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Receding hairlines: The ultimate guide for treatment and reversal

To break down the barriers around the extremely common receding hairline, we've put together this handy guide.

Written by
Alexandra McCarthy
Medically reviewed by
Dr Vincent Mok
Last updated
May 15, 2024
min read
Receding hairlines: The ultimate guide for treatment and reversal
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Ah, hair loss. It's one of those topics that can often feel awkward and difficult to talk about with your friends, let alone a doctor. And it's understandable why, given how vulnerable it can make you feel to see your hair thinning.

In many cases, hair loss not only affects how you look but can also mess with your confidence and self-esteem.

For a lot of men, hair loss starts with a receding hairline. In fact, some of the most prominent men in the world spanning film, music and royalty have experience with receding hairlines, including Jude Law, Sting and Prince William.

To break down the barriers around the extremely common receding hairline, we've put together this handy guide. Here, you'll find everything you need to know about thinning hair and male pattern hair loss, as well as guidance on how to treat hair loss and promote hair growth.

And best of all, we also have the answers on how you can start treating and even reversing hair loss today. Let's dive in.

What is a receding hairline?

Let's begin with a fact about hair loss. Did you know that it's common for adults to lose 50-100 hairs per day? In fact, this is considered normal as new growth occurs pretty quickly.

This process can change as you get older, or when your genetics come into play, which is why you might start to notice a change in your hairline as you reach adulthood, as the hair is no longer replenishing itself the way it once did.

This progressive loss is known as androgenetic alopecia or male pattern hair loss, and it can begin any time after puberty [1].

While it's not abnormal to experience this in your teens and 20s, it's common to notice it more as you age thanks to the production of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is derived from testosterone and is often responsible for causing hair follicles to shrink [2]. It can also shorten the hair growth cycle.

A certain amount of hair shedding is considered normal.

The shrinking of the follicles can affect the quality of hair being produced, often making it far thinner, which also increases the risk of hair loss. This process can prompt hair loss to occur in specific parts of the scalp and leads to what is referred to as a receding hairline.

This involves hair loss from around your temples while the middle of the hairline stays put, causing an 'M' shape to appear. A receding hairline tends to expose more of your forehead as time goes by.

While a changing hairline can affect your self-confidence, rest assured that there are ways to treat the hair loss, encourage new hair growth and in time, restore your self-image.

Pilot's personalised hair loss treatment is designed by leading Australian hair loss expert, Dr Russell Knudsen, who has 35 years of experience treating male pattern baldness.

With this class of treatment, a whopping 80% of men on the program keep their hair. Now that is worth the hype!

How can you tell if your hairline is receding?

There are a number of ways to tell if you've got a thinning hairline or are experiencing a loss of hair. Here are some of the most common telltale signs.

There is a noticeable difference in old photos

Have you looked at any old photos recently and noticed a difference in your hair? When the loss happens gradually, it can be hard to track the difference, so looking at photos taken months or years ago can help confirm that you are experiencing hair loss.

You are seeing more hair shedding

It's completely normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day but if you're noticing hair left on your pillow in the morning or more hair in your hairbrush or in the shower drain, this is a good indicator that you might be dealing with more than just the expected daily hair loss.

You have less hair on your temples

It's common to lose the hair on your temples quicker than the hair in the centre of your forehead, which is why people with receding hairlines tend to have the 'M' shape.

You might also notice that the hair remaining on your temples is thinner and finer, which is also an indicator of a receding hairline.

You're having more bad hair days

When you've styled your hair the same way for years, it can be a sign that things aren't right if you're having trouble achieving your signature look. This could signal a change in your hairline or that you're experiencing hair thinning.

If you're not exactly sure, you might consider talking about this with your barber to see if they have noticed anything different with your hair thickness and scalp coverage.

It can feel offputting having these discussions but try to keep in mind that you're talking to a professional who has experience with your hair. And, it's a part of their job to help make you feel good, so they will do everything in their power to do so.

hair growth phases

What causes a receding hairline?

Losing your hair can be a stressful experience but it's one that many people go through.

In fact, as many as 85% of men will experience some form of hair loss in their life [3]. And, while it can occur for a number of reasons, these are some of the most common causes.


There are a few factors that play a role in hair loss and the most common is genetics. Hair loss is often a hereditary trait and if you have people in your family who have been touched by male pattern baldness, there's a chance that you might have the same experience.

It's hard to deny family history when it comes to hair loss but it doesn't mean you can't treat it.


Age is also a common factor, with male pattern baldness more prevalent as men get older. In fact, roughly half of men will experience hair loss by the age of 50 and more than 80% by the age of 70 [4].

As we age, our hair begins to grow slower and the new strands become thinner. A strand of hair often has a life of 2-7 years before it falls out and is replaced with a new strand [5].

In some cases, these strands aren’t replaced, causing the hair to naturally thin all over. If men begin to experience alopecia later in life, the age-related thinning can also make the pattern a little more obvious.

Lifestyle factors

A number of lifestyle factors influence hair loss, including the use of anabolic steroids, which increases the levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your system.

