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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.

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.

If your hairline has an upside-down V-shape, you have an inverted widow’s peak. An inverted widow’s peak may also happen due to a receding hairline.

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.

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.

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.