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10 Expert Tips on How to Grow a Fuller, Healthier Beard
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Updated on May 21, 2024

Many men wonder how to grow a fuller beard, as they only seem to be able to produce sparse facial hair. For some of them, this is related to their age, genes, or male hormone levels. Others experience conditions that cause beard loss, such as alopecia barbae, which makes up 28% of alopecia areata cases [1]. Or dermatological conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, which can lead to facial hair shedding in the affected area.

If you are struggling with a patchy beard, you will be happy to know there is hope for improvement. There are numerous treatments, therapies and beard styling tricks that you can try to improve your facial hair health and fullness. And should all these solutions be unsuccessful, you may still be a good candidate for a beard transplant. This article will help you learn more about:

  • What can cause a sparse or patchy beard
  • Practical advice for growing a fuller, healthier beard
  • The best and worst beard grooming practices
  • Whether everyone can grow a beard
  • How to start growing out your facial hair
Table of Contents

Why is my beard sparse or patchy?

There are several reasons why you may be growing a patchy beard. Here are some of the most common:

  • Age – many young men under 25 may not have reached their full beard thickness potential (which is why the best age to get a beard transplant is after this milestone), Moreover, beard growth rates and density tend to decrease slightly after 50.  
  • Genetics – some men naturally grow thinner, sparser facial hair, due to the genetically determined number, distribution and strand-producing properties of their beard follicles [2]. 
  • Hormones – male hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) stimulate facial hair growth [3][4]. However, some men have these hormones at lower levels. Others have normal androgen levels, but their beard follicles are less sensitive to them, leading to patchy facial hair growth.. 
  • Autoimmune conditions – certain disorders cause your white blood cells to attack your hair follicles, causing hair loss. This is the case of alopecia areata. The form of alopecia areata that affects the beard is known as alopecia barbae [5].  
  • Dermatological conditions – some common scalp problems can also affect your beard area, leading to localised hair shedding. The most common are seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema or (more rarely) tinea barbae [6].
  • Mechanical conditions – Having a scar from mechanical damage in your beard area (cuts, operations, etc) can prevent strands from growing on its surface. And just like top knots or man buns can cause hair loss, tight beard styles (e.g. knotting, braiding) can cause traction alopecia of the beard [7].
  • Psychological conditions – Excessive stress and anxiety can cause hair loss as well as some beard thinning. So can a form of OCD called trichotillomania [8]. 

How do I grow a fuller, healthier beard?

There are some tried and tested ways to improve your beard density and fix the bald spots in your beard. While they may not yield the same results for everybody, they are definitely worth a try. Here are some of the most effective options:

Male patient talking to a doctor in his office

Get the advice of a trichologist

Since there are so many factors that can contribute to your sparse beard, some of which can be influenced more than others, it is ideal to leave this matter up to the experts. A trichologist is a hair and beard specialist who will diagnose the exact cause of your beard loss and provide you with personalised, targeted treatment instead of generic advice.

Men are very different, as are their beards. Being recommended a solution that suits your specific beard growth needs and preferences can make the difference between a fuller, healthier beard and a feeble, patchy one.  

Young man checking out his sparse beard in the mirror

Give your facial hair enough time to grow

Many men mistakenly believe that they cannot grow adequate facial hair because they never let their beard grow in for long enough to see its peak fullness. Especially if you are genetically predisposed towards a sparser beard, a few days of not shaving can make your facial hair grow patchy. This can leave the impression that it could never develop into a full, good-looking beard. However, sometimes, giving it a few weeks longer can get you much closer to the fullness you desire.

This process may take patience and may involve going through some awkward beard phases. But if you can resist the temptation to shave or trim your budding facial hair at the first signs of unsatisfactory growth, it may pay off in the end. That is because a longer, fuller beard can often disguise a good amount of sparseness, especially if you have coarser, curlier strands.

Man applying topical Minoxidil to his beard

Use beard growth treatments

Not all of the best hair loss treatments for men also work for your beard. For example, popular medications such as Finasteride and Dutasteride reduce hair loss by lowering your DHT levels. So, they are not likely to positively affect beard growth, which is stimulated by this hormone. However, other treatments can provide better results:

  • Minoxidil – Sold under the brand name Rogaine for men, this medication can dilate the blood vessels in your beard area, making it easier for nutrients to reach your facial hair follicles [9]
  • Steroid creams – corticosteroids are often used to reduce inflammation in autoimmune conditions such as alopecia barbae or psoriasis. 
  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP)PRP hair treatment may also work for your beard, although more evidence is needed to ascertain this. It contains growth factors that stimulate facial hair density and thickness and help form new blood vessels to better nourish your beard follicles [10].
  • Derma rolling for hair growth – while more evidence is needed that beard rollers work for beard growth, using topical Minoxidil together with a derma roller increases its absorption rate and effectiveness. This may also happen if you combine these treatments for your facial hair, but further research is needed to confirm this.  
  • Low-level laser therapy  – also known as red light therapy for hair growth, it helps stimulate cell mitochondria to transport more energy to hair and beard follicles alike, which, in time, can improve your beard fullness [11]. 
Seborrheic dermatitis of the beard
Seborrheic dermatitis of the beard

Keep skin disorders under control

Certain conditions that affect your scalp, such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis, can also affect your beard area. They can cause inflammation, rashes, flaking, and tenderness, as well as localised patchy facial hair shedding.

