Should You Worry About Your Widow’s Peak Hairline?
What do Elvis Presley, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Dracula all have in common? Aside from being insanely famous, they also share a genetic trait that determines their distinctive hairlines. If you pay close attention to pictures, you'll see they have a V-shaped hairline, called a widow's peak.
While some widow's peaks are more pronounced than others, they're prevalent amongst guys (think Keanu Reeves) and girls (like Kourtney Kardashian and Marilyn Monroe)—just look around. So, what's the story behind this follicular phenomenon? Is it a precursor to hair loss? And what's with the creepy name?
Where Did the Term 'Widow's Peak' Come From?
We dug through the archives of our local library to discover how exactly the term 'widow's peak' originated. It turns out that in the 1500s, women wore black, triangular headdresses called "mourning caps" or "widow's hoods" after the deaths of their husbands. The shape of these hoods sparked the superstition that if a man's hairline resembled a mourning cap, it forecasted an early widowhood—hence "widow's peak."
Keep in mind, these are the same brain geniuses who burned "witches" at the stake and tried to cure the common cold by draining blood. Fortunately, over the past 500 years, we've paid less attention to folklore and more attention to genetics.
Why Do People Have Widow's Peak Hairlines?
In 1973, two researchers named Ely Hintonith and M. Michael Cohen published one of only two existing studies dedicated to the subject of widow's peaks. Despite pages of fancy medical language, their conclusion was quite underwhelming:
"The widow's peak scalp-hair anomaly is interpreted as being the result of a lower than usual position of the intersection of the bilateral periorbital fields of hair-growth suppression on the forehead. This can occur because the periorbital fields of hair-growth suppression are smaller than usual or because they are widely spaced."
Translation: It's a harmless genetic trait that determines how your hair grows. The genetic code that determines widow's peaks is as random as the genetic code that determines whether your earlobe is attached or whether you have a unibrow.
Your hairline might not be under your control, but your sense of style is.
How to Style Your Widow's Peak Without Looking Stupid
If you have a widow's peak, don't panic. You're not a genetic freak. There are plenty of Hollywood heartthrobs and certified badasses who rock their widow's peak hairstyles like bosses. If you're in the market for a new haircut, these famous dudes should give you some styling inspiration.
Johnny Depp: "Public Enemies"
This vintage cut is making a comeback and trending in the 21st century. Keep it long in the front with an off-center part and taper the length towards the back.
Leonardo DiCaprio: "The Wolf of Wall Street"
If you're a clean-cut businessman, consider going for the look that Leo used in this iconic role. Slick it back with some pomade and a fine-toothed comb. You'll ooze confidence, but we can't make any promises about the whole making money thing.
Chris Hemsworth: "Thor"
Hemsworth has one of Hollywood's most distinct widow's peaks. He's also proof that long hair and widow's peaks can coexist. Grow it out, comb in an off-center part, and you're in business.
The Difference Between a Widow's Peak and a Receding Hairline
One of the most common balding patterns among men is a receding hairline, where the northeast and northwest quadrants of your hairline wither away, resulting in a V shape in the middle of the forehead. This Nicolas Cage-esque male pattern baldness is often confused with a widow's peak since they have similar patterns. However, there's a big difference between the two.
Whereas a widow's peak hairline is something you're born with, male pattern baldness usually sneaks up between the ages of 30 and 50. Look at some pictures of yourself side-by-side: If you had a straight hairline as a youngster but have a V-shaped hairline now, you might be balding.
And for the record, men with widow's peaks don't lose their hair any faster than men with straight hairlines. Rejoice: There's no need for Rogaine foam or a toupee (yet).