Why are beards patchy?
Timing, age and genetics are everything.
Beards take time. When you first start growing a beard, give it at least one month before you start thinking you have a patchy beard. The reality is that we all have patchy beards in the first month (or three).
Patchy beard after a month? This is totally normal. Different parts of your beard grow at different rates. If you are three to four months into your beard and still see large patches, don’t worry, there is still hope. It is not uncommon for a patchy beard at month one to develop into a glorious full beard by month four. When it comes to beard growth, patience truly is a virtue.
Age. Most men do not reach their full beard potential until the age of 35. That’s right, 35. If you are younger than 35 then your beard has yet to reach its full potential. Plenty of guys have gone through their 20s thinking they can’t grow a full beard. Then their 30s roll around and all of a sudden they have majestic beards. It’s true that most men first start developing facial hair in their early teens but that kid with a full beard in school is the exception, not the rule.
Genetics. Ok, the truth is that some guys are just born with more beard hair follicles. The more follicles, the thicker the beard. Excluding surgery, there is nothing you can do to increase your natural number of hair follicles. So, like your height, this is totally out of your control and is not worth your worry. Moving on...
Seven steps to deal with a patchy beard
- Give it time. Give yourself at least three months to grow
- Groom what you got. Trim to highlight your strong points
- Brush your beard to fill in the patchy spots
- Use sleep, diet and exercise to boost natural beard growth
- Manage stress
- Groom like you give a damn
- Embrace what you've got
1. Give your beard the time it needs to grow. Beards grow about one half inch per month. But not all of your follicles are in the same growth phase at the same time. So while one follicle might grow half an inch, another might not show any growth at all. So after a month (or three) your beard may look like it has patchy spots but not to worry, at this point there is no reason to believe those areas will be forever beard barren.
2. You’ve been growing your beard for a few months and still see patches. What should you do? It is time to trim. While counterintuitive, trimming the longer parts of your beard makes your beard more symmetrical while taking focus away from the patchy parts. Additionally, it gives the patchy areas time to grow and catch up.
Stubble/short beards look great on everybody. Multiple surveys show that women prefer the stubble/short beard look over longer beards (we happen to think a wizard beard is just as attractive). If you are dealing with a patchy beard, the well trimmed beard is an excellent option.
3. Brush your beard to fill in the patchy spots aka the beard combover. Just about every guy has patches in their beard. I sure do. As your beard fills in, the more voluminous areas around the patch will help to cover those areas. I have bald spots on either side of my mouth. In the first few months, these were super noticeable. But now, the other parts of my beard have filled in and completely cover these patches.
4. There is a link between your lifestyle and your beard health. Hormones are a huge factor in beard growth. If you want to grow a healthy beard you need to exercise frequently and stay away from high sugary, processed foods. Exercise and a diet rich in fresh fruits, veggies and lean meats is the way to go. They help promote your body’s production of testosterone and other hormones linked to thick beard growth in addition to providing the nutrients your body needs to grow that epic beard. You must take care of your beard before it will take care of you.
Exercise and beard growth: We’re talking about weight training here. Specifically, functional fitness and compound movements. Squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups and my personal favorite, overhead squats. These movements are the most effective when it comes to boosting testosterone levels. New to weight training? Consult a trainer or coach first. Form is paramount with these bad boys. Start light and work your way up. Many a man has gone too heavy too soon and sidelined themselves with injury.
Diet and beard growth: Processed foods and high sugar (including artificial sweeteners) is the enemy. Sadly, the Western diet of fast food, energy drinks and microwavable meals are detrimental to reaching your full beard potential. Focus on clean, whole foods like fresh meats, fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Hair is made of protein so ensure you are getting enough in your diet. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals are also believed to influence beard growth. Ensure you are getting enough zinc, iron, vitamin D, B and C and omega-threes. And of course, stay well hydrated.
Sleep and beard growth: A good night’s sleep makes everything better. Getting a full eight hours of sleep increases overall health. Sleep is the time when our bodies repair. Blood circulation increases in our sleep and allows nutrients to get where they need to go.
5. Stress and stress hormones can lead to hair loss and inhibit beard growth. If you once had a full beard and are now noticing patches, check your stress levels. Exercise is an excellent way to manage stress – in addition to promoting natural beard growth – but find what works best for you. From meditation to skydiving, find your zen.
6. Establish a healthy grooming routine. Growing a beard brings with it some new grooming challenges. Using a beard specific wash, daily probiotic moisturizer and a softening beard oil will help make the process much more enjoyable while helping your skin look its best. When it comes to beard care products, you really do get what you pay for. Quality natural ingredients are not cheap. The cheaper the product the higher the likelihood it contains bottom of the barrel (or counterfeit) ingredients that provide little nourishment/functional value to your beard.
7. Ultimately, it is up to you and the look you’d like to achieve and what your genetics will allow you to achieve. Beards are part of us but they do not define who we are as men. The reality is that most men get frustrated and give up before they reach their full beard potential. But if you’ve invested the time and effort and your beard still isn’t what you’d hoped, know that that is okay. The best advice we can give is to embrace your beard, grow what you can and accentuate the thick and full areas of your beard. Take the time to trim the longer whiskers to help keep your facial hair looking balanced and well kept. Oh, and don’t forget to eat your vegetables ;)