related to androgens, or male sexual hormones that regulate things like sex drive and hair growth.
In general, the life cycle of a strand of hair lasts for several years — it grows from a hair follicle for two years to six years before entering a resting phase and then falling out. Once it falls out, a new hair begins growing in its place.
In male pattern baldness, the growing phase, known as anagen phase, is shortened. The resting period, known as the telogen phase, can increase. The hair that does manage to grow remains shorter and thinner than before. Eventually, the hair doesn’t even grow enough to break the surface of the scalp, in what’s known as hair follicle miniaturization.
Androgenetic alopecia can happen in men and women. It is most common in caucasian men, and may develop at an earlier age in white men or men of Mongolian descent. Black, Asian and Native American men generally have less extensive hair loss and typically begin losing their hair later in life.
Also, men who come from families with baldness are more likely to lose their hair. Heredity could account for as much as 80 percent of the predisposition to hair loss, according to researchers.
Perhaps one of the greatest effects of losing your hair is the psychological impact. In fact, that may be why you’re searching online for information about aging hairlines. Losing your hair can significantly impact your self image.
These mental effects are sometimes trivialized by people not suffering from hair loss. For them, it’s “not a big deal.” But you know differently. Balding men, in our society, may not be seen as being as attractive or youthful as those with full heads of hair.
Depression and anxiety can go hand-in-hand with alopecia, as the condition causes you to not only confront how you interpret your own attractiveness, but how you feel about getting old. This is particularly true for men who experience hair loss at a younger age or those who believe their hair loss is going to continue getting worse.
Many men come to terms with their hair loss and elect to allow their hairline to mature gracefully.
Others? Eh, not so much — and that’s perfectly normal, too.
If you’re in the latter camp and not okay with continuing this hair loss journey, there are a few potential solutions available.
Aside from wigs and hats (both completely viable and pain-free), there are medical and surgical options.
Two medications in particular are FDA-approved in the United States and considered gold standards in treating hair loss. Over-the-counter minoxidil is a topical solution designed to slow hair loss and even trigger new hair growth.
Finasteride is an oral medication designed to bind to the enzyme type II 5 alpha reductase and block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).In this way, it may encourage new hair growth.
Less common and typically seen as more extreme are surgical options to counteract alopecia. Hair transplants, for example, involve transplanting donor “plugs” of hair from elsewhere on the scalp to the balding areas.
Aside from true medical and surgical options, the internet will have you believe there are herbs and salves and snake oil solutions that can undo what the hands of time are doing to your hairline. In most cases, in this regard, the internet is full of it. Talking with a medical professional about hair loss solutions is the quickest way to cut through the noise and slow or reverse your hair loss.
Fellas, the gentlest way for us to put this is: we get older, our bodies change and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
It happens to some of us before others, but make no mistake — there’s a more-than-good chance that, over time, you will notice your hairline changing.
Luckily, if that’s not something you’re okay with, or something you’re presently noticing and not okay with just yet, there are plenty of options for you to consider. Non-invasive methods include everything from exploring new haircuts and wigs. to looking at over-the-counter or prescription remedies like minoxidil or finasteride.
There are also research-backed surgical procedures that, while pricey, can be effective.
Either way, your best bet is to contact your healthcare provider and tell them you’re worried about your hairline. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
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