The Mature Hairline Explained - Are You Balding or Maturing? (2023)

Don’t panic. Your hairline is moving up. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll look like Prince William anytime soon. You could just be developing your mature hairline.

That said, about 25% of men start balding before they turn 21, according to the American Hair Loss Association.

And most severe cases of hair loss begin when men are in their teens or early 20s. So it’s possible you are starting to lose your hair. Keep reading. I’m going to provide you with all the information you need to know about the mature hairline, so you can assess whether or not you’re going bald or simply maturing.

In this detailed but reader-friendly post, I will:

  • Cover all the basics about the mature hairline — the cause, technical parameters, typical shape of the hairline, how long the process takes, and more.
  • Explain the difference between a receding hairline and a maturing hairline.
  • Discuss the five most common receding hairline variations, using real-world examples for reference.
  • Review four common signs of hair loss to help you determine if there’s a problem.
  • Briefly examinethe “controversy” surrounding this concept and the reason why some “experts” believe there is no such thing as a mature hairline.
  • Help you decide whether you should get a proper diagnosis or just let the process play out naturally.
  • Talk about a few of the best treatment options in 2021 and beyond, assuming you determine that your hairline has progressed past the proverbial mature point.
  • And much more.

Now, this is embarrassing: I’ve likely spent hundreds of hours researching the hairline maturation process. As I document in the about section of this website, it was the subject that led me down the hair loss rabbit hole in the first place. My goal with this post is simple: to keep you from entering that particular rabbit hole, dungeon, matrix, or whatever you want to call it.

You’re in a safe space. This article contains no gimmicks or medical jargon or links to schedule a free hair transplant consultation.

Starting with the basics, here’s everything you need to know about mature hairlines.

First, What is a Mature Hairline?

Between the ages of 17 and 29, most men lose their child or juvenile hairline, distinguished by its relatively low, straight-across appearance and rounded corners, and their hairlines undergo a maturation phase. Only a small percentage of Caucasian men (around 5%) retain their juvenile hairlines for life. Simply, as the hairlinematures, it moves back a little bit.

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Former President Clinton still has a juvenile hairline, as do celebrities like Simon Cowell and Rob Lowe. Ronald Reagan also had a juvenile hairline for his entire life.

As I state in my post entitled Seven Surprising facts about the mature hairline, the hairline maturation process is not considered a form of male pattern baldness by the overwhelming majority of hair loss organizations, surgeons, and specialists.

17-25 is the most likely time frame for this evolution to occur, and the new hairline can take up to a decade to fully lock into place. The process may occur in an awkward or asymmetrical manner for some men, but usually, the transformation is fairly subtle; many don’t even notice the process in real time!

The Cause

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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has a mature hairline. Photo by Siebbi. Wikipedia Commons. If you’re looking for real-world examples, check out my post entitled 10 Celebrities with Mature Hairlines – An Educational Slideshow.

DHT is the primary, perhaps exclusive reason that most of us men lose our juvenile hairlines. A sex steroid and androgen hormone, DHT is considerably more potent than its more famous cousin, testosterone.

DHT also causes male pattern hair loss in men who are genetically susceptible to it. Other factors may also play a role in the development of the mature hairline, but those factors are not well understood at this time.

Measuring the Mature Hairline

This section is for those of you who are very detail-oriented. Skip it otherwise!

Now, your juvenile hairline was once located at the highest wrinkle on your forehead. If you’re not balding, your mature hairline should sit about one finger width above your highest forehead wrinkle. That’s approximately ½ to ⅔ of an inch, or1-1.7 cm. Yourhairline corners will also recede as your hairline matures, rising about 1 to 1.5 inches above your highest forehead wrinkle.

A Distinct, V-Shape

Mature, or Type II hairlines typically have a V-shape—but not all V’s are created equal!

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Anderson Cooper of CNN. He has a classic “widow’s peak” and his frontal hairline starts at the same place it did when he was a young child. However, his corners receded to a mature position, making that recession more pronounced.

CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, pictured above, is an example of someone who I’d classify as having a Norwood Class 2 pattern (AKA a mature hairline). Many would disagree and call it a receding hairline. It’s debatable.

Norwood 2 is something of a gray area; some experts consider it a form of pattern hair loss, others don’t.

(Video) Mature Hairline vs Receding Hairline: How is it Distinguished?

Johnny Depp is another person I’d consider a Norwood 2, with a high v-shaped hairline. But again, many would disagree and say he’s losing it slowly.

