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Receding Hair Lines

Q: My hair is kind of dark brown/black. I lost a little of hair on my receding hair line. On the sides of my hair line my hair is a little off-color, like white kind of. Does this mean I'm losing that hair or is it coming back? I've been brushing my hair because I heard it gives better blood flow for hair to grow. The hair doesn’t seem to grow back to its natural color nor does it seem to fade away. What does this mean?
 
A: In many cases, the term hair loss is something of a misnomer. What actually happens in most cases of “receding hairlines” or “male pattern baldness” (as well as other forms of alopecia), is that the terminal hair (the hair that is thicker, darker and usually longer) converts to vellus hair (fine, transluscent, short, downy hair). The short, pale hairs you describe sound like vellus hairs that would have formed when the terminal hairs converted.
 
      Often, people will notice a thin band of hair along the hairline that is longer than the other vellus hairs in front of it, but not thick or dark enough to be terminal hair. These “transitional” hairs can be frustrating since they can interfere with some styling choices. When the hair is worn pulled back, these hairs stick up and make the style look unkempt.
 
      The hair may continue to ‘shrink’ with the next shedding phase, but given the length of the phases of hair growth, this can be a very slow process. Of course, it may simply be a matter of your individual genetics and the hair may remain exactly as it is.
 
      Brushing your hair does stimulate blood flow in the scalp, and helps regulate oil production and redistribute the oils along the hair shaft, but there is no evidence to support the claim that brushing affects the growth of the hair. In fact, you need to be cautious of over-brushing the hair. Brushing the hair too much can lead to breakage and split ends, which will worsen unless treated.
 
      If these longer vellus hairs cause you problems with your choice of styling, consider using a trimmer to crop them to the length of the shorter vellus hairs. This will allow you to have a cleaner looking style.
 
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