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THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

October 18, 2018

What Is a Widow's Peak Hairline on Men?

Have you ever wondered what a widow's peak is? Maybe you haven't because it's not a term that's commonly tossed around the locker room, but this unique physical characteristic is quite notable if you've ever known anyone whose hairline comes to a prominent v-shape on the forehead where the left and right sides of the brain meet. For dramatic flair, check out an old school shot of Eddie Munster. Of course, in real life, widows' peaks on men are usually far more subtle, but the 1964 black and white rendition of a boy-turned-werewolf explains the idea of this follicular phenomenon nicely.

Where the Widow's Peak Comes From

What's in a name? Well, in most cases, a lot. After all, things are called what they're called for a reason, and if you dig far enough back into the origins of specific words, you'll often find interesting histories that easily explain today's colloquial phrases that often seem to have odd contexts when you stop to think about them. The widow's peak is one such phrase, particularly when this feature is being used to describe dudes.

Back in the olden days, this characteristic was borne from superstitious beliefs, like many other thoughts that circulated the world during the ages of castles and catapults. Most evidence points to the use of this phrase pointing back to the 16th century, a time when folks believed the formation of a widow's peak in the hairline was a sign that you would lose your spouse at an early age. As is suggested by the name, this trait came to be called a widow's peak because it resembles the distinctive shape of the headdress widows used to wear while they were in mourning. For obvious reasons, this is why the early widowhood superstition came to be.

Fortunately, we no longer burn witches at the stake or believe the formation of our hairlines determines the future fate of our relationships, but that doesn't mean widows' peaks don't still have their importance in terms of telling a tale.

what is a widows peak hairline on men

The Widow's Peak Myth

You might find information online that speaks to the science behind this hairline shape. Since the internet would never lie to you, we did some digging ourselves. According to a brief article published by John H. McDonald of the University of Delaware, there's actually been very little scientific research conducted on this characteristic. In fact, he only found two actual papers (versus information online that may or may not be founded in scientific evidence), in which researchers thoroughly studied this subject. Unfortunately, neither study detailed the type of specific information that would be needed to draw firm conclusions—such as the researchers' definitions of a widow's peak—which resulted in incredibly different results without any real foundation.

There may be genetic links to widows' peaks, or maybe it's just a unique look that Mother Nature only selects a certain segment of the population to be born with. In any case, if you have a widow's peak, you're in good company. Plenty of Hollywood heart throbs and history makers have showcased distinctive widows' peaks throughout the ages. Take a gander at images of Jude Law, young Johnny Depp, or the Polish WW2 resistance fighter Witold Pilecki for strong examples of what a widow's peak looks like in real life.

Widows' Peaks and Baldness Aren't the Same Thing

If you look at Little Man Munster, you can tell his style is clearly not caused from baldness. He's far too young to be suffering the effects of hair loss. For men of a mature age, this distinction isn't always so clear. Is a receding hairline the same thing as a widow's peak? Far from it, but these two involuntary 'dos are often mistaken for each other.

Men who have widows' peaks are born with this pattern. Men who develop male pattern baldness do just that—develop it as they age. Of course, some men have the honor of enduring a receding hairline much younger than other men. Some guys even start to go bald in their teenage years, which is a fear of many younger fellas unless they're the kids who have figured out how to go on beer runs for their friends because their looks far exceed their actual years.

The reason widows' peaks are often mistaken for baldness is because of the pattern in which some men do lose their hair. It's not uncommon for the top of the crop to stick around longer than spots of hair that cover the northeast and northwest sides of the scalp. With that said, hair loss that occurs with age really gets to pick its own path in life, so if it wants to start receding in an even pattern from the top of your forehead toward the nape of the neck like LeBron James on game day, you really don't get to have much say in the matter. In that respect, the natural appearance of a widow's peak and the pattern in which balding happens are quite similar; it's all up to the 'do your body chooses to produce.

If your widow's peak seems to have appeared overnight, but was never present in photos of you as a child, you might be experiencing the beginnings of baldness. True widows' peaks are with you throughout life. Receding hairlines sneak up on you when you least expect them.

what is a widows peak hairline on men

How Do You Know if You're Going Bald?

Baldness doesn't necessarily indicate anything other than your hair is thinning, but it could also imply other underlying health issues are occurring elsewhere in your body. Even if you're good with the style and shape your hair decides to grow (or un-grow) into, it's best to speak with a doctor to ensure there aren't greater concerns your tresses are trying to tell you about.

1. Look for loose hair. A sudden surge of hair in the shower drain that doesn't belong to your partner (for once) is a sure sign something's going on up there. You might also notice excess hair in your brush or a pillow covered with hair that was actually on your head when you went to bed.

2. Have someone else inspect your scalp. Often, baldness begins to take shape at the crown of a guy's head, which is one of the hardest spots for a person to see himself. You could get a little acrobatic with a bathroom full of mirrors, step stools, and any other household item you'd need to get the right angle, but it's usually easier to just ask someone else to take a look at your top. If he or she is honest enough to tell you you've gone a little thin on your top layer, you can take steps to prevent further hair loss, if that's the route you choose to go. Alternatively, you could have a weird selfie session with your cell phone, but the chances of getting an angle that give you the information you're going for are still pretty slim.

3. See a hair loss specialist. Consulting a professional is the only way to know what's causing your hair to disappear so you can discuss treatment options, as applicable. You'll usually be looking for a dermatologist or physician with specialty training; it's best to speak with the receptionist before you set up an appointment to be sure the doctors at that location can cater to your cranial needs.

Among other things, baldness could signify:

  • The fact that you're aging;
  • Your genes are taking over;
  • You have an enlarged prostate;
  • You're experiencing high levels of stress;
  • Your diet is poor in nutrition;
  • You have thyroid disease;
  • You're using products that are damaging the follicles of your hair.

Because some of these situations can be quite serious to your health, it's important not to shirk off the disappearance of head hair.

what is a widows peak hairline on men

How to Handle Your Widow's Peak Like a Man

Not sure how to deal with your widow's peak? Never fear! Some styling suggestions are here! Google some of Hollywood's male hot topics for inspiration. Are you the type of guy who could pull off a short and spiky style like Chris Hemsworth? Or would you do better with a clean-cut 'do like DiCaprio's Catch Me if You Can character? Of course, that movie's the perfect reference for any man who's trying to figure out what to do with his widow's peak, since Leo dons the looks of multiple men in a single flick.

Still not sure what to do with your 'do? Take this task to a stylist. Professional hair designers love to get their hands on creative projects that can totally change the way their clients project their images to the world.

What are your thoughts about widows' peaks? Join in the conversation (or just tell us about your favorite Munster family moments) in the comments section below!

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