The Time It Takes To Grow A Great Beard
Once upon a time, I was growing a beard for the first time ever, and something started to worry me. The unevenly distributed facial hair growth was bothering me. What insecure teenaged boy likes growing uneven, sparse facial hair? Since that time, I have learned a lot about the growth cycle of facial bristles. Here I will share that information with you so that you too can understand how whiskers develop into full-length facial hair. If you read on, you will know how the growth cycle works, how much time is involved, and how you can increase the growth rate of your beard.
What Sets Your Androgenic Hair Apart From Your Head’s Set Of Hair
Your androgenic hair is all of the hair you develop on your body during and after puberty. It is much thicker and darker than the almost invisible vellus hair that covers human bodies from birth. In fact, androgenic hair develops from vellus hair.
The growth of this hair is stimulated by the androgen hormone, which is present in both sexes, but definitely in larger quantities within men. The amount of this hormone determines the growth of androgenic hair.
All human hair goes through three stages during the growth cycle: anagen, catagen, and telogen phases. In androgenic hair, the anagen phase has a shorter duration than in the scalp’s hair, which is why the hair on top of your head can grow much longer.
The amount of androgenic hair also has to do with your levels of the testosterone hormone. The larger the quantity of testosterone, the more likely that there will be a greater amount of body hair along with smaller amount of head hair.
Androgenic Facial Hair Growth
The first part of the growth cycle is the anagen phase. This is the period of time when the hair strand is actively growing. Androgenic hair tends to be in this mode for several months to a year at a time. In contrast, your scalp’s hair is in the anagen phase for a few years.
What does this tell you? Consider that there is a finite amount of time during which your hair is within the growing stage. This means that your hair has a maximum length it can attain. During its years-long anagen phase, your scalp hair might be able to grow over a foot long. Conversely, your facial hair’s shorter anagen stage lets that hair reach only a few inches in length. Once that phase comes to an end, the growth comes to a halt as your hair enters the next stage.
For reference, hair grows about a 1 centimeter (3/8 inch) per month. Assuming that your anagen phase lasts up to a year, your beard (one year’s growth of beard) could extend up to 4 1/2 inches in length.
The Hair’s Catagen Phase
The anagen phase is followed by the catagen stage. Think of this as a resting mode for your hair follicles. During this intermediary stage, the hair is preparing itself for what comes next, namely the telogen phase. The hair follicle shrinks, melanin production stops, and the root becomes cut off from its blood and nutrient supply. This period lasts only a couple of weeks.
The Telogen Phase Is Time For Your Hair To Retire
By the telogen stage, the hair is completely dormant. This lasts for 1 to 4 months. While the hair strand is inactive, a new strand is being created already. The telogen phase ends when the old hair strand breaks off from its root and is shed.
So At Some Point In Time You Will Be Shedding All Your Facial Hair?
Now you may be growing concerned that all of your facial hair strands will shed simultaneously, leaving your face as bald as a baby. Rest assured that this is not the case.
It is important to note that each hair strand is independent from the other strands. At any given time, there are about 85% of the strands going through the anagen phase, around 10% within the catagen stage, and the remaining strands finishing up their cycles in the telogen phase. All three stages are happening to your hair concurrently, each hair shaft at a different point in the cycle.
All this means that at any point in time, only about 1%-5% of your hair strands are in the telogen phase and will be shed. That also means that any any point in time, the remaining 95%-99% of your hairs will continue to remain in place. So do not think you will be hairless any time soon.
There are, however, other reasons that can affect how fast your facial hair grows, so let’s take a look at those:
Your Age Influences Your Potential
Somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 (give or take a few years), you will start puberty and begin to grow your first facial hairs. It is usual for boys to see their mustache hair emerge first, followed by some sparse hairs on their cheeks.
During the teenage years, your testosterone levels spike, causing some of your vellus hair to change into androgenic hair. This occurs on the face, chest, and several other places.
Right past puberty, your testosterone levels will remain high, and the hairs will be going through the anagen phase, causing your facial hair to grow. At different points in time, additional vellus hairs will begin the growing phase, making your facial hair appear progressively fuller.