DHT is known to damage and shrink hair follicles, while also causing inflammation in these areas and can eventually lead to hair loss [6]. Those who are predisposed may experience this more rapidly than those who aren’t.

Another habit to watch out for is smoking. Smoking tobacco has been shown to damage hair follicles while increasing your risk of hair loss and accelerating the speed of thinning hair [7].

Your food and diet could also play a part in your hair loss with a poor diet resulting in nutritional deficiencies also affecting your hair. In particular, iron deficiency is a known cause of hair loss.


As mentioned above, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone that can contribute to balding. It’s a byproduct of testosterone and is why it’s commonly believed that balding men have higher levels of testosterone, but this isn’t the case.

While DHT can shrink the hair follicles, it also has the ability to shorten the hair cycle and cause the hair to grow out far thinner than before [1].

This hormone is responsible for increasing the time it takes for your new hair to grow, creating a cycle of hair loss that is excavated in those with preexisting thinning and hair loss issues caused by genetics.

Interestingly, the hair follicles located at the back and side of the head aren’t usually sensitive to the hormone, which is often why it isn’t as common for the hair to fall out in these areas.


Some medications can also be responsible for a lack of hair growth or outright hair loss, including steroids, hormone replacement therapy and thyroid medication.

Those receiving chemotherapy treatment will also commonly experience hair loss, which includes their eyebrows and hair across the body.


Another factor to consider is stress, which can play a huge role in hair loss.

When you experience significant stress, it can force your hair follicles into a resting phase. This type of loss, which is called telogen effluvium, usually starts to become visible a few months after when you begin to lose hair when washing or brushing your hair.

Hair shedding is caused by a number of factors.

How to prevent a receding hairline

While we have the treatment of hair loss down pat at Pilot, there are certain steps you can take to help prevent hair thinning and loss.

Keep in mind that when you begin to experience hair loss, it's best to start treatment as soon as possible in order to achieve the best results. As such, the below lifestyle changes are best made before noticing changes to your hairline.

While your genetics and ageing aren't exactly within your control, taking a holistic approach to preventing hair loss can't hurt — especially when a lot of these steps equate to good health all-round. These include:

  • Ditch smoking for good. There's a strong link between smoking and hair loss, so if you're currently a smoker, you may want to think about quitting. There are many ways smoking impacts hair, including damage to the DNA of the hair follicle [8].
  • Manage your stress levels. Stress can be pretty damaging to both the body and mind, so it makes sense that it could also play a role in hair loss [9]. While stress isn't always avoidable in life, there are ways to manage how it affects you through practices like exercise, meditation and mindfulness.
  • Eat a wide variety of foods. Nutritional deficiency can impact both hair structure and hair growth, so ditch fad or restrictive diets in favour of balanced food choices that include lots of colourful fruits and vegetables as well as protein and grains [10]. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and is commonly known to contribute to hair loss, so keep this in mind when it comes to your food choices.
  • Go easy on your hair. Tying your hair into tight ponytails or braids can do damage to the follicles. The same goes for hair dyes, which can contribute to hair loss. Where possible, show your hair love with high-quality products and avoid bleaching the life out of it.

How to stop a receding hairline

While taking steps to prevent a receding hairline is great, there are also things you can do to treat a hairline that has already started to recede.

There is hope! In fact, there are quite a few ways you can tackle thinning hair and help stimulate hair growth. Here are some of the most common ways to treat hair loss.

Personalised medical treatments

At Pilot, we believe in treating each person with an individualised approach to their hair loss. When it comes to hair loss, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. You need the right treatments, in the right dosages, tailored just for you.

Our hair treatment plans have been developed by Dr. Russell Knudsen, a hair loss expert with over 35 years of experience. When using a combination of lifestyle changes and clinical-strength ingredients, 90% of men will keep their hair.

When it comes to hair loss, though, time is of the essence.

Healthy habits

As we mentioned earlier, there are a bunch of lifestyle changes you can implement that will have a direct impact on your hair situation. While all of these measures help to prevent the development of a receding hairline, they can also assist in slowing down hair loss as well.

Taking a holistic approach can help to stop further hair loss, so this means making a concerted effort to manage the role of stress in your life, while also incorporating exercise to encourage blood flow and eating foods rich in important vitamins and minerals.

Iron, zinc, fatty acids, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin A and biotin are all hair-loving nutrients that can be found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and avocados.

Scalp stimulation

Is there truly anything better than a scalp massage? Not really. And the good thing is that massaging the scalp can help stimulate hair growth and make hair thicker [11][12].

The humble scalp massage stimulates blood vessels, which in turn, encourages blood flow and helps deliver oxygen and nutrients where it's needed most. It also stretches the hair follicles, which helps to promote thicker hair growth.

You can perform the massage with your hands or you might want to opt for a derma roller and practice microneedling on your scalp at home. The derma roller contains hundreds of teeny, tiny needles that, when rolled across your head, rupture the outer layer of the dermis and encourage blood flow to the area.

This triggers a healing response in the scalp and has hair growth-promoting effects. It might sound a little intimidating to roll 1mm needles across your scalp but we promise it doesn't hurt!