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Robert Downey Jr. He also appears to have a Norwood two hairline, but with markedly less recession than either Depp or Cooper.

The Norwood Scale (With Celebrity Examples)

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The picture above depicts the seven classes of the Norwood scale, which measures baldness. I used celebrity examples, obviously. Interestingly, Justin Bieber is no longer a prototypical Norwood one since my original post, as I note in my article that covers eight “out and proud” celebrity finasteride users.

Type one is a juvenile hairline, and that’s nothing to worry about. Type two is usually regarded as a mature hairline. Type Two A is generally considered the first official stage of balding.

The Norwood Scale is useful, but it omits many common variations of hair loss. I’ll explain those omissions momentarily.

Mature Hairline vs. a Receding Hairline

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Former US President and war hero George H.W.

President Bush had a fairly mild M or wavy-V shaped type three balding pattern for most of his life. His mature hairline was V-shaped, ending at his natural part line. I discuss the Bush presidencies (and mostly their hairlines) in this post: The Bush Family and Balding Genetics – A Case Study.”

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Thinning is often one key difference between a receding hairline and a mature hairline. Granted, a person will experience some mild thinning as their hairline matures. But once your hairline has matured, you shouldn’t notice any thinning, unless of course you are balding.

Additionally, the shape of a balding hairline contrasts that of the mature hairline. Remember, the mature hairline is typically V-shaped. Comparatively, type three hairlines will show some erosion at the corners.

Five Receding Hairline Shapes

There are five common variations of the receding, type three (or advanced type two) hairline that I have observed, including:

1. The M-Shaped Type Three Hairline – You may have observed celebrities like Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, and Jimmy Fallon with this hairline. It can also look like a wavy V.

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Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, sporting his signature crew cut with his M-shaped “Mickey Mouse” or “McDonald’s M” hairline.

2. The U-Shaped Type Three Hairline– This one can be harder to spot and even undetectable at times.

Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame has sort of a U-shaped hairline, and his hair loss isn’t really even noticeable when he grows his hair out. Taylor Swift’s latest, greatest ex Tom Hiddleston also has something of a U-shaped hairline.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney currently shows this pattern as well, after having a mature hairline for most of his adult life. You could call this a late/advanced Norwood two pattern, if you prefer.

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(Video) Mature Hairline Versus Receding Hairline - How To Tell The Difference

Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston’s co-star on Breaking Bad, also appears to have a u-shaped hairline of sorts (his minimal recession became a bit more pronounced in the show’s later seasons).

3. The “Island” Type III – This is the classic and most noticeable Norwood type three variation—an island of hair, surrounded by a bald ocean. Former US Presidents Nixon and Johnson, actor Peter Sarsgaard, singer Sting, Jackass Johnny Knoxville, and many others have or have had this hairline in the real world.

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Sting has rocked his receding hairline with style and confidence since the 80s. He was a handsome devil then and he still is today, even though he’s in his 70s!

4. The Extra-Large V Shape – You don’t see this one as frequently. But some men retain their V-shaped hairline, even as they continue to recede at the corners and/or at the front of their hairline. Conan O’Brien perhaps has this pattern.

5. And the Vertex Type III – Any class three variation with a bald or thinning spot on the crown is regarded as a Norwood type three “V” pattern.

Good News!

Mild cases of type three balding are often undetectable to the general public, and can remain that way for years, even decades—so if your hairline corners are starting to detach from your V-shaped mature hairline, don’t panic! You have time, and at least seven effective hair loss treatment options.

Acceptance is a viable course as well. Undoubtedly, many men look good bald.

It should be noted thathair loss doesn’t necessarily occur in a linear, step-by-step fashion.Some men recede to a type three Norwood pattern and stay that way for the rest of their lives. Some continue to lose hair.

You could skip all the other Norwood classes and thin diffusely throughout your scalp, until you eventually show a type six or seven balding pattern. Where your hair loss stops and how fast it goes is still a mystery—a mystery that’s already been determined by your genetics.The Mature Hairline Explained - Are You Balding or Maturing? (11)

4 Signs of Hair Loss

The mature hairline can be a difficult concept for many people to grasp. So I figure it may be helpful to review some of the most common signs of hair loss, including:

1. Excessive Hair Shedding– Seeing a couple hairs on your pillow in the morning is no big deal. Neither is shedding some hairs in the shower.

Even non-balding men lose around 100 hairs per day. No problem. But if you’re noticing a major increase in shedding, then you may be in the early stages of male pattern baldness. Men with aggressive hair loss often report hair coming out in clumps when they shower or style their hair.

