Every man has his own personal experience of facial hair growth, whether it be the wispy ‘tash hairs everyone starts off with, or the struggle to get that beard filled out in its early stages.
Much like head hair on your scalp, many men struggle to grow out their facial hair, and can even experience facial hair loss.
Luckily, there are effective ways to deal with this, which we’ll go into in more detail here.
Your facial hair goes through a cycle, similar to your hair on your scalp. These four stages usually happen over a period of several years, from when they initially appear from the hair follicles on your face, to when they eventually fall out and get replaced by new hairs.
Understanding how your facial hair grows can make you better prepared for the possibility of facial hair loss. Let’s look at this in more detail.
This is the ‘growing stage’, where your facial hair will be growing from your hair follicles at a length of approximately one 1cm per month, on average. This stage can last anywhere from three to five years, and around 85 to 90% of your hair is in this stage at any one time.
During this phase, hairs on your face stop growing, as they detach from their nourishing blood supply.
Also known as the transition phase, Catagen is much shorter than Anagen, and can last anywhere up to about ten days.
Now that the hair has been detached from the bloody supply, it will ‘rest’, and wait to be replaced by new hair from your hair follicles. This process can last for up to three months.
During this stage, old hairs detach from the hair follicle. When you next wash your face, these hairs will probably fall out.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, many men start to start to grow facial hair at a young age, whereas others may not sprout thick hairs until their late teens.
The truth is, facial hair develops in different places on your face, at different times in your life.
Most boys will start to see facial hair appearing on the corners of their upper lip between the ages of 11 and 15. This will then spread to the rest of their lip by age 17, on average.
Once this initial wispy moustache has developed, hair starts to appear on the sides of the face and lower lip. This usually begins between age 16 and 18. By age 21, this has usually spread across the bottom of the chin, so that a full beard can be grown.
However, while this is the average, facial hair doesn’t grow the same for everyone. The age at which this begins can be very different depending on things, such as your genetics, and your nutrition. We’ll explain this is more detail below.
One of the key factors in facial hair growth is testosterone, the hormone produced by the body which is responsible for many physical characteristics.
When you start to grow facial hair during puberty, they often appear on your face quite thin and wispy.
Testosterone causes a process called dihydrotestosterone, which amongst other things helps your hair transition from fine hair to thick, which makes it appear more prominently on your face.
In addition, this thickness can increase from the age of 18 all the way up to the age of 30, so if you don’t develop a thick set of facial hair straight away, try not to worry, it could just be taking its time.
As mentioned earlier, not everyone’s hair grows in the same way – it may appear faster, and in different places, depending on your age and other factors. However, some men experience real difficulties growing facial hair at all.
The ability to grow facial hair is largely influenced by genetics – much like your head hair is. By looking at your father or grandfather’s level of facial hair growth at an early age, you may be able to see a pattern with your own.
Don’t go blaming your family too quickly, though. Genetics aren’t the only cause of facial hair growth issues, there are other possible reasons that we’ll explore in more detail later in this guide.
No, shaving does not make your hair grow back faster, or thicker. This is one of the most common myths around facial hair growth, which leads many men into believing that the more they shave their beard, the more chance they have of it miraculously growing back thicker, faster and healthier than before, but unfortunately it won’t.
When you shave, your give the hairs on your face a blunt tip, which can initially appear thicker or darker, but once these grow back fully you’ll see that they do not change significantly from one shave to the next.
However, there are some factors that do affect your rate of hair growth, which we’ve covered in more detail below.
While many men have difficulty growing facial hair, men can also experience facial hair loss. This can happen naturally, but can also be affected by certain health conditions. Let’s look at this a bit closer.
Alopecia Areata is the third most common form of hair loss that men experience, after androgenetic alopecia (better known as male pattern baldness) and telogen effluvium.
It is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system inappropriately attacks its own hair follicles, leading to the appearance of bald patches.
Sometimes this condition only affects the beard area, and this is known as alopecia barbae.
Studies estimate that around 2% of men will experience AA at some point in their lives.
As with many aspects of healthcare, your overall lifestyle can have a significant effect on your hair growth.
Stress, for example, has been linked to alopecia areata, the condition mentioned earlier, along with some other types of hair loss.
However, it is worth remembering that stress is only one of a number of possible factors that can cause alopecia areata.
The effects of smoking on the skin and teeth are well known, however in recent years studies have suggested that the habit can also negatively affect facial hair growth.
This is because the DNA of hair follicles can be badly damaged by the toxins in cigarette smoke, in turn leading to less hair growth.
In addition to conditions such as AA, and your overall lifestyle, your age can also have a negative effect on your facial hair growth.
However, this is usually something that happens naturally, and so there’s no need to be concerned.
Men often lose some of their facial hair as they get older, and one of the reasons that this often happens is because of testosterone levels.
After the age of 30, most men tend to develop lower testosterone levels, and this lack of testosterone can mean less hair growth.
Just as there are several factors that can negatively affect facial hair growth, there are also things you can do to encourage it to grow faster and thicker.
We’ve outlined some of these in more detail below.
Much like head hair loss, nutrition can also play a part in facial hair loss, as your hair follicles that grow your beard benefit from the same nutrients as those on your scalp.
Having an adequate amount of protein in your diet can be beneficial for your facial hair health, along with fatty acids and essential vitamins and minerals.
Fish and other seafood are a great option for getting in enough of all the above, or nuts and seeds if you’re on a vegetarian diet.
Minoxidil is a hair loss treatment, backed by research, which has shown the solution to be effective in slowing, stopping and in some cases reversing hair loss.
Minoxidil works by prolonging the ‘growth’ phase of hair follicles, which means your hair spends more time growing and less time shedding.
Several studies have shown that Minoxidil solution applied twice a day to the scalp can be extremely beneficial at combating head hair loss, and now many researchers believe it could be effective for treating facial hair loss, too.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.