Of the over 1,000 comments this blog has, the #1 one I get is, “How do I fix a patchy beard”? Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this one and have come up with a pretty good solution. In short:
But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s take a brief moment to understand why beards get patchy.
Why is My Beard Patchy?
Source: Dan Phiffer. Creative Commons License.
Your beard is patchy because of your genetic makeup. Some men just have a harder time growing thick beards. You never see photos of Native Americans from the 1800s with beards, for the same reasons you rarely see ancient Chinese or Japanese art depicting men with full beards. (Aside from the stylish Fu Manchu, I’m sure). There is nothing unhealthy or bad about this, of course. That’s just the way some of us men were made, and we can thank our ancestors for that. For insight into why some races of men evolved beards, and others did not, see my article on why men have beards to begin with.
So, if you come from a lineage that does not grow thick beards, you will likely have a hard time growing them too. Sometimes men with genes that are beard-friendly also have a hard time growing beards. Sometimes men with thick beards will have one or two stubborn bald patches that just won’t grow.
These issues are also due to genetics. All the follicles you will ever have on your face were given to you in the womb. You will never grow new beard follicles, as we learned in my recent interview with beard transplant specialist Dr. Alan Bauman. So, one explanation is that you have fewer hair follicles in your patchy places. The only way to get new hair to grow in them would be to get a beard transplant.
Finally, your follicles may have failed to sprout, even if you have beard-friendly genes and an even follicle distribution. This could be due to many reasons:
- You could be too young. Beards start growing after men hit puberty. They start growing in thin around age 17, and get thicker in your 20s. You should have a nice thick beard by age 25, if you can grow one. If you are within that age range and you have a thin beard, or it is patchy, you may just need to grow into your beard.
- You could be unhealthy. Dr. Alan Bauman says that stress and an unhealthy diet can hinder strong beard growth. To grow an epic beard, you need to consume plenty of natural protein. If you are a vegan, vegetarian, or you eat poorly, then you may be short on protein.
- Your body may have damaged beard follicles, due to excess styling, weather damage, or low testosterone. If you think this is the case, consider taking a good testosterone booster supplement, or adopting a testosterone-friendly health regimen. A doctor can tell you if you have low testosterone (which is normal with age).
If your beard doesn’t grow because you’re unhealthy, try taking beard growth vitamins. Here is the cocktail that works best:
- Beard growth multivitamin: This beard growth vitamin contains the minerals and protein necessary to kick-start your dormant beard follicles and produce new growth.
- Biotin: Biotin is a natural material our bodies use to make hair thick, strong, and vibrant. Taking biotin prevents split ends, brittle hair, and strengthens the roots. It can also jump-start your dormant follicles that have just failed to flip over into growth mode.
- Testosterone Booster: Good testosterone can help hair grow and stay healthy. One reason men go bald as they age is that their good testosterone decreases and estrogen increases. Consider taking a testosterone supplement, especially if you are a bit older. Or, start practicing a testosterone-friendly lifestyle, involving the right foods. The Testosterone.IO program is a good one.
If your beard is brittle and damaged, the only medicine is a quality beard conditioner that heals existing strands, and strengthens new strands as they form. The key is to find a conditioner that can be easily absorbed by your follicles and absorbed by living strands.
- Beard Balm – Beard balm is like beard oil, only it comes in a solid form. You need to melt it between your hands or fingers, and apply the new liquid to your beard. Like beard oil, beard balm heals irritated follicles, but it also gives slight form to your beard after it re-solidifies. See my collection of favorite beard balms.
- Honest Amish Heavy Duty Beard Balm is my recommended beard balm.
- Beard Conditioner – Using a beard conditioner in the shower is a great way to soften your beard. The steam from the shower opens your pores and gaps in your strands, allowing for quick absorption. You can then wash away the excess, and apply a beard oil or beard balm to seal it in for the rest of the day. See my collection of favorite beard conditioners.
- Beardsly Conditioner for Beards is my recommended beard conditioner.
It’s also important to trim split-ends, as part of your morning grooming ritual. Split ends can grow until they shatter the hair. They can also slow beard growth, so nip them off when you catch them.
There are some who have healthy diets, are long past puberty, have excellent testosterone levels, have an impeccable morning grooming ritual, and still can’t grow a beard. If this describes you, then your only option (aside from a beard transplant) is to use a minoxidil cream to force your follicles to start growing. Minoxidil is a natural substance that forces your follicles to grow. If your follicles are dormant, but otherwise healthy, then it will cause them to burst forth with glorious new strands!
The only drawback of taking minoxidil is that you have to use it forever. If you stop, your new beard hairs will eventually fall out and not grow back. (This doesn’t happen to beard hair that existed before you started the treatment, by the way).
The Beard Growth Shampoo
Beard growth shampoo is a final tool in the bearded man’s arsenal to getting rid of a patchy beard. Beard growth shampoo thickens an existing beard by making beard hair healthier, thicker, and longer. It prevents existing hair from falling out prematurely, and helps hair grow faster and thicker by dissolving and sweeping away caked-up sebum from around the follicle.
Niacin is one of the main ingredients in beard growth shampoo. It works by dilating the capillaries around hair follicles, allowing them to absorb more nutrients from the blood. When used hand-in-hand with a minoxidil treatment like Lipogaine, beard growth shampoo can fix a patchy beard and make your whole beard look thicker.
See my article on beard growth shampoos for my selection of favorite shampoos.
The Pura d’or beard growth shampoo is the best-selling hair loss prevention product on Amazon, and is my favorite growth-boosting shampoo. It has retained this title since 2012. It has over 1,630 positive reviews. This shampoo, dubbed “brown & blue”, focuses on hair volume and sebum scrubbing. It is a thick shampoo that prevents further hair loss, and makes existing beards look thicker.
Finally, if all else fails, you can get a beard transplant. It works by taking a healthy follicle, say, from your back or head, and moving it to your chin via surgery. The operation leaves no scars and has a quick recovery time, but at $10 per follicle transplant, it can get expensive. This is a good solution for men who have only small patches to fill, or men who are super rich. Read more about beard transplants in my article here.
So there you have it gentlemen; everything you need to know about fixing your patchy beard. If you have any other questions, do ask me in the comments below.