Hair growth shampoo and conditioner

When treating something like thinning hair, you want to use top-quality products that are actively helping, not hindering, the process. Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo & Conditioner are specifically formulated by our experts to give your hair follicles a helping hand.

The Hair Growth Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner contain ingredients like niacinamide, caffeine, zinc and amino acids to help make your follicles thicker, healthier and happier.

These products are super gentle on the scalp and are often recommended to be used in tandem with medical treatments to reduce male pattern hair loss.

Hair transplant surgery

One of the more drastic (and costly) ways of treating a receding hairline is through hair transplant surgery. While this approach is far more invasive than oral or topical treatments, it does tend to be pretty effective at encouraging hair growth, especially for people in the later stages of hair loss.

The most common transplant procedure involves taking healthy hair follicles from the back and sides of the head and transplanting them into areas of the scalp where you no longer have hair or where the hair is thinning.

For those with a receding hairline, these follicles would be transplanted around the crown of the head to fill in the hairline.

To see the full effects of a transplant usually takes up to 12 months but many men do tend to experience thicker hair as a result.

The cost involved with hair transplants can't be ignored, with the surgery often costing between AU$11,000 to AU$18,000. In many cases, the procedure can cost up to AU$30,000. And, given this is surgery, it comes with its own set of risks.

Low-level light therapy

Another option is low-level light therapy, also referred to as laser therapy, which stimulates cellular activity to encourage hair growth in the hair follicle.

This treatment is considered to be far less invasive than hair transplant surgery but there is some discourse surrounding the effectiveness with studies on the treatment concluding that more research is needed in this area [13].

It seems to work for some people but not for others so this is something to consider.

Low-level light therapy can also be expensive, especially when you take into account that multiple sessions are needed over a long-term period.

Proceed with caution with unverified treatment options

While we love taking a holistic approach to treating hair loss, which includes lifestyle factors and over-the-counter treatments used in conjunction with personalised medical treatments, there are many alternative options floating around on the internet that aren't medically reviewed.

In your search for treatment options, you may have stumbled upon recommendations for essential oils like peppermint oil, lavender oil and rosemary oil as well as a few others.

While trying alternative approaches at the first sign of hair loss is understandable, we recommend exploring the medical route, which is tried, tested and effective so you can give your hair the best opportunity for further growth and to prevent any further loss.

Hair loss is an incredibly common experience for men.

The best hairstyles for a receding hairline

Intervening early in the development of a receding hairline helps to give you the best shot of growing the hair back or keeping what you have left. While you're in the process of treating the issue, you might want to consider rocking a new hairdo.

A simple hair change can go a long way to hide or work with (rather than against) your changing hairline. Here are some of the best hairstyles for the job.


The buzzcut allows you to conceal your hairline. How? Well, having your hair cut super close to the head often makes your hairline look less pronounced.

This style also gives you the option to experiment with fades and lengths. Celebs like Frank Ocean and Euphoria actor Angus Cloud are fans of this style and you can't deny that they look cool.

Long top, short sides

You might want to consider cutting the sides of your hair quite short while allowing the top to grow. Then you can brush up the longer hair on top or tousle it in order to disguise the hairline a little.

This style is great for those who have a widow's peak hairline, which means your hairline starts at a 'V' shape and recedes back.

Clean shave

The clean shave requires a little more commitment so it's understandable if you're apprehensive about this style. The beauty of the clean shave is that it allows you to embrace the loss of hair and effectively hides any worries you may have about your receding hairline.

Terry Crews, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Bruce Willis and Jason Statham are just a few of the famous faces who rock a clean-shaven head and do it with style.

Crew cut

At this point, you're probably sensing a theme that short hair often works best for a receding hairline. This cut keeps the hair on the top of your head short and the back and sides even shorter.

Not only is the crew cut super low maintenance but it also takes the focus off of your hairline, reducing the visual difference between your temples and the side of your hair.

Slick back

While a slicked-back hairstyle doesn't really conceal a receding hairline, it does help hide any thinning patches you might be dealing with across your crown.

If you keep your hair short and slick it back, you avoid pulling focus to the top of your hair and in turn, will take the focus away from the hairline.

pilot result statistic infographic

Can a receding hairline grow back?

In case you're still wondering if it's possible for a receding hairline to grow back, the answer is yes! While the causes of each person's hair loss are different, there are treatment options that tackle this loss.

By taking a multipronged approach to your hair loss, which includes changing lifestyle-related behaviours and using products like growth shampoo alongside the use of the personalised treatment from Pilot, you're setting yourself up for success.

Can a receding hairline stop?

A receding hairline won't really stop moving back further unless you intervene and the earlier you do so, the better chance you have at stopping further loss and encouraging new growth.

Androgenetic alopecia is extremely common and most men will be affected at some point in their lives. While the causes can vary, the outcome can prompt a similar response of embarrassment or shame over the hair loss.

There is no shame in seeking help for hair loss, especially considering how treatable this condition is. The earlier you ask for assistance, the better chance you have of keeping your hair.

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