Fortunately, they can be kept under control with over-the-counter antifungal or antibacterial medication, such as ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or salicylic acid. Most of these can be found in the variety of the Nizoral shampoo for hair loss specifically designed for scalp psoriasis

Assorted types of healthy food

Eat a well-balanced diet

It is a known fact that certain vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss, as can restrictive weight loss diets. This applies not only to the hair on your scalp but to your beard as well. The follicles in any area of your body need adequate nourishment to grow and thrive.

Getting enough minerals and vitamins such as vitamin D for hair, vitamin C for hair, vitamin E for hair, iron or zinc can help support your beard growth.  As can drinking enough water to keep your skin hydrated and reducing or balancing the intake of dehydrating substances such as caffeine or alcohol. 

Beard grooming supplies (combs, scissors, beard balm and beard oil dropper)

Groom your beard regularly and correctly

The most important thing for sporting a healthy beard is to keep it clean and well-hydrated. However, your grooming practices also play a role in promoting or diminishing your facial hair fullness and condition. Here is what to do and what to avoid when grooming your beard:

BEARD GROOMING DOsBEARD GROOMING DON’Ts
On a daily basis, use a flat, long comb to untangle the knots in your beard. Then brush it gently with a thin brush with stiff, firm and wiry bristles.Never comb or brush your beard while it is still wet, as it can be much easier to break your strands off. Also, avoid brushing too frequently and too vigorously to prevent strand breakage.
Wash your beard every time you wash your hair, even more often if you get food in it or have oily skin. You can normally use regular shampoo, but formulas specifically designed for beards may work better in some cases.Don’t neglect the skin beneath the beard. It is very sensitive and prone to developing fungi and bacteria if not cleaned thoroughly. If you wash thick facial hair superficially, the shampoo may not reach your skin to clean it properly.
Moisturise your beard with conditioner after every wash, to keep it strong and hydrated. Apply oils and balms as needed, to keep strands shiny and well-nourished.Avoid overexposing your beard to heat styling or to the sun for extensive amounts of time. It can be difficult to fix heat-damaged hair, and your beard makes no exception. Exposure to direct heat can lead to dry, brittle hair on your head and face alike.
Trim your beard once a month (or more frequently, depending on the desired length) using a comb, a razor/ hair trimmer and a pair of long, thin barber’s shears.Avoid letting your beard grow unruly. While it may seem like never trimming your beard can help it grow fuller, it can develop an irregular shape, an uneven size and split ends.
Man applying beard oil with a dropper

Use the right products to nourish your beard follicles

If you want to do beard grooming right, there are several types of products that can help keep your facial hair strong and healthy. Here are some of the most frequently used:

  • Beard oil – little research has been conducted so far to highlight the effect of essential oils for hair growth on beard density. However, these hair growth oils contain fatty acids that moisturise beard hair, vitamins that nourish them and antioxidants that protect them from oxidative stress. Just make sure not to apply too much beard oil, as it can make your facial hair greasy.
  • Beard balm – this product provides deep moisturising for your beard and the skin beneath it. It also makes your facial hair softer and more manageable for styling.
  • Beard wax – while hairspray is not necessarily bad for your hair health, it is not the best option for locking your beard in place. Beard wax is usually the better solution, as it provides natural shine, definition and fixation.
  • Beard shampoos and conditioners – It is not mandatory to use shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for beards, the regular ones usually work just fine. However, if your facial hair is more sensitive or higher maintenance, you opt for these specific formulas.
Smiling senior man exercising outside with dumbbells

Make healthy lifestyle changes

There are certain habits that can support a full, healthy beard growth, while others can hinder it. Here are some things you can do which have a positive effect on your scalp and facial hair, as well as your overall physical and mental wellbeing:

  • Stay active – exercise doesn’t only keep you looking good and feeling good. It can also help increase your testosterone levels (especially in older, previously sedentary men) [12] and reduce psychological stress. Both of these can contribute to your beard health and fullness. 
  • Reduce smokingsmoking can cause hair loss, as it is a vasoconstrictor (it narrows your blood vessels), preventing enough nutrients from reaching your hair and beard follicles. It can also produce inflammation in your body and increase oxidative stress.
  • Practice relaxation and self-care – excessive stress can cause your hair to fall out, and this can extend to your beard. Engaging in relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation, mindfulness or psychotherapy can help you relieve mental pressure.
9 small portraits of men with different beard styles and lengths

Choose the right beard style for you

Not all beards are created equal and what works for one man may not work for another. Your beard style says a lot about you, so selecting one that flatters the shape of your face, your look and personality is crucial for good results. Moreover, the right beard style can mask bald spots and thinning areas, while emphasizing your fuller, more luxurious ones.

