Does Having a Widow’s Peak Tell Me Anything About My Genetics?
If your hairline comes together in a downward V-shape at the center of your forehead, you’ve got a widow’s peak hairline. Basically, it’s higher on the sides and has a low point in the middle.
The widow’s peak is quite distinctive in some people, while others have just the hint of one. It may be more obvious when you pull your hair straight back.
Whether you have a straight hairline or a widow’s peak is mostly a matter of genetics.
Why is it called a widow’s peak?
The term “widow’s peak” may be a holdover from 18th-century England. Tradition was that when a husband died, his wife would wear a black triangular hat or hood with the point falling in the middle of the forehead.
Continue reading to learn more about the widow’s peak hairline, its role in popular culture, and how to highlight or downplay it.
Widow’s peak hair causes
The genetics of the widow’s peak and how or if it is inherited is unclear. It is possible that if you have a widow’s peak, someone in your family has one as well.
There’s not enough research to conclude that a widow’s peak is the result of a single dominant gene. It may very well be that multiple genes are involved.
Widow’s peak does appear to be associated with a few genetic conditions such as:
- Aarskog syndrome, a rare genetic disorder affecting mostly males. Other signs of Aarskog syndrome include short stature and abnormalities of the face, limbs, and genitals. This condition is associated with the FGD1 gene on the X chromosome.
- Donnai-Barrow syndrome, which is caused by mutations in the LRP2 gene. It can cause unusual features of the eyes, nose, and ears.
- Frontonasal dysplasia, a very rare condition that involves abnormal development of the head and face. There are several types of frontonasal dysplasia caused by genetic mutations in the ALX 3, ALX4, and ALX1 genes.
- Opitz G/BBB syndrome, a condition that cause abnormalities of the midline of the body. It involves mutations of the MID1 gene, chromosome 22, or SPECC1L.
In addition to inheriting a widow’s peak, you can develop what looks like a widow’s peak later in life as your hairline starts to recede.
Widow’s peak myths
A widow’s peak is a type of hairline and nothing more, despite a few persistent myths.
Folklore would have you believe that a widow’s peak forecasts an early widowhood. There’s no basis in fact for this myth.
In television and movies, the widow’s peak tends to be a “bad guy” feature. Dracula and the Joker, for example, both have a widow’s peak.
Despite popular culture, you can rest assured that having a widow’s peak says nothing about character or personality. Consider actors in “good guy” roles, like Marilyn Monroe, Keanu Reeves, and Vanessa Williams, who all have prominent widow’s peaks.
This particular hairline is not a bad omen of any sort, nor is it a flaw. It’s just another thing you inherit from your parents, like green eyes, naturally curly hair, or dimples.
Widow’s peak hairstyles
There’s nothing wrong with having a widow’s peak. On the contrary, it can be incredibly attractive. So, there’s no reason to choose a hairstyle based on this trait other than personal preference.
You can show off your widow’s peak by slicking your hair back or pulling it into a ponytail or bun.
If you’re not fond of your widow’s peak, avoid any style that involves combing your hair up and away from the forehead. Growing bangs can help soften your hairline.
You can de-emphasize the widow’s peak by sweeping your hair to one side or parting your hair slightly off center. Experiment by parting your hair in different places to find the most flattering location.
What to do if you don’t like your widow’s peak?
If your widow’s peak really bothers you, talk to your barber or hair stylist. An aesthetician or doctor can also make recommendations on hair removal techniques. Some quick, short-term options are:
- Tweezing. Plucking hairs is a simple (although painful) fix you can do yourself at no expense. If you don’t like the results, you can let it grow back in. Otherwise, you can continue tweezing as each hair pops back up.
- Waxing. You can get an at-home waxing kit or have it professionally done. Be sure to perform a small test patch to make sure it won’t be irritating to your skin.
- Depilatories. These creams can remove unwanted hair and keep it away a bit longer than shaving. Choose products made for the face and follow directions carefully.
Some longer-term or potentially permanent options are:
- Laser hair removal. Beams of light energy are used to destroy hair follicles. It can take multiple visits, but it can keep hair from growing back longer than many other methods. A doctor can help you understand the pros and cons of laser hair removal.
- Electrolysis. This is an old-school method of removal of individual hairs using energy or heat, which can help prevent new growth. It’s performed by dermatologists and others who have been trained and certified. It may take several visits to see optimal results.
Can I shave it off?
You can certainly shave your widow’s peak. If you choose this option, you’ll be in for a lot of maintenance, especially if you have fair skin and darker hair. You’ll need a steady hand to avoid giving yourself a crooked hairline.
If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with stubble at your hairline, you’re better off not using a razor.
A completely shaved head is another way to go.
A widow’s peak is a distinctive, V-shaped hairline that tends to run in families. Despite the myths, it’s probably no more significant than other genetic traits such as curly hair or a cleft chin.
Some people prefer to downplay their widow’s peak and some want to show it off. Still others barely give it a passing thought. What you do with your widow’s peak is a matter of personal preference.
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There can be some confusion on what defines a widow’s peak and a receding hairline, so what exactly is the difference?
Both these types of hairlines can look very similar, so you would be totally forgiven for thinking you have a receding hairline when actually, you’ve just been born with a pretty common, but slightly different looking, hairline.
What Is A Widow’s Peak?
- Natural hairline.
- V-shape at the front.
- Possibly inherited.
A widow’s peak can be easily confused by a receding hairline as it is recognisable by its V-shape. The bottom of the V will be visible at the centre of the forehead. The name supposedly stems back to the 16th century, when widowers used to wear a peaked headdress after they lost their spouse. Don’t worry, you can ignore all the bizarre superstitions linked to it.
The general consensus is that a widow’s peak is usually inherited; meaning it comes down to genetics. This has not been confirmed scientifically, however, it is common that if someone in your family has a widow’s peak, you will have one too.
You might not realise you have a widow’s peak until you pull your hair back and off your face. It can remain quite hidden and will vary from person to person. Some are definitely more obvious than others.
Can A Widow’s Peak Become A Receding Hairline?
Yes! A widow’s peak can start to move backwards. This is completely natural and will be the initial phase of a receding hairline.
You can see here from an early photo of Jude Law (back in 1997), that he has had a widow’s peak for a long time. It’s now receded leaving less hair in the V at the front.
There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about with a widow’s peak. For some reason, a lot of men don’t like to admit they have one, but it can actually be an attractive feature, and if the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Jude Law, Keanu Reeves can pull it off, you can too.
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What Is A Receding Hairline?
- Progressive hairline.
- M-shape hairline.
- Due to hair loss/ageing process.
- Will move/change over time.
A receding hairline can be extremely frustrating, but the key point is: this is just a natural part of ageing. Some lucky men will have a full head of hair for most of their life but for the majority of us, our hair will start to recede at some point in our life.
Your hair can start to recede at any age. The first, and obvious, sign is the front hairline will start to change and hair will become thin/sparse around the forehead. You will notice an ‘M’ shape form, where the hair will move back towards two points on the sides of the forehead/temple points. This is commonly confused with a widow’s peak as it is very similar to the V shape.
This change in the hairline differs to a widow’s peak in the fact that it is actively moving, and almost impossible to avoid. A receding hairline will continue to push back, as you age/mature. It can be the first sign of male pattern baldness and will move into the following stages of hair loss. You can see them here.
Men’s Hairstyles For A Widow’s Peak & Receding Hairline
Widow’s Peak Hairstyles
- If you really want to hide your widow’s peak, the best way is to push your hair to one side. This will alter the definitive V-shape at the front.
- You can also try playing with your parting to change up the style and look of the hairline.
- Make sure you talk to your barber about your widow’s peak. They will be able to help you find a hairstyle that will work for you.
- The buzz cut – to completely disguise the widow’s peak and remove any evidence of it, shave it all off!
- There are more extreme measures, such a tweezing your hairline, but please don’t try this. It is not advisable.
Receding Hairline Hairstyles
- Firstly, check out the Man For HimselfHairstyle Directory, for all types of men’s hairstyle inspiration. There are plenty of styles you can try here.
- Please don’t panic if your hair is receding. You can still have a great hairstyle. It will just depend on what stage you are at.
- If you’re really nervous about it, and have an obvious receding hairline, why not go try a buzz cut. You can try a longer version at first, or go completely clean-shaven. If you can grow some facial hair, it won’t look as drastic and will add a more mature edge to it.
- The ‘comb over‘ – if you are fortunate enough to have plenty of hair on the top and at the front, you can comb the hair to one side for a formal and sleek style.
This article is about the physical trait. For other uses, see Widow's Peak.
Hairline, a V-shaped point on the forehead
A widow's peak is a V-shaped point in the hairline in the center of the forehead. Hair growth on the forehead is suppressed in a bilateral pair of periorbital fields. Without a widow's peak, these fields join in the middle of the forehead so as to give a hairline that runs straight across. A widow's peak results when the point of intersection on the forehead of the upper perimeters of these fields is lower than usual.
