With Movember behind us, you might have transitioned from fresh-faced and cleanly shaven to wondering, “How long does it take to grow a beard?”
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Whether your beard hair’s coming in patchy or it’s taken on some length after a few weeks of not shaving, you might need to give it a few more weeks to see some results.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Long Beard?
Right now, especially if Movember was your first time not shaving daily, you’re likely sporting a short beard – close cropped but still more than stubble.
Facial hair, however, isn’t drastically different from the follicles on your scalp, growing out in stages and not unlike the process of transitioning from a crewcut to lengthening your locks to sport a pompadour.
In general, it takes about two to four months on average to grow a long beard, although for some men, you may be waiting as long as six months, based on age, health and genetic factors.
A full beard, by this definition, involves hair covering your cheeks, chin, jaw, and lip, as you keep the neck area trimmed. Otherwise, you’ll get that unkempt “neckbeard effect.”
To get to this point, a man’s facial hair comes in at 0.3 to 0.5mm every 24 hours. When you look at the math, you get about one-third to one-half of an inch of hair per month, although some guys, particularly in their 20s, might see their beards grow as much as an inch.
As the opposite side of this, your beard will eventually stop growing: at about the six-year mark, your facial hair will likely reach its limit and stay the same length.
In between these extremes, your facial hair will grow in three distinct phases:
This period – where you are after a month of continuous growth – tends to last several months to a year. The hair on your head is almost in a constant anagen state, particularly if you keep it close cropped, but this stage runs shorter for your beard. During this period, your beard will grow about half an inch.
Through the anagen phase, observe during the first two weeks how your hair grows in. If you spot patchiness by the end of this time, that’s a sign you may not be able to grow a full or substantial beard.
Ultimately, your hair starts to mature. The strands detach from the follicles and join with the skin, and the blood supply going to the roots comes to a stop. If you’re growing it out, avoid shaving it during this phase, but consider scheduling an appointment with your barber for a trimming.
Your hair keeps on growing for the next two to four months, after which it circles back to the anagen phase. During this time, new hair follicles emerge and cause the older strands to shed. At this point, your beard will likely start to take on a fuller, if not bushier, appearance, although growth will be slower.
How to Know If You Can Grow a Beard
Multiple factors affect how a man’s beard comes in, which we’ll touch on below. However, sparce, patchy, or completely absent beard growth may be a symptom of the following:
- Alopecia: Alopecia barbae and alopecia areata, with the latter being more common, prevent the body from growing hair, leading to hair loss or a patchy appearance. This condition occurs when your body’s immune system goes after healthy hair follicles and is more likely to occur during middle age.
- Prolactinoma: Thinning or patchy hair growth may be a symptom of prolactinoma, a non-cancerous tumor developing on the pituitary gland.
- Birthmarks: If you live with Becker’s nevus, your hair texture may change around where these birthmarks occur on your body, including your beard.
- Low testosterone levels: Men with lower testosterone levels may have little to no facial hair. This symptom will likely be accompanied by fatigue, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, issues with building muscle and burning fat, and unstable moods.
How to Grow a Beard Faster
Aside from addressing any of the underlying health conditions mentioned above, you can assist your beard’s growth through the following:
- Healthy eating habits: Sticking to a diet incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins and reducing sugars help you get in more nutrients, including Vitamin A, B vitamins, and Vitamin C.
- Reducing stress: If you sleep too little and relax infrequently, the resulting stress can influence beard growth. As a baseline, aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night, and incorporate relaxation exercises into your daily lifestyle.
- Don’t shave: With the exception of trimming your neck and part of your cheeks, you want to let your beard grow out, rather than shave it down. If you start to notice an itchy sensation, consider using a beard oil to moisturize the hair and skin.
- Take a supplement: Biotin, or Vitamin B7, assists your body’s metabolic processes, including how amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids are broken down and repurposed for physical activity. For your beard, biotin assists in the formation of keratin, the protein making up your hair, skin, and nails, and helps improve your skin.
- Exercise: Exercise has been known to increase testosterone levels, improve blood circulation, and reduce stress, all of which can contribute to improved beard growth.
- Skincare: If you take care of the skin on your face, your beard will have an easier time growing. Along with maintaining your beard as you grow it out, wash your face twice daily to remove dirt, oil, and buildup and schedule in exfoliation at least twice per week to get rid of any dead skin cells. After cleansing and exfoliating, always follow up with a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
What Affects Facial Hair Growth
In addition to instilling solid beard care habits, you need to understand that certain factors are outside of your control:
- Age: Men start sprouting some facial hair during their middle or high school years, but growth doesn’t really accelerate or come in fully until you’re 18. Most men have an easier time achieving a full, thick beard between the ages of 25 and 30, and from here, growth may taper off, thin out, or slow down. This window coincides with the period your body is producing the greatest amount of testosterone.
- Race and ethnicity: Hair growth, or hirsuteness, varies amongst race and ethnic groups. Men of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern descent may have an easier time growing out their facial hair, while for men of Asian or African descent, this process tends to take longer.
- Genetics: To put it simply, if men in your family have patchy beards or male pattern baldness, you have a higher chance of developing these characteristics yourself.