As men age the unfortunate reality is that many of them start to lose their hair, in fact most do, but not all hair loss should be treated equal.
Sometimes it can be hard to make a distinction between androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) and other types of hair loss. Specifically, many men develop what is called a “mature hairline.” Knowing the difference between a mature hairline and AGA is very important because if you mistake one with the other you may end up either spending money on treatments that you do not need, or vice versa, decide against using treatments that may help you keep your hair.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the key differences between a mature versus receding hairline to help you determine what your own hair situation is and what the best approach moving forward should be for you.
A receding hairline is typically caused by androgenic alopecia.
AGA is a condition in which your hair follicles are genetically predisposed to being sensitive to the androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Everyone’s hair follicles have androgen receptors in them, but for those who experience AGA, once DHT binds to the androgen receptors the process of miniaturization begins.
Miniaturization is the process by which the growth phase (anagen) of the hair cycle begins to shorten while at the same time the resting phase (telogen) lengthens. Eventually, after several cycles (granted no preventative treatments are being used), the anagen phase gets so short that the hair can no longer grow, hence balding.
But there are some key differences to look out for to ensure that you have AGA as opposed to a mature hairline.
First, when suffering from AGA there are certain areas that typically have higher sensitivity to DHT, meaning that hair loss will occur much quicker in these areas. For men, the typical horseshoe pattern is associated with pattern hair loss because the hair in the temples and the crown tend to be the first affected by miniaturization. For women it usually occurs I the part line. If you notice hair loss in these areas, without noticeable changes in the midsection of your hairline, it is a strong indication that your hair could be suffering from AGA.
Second, if you begin to notice increased hair shedding in the shower, on your pillow, or just in general, it is likely because AGA causes hair to fall out at a much quicker rate than a maturing hairline does (although telogen effluvium (stress-induced hair loss) can cause rapid shedding as well.
The last major indication of pattern hair loss is the (seemingly) sudden appearance of vellus hair on your hairline. Vellus hairs are thing, whispy, colorless hairs also referred to as baby hair. They are the result of miniaturization and will typically replace your healthy terminal hair on your temples as pattern hair loss progresses. So, if you begin to notice vellus hair on your hairline this is also a good indication that pattern hair loss may be occurring.
With age, many men will develop a mature hairline.
The term “mature hairline” can cause alarm in some people, but it is not AGA. Having a mature hairline essentially just means that you still have a rounded hairline that has risen slightly on your forehead.
Mature hairlines are inherently part of the male ageing process, but as to exactly why they occur scientists have yet to conclude. Many think that, just like AGA, is has to do with changing androgens in the body, possibly even DHT.
In men that have a mature hairline the hair tends to recede evenly. This is likely because the hair on the temples and crown to not have heightened sensitivity to DHT like they do in people with AGA. When a hairline is maturing the “rounded” shape of the juvenile hairline will remain intact for the most part.
There are a few ways to distinguish a mature hairline from a receding hairline.
First, again the juvenile hairline will stay intact (i.e. little to no rescession on the temples and no hair loss in the crown).
Second, a mature hairline is something that generally develops over a long time compared to AGA, which means that there will usually not be any visible increase in shedding.
Lastly, there should be little to no vellus hair that replaces your otherwise healthy hair.
Make sure you respond appropriately to your hair loss
The way in which, and how quickly, you respond to your hair loss is very important.
As soon as you notice some of the typical signs that we talked about that are associated with pattern hair loss you are going to want to begin using treatments.
First and foremost you need to block DHT in order to stop hair loss from progressing. Treatments like finasteride or natural alternatives are going to be your most effective options. You also need to use a treatment like minoxidil or rosemary oil that promote blood flow to help regrow your lost hair.
The most important thing when dealing with pattern hair loss is to act quickly. The longer you wait the harder it is going to be to get your hair back.
Alternatively, if you have determined that you instead have a maturing hairline, you are not going to want to use treatments. Hair loss treatments like the ones mentioned above are going to be good at protecting hairs that have increased sensitivity to DHT and preventing miniaturization, but they will likely not be effective at protecting your hairline from maturing because it is a natural process that is not associated with miniaturization.
Albeit, even though treatments are not going to prevent a maturing hairline, sometimes a mature hairline can be the predecessor to pattern hair loss so you are going to want to pay close attention to your hair and keep on the lookout for signs of pattern hair loss.
Knowing the difference, and what to look for, between a mature versus receding hairline is important.
A mature hairline is a process inherently associated with male development and hair loss treatments will likely not help. But, if you notice pattern hair loss developing you are going to want to start using treatments as soon as possible to protect and save your hair.