Growing a thick beard is a process. And like any process, there’s always a few awkward stages along the way.
On the beard-growing journey, there's one stage that most guys hate: the patchy stage.
Is this a problem you're having? If so, you might be wondering: How can I avoid a patchy beard?
Here's the truth: Most guys who grow a beard experience some patchiness and lack of fullness, especially in the first few weeks. That’s completely natural; a full beard takes time to grow.
If your beard is patchy in Week 2, wait a while. Chances are, the longer it gets, the fuller it will appear.
Still, though, if you're a month in and you're still not achieving the fullness you want, you might have a few questions like:
- How do I grow a beard without patches?
- Why can’t I grow a beard on my cheeks?
- What can I do to make my beard look fuller?
Although there’s no secret to growing a fuller beard (Hint: It has a lot to do with genetics), there are things guys can do to make their beards look fuller and stimulate growth. Need some help? Here are some tips and tricks to get rid of a patchy beard.
What Affects Beard Thickness?
There are two main factors that determine the fullness of your beard: Genetics and testosterone. Genetically, you might produce more testosterone or react differently to testosterone.
Beards grow as a reaction to testosterone. When testosterone is produced, a byproduct called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is created which fuels hair growth on face and body. Men with higher levels of testosterone (due to genetics or age) produce more DHT, and therefore, tend to have bushier beards. Some guys, too, have stronger reactions to testosterone and tend to produce fuller beards.
OK, but does that mean a patchy beard a result of low testosterone?
In most cases, it does not. Men have a wide range of normal, healthy testosterone levels. If you’re on the lower end of the healthy range, you might be more prone to a patchy beard.
Beyond these two man factors, there are other things that can influence your beard’s fullness. They include:
- Follicle Thickness – The thickness of each individual follicle (which is determined by genetics) can influence how bushy your beard looks.
- Age – Most guys can’t grow a thick beard until their early-to-mid 20s. If you’ve just started growing facial hair, give it a few years.
- Time – Adhere to the 4-Week Rule: Patches will likely start to fill in after a month of growth. Lots of guys have patchy beards in that awkward initial stage.
How to Make Your Beard Look Fuller
Sometimes, making a beard look thicker can be accomplished with grooming tricks. So, before you do something dramatic – like a full-on beard transplant – there are things you can try to make your beard appear thicker and fuller.
Try these tricks:
- Add Some Color – Darker beards look thicker. So, if your beard’s lighter, you might be more prone to a patchier look. One solution: Dye your beard a slightly darker hue. This will add some fullness, while looking natural.
- Oil Up – When your beard dries out, the follicles start to split, and split ends are a real problem. They stunt growth, which can result in patchiness, and they make your beard look flatter. Try using a beard oil daily to moisturize and revitalize your face ‘fro.
- Clean Up the Lines – Patchiness tends to be most visible on the cheeks. So, here’s a trick: Set a lower cheek line to avoid this all-too-common problem. For some beard grooming tips, check out our post, "How to Trim Your Beard: A Quick Beard Trimming Guide."
- Brush It Out – Combing your beard daily with a beard brush or beard comb does two things. For one: It helps to fluff things up, which gives your beard that fuller look. Plus, a daily combing trains the hair to grow in a similar direction, which can help cover those patchy areas.
What Can Help a Beard Grow Faster?
Health and hair growth go hand-in-hand. The healthier you are, the healthier your hair will appear. In fact, numerous studies have shown that making changes to your diet and health regime can pay positive dividends for beard growth.
Here are some things to consider:
Start Exercising – Exercise helps to contribute to beard growth in two ways. First, it promotes circulation and encourages blood flow to the face. This helps stimulate growth, by bringing oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Secondly, exercise has been proven to increase testosterone levels, which may help stimulate growth.
Get Enough Sleep – A lack of sleep can significantly affect testosterone levels. In fact, one study found that a week of poor sleep can result in a 10-15 reduction in testosterone levels.
Lose Weight – A healthy weight is key to maintaining testosterone levels. In fact, one study found that obese men were eight times more likely to suffer from low testosterone compared to men of a healthy weight. In other words, shed a few pounds to increase testosterone levels.
- Sweat It Out – Working up a sweat, whether through exercise or at work helps the body flush toxins through the pores, which in turn helps unclog hair follicles. This creates space for new growth.
Do Beard Growth Supplements Work?
In the last decade, the beard growth product market has exploded. Today, you can find a wide range of supplements, from beard growth vitamins to beard growth oils.
If you’re experiencing some patchiness in your beard, you might be wondering: How well do these products work?
The truth is, most beard growth vitamins, oils and supplements aren’t FDA-tested like products that stimulate hair growth on your scalp. In other words, there isn’t scientific evidence that they work, but many do contain ingredients that may help.
For example, beard vitamins typically include Vitamin D, which may help to activate hair growth, as well as Vitamin B-12 and biotin, which have long been used for hair revitalization. Although, if you're eating a balanced diet, you probably won't need to supplement these vitamins.
One potential solution: Although Rogaine and other hair growth supplements are designed for the scalp, they may help stimulate beard growth. These products are believed to work by enlarging the follicles (which will give you that fuller look), and by activating the growth phase, e.g. more hair growing. If you do try this, though, just be sure to consult with your doctor.
Beard Grooming Tips for a Fuller Beard
Beard grooming plays an important role in maintaining the health of your beard. So, if you want a fuller beard, make sure you follow a daily grooming routine. Follow these guidelines:
- Take Care of Your Skin – Dry skin causes beard itch. But it can also stunt growth, because the dead skin cells clog pores. Exfoliate weekly to remove dead skin cells, and be sure to use a beard wash once or twice per week.
- Use Oils and Balms – Beard oil is an all-important moisturizer. It revitalizes the hair follicles and hydrates the skin. Use it daily. A beard balm or beard conditioner is another great product that locks in the moisture and seals individual follicles.
- Try a Beard Brush or Beard Comb – Brushing your beard helps soften and poof your beard. A beard comb on the other hand is a great tool for training the hair to grow in the same direction, which can help cover up patches.
Bottom line: The key to a fuller beard is patience. Most guys can't grow a thick beard overnight. It might take a month or more. But if you're willing to make it through those awkward stages (and you take care of your beard with the right grooming products), you'll likely be rewarded with a beard that you're proud to wear.