If you’re a guy, you’ve probably thought about growing out your beard at some point. Lucky for you, the internet is rife with information about how to grow a beard. The downside is that most of it is pretty vague and none of it is very centralized. The Ultimate Beard Guide is designed to be a complete overview of everything you ever wanted to know about beards and beard care—all in one convenient place. Before we get started, let me answer some questions you may have regarding your future beard.
- The anatomy of a beard
- Beard hair growth cycle
- How long does it take to grow a beard?
- How to grow a beard
- The fastest way to grow a beard
- How to grow a thicker beard
- How to grow a longer beard
- How to grow a healthier beard
- How to reduce the itch while growing your beard out
- How to make your beard softer
- How to trim and shape your beard
- How to choose the right beard style your face shape
- How to fill in patchy beard hair
- What tools are necessary to groom a beard?
- Can any man grow a beard?
- What age is it normal to start growing a beard?
- What does it mean if I can’t grow a full beard by my early twenties?
The anatomy of a beard
Beard hair grows out of the tiny thousands of follicles located on your face. As we know, the number of follicles you have and what quality of hair grows out of them are determined by genetics, but the basic anatomy of the beard is the same for all guys.
Essentially, the parts of a strand of hair are: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. For understanding hair as it pertains to your beard needs, you can forget the medulla, which is the inner core and lacks structure, and focus on the latter two. The cortex is the middle layer where hair gets its structure from, and the shape of the cortex—round or oval—determines how curly or straight your hair is. (Curlier hair has a more oval shape whereas straight has a more rounded shape.) Melanin lies here in the cortex as well and works to give your hair its color. The cuticle is the outer layer of your hair and it’s what repels excess water that your cortex layer has drawn in.
Inside your hair follicles are the bulb of the root of your hair. Hair grows from here towards the root proper and out of the air follicle where it becomes the hair shafts that you see when you look at your beard in the mirror.
Beard hair growth cycle
Human hair follows a very structured growth cycle. The parts of the cycle are:
- Anagen phase: The longest phase of the hair growth cycle which can last anywhere from two to six years. This is the cycle where your hair grows and almost all of your hair (85%-90%) is currently in the anagen phase at any given time.
- Catagen phase: The resting phase, or catagen phase, is where your hair follicle quits melanin production and shrinks. It lasts only about two weeks and only 1% of your hair is going to be in this phase at any given time.
- Telogen phase: Up to 15% of your hair is going through the telogen phase at any particular time and that’s good news, because this is the shedding phase. After the catagen phase, hair stays put for one to four months until towards the end of the telogen phase where the old, spent hair is pushed out. Two weeks later, new hair begins to emerge as the anagