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Decoding Male Pattern Baldness: A Guide to The Norwood scale

This is a guide to the Norwood scale, which is the leading hair loss classification system, published in 1975 by Dr O’Tar Norwood. It enables men to measure the extent of their Male Pattern Baldness. Distinct scales are utilized for hair loss assessment in men and women. While men commonly lean on the Norwood scale, women frequently turn to the Ludwig scale for reference.

Clinics commonly employ the Norwood scale in their evaluations. It helps them to see where you are, thus acting as a reference guide. For you ladies there is the Ludwig scale. Follow this Ludwig scale link it will take you to a post dedicated to your precise needs. But if you other half has a hair problem, feel free to read on.

The Norwood scale an Incite!

Why do’s Male pattern baldness follow the Norwood scale pattern? While our bodies often exhibit symmetry, such as two eyes and two ears, hair growth and recession don’t always follow this pattern. Hair loss in men tends to follow the Norwood scale pattern due to factors like genetics and hormone sensitivity, rather than strict symmetry.

One interesting avenue of research suggests a potential link between baldness and muscle tension. It’s hypothesized that tension in the muscles surrounding the head can limit blood flow to hair follicles.

Notably, cases have been observed where men receiving Botox treatment in these muscles experienced increased hair coverage. This correlation offers promising insights, but further investigation is needed to fully understand this relationship and its implications for treating baldness.

Understanding the Norwood scale Guide:

Stage 1 hair loss on the Norwood scale

Stage 1:

Minimal hairline recession, often unnoticeable to others. There is either no hair loss or a very slight recession of the hair line around the temples. Any thinning of the hair will be very difficult to spot. If you have any family history of baldness you might want to monitor your hair closely. At this point it would be wise to educate yourself on what is happening and if there is anything you can do about it. Starting treatment now will give you the best chance of success.

Stage 2 hair loss on the Norwood scale

Stage 2:

The temple hair loss now begins to increase, causing the hairline to recede a little both sides of the temple. You’ll now see the beginnings of the classic M shape hairline that is very common in men, as they age. The hair in the middle of the forehead may show slight sines of thinning . However, overall the hair loss is still fairly unnoticeable. Still a good time to learn and start looking or treating your hair.

Stage 3 hair loss on the Norwood scale

Stage 3:

First signs of more noticeable hairline recession, visible temple points. Hair loss has escalated, reaching a level significant enough to qualify as “baldness” according to the Norwood scale. The hairline has receded noticeably, and there is minimal hair remaining in those regions.

Stage 3 with vertex hair loss on the Norwood scale

A subcategory of Stage 3

is where the hairline stays at Stage 2 but the hair around your the top of your scalp becomes thinner. You may even start to see bald spots up-top. This is known as the Vertex stage. It would be advisable to start treatment now as to slow or revers the condition.

Stage 4 hair loss on the Norwood scale

Stage 4:

Hair loss is now very obvious. In addition to the noticeable M-shape, thinning of hair at the crown and significant patches of hair loss at the vertex are common features. In many instances, a band of dense hair may persist, spanning from the front to the back across the top of the head. This separates the two key areas of baldness at the temples and vortex. You need to be treating the condition if you are seriously looking to try to avoided further hair loss

Stage 5 hair loss

Stage 5:

We now see the classic horse-shoe shaped hairline, bald on top with hair around the sides of the head. The of strip of hair across the top of your head becomes thinner and less noticeable. The hair loss is becoming more severe making it a greater challenge to treat with medication, but still not impossible.

Stage 6 hair loss

Stage 6:

There is now extensive hair loss, the hairline having reached the top of the head. At the crown, hair is very thin providing little if any coverage for the scalp. The areas of baldness at the temples and vertex have now merged together, without the strip of hair that separated them. Hair loss at the sides of the head continues to this and retreat.

Stage 7 hair

Stage 7:

MPB has now reached the most extreme stage. This final stage of baldness is now considered complete. You’ll see the classic horseshoe shape, the top of the head is fully bald but hair still remains at the sides. Any hair left may be finer and less dense than before. If you are at this stage and you haven’t started any treatment, unfortunately there’s now only very little chance of recovering your hair. But there are alternatives such as transplants, tattooing and maybe a good toupee, also there are always new discovery’s so there is always hope.

What is Male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness is a condition that affects up 80% of the population by the age of 80 years. Generally driven by genetics, it can be hereditary, follow both the mother and the furthers line. There are some surprising results from a study in the UK bellow. MPB is the gradual loss of hair, normally starting around the age of 25 years old. This then follows the Norwood scale as you read above.

Our Inheritance

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Scotland carried out a scientific study in 2017. This study determined that there are 280 genes involved in MPB; many of them are on the X chromosome. Which means men inherit through their Maternal line, the mother. (Using the data from over 52,000 male participants in the UK Biobank study.)

It’s Your Mum’s Fault!

The female of the species has two X chromosomes males only have one. They then conclude that baldness is inherited mainly from our mothers’ genes. So forget once and for all the belief that to know whether we will be bald or not we have to look to our father first.

Caused by Testosterone!

It can start to manifest in some younger men around their 20s but this is not so common. From the age of 25 to 30 years most men have some sins and by 35 years it is easily visible.

This belief stems from the fact that due to higher levels of testosterone, men are considered to be more susceptible to hair loss than women. An enzyme converts testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This DHT is far more potent than the original testosterone. DHT is primarily used by the body in the prostate, skin, and hair follicles. It has been observed that DHT levels increase over time. This may result in the shrinkage of the hair follicle, creating ever finer hair.

Norwood scale, Hair Loss seam’s Inevitable!

When you examine the Norwood scale and juxtapose it with your receding hairline, it might seem tempting to lose hope. However, there is a silver lining, hope is never entirely lost. Science has been actively addressing this issue and has already discovered numerous methods to provide assistance.

While complete cessation might be elusive, these approaches have demonstrated the ability to decelerate the progression of hair loss and, in certain instances, even reverse it.

DHT blockers

There are topical applications and Medicines you can take to block the effects of DHT. The most common and well know ones that have seen good results are Finasteride and Dutasteride. Finasteride generally comes in the form of a tablet you take one every day and as does Dutaseride. Both normally require a prescription from a Doctor.

Education is the key, as there are other possible causes of hair loss such as diet, deficiencies, illness and stress.


The Norwood scale is a vital tool for understanding male pattern baldness. Developed by Dr. O’Tar Norwood, this classification system helps individuals and clinics assess hair loss. While the reasons for its symmetry remain uncertain, ongoing research hints at connections between muscle tension and hair health.

Knowing the Norwood scale’s stages allows early intervention, with options like Finasteride and Minoxidil. Genetic studies highlight maternal inheritance’s role, challenging the belief in only paternal influence.

Despite the genetic aspect, emerging treatments offer hope. While complete restoration is challenging, ongoing scientific progress provides ways to slow, stop, or partially reverse male pattern baldness. By using the Norwood scale and staying updated, individuals can make informed decisions about managing hair loss’s impact on their confidence.

Further Reading

If you found this guide enlightening, why not delve deeper browse Living Unrefined and explore some of our other articles? Education is the key to mastery, so stay awhile and expand your knowledge. And hey, if this guide was a game-changer for you, don’t keep it to yourself—share it with your friends to spread the wisdom!

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