2. Smaller, Shorter, Lighter Hairs – As men go bald, their hairs miniaturize and eventually fall out. The process is very gradual.

But if you’re noticing smaller, lighter hairs beyond the front edge of your hairline, it’s possible you’re balding. Nearly everyone has small “baby” or vellus hairs at the front part of their hairline. But if you have thinning that goes past the leading edge of your hairline, that’s a sign that you could be losing your hair.

3. Difficulty Styling Your Hair – You may find you can’t achieve your desired hairstyle anymore. This can occur in men with maturing hairlines as well, to be fair.

4. A “Chewed Out” Look – Your hair may start to look ragged or “chewed out” in the areas where you’re thinning. This can be an early sign of severe hair loss.

An Infographic (Feel Free to Share with Your Friends)

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Myth or Fact?

There are many ardent mature hairline deniers on the internet, including doctors and other so-called experts. They assert that a mature or maturing hairline is, in reality, the first phase of male pattern baldness, as hair loss has technically occurred.

And to be fair, they have a legitimate point: that if your hairline has matured, you have indeed lost some hair, and you’re probably not immune to the balding gene altogether.

That said, for all practical purposes, the mature hairline is not a form of balding. Most men retain their mature hairlines for at least a decade, well into their 30s and frequently into their 40s and 50s as well, according to a number of hair loss organizations.

The ISHRS, or International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons, states that as a general rule, men have a 20% chance of experiencing pattern hair loss in their twenties, 30% chance in their 30s, and so on, all the way up to a 90% chance in their 90s.

My father kept his mature hairline until he was almost 60. Some men keep it for life, too—up to 20% or so, from what I’ve gathered. Both my great-great and great-great-great grandfathers enjoyed thick, lush, type two hairlines throughout the duration of their lifetimes, which I found out recently while taking a free trial.

Propecia as a Preventative Measure?

The mature hairline deniers often advocate that men begin a preventative hair loss treatment regimen as soon they see signs of maturation. Doing this may or may not halt the maturation process, but it’s an absurd idea in my view—and nearly all experts agree with me!

(Video) How is a receding hairline different than a maturing hairline?

If you want to proactively manage your hair to ensure fullness, that’s fine. You can have your hair examined annually for miniaturization and other signs of hair loss by a professional, or simply take photos of your hairline on a yearly basis.

But there’s no reason to use Propecia, or minoxidil, or to start any kind of treatment regimen unless you’re actually going bald. Saying all this may cost me some readers and money, but I don’t care, as I’m attempting to keep your interests and well-being in mind.

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Should You Get a Proper Diagnosis?

If you’re still uncertain whether or not you’re balding, you may want to have your hair evaluated for signs of miniaturization. Using a microscope and/or a hair bulk measuring device, a professional should be able to tell you if you’re losing your hair, even if your loss isn’t yet visible to the naked eye. Taking this extra precaution may be wise if:

  • You have a close relative or relatives who experienced early-onset hair loss.
  • You’re obsessing and worrying constantly about your hair loss.
  • Or if you’re noticing any major hair loss signs.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a fast, cheap, and crude way to determine if you’re balding, you could simply ask an experienced barber. Yes, a barber, ideally, not a hair stylist.

Most seasoned barbers have seen every variety of male hair loss hundreds or even thousands of times. They can’t evaluate your hair microscopically, and seeing a hair loss professional will yield much more accurate results, but a decent barber should be able to give you a rough diagnosis.

Best Hair Loss Treatments of 2023

Whether you have a receding or maturing hairline, learning a little bit about the treatment options may be beneficial to you— for now or for future reference. It’s almost 2023, and baldness is effectively optional! Here is a very brief overview of the top treatment options available today:

1. Finasteride/Propecia

Finasteride works astonishingly well for about 90% of guys and can often stop hair loss dead in its tracks. It can promote some regrowth, too.

Even though the drug has been prescribed for hair loss for nearly 25 years and has an excellent safety profile overall, it’s become somewhat controversial in recent years because of its side effects.

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One man’s transformation on finasteride. Photo taken from the original FDA trials. Notice that much of the hair in the thinning areas regrew or thickened, but his “bald” areas remained.

A small percentage of finasteride users have reported libido disturbances and a variety of other sexual problems. These users are often quite vocal with their critiques of the drug, which is understandable! But the vast majority of men take finasteride without any major issues or side effects. If you’re interested, you can read more about finasteride, AKA Propecia, in the post below.