A widow's peak is a distinct point in the hairline in the center of the forehead; there are varying degrees of the peak. Although it is commonly taught as an example of a dominant inherited trait, there are no scientific studies to support this.
The term stems from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead – suggestive of the peak of a widow's hood – is an omen of early widowhood. The use of peak in relation to hair dates from 1833. The expression widow's peak dates from 1849. The use of peak may refer to the beak or bill of a headdress, particularly the distinctive hood with a pointed piece in front – a biquoquet – which widows wore as a hood of mourning dating from 1530. Another explanation for the origin of the phrase suggests that it may be related to the mourning caps worn as early as the 16th century. A mourning cap or 'Mary Stuart Cap' is a cap which features a very distinctive triangular fold of cloth in the middle of the forehead, creating an artificial widow's peak. The use of peak referring to a point in the cloth covering the forehead dates to at least 1509 when it appears in Alexander Barclay’s The Shyp of Folys:
And ye Jentyl wymen whome this lewde vice doth blynde Lased on the backe: your peakes set a loft.
Ely Guv Hintonith and M. Michael Cohen hypothesized the widow's peak hairline to be an anomaly that results from a lower-than-usual point of 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 more widely spaced. Wide spacing also explains the association between ocularhypertelorism – that is, the eyes being abnormally far apart – and widow's peak; this was suggested by findings in an unusual case of ocular hypertelorism in which surrounding scalp-hair growth was suppressed by an ectopic (displaced) eye. In some case, Widow's peaks are a symptom of Donnai-Barrow syndrome, a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in the LRP2 gene. Other genetic syndromes occasionally associated with widow's peaks include Waardenburg syndrome and Aarskog syndrome.
A study of women conducted by Nusbaum and Fuentefria in 2009 found that 81% had a widow's peak, but it is unclear what their criteria were in this study; Smith and Cohen's 1973 study on male medical students found that only 3% had widow's peaks, suggesting either high variation between genders or scholarly disagreement over what constitutes a widow's peak.
People with natural widow's peaks include singers Lauren Jauregui, Jack White, Harry Styles, Kat Bjelland, Rebecca Black, and Zayn Malik, six-time world Snooker champion, Ray Reardon (nickname Dracula), professional tennis player Taylor Fritz, actors Chris Hemsworth, Keanu Reeves, Kit Harington, Leonardo DiCaprio,John Travolta,Grace Kelly,Blake Lively,Fran Drescher,Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Andy García, Colin Farrell, James Roday, Rekha, Luke Evans, and male model Hamza Ali Abbasi, as well as politicians Paul Ryan,Ronald Reagan, and Andrew Jackson.
A number of fictional people have a widow's peak. In film, this trait is often associated with a villain or antagonist;Count Dracula is an example. Eddie Munster – from the television program The Munsters – also had this distinctive hairline. Another villain depicted as having widow's peak hair is The Joker from Batman comic books and films. Namor, the Sub-Mariner has long held the feature.Vegeta from the Dragon Ball franchise is known for his widow's peak.Hannibal Lecter is repeatedly described as having one in the novels that feature his story. The original illustrations of Sherlock Holmes present the famed detective with a prominent widow's peak, as do all of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko's drawings of Peter Parker, and a sketch of James Bond personally commissioned by author Ian Fleming. Pulp fiction hero Doc Savage also had this hair trait.
Additionally, widow's peaks are shown to poll well for politicians. According to research by Shawn Rosenberg of the University of California-Irvine, "widow’s peaks (though more so on female candidates) were a clear positive. It was associated with being seen as more competent and with greater integrity".
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- ^ abSmith, D.W.; Cohen, M.M. (November 17, 1973). "Widow's Peak Scalp-Hair Anomaly and its Relation to Ocilar Hyperthelorism". The Lancet. 302 (7838): 1127–8. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(73)90939-2. PMID 4128017.
- ^Donnai-Barrow syndrome, National Institute of Health, http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/donnai-barrow-syndrome
- ^William Reardon (September 28, 2007). The Bedside Dysmorphologist. Oxford University Press. p. 16. ISBN .
- ^ abcdeDana Oliver (October 10, 2013). "23 Celebrity Widow's Peaks You Never Noticed". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- ^ abJennifer Wolfe. "Am I Turning Into My Mother? 5 Traits You Inherit From Your Mom". Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- ^Karl. "Top 15 Most Memorable Mens Hairstyles In Movies". CoolMensHair.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
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- ^Source, The Reliable (April 5, 2012). "Paul Ryan's widow's peak: A game-changer in GOP veepstakes?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
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Meaning v forehead shape on
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