Growing a beard comes easily to some men while seemingly impossible for others. You may also fall somewhere in between on the beard growth scale. The answer to why beard growth is easier for some males than others is not simple. Many factors can interfere with facial hair growth – some that you can control and others that are beyond your ability to alter.
From genetics to sleep, hormones to diet, and age to ethnicity, we look at why growing a thick, full beard might be elusive and what you can do to correct it.
The first thing to know is the phases of beard growth. You will not wake up the morning after shaving to a face covered in hair. Yes, you may notice some stubble during the first week or so, followed by itchy stubble. That phase can last up to eight weeks. The lucky men who have no trouble growing a beard will likely have a nice short beard at this point. It can take four to seven months for many males to grow a full beard and up to a year or longer for a long beard.
The thickness of the hair on your head can also influence your beard’s appearance. Darker beard hair is often thicker than blond strands, but blond men often have higher beard density.
What Affects Beard Growth?
Age is the first thing to influence beard growth. Puberty is when hormones such as testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) surge in a boy’s body. Facial hair begins to grow, often on the upper lip. Stubble on the chin or near the ears on the side of the face (sideburns) may appear.
While some adolescents may experience significant facial hair growth in their teens, other males may not have this until their mid to late twenties, if at all.
Here are the other factors that affect beard growth:
- Genetics: Your genes can predict how well you can grow a beard. If your father and grandfathers had full beards, you might be predisposed to better facial hair growth. If they could not grow beards, you might have the same issue. The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which stimulates facial hair growth. However, too much DHT can lead to reduced hair on your head. You can also inherit genetics from your mother’s side of the family that can interfere with hair growth.
- Hormones: Testosterone does play a role in facial hair growth, although many males with normal testosterone levels still have trouble growing a beard. Human growth hormone, responsible for cell reproduction, may also influence beard growth.
- Seasonal Variations: Hair growth rates increase during the summer and may slow during the colder months.
- Ethnicity: Race can play another role in facial hair growth, with males from Mediterranean countries and Caucasians having more facial hair mass than Asian men.
- Alopecia Areata: This autoimmune condition can cause hair to fall out in patches from the scalp and beard as your body attacks the hair follicles.
- Iron Deficiency or Anemia: These conditions can cause decreased blood flow to the hair follicles.
The Best Tips to Grow Denser & Coarser Beard
There are some steps you can take to help grow a denser, coarser beard. While they may not help when the problem stems from genetics, these actions will also improve your overall well-being.
- Take care of your skin – the hair follicles need room to grow, so exfoliating your face can help remove the dead skin cells that might be blocking their path. Keeping your skin clean is crucial.
- Get all the nutrients – a well-balanced diet can help with beard growth. Nutrients from lean protein, iron-rich foods, and healthy fats are crucial. Getting vitamins such as A, B, C, D, E, and zinc from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chickpeas can help, as can whole grains and complex carbohydrates.
- Avoid stress – when stressed, your body increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that opposes and reduces testosterone. Stress can also lead to hair loss which can affect beard thickness.
- Get enough sleep – lack of sleep can hinder testosterone production. A study showed that sleep deprivation in healthy young males inhibited beard growth. Human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone production decrease without adequate sleep. HGH is responsible for stimulating cell regeneration, which is crucial for hair growth throughout the body.
- Condition your beard – maintaining a healthy beard with special facial hair conditioners or oils may help improve appearance and growth.
- Exercise more – exercise helps improve blood flow throughout your body, including to the hair follicles. Since exercise (lifting weights) also stimulates testosterone production, it can provide additional benefits.
- Quit smoking – a study has shown that smoking can cause damage to hair follicle DNA.
- Hydrate – your skin and hair follicles need hydration to remain healthy, so drink plenty of water daily.
What Not to Do for Beard Growth
Beard-growing supplements may or may not help. Always speak with a doctor before trying these products. Supplements will probably not help if genetics cause reduced facial hair growth.
Avoid using hair regrowth products designed for scalp hair. They can lead to dermatitis and other skin problems when used on the face.
Do not shave; letting your beard develop naturally will help it grow fuller and thicker. Choose trimming rather than shaving when necessary. Be patient and let time work to improve your beard growth.
Make Sure You Don’t Have Testosterone Deficiency
Having difficulty growing a beard does not mean you have low testosterone levels. Diagnosing testosterone deficiency begins with checking for other symptoms of Low T, such as:
- Weight gain
- Muscle loss
- Joint pains
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Mood swings
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Urinary problems
- Impaired cognitive processing
- Poor concentration
- Changes in breast tissue growth
- High cholesterol
If you have two or more symptoms of testosterone deficiency, it is time to contact a hormone specialist for a blood test. While treatment with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may help grow a beard, it may not if that is not the cause of the problems. TRT will not help grow facial hair in men with normal testosterone levels.
How to Increase Testosterone Levels for Beard Growth
If you have low testosterone levels, TRT is the fastest way to restore hormone balance to your body. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replenishes low hormone supplies using a safe, bioidentical version of the hormone your body lacks.
Other ways to increase testosterone levels include:
- Exercise, particularly resistance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Adequate sleep (6-8 hours)
- Good nutrition
- Reduce stress
- Consume heart-healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Do not smoke
If you think you suffer from symptoms of low testosterone, contact a hormone specialist for help. Testosterone replacement therapy can do wonders for your body and your life.
You can take many steps to improve the look of your beard, but they may not work if you have testosterone deficiency. Check our list of Low T symptoms to see if TRT is right for you. Testosterone replacement may help boost your beard growth on its own and in conjunction with the steps provided here.
FAQ about Beard Growth
Having a thick beard does not mean you have high testosterone levels. Genetics plays a leading role in your beard thickness and growth.
Some men are genetically predisposed to having poor beard growth that has nothing to do with testosterone production or levels.
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