From around the age of 25 to about 35, your androgenic hairs will experience the longest lasting anagen phase, making it the optimal time for you to grow the longest beard possible for you. For this reason, many consider this age range to be the beard’s prime years.
Your DNA Holds Critical Information Regarding Your Beard Potential
So you might have noticed some impressive and surreally long beards in photos at your barbershop, in magazines, or on the internet. Surely you have wondered how those men could grow such ridiculously immense beards.
While many factors add to the equation, your DNA holds the most responsibility for how long and thick your mane can grow.
Just looking at your relatives, you may notice how facial hair growth potential differs between your mother’s side of the family and your father’s side. If you have brothers, it may be apparent who got his full beard from the men in your mom’s family and who got his sparser whiskers from your dad’s relatives.
You are not imagining those differences among facial hair in your family. Whatever DNA you inherit prescribes the number of follicles you will have and how long your hair’s anagen phase will last. Unless you have learned how to re-program your DNA, you have no control over how your DNA determines your beard to grow.
The good news, however, is that you have a tiny bit of a say-so over how thick your facial hair is, so read on!
A Good Diet Helps Your Beard Attain Its Highest Potential
As if you don’t already have enough reasons to consume a healthful diet, here is another one: a balanced, nutritious diet with enough protein guarantees that your hair is growing to its highest potential.
Not all proteins are created equally. Naturally occurring protein is always better than that powder stuff you buy at the supplement store. Also, iron-rich protein sources lead to healthy hair, whereas too many vitamin A-rich foods can make your hair quality deteriorate.
There are many food items that provide a good amount of protein in each serving:
- lean chicken
- lean beef
- lean pork
- soy milk
There are a few points to consider when you increase your intake of protein. One of the first changes you may notice is that your nails are growing faster than before. Another sign will be that you are more thirsty and will need to increase your water intake. As long as you are drinking enough, you do not need to worry about consuming too much protein. Your body will excrete any unnecessary protein via your urine.
Exercise To Increase Your Beard Length
When you exercise, your body releases more testosterone into your bloodstream. It is believed that the more muscle fibers you activate during your workout, the more testosterone you release. In that case, you should try to do workouts which require your entire body to be involved. Lifting weights with all of your major muscle groups will cause you to use tiny helper-muscle fibers to be involved as well so that you will maximize your benefits.
As you may well know, testosterone regulates a lot of activities in your body. Not only does it have an influence on your rate of hair growth, but it also determines how much muscle mass you can have.
The other positive effect of exercise is that you will increase your blood circulation as well as the amount of oxygen brought to your cells. This will also positively influence your hair growth.
Additionally, exercising reduces stress and is conducive to more restful sleep, helping you to get the optimal amount of sleep for your body, which leads us to the next factor.
Sleeping Your Way To Your Best Potential
When you eat well and exercise regularly, you will be more likely to fall asleep easily and deeply. Inadequate sleep or irregular sleep patterns can mess with your hormone levels and even your hair growth cycle, causing temporary hair loss. So remember to get your beauty sleep for a most handsome beard.
Beard Care For Your Best Beard Look
No matter what your beard’s growth potential is, there is one factor that allows you full control over your facial hair presentation: beard maintenance.
There are a lot of products on the market nowadays that really make it simple to take great care of one’s beard. Actually, the number of products and wide selection of each are downright exhausting.
Beard oils, balms, combs, brushes, washes, waxes and who knows what’s next have taken over the shelves not only in barber shops, but even in drugstores, grocery stores, and the virtual world. The question is whether or not these products also can influence your beard’s growth potential.
Combs and brushes hold the greatest promise for fuller facial hair. There is the belief that follicle stimulation from brushing/combing can speed up the growing process. The increase of blood flow will provide extra oxygen and nutrients so that your bristles can grow to their highest potential.
Whether or not that is true, combing or brushing your whiskers certainly can make your facial fur appear more full and furry. With each stroke, you separate and disperse the hair strands, covering up areas of sparse hair growth.
