Does minoxidil work for a receding hairline?
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
Noticed your hairline receding? If you have, don’t panic. You’re likely one of the many men who develop male pattern baldness (MPB). While you might not see anything positive in this situation, the good news is, you do have options to help fight it.
Most of the information about minoxidil talks about fighting hair loss on the top and back of your hair (your crown). But what about your hairline? Can you use minoxidil for a receding hairline too?
Here we’ll explain what minoxidil is, how it works, and if you can use minoxidil for receding hairlines.
What is a receding hairline?
A receding hairline is when your hair starts to thin and when you lose hair along your hairline – think baldness at the front of your hair. It’s called a receding hairline as it looks like your hair is moving backwards (receding) from your forehead. Sometimes you’ll also see a receding hairline called frontal baldness.
What causes a receding hairline?
You can lose your hair for a range of reasons. Things like stress, illness, medication and sometimes just a bad diet can all be hair loss factors. But when you lose your hair from one of these things, often it will fall out in clumps or evenly over your head. A receding hairline is most often caused by MPB – that’s when you lose your hair in a specific pattern. It’s also the most common cause of hair loss in men.
A mix of genetics, ageing, and hormones, cause MPB. A hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) plays a starring role. DHT causes hair loss by shrinking the hair follicles in your scalp. As they shrink, they gradually produce shorter and thinner hairs, until the follicle eventually closes and produces no hair at all. This is why your hair thins before you get bald patches with MPB. DHT usually has a greater effect on the follicles on your crown and hairline, which is why you often lose hair there first.
How does minoxidil work for male pattern baldness?
Minoxidil is one of the few genuine treatments for MPB. It can stop hair loss and even helps many men to regrow lost hair.
It’s thought that minoxidil works by expanding the blood vessels in your scalp, increasing the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your hair follicles. This appears to stop your follicles shrinking and makes them produce thicker and longer hairs again.
You apply minoxidil directly to your scalp as a liquid solution or a foam.
Does minoxidil work on frontal baldness?
A lot of the information about minoxidil talks about how it can fight hair loss on your crown (vertex hair loss). This is because the majority of the scientific research on minoxidil focuses on this kind of hair loss, especially early research.
But what about hair loss along your hairline? Can minoxidil regrow hairline losses?
There’s not been anywhere near the same amount of research on the use of minoxidil on receding hairlines as crown hair loss. But one study of 16 men did find minoxidil had a similar effect on receding hairlines as vertex hair loss. And there’s plenty of anecdotal accounts of people using minoxidil to treat their receding hairlines.
So there is evidence it can help. And as your hair follicles are the same along your hairline as they are on your crown, there’s no reason to think minoxidil would affect your hairline differently.
You can also try using minoxidil alongside another hair loss treatment called finasteride.
How do you apply minoxidil to your hairline?
You can apply minoxidil directly to your hairline as a liquid solution or a foam. Your hair and scalp should be clean and dry, then you rub the minoxidil into the affected areas with your fingers. You typically apply minoxidil twice a day, but always use it as prescribed.
Can minoxidil and finasteride be used together?
When it comes to scientifically-proven prescription MPB treatments, minoxidil isn’t your only option. Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia, can also halt balding and return lost hair for many men.
Like minoxidil, the majority of the scientific research on finasteride has focussed on vertex hair loss, but there’s also evidence that it’s effective at treating a receding hairline too. And the real bonus? You can use minoxidil and finasteride together.
Finasteride contains a different active ingredient to minoxidil, and you take it in a different way, meaning it works differently. Finasteride comes as a pill to be taken daily. It helps by reducing levels of DHT in your scalp, stopping and even reversing follicle miniaturisation. This means you can take minoxidil and finasteride together without them interacting or without risking an overdose. Research also suggests using the two together is the best way to fight MPB. Sweet!
So, it’s up to you. You know what to do.