Getting the styling advice of an experienced barber can sometimes make the difference between thinking you can’t grow a beard and sporting magnificent facial hair. Find out which bad beard styles to avoid and which styles you should try instead.

A male patient’s beard before and 8 months after a FUE beard transplant

A male patient’s beard before and 8 months after a FUE beard transplant

 

Get a beard transplant

Sometimes, no amount of styling tips or medications can cover up bald spots in your beard. But do not despair – there may be hope for your facial hair yet. You may be eligible for a natural-looking beard transplant. This is a very simple and virtually painless surgical procedure which requires no hospitalisation. It involves harvesting hair follicles from your head or a more luxurious part of your beard and implanting them in the thinning areas.

The popularity of beard transplant surgery has been rising constantly in the past few years, as surgical techniques have improved and beard transplants gone wrong have become almost unheard of when using one of the best hair transplant clinics

The best thing about this procedure is that while beard growth treatment only produces effects for as long as you are taking it, a facial hair transplant is permanent. Just like you can enjoy a scalp hair transplant after 10 years and more, you will also be sporting your fuller, more luxurious facial hair for decades to come. So you can consider it a sound investment in your future appearance. 

What stimulates faster beard growth?

On average, a man’s beard growth rate is approximately 0.3 – 0.5 mm/day (with some ethnic, genetic, age and hair type variations) [13]. There is little evidence of effective ways to speed up this process. However, what you can do to naturally reach your optimal beard growth rate is to provide your follicles with all the nutrients they need to thrive and to lower your stress levels to avoid disrupting your facial hair growth cycle.

Can everyone grow a beard?

This question frequently asked online often gets misleading responses. Some influencers are quick to state that many men cannot grow beards. That is because they confuse not being able to grow a full, well-rounded beard with not being able to grow facial hair at all. While there are certain rare conditions, such as alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis or a severe male hormone deficit, most men can indeed grow a beard if they so choose. 

However, not all men can grow full, luxurious facial hair. Often due to their genes or hormones, many will only be able to develop a patchy beard, which may not look as thick and appealing as they would like. While some of them seek solutions to fix their beard bald spots, others resign themselves to more diminutive beard styles or a clean-shaven look. But ultimately, what constitutes an acceptable beard is a matter of personal taste and expectation management.  

How do I start growing a beard?

It is very easy to start growing a beard, all you need to do is stop shaving for at least a few weeks. Once you feel that your beard has grown long enough to be shaped into your desired style, it is recommended to see a barber for your first-time trimming, styling and grooming advice. Going forward, if you feel ready to do so, you can try to replicate this process at home. 

However, if you would like to trim your own beard into the desired shape, you are going to need an eyebrow pencil and a razor. Using the eyebrow pencil, draw the desired outline of your beard onto your face. Once you are satisfied with the result, use the razor to slowly and carefully remove the extra facial hair. Start your strokes a few millimetres from the outline, not directly on it and move the razor away from the lines, not towards them. Using small, patient strokes will provide the best results. If needed, you can then adjust or even out your beard length with scissors.

Young man holding a razor and looking skeptically at it

Does shaving make my beard grow thicker?

You may have heard people saying that shaving your beard makes it grow thicker. However, that is one of the biggest hair growth treatment myths. Research shows that the frequency of shaving has no impact on beard hair thickness, density or growth rate.

This common misconception probably stems from the fact that the stubble that grows after a shave has sharper tips and may feel coarser or pricklier. This can create the illusion that it is thicker or stronger than the previous longer (and thus softer) strands with blunter tips.  

Are you concerned about a sparse or patchy beard?

If you are struggling to grow a satisfactory beard, do not hesitate to book a consultation with one of our experienced trichologists. They will help you get to the root of what is causing your beard sparseness and recommend the best course of action for improved facial hair fullness and density.

They will also answer all of your questions regarding available treatments, therapies and surgical procedures. This will provide you with all the necessary insight to allow you to make the best-informed decisions regarding your beard growth and care.

10 Expert Tips on How to Grow a Fuller, Healthier Beard, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)Updated on May 21, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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