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The common causes of a widow’s peak and how to style it out

Is it a receding hairline or a widow's peak hairline? Here's how to tell.

Written by
Samantha Kukuljan
Medically reviewed by
Dr Matthew Vickers
Last updated
October 16, 2023
min read
The common causes of a widow’s peak and how to style it out
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A widow's peak hairline is one of many gifts doled out in the genetic lottery.

A widow's peak is a common trait among both men and women but often for men, this hairline can easily be confused for the beginnings of a receding hairline and an early sign of hair loss.

But, not all hope is lost as a widow's peak hairline is not always a sign of thinning hair. Some people are simply born with this type of hairline and it doesn't mean you're predetermined to experience hair loss.

The good news is, if you're not so keen on the widow's peak hair, there are plenty of hairstyles that help disguise your hairline.

Or, for those who might be beginning to notice loss around the hairline, there are easy to access and effective treatment options offered by Pilot that target hair growth and prevent further hair loss available to you today.

Let's get into it.

What is a widow's peak hairline?

A widow’s peak is a fancy name for the V-shaped hairline that many people have. People with widow's peaks generally have thicker hair at the front and centre of their forehead, before it tapers out along the temples.

The widow's peak can vary in how prominent it presents. Some people have really visible widow's peak hairlines while others are less noticeable and can only be seen when they slick their hair back.

In some cases, you might not notice the widow's peak until your hairline starts to mature.

By now you're probably thinking, who on Earth came up with the name widow’s peak? It was the English, actually.

Back in the 18th-century, it was an English tradition for female widows to wear black pointed hoods while mourning their husbands' death.

While the black hoods for mourning widows' are long gone, the name to describe the V-shaped hairline is here to stay.

Both men and women can be born with a widow's peak hairline, although it is usually less noticeable in women because they are more likely to style their hair in a way that conceals it.

What causes a widow's peak hairline?

Widow’s peaks are caused by the same things that decide our height, eye colour and all the things that make us, us. Genetics.

A widow’s peak is a morphogenetic trait, which means the presence of having a widow’s peak or a straight hairline is decided by a couple of genes.

Much like how it only takes a couple of genes to decide if you have attached earlobes or whether or not you are able to roll your tongue.

The V-shaped hairline is caused by a dominant gene — just like brown eyes are a dominant eye colour. So, it only takes one copy of the widow’s peak gene to trump the gene that dictates people having a straight hairline.

In fact, you can't have any copies of the widow's peak gene to ensure a straight hairline.

The widow’s peak gene can be inherited from either your mother or father or both. The next time you have a family gathering, have a look at your relatives' hairlines and you might notice a pattern forming. Hello, genetic traits!

Is a widow's peak hairline normal?

If you feel like you are the only person with a widow’s peak, you are definitely not alone.

A study of 1000 university students found approximately 36.8 per cent of students (both male and female) presented with a widow’s peak.

Although, more work needs to be done to determine if the widow’s peak hairline is more common in certain ethnicities and cultures than in others.

There are plenty of Hollywood celebrities born with widow's peaks, including Chris Hemsworth, David Beckham and Leonardo Di Caprio.

It is also common in the athletic world with AFL’s Dustin Martin, NRL’s Tom Trobojevic and former Aussie world number one Lleyton Hewitt all rocking widow’s peaks.

What's the difference between a widow's peak and a receding hairline?

Some people confuse widow’s peaks with receding hairlines and that’s perfectly fair. Men have a much harder time than women distinguishing their widow’s peak from a receding hairline.

This is because a receding hairline is a common sign of hair loss for men but is not usually associated with female hair loss. Here are a couple of ways to tell the two apart.

Where exactly is your hair thinning?

The widow’s peak and receding hairline affect different parts of the hairline.

A widow’s peak manifests as the thickest hair in the centre of your forehead and only thins out on the sides, leaving a V-shaped hairline.

