9 Hairline Types and How to Identify Them

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 05/30/2024

Hairlines differ from person to person, and it’s part of what makes us unique. While there’s no so-called normal hairline, there are some general hairline types.

Knowing which of the different types of hairlines you have can make it easier to style and shape your hair in a way that suits you best. It can also help you stay alert to possible indications of hair thinning.

Below, we outline the most common types of hairlines and offer recommendations for how to cope if you’re unhappy with your hairline, including if you’re worried about early signs of hair loss.

While your hairline is ultimately unique to you, some general hairline shapes are more common than others.

According to one study of frontal hairline patterns, some hairline types, including M-shaped and rectangular (aka straight), are more often seen in men than women.

A Japanese study involving 456 male and female participants had similar findings, noting that women were more likely to have a rounded hairline type than men. The same study also found that men were likelier to sport hairlines with notable hairless regions.

Curious about what your natural hairline type is, or want to learn how to identify a hairline that might signal hair loss? Read on for an overview of the different types of hairlines.

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1. Straight Hairline

A straight hairline, sometimes called a rectangular hairline, is more common in men than women.

This very symmetrical hairline type cuts straight across the forehead. People with a straight hairline don’t have any hairline curves or receding areas.

2. Widow’s Peak

This hairline is characterized by a distinct point in the center of the forehead (aka the peak). The sides of the hairline typically recede slightly, creating a V-shape.

Some people are born with a natural widow’s peak hairline, while others develop a V-shaped hairline due to hair loss. In fact, the gradual appearance of a widow’s peak can be one of the signs of a receding hairline.

3. Triangular Hairline

The shape of this hairline is essentially the inverse of a widow’s peak. A triangular hairline may appear symmetrical, meeting in the middle of the forehead or slightly off-center.

Sometimes, a triangular hairline can be a sign of temporal triangular alopecia, an uncommon form of genetic hair loss.

4. Bell-Shaped Hairline

This hairline type is more common in women than men. It’s distinguished by a bell-shaped appearance that curves slightly inward.

5. Uneven Hairline

An uneven hairline, also sometimes known as a wave-shaped hairline, is irregular in shape. It can look like a zig-zag or have a jagged edge.

6. Cowlick Hairline

People with a cowlick hairline have a section of hair in the front of the head that grows in a different direction from the rest of their hair. The result? A spiral-like “cowlick” of hair that contributes to an uneven hairline.

7. M-Shaped Hairline

This letter-shaped hairline is one of the most common hairline types in men. While some people have a natural M-shaped hairline, it also can be a sign of a receding hairline resulting from androgenic or androgenetic alopecia (more familiarly known as male pattern baldness).

This form of hair thinning is one of the most common causes of hair loss, affecting an estimated 80 million U.S. adults. If you have a genetic sensitivity to the male sex hormone DHT, you might develop an M-shaped hairline due to male pattern hair loss.

8. Rounded Hairline

A rounded hairline looks like it sounds. This hairline curves gently and has no sharp recessions or corners.

9. Receding Hairline

A receding hairline, also sometimes called a mature hairline, is often the result of hair loss, as when you experience hair loss, the hair starts to move backward on the head.

There are different types of receding hairlines, so if your hairline is receding, it may have the appearance of an M-shape hairline or widow’s peak.

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You also might hear hairlines described as low, middle, and high. These aren’t distinct hairline shapes but rather descriptors that help to illustrate a hairline’s position on the front of the head.

So, any hairline shape can sit high or low relative to the eyebrows.

If you have a low hairline, it will sit closer to your eyebrows. A high hairline will start high up on the forehead and farthest away from your eyebrows, while a middle hairline will sit somewhere in between.

Your hairline is partly the result of genetics, but if you’re experiencing hair loss that’s changing the look of your hairline, effective treatments are available to fix your hairline.

For instance, you might explore FDA-approved hair loss medications minoxidil and finasteride to address a receding hairline, or you might even consider treatment options like hair transplantation.

In some cases, additional factors can contribute to hairline changes, including hormonal changes, stress, illness, and aging. While changes in lifestyle habits can’t stop progressive hair loss, they can help to encourage a healthy hair growth cycle.

Some changes to your routine that may help shift your hairline type and encourage hair regrowth include:

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Managing your stress levels

  • Avoiding bad hair care practices, like tight hairstyles that pull on hair follicles

  • Limiting unhealthy habits like smoking

  • Addressing deficiencies by taking vitamins, such as biotin gummies

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What does the average hairline look like? The answer is: It depends!

Let’s recap:

  • Your hairline is unique to you. There are many different hairline types, but these are just general shapes that researchers have found that people have in common. Variations can appear in individuals with similar hairline shapes.

  • Your hairline can be low, middle, or high. The position of your hairline is another potential variable when it comes to facial appearance. This difference in hairline refers to the distance between the hairline and the top of the eyebrows.

  • Your hairline might signal hair loss. M-shaped, widow’s peak, and triangular-shaped hairlines can indicate your hair is thinning. If you’ve noticed changes or have concerns, speak with a healthcare professional, as there are ways to stop a receding hairline.

  • You can treat hair thinning with research-backed hair loss treatments. Medications like minoxidil and finasteride can help to address hair thinning as well as prevent further hair loss.

If you feel like your hairline is changing or you're concerned about hair loss because you have one of the types of receding hairlines, talk with a healthcare professional, like a dermatologist, to get their take.

They can provide advice on hair loss treatments and offer lifestyle tips and guidance that can help promote healthy hair growth.

4 Sources

  1. Kashiyama K, et al. (2021). Study of frontal and temporal hairline patterns in Japanese subjects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8367035/
  2. Murphy MB, et al. (2023). Anatomy, hair. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513312/
  3. Sirinturk S, et al. (2017). Study of frontal hairline patterns for natural design and restoration. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27830323/
  4. Wirya CT, et al. (2017). Classification of male pattern hair loss. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596658/
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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