For an in-depth look at whether or not finasteride is worth the risk, see my finasteride review.

2. Minoxidil

I often refer to minoxidil as facetiously as “your grandpa’s hair loss remedy.” Since the late 80s, it’s been helping users avoid premature baldness. It’s not as effective as finasteride, but it does help slow down the balding process in roughly 80% of cases.

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Results not typical! This man made some remarkable gains during a small, 8-week minoxidil study.

Unlike finasteride, minoxidil is very unlikely to stop hair loss entirely and most users reach a “plateau” with the treatment, where they start to slowly lose ground, so to speak. Many guys wage valiant, long-term battles with male pattern baldness using minoxidil as their sole weapon, but these men tend to have milder cases of the condition.

It’s a proven treatment that definitely works to some extent for most people, but it’s definitely not a miracle solution that is effective for everyone.

3. Laser Therapy

This is a treatment to consider if you’re looking to throw the proverbial “kitchen sink” at your hair loss. I generally don’t recommend laser therapy as a standalone treatment, but it works differently than minoxidil or finasteride and may help as a preventative treatment, at the very least.

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This woman had fairly impressive results with laser therapy during a 26-week study.

(Video) High Hairlines Explained | You're not going bald... probably

It’s a fairly popular option among women, men with aggressive hair loss who are looking to take a multi-therapy approach to treatment, and among men with milder cases of hair loss. I’d strongly advise against going “all in” on laser therapy, but it’s often beneficial when used as a supplementary therapy in conjunction with a proven treatment, such as minoxidil or finasteride.

The Mature Hairline Explained - Are You Balding or Maturing? (19)

To discover whether or not laser therapy is legit or just another, very expensive “snake oil,” see my in-depth and unbiased laser therapy review.

And More

There are a seemingly endless number of treatments out there, most of which are scams!

To learn more about the treatments that may actually help save your hair, check out the article below.

Click on the image above to learn more about the best hair loss treatments of 2023.

Mature Hairline or Balding – Closing Thoughts

Finally, if you keep your mature hairline into your 30s, you probably will experience a less severe and more treatable form of balding compared to the men who start losing their hair in their teens and early twenties. 96% of Caucasian men develop mature hairlines, according to a variety of studies; the stat is also commonly cited by hair transplant surgeons.

The statistics regarding the mature hairline and other races are not as conclusive, but the phenomenon is observed in men of nearly all races and ethnicities. And once again, it is not considered a form of balding by the vast majority of experts in the hair loss field.

So, is your hairline receding or just maturing? Hopefully you found the answer here! If not, feel free to leave a question below and I’ll see if I can help. And, if this article was helpful to you, consider sharing it with your friends. There’s a good chance their hairlines are moving back as well, and this post may put their minds at ease.

Additional Resources

Regarding the mature hairline, my aim was to make this the most comprehensive article on the subject. You can check out a few related posts I’ve written below:

  • 7 Surprising Facts About the Mature Hairline
  • 10 Celebrities with Mature Hairlines
  • 23-Year-Old Wants to Know If His Hairline is Receding or Maturing
  • Is Norwood 2 Considered Balding? Honestly, It’s a Gray Area
  • 19 Year Old in “Life or Death” Situation – Needs to Know if He’s Going Bald
  • Hairline Corners Receding, Forelock Remains – Is It Male Pattern Baldness?

Here are a few other good posts I’ve referenced for this article:

And finally, you may also like:

  • A Long, Hard and Honest Look at Propecia – Is It Worth the Risk?
  • Norwood 3 Survival Guide – Treatment Options, Style Tips, and More
  • Will You Look Good Bald? Get the Honest, No-BS Answer Here
  • 9 Effective Receding or High Hairline Style Techniques
  • The Norwood Scale – Assess Your Hair Loss, With Photos and Celebrity Examples
  • The Top 7 Hair Loss Treatment Options
  • 14 Questions with Dr. Jeff Donovan – President of the Canadian Hair Loss Association

Robert Price

Robert Price is a writer, consumer advocate, and hair loss nerd with thousands of hours of experience in the field. His goal is to keep you out of the hair loss rabbit hole, underworld, or whatever you want to call it. He founded Hair Loss Daily, the unbiased hair loss blog, in 2016. You can learn more about Robert in the my story section of this website.

(Video) Is Your Hairline SLOWLY Receding? (Hairline Test) Plus 4 BEST Hairstyles to Hide It!



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