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About receding hairlines in women

Updated November 21, 2016

Men get receding hairlines, not women, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, women can experience hair loss, even total baldness, just like men. And yes, that receding hairline that your grandfather, father and older brothers joke about, and perhaps try to conceal, could be your fate as well.

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Expert Insight

Your hairline is, alas, determined by your genetics, according to Dr. John Gray, P&G Hair Care Research Center. The way you looked at birth and the hairline you sported when you first entered this world may well be the hairline with which you end up when you're old. Most women do not experience severe receding hairlines; however, it is possible, and those who do have this problem can probably blame it on thinning hair. Nearly 50 per cent of all men will experience a receding hairline to one degree or another.


In an article written for the "New York Times," Jane Fritsch noted that women sometimes inherit the genes that cause hair loss, and they may begin to notice this loss in their early 30s. Generally, a woman's hair loss is more diffuse than a man's, but a receding hairline can be the outcome. If you have inherited the tendency to produce 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that combines with testosterone, you may experience hair loss that approximates what a man experiences. When this enzyme teams up with testosterone, it produces dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The hair follicles deteriorate and shrink. Fortunately, women produce less testosterone than men, so women don't generally lose as much hair.

Female-Pattern Hair Loss

According to Power-surge.com, women can have female-pattern hair loss as men have male-pattern hair loss, but most don't get a receding hairline. When a woman does have female-pattern hair loss, her new hairs are increasingly finer and shorter than their predecessors and can look nearly transparent. Women generally experience hair loss and hair thinning where they part their hair and on the top of their head, which is a different hair loss pattern from what men experience.

Stressing Your Hair

If you've noticed that your hair appears to be receding at the hairline, Recedinghairline.org says this can be due to improper hair care. Brushing or combing your hair too harshly or regularly pulling it back into a tight knot can cause stress on the hair, and it's apt to fall out.

Widow's Peak

Mothernature.com notes that as women age, they may develop a widow's peak and a slight receding hairline, including obvious hair loss around the temples. Research has shown that women with sensitivity to hormones, even to normal levels of hormones, are more likely to lose their hair than those who aren't as sensitive.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.

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