Meanwhile, the receding hairline can affect your whole hairline except the hair below your ear line.

You may also notice your hair thinning behind the start of your receding hairline. In widow’s peak hairlines, your hair does not often thin out past your hairline.

Keep an eye out for hair shedding

While it's common to lose between 50 to 100 hairs per day, if you're noticing substantial hair loss, you might be dealing with a receding hairline rather than a widow's peak.

Monitor your hairbrush, shower drain and pillow for hair and if you notice an increase in the amount of hair, it might be time to seek assistance to pump the breaks on the hair loss.

What’s my age again?

Our hairlines change as we transition from children to fully-grown adults. In most men, their mature hairline usually develops between 17 and 30 years of age.

As we get older, we are more prone to hair loss, so remember to factor your age into your assessment.

If you have always had a widow’s peak, it might not be a sign of balding but as men age, it is pretty common for their widow’s peak to become more prominent.

How to style your widow's peak

If your widow’s peak bothers you a little but not enough to take drastic action, there are some easy ways to style your hair to make your widow's peak less noticeable.

Next time you visit the barber or find yourself heading out, try these hairstyles to hide your widow’s peak.

Slicked back

Leonardo DiCaprio's trademark look is slicked back and it really compliments his hairline. Keep the short sides like Leo and allow the top to grow out, then slick it back.


The fade is a popular hairstyle that suits the widow's peak. The fade is a smooth transition and disguises the thinner sides of your hair and fades to the thicker fair on top.

Long hair

If you can grow it, show it. Part your long hair to show off your best features and to conceal your V-shaped widow's peak.

Spiky hair

With some wax, you can spike your hair up or forward. Both ways can bring attention away from your widow’s peak and give the illusion of a straight hairline.


Bangs are a great way to cover your hairline so, make like Ashton Kutcher, lean into this hairstyle.

Side part

Instead of a classic middle part, consider trying out a side part. The side part draws attention away from your widow’s peak and gives your hair a distinctive shape.

Using a wax product will stop your hair from naturally falling back to its natural part.

Lean into curly hair

If you have curly hair, use it to your advantage. Curly hair can naturally balance out your widow's peak.

If your curly hair is short or medium, it will naturally fall forward, taking away from your widow's peak.

Crew cut

Sometimes the less hair you have, the less visible your hairline can become. If you're up to it, the crew cut is a great way to go.

Facial hair

If you're a fan of facial hair, this might your opportunity to grow a beard to draw people's gaze away from the hair on your head.

What to do if you're not a fan of the prominent peak

Whether you have a widow's peak or it is developing into a receding hairline, it's totally understandable if you aren't overly fond of your hairline and there is nothing wrong with seeking help.

Hair loss is incredibly common and in today's age, is treatable. In fact, most men experiencing hair loss are able to keep and even regrow their hair with the correct treatment.

It's important to note that the sooner you start treating hair loss, the better chance of success you have.

Pilot's personalised hair loss treatment is created for you by leading Australian specialists and gives you the best chance of real hair growth. In fact, over 80 per cent of men who use this treatment keep their hair.

The treatment program is simple and includes unlimited consultations with your practitioner, to ensure it is personalised to you and your unique situation.

The takeaway

Widow’s peaks are just one of many characteristics in the gene pool.

And, while a widow's peak can be a precursor to male pattern baldness, it doesn't mean you're destined to lose your hair.

The way forward here is to keep an eye on your hairline and if you think it is beginning to recede, jump on that as quickly as possible, so you have the best chance of keeping the majority of your hair.

If it turns out that you just have a widow's peak and a maturing hairline, chances are it isn't going to change too much as you get older. You might notice that the shape become more pronounced but the hairline itself should stay put.

If you're not sure what camp you fall into, undertake an online assessment today and our practitioners at Pilot will be able to determine where you're at with your hair.

If you're not suitable, they'll let you know and you won't need to access treatment. It's that easy.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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