You definitely need to make sure you use a good tool such as a wooden comb or a brush with boars bristles so that you do not damage your whiskers. Using tools that are too rigid can create tears in the hair shafts, causing your whiskers to split or break off prematurely.
Finally, your method is important as well. Go easy and do not allow your comb or brush to yank on the hair strands. If your beard is tangled, do not brush it while wet. Instead, towel dry your facial hair and apply beard oil, which will make your bristles soft, supple, and easy to comb through.
Speaking of which, beard oil as well as beard balm and wax are conditioners and moisturizers that provide a lot of benefits for your beard, but hair growth is not one of them. Yet by keeping your follicles and hair shafts hydrated, they help prevent split ends and breakages. Whereas a dry hair strand is prone to break off prematurely, reducing its length, well moisturized hair will be more supple and able to bend without incurring damage. The more whiskers grow to their full length potential without breaking off early, the longer and fuller your entire beard will be.
So for all the beardsmen who consider themselves too macho to give some TLC to their pride and joy, think about all of this. Nobody is going to force you to use pretty, pink combs or lavender-scented oils. There are very masculine looking and smelling products on the market just for us virile men growing our manly beards. There is no shame in adding a few of these tools to our arsenal in order to look our best.
If beard growth concerns do not entice you to try out any products, maybe the thought or discomfort of beard-ruff will steer you toward shelves filled with beard products. There is nothing manly or desirable about itchy, flaky facial hair. At the first sign of beard dandruff, you should get your rough hands on a bottle of beard oil and find out what a difference it makes.
Beard products generally are not laden with chemicals to produce a “pretty” smell or color. They contain the bare minimum and natural ingredients to get the job done. Beard oil and balm, for example, are created to mimic your natural sebum, intended to coat your skin and hair in order to prevent moisture from escaping. With the moisture left in place, your whiskers and surrounding skin are hydrated and there won’t be any dry flakes falling off.
Now if you prefer to walk around with skin flaking from underneath your beard and dry bristles prickling your lady’s face when you kiss her, then keep on stoically refusing to use any beard products. If, on the other hand, you want your facial hair to look full and healthy and smell of earthy, manly musk, then go ahead and get your hands on some beard oil and other tools.
If the sheer number of products on the market are a bit intimidating and confusing, feel free to refer to our reviews and guides covering everything from beard oil to combs.
So What About Drugstores’ Minoxidil and Vitamins?
Are you questioning if something as pharmaceutical as Minoxidil is not more useful than a good night’s sleep and bottles filled with natural oils? Let’s take a look.
Minoxidil is the active ingredient in the hair-growth drug known as Rogaine. It is approved by the FDA and does not require a doctor’s prescription, so it is easily accessible and considered safe. After all these years of filling pharmacy and drug store shelves, Rogaine has achieved a pretty good reputation as well as faithful following. If it works on the scalp, it very likely works on the face as well. While it may not change a Johnny Depp growth pattern into a Santa Claus facial fur, it can add a bit of volume to what nature has given you.
Vitamin suppliers also have taken advantage of the beard boom, putting out products like Beardalizer and Vitabeard. These vitamins are seen everywhere, especially online, since men have latched onto the vitamin bandwagon for quite some time. Basically multivitamins with a higher Biotin concentration, these products are targeted at the rugged beardsmen who might otherwise not consider vitamins as essential.
Biotin, also called vitamin B7, acts as a coenzyme which helps change food into energy. It is credited with improving hair, nails and skin. It is for this reason that it has earned the nickname “vitamin H,” as a reference to the German words Haar (hair) and Haut (skin).
To be on the safe side, remember to consult your doctor before using products containing Minoxidil or consuming multi-vitamins such as Beardalizer. Also, a supplement should not ever replace a healthful diet, but rather can be used to supplement a balanced diet.
A Quick Recap Regarding Your Hair’s Growth Rate
So we have covered a lot of factors that can contribute to your hair growing at its maximum potential rate. Your DNA might set your maximum potential, but your age, nutrition, exercise and sleep can help your hair realize its full potential.