Many of our younger readers are seeing changes in their hairlines and hair growth and are concerned about becoming bald, especially when there is a history of baldness in their family, thus giving them a possible genetic predisposition for baldness. If you are between the ages of 17 and 29, you may be noticing thinning hair or signs of a receding hairline and are concerned. To assist readers we have placed three diagrams below taken from the Norwood Classification for hair loss as documented by Dr. O’Tar Norwood.
The Norwood Scale
As can be seen, the classifications are divided into 3 patterns. The Class 1 pattern is not an indication of male pattern baldness, the Class 2 pattern suggests the beginning of the balding pattern, while the Class 3 pattern is thought of as early balding, possibly worthy of hair transplants in some men as their hair follicles decrease in size. While Dr. Norwood simplified the distinctions between Classes 2 and 3, we believe the lines between these patterns are fuzzy at best and not quite as simple as Dr. Norwood documented. Those within Class 2 may actually be in the beginning stages of the mature hairline, defined below as the line between Class 2 and Class 3 patterns.
To better understand these Classes, we provide some explanations of the receding hairlines that most men experience during their lifetime. In many men (more so in Caucasians), the hairline of youth rises to what is known as a hairline of maturity. The mature hairline is a natural phenomenon and is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch higher in the middle than where the youthful hairline is located. As one moves away from the midline to the corners of the hairline, the gap between the mature hairline location and the youthful hairline location is slightly over 1 inch. These changes in the overall shape of the hairline lead to a widow’s peak or ‘V’ shape. Women almost always retain their juvenile hairline throughout their entire lives, while 95% of Caucasian men develop a mature hairline.
How to determine the mature hairline
You can tell where your youthful hairline is/was by raising your eyebrows so that you can see your highest forehead wrinkle. This is commonly referred to as the furrowed brow. The wrinkles you see reflect a muscle below the skin known as the frontalis muscle, which is present in everyone. The juvenile hairline starts at the top of the highest wrinkle and has a concave frontal shape to it. The mature hairline, characterized by its almost convex frontal shape that extends from the temple prominences, shows a gap where there are no wrinkles or hair present.
You may panic if you see a rise in your hairline and look to the Norwood Chart to identify progression of thinning hair, or a sign of male pattern baldness. However, a rise from a juvenile hairline to a mature hairline is not a sign of balding. It is particularly troublesome to young men when the change occurs slowly and asymmetrically. It can be even more concerning when the change produces the ‘chewed’ look. This maturing process occurs between 17 and 29 years of age and it is not uncommon to find one side recede faster than the other.
Not all men will recede to a mature hairline. For example, the photo at the below shows that former US President Bill Clinton retained his juvenile hairline. Retention of the juvenile hairline is more common in non-Caucasians.
Examples of Mature Hairlines
In this comparison, you can see the photos of an NHI medical patient with the “Mature Hairline” drawn in. The second photo is of the same patient, with the “Juvenile Hairline” drawn in (the lowest line). Note the gap between the highest wrinkle and the proposed mature hairline. That “gap” should probably not be transplanted.
Below you’ll see Dr. William Rassman’s mature hairline for comparison.
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