Normally a receding hairline is the result of androgenic alopecia. Commonly called male pattern baldness, androgenic alopecia is a disorder that affects more than 50% of men over age fifty.
It gets the name male pattern baldness due to the typical pattern that it follows where the temples and crown gradually recede until the hair no longer grows. It is a slow, grueling process that can take many years and unless you are one of the few who isn’t bothered by hair loss, it can leave many men self-conscious and emotionally drained. It affects the way you look, feel, and has been shown to lead to many psychological problems.
But, just because your hairline is receding doesn’t mean that you have to give up and eventually go bald. There are treatment options for men that have been proven effective at slowing down, and in some cases stopping a receding hairline.
This article will explore exactly what causes a receding hairline as well as the number one treatment that you should be using to stop it. If you are a man looking to take action against your hair loss but don’t exactly know where to start, then this article is for you.
What causes a receding hairline?
In order to treat a receding hairline you need to know how hair loss occurs in the first place.
Everyone’s body, man or woman, naturally produces testosterone. For men, testosterone is a very important sex hormone that has many functions throughout the body, including development throughout puberty. Unfortunately it also causes hair loss, but not directly.
It is a byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is primarily responsible for hair loss.
Testosterone is converted into DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). It is only after 5-AR catalyzes the reactions that form DHT that the hair loss begins. Once DHT is flowing through the bloodstream it is then able to link to special receptors that are attached to your hair follicles. If DHT attaches, the process of miniaturization begins.
Miniaturization is essentially the slow, drawn-out death of your hair follicles.
The way it works is by altering your hairs growth cycle. The growth cycle consists of three phases: anagen (growth), telogen (resting), and catagen (transition). The anagen phase lasts anywhere from 3-5 years and is when your hair is constantly growing. But, once DHT has bound to your hair follicles that time frame begins to shorten.
When your hair is undergoing miniaturization, every time your hair completes a cycle the next one will be shorter. This means that each recurring cycle your hair will not grow as long or thick as the previous cycle. Eventually the cycle is so short that he hair hardly grows at all. This is what causes thinning and eventually complete baldness.
In summary: testosterone is converted into DHT by 5-alpha reductase, DHT causes miniaturization, and miniaturization causes balding.
So, how do you stop a receding hairline?
Although there are a lot of treatments that work in different ways, the most effective way to stop a receding hairline is to use a treatment that stops DHT from causing miniaturization.
There are several options that work to block DHT, though currently the only FDA approved treatment for DHT suppression is called finasteride.
Finasteride is classified as a 5-AR inhibitor. As the name suggests, it actively inhibits the 5-AR enzyme. It is effective because without 5-AR, testosterone is unable to convert into DHT, meaning that hair will not be miniaturized. Though it is not 100% effective, but no treatment is. Finasteride has consistently been shown to block around 70% of DHT conversions.
If you are not keen on finasteride there are other options for blocking DHT. Here is an article I wrote that explore 6 natural alternatives to finasteride.
Another option for DHT inhibition is called dutasteride. Unfortunately, it is not FDA approved for hair loss treatment yet, meaning it may be harder to get a prescription for, but it is very effective.
Dutasteride works similarly to finasteride by blocking 5-AR, except for one key difference. There are actually two kinds of 5-AR appropriately named “type 1” and “type 2.” Finasteride only blocks type 2 while dutasteride blocks both types. This makes dutasteride very effective, so much so that it has been shown in studies to block 90% or more DHT!
No matter which treatment you choose to use the most important thing is that you are blocking DHT. This is where so many men take the wrong approach with hair loss treatments. Often, you will see men only using treatments like minoxidil which, while it’s effective, does not block DHT and is specifically targeted towards regrowth. Wihtout blocking DHT any hair loss treatment you use is basically rendered useless.
If you are completely lost on what treatments you should be using, I have put together a simple three step action plan to get you started (link here).
Hair loss is primarily caused by DHT, which is why the primary hair loss treatment you should be using is one that blocks DHT. By inhibiting DHT you can slow down, and potentially stop hair loss from worsening. From there you can add treatments to your regimen that target regrowth.
It is very unfortunate that so many people are misinformed about the best practices for overcoming hair loss. Hopefully his article gives you a better understanding of what you need to do and will put you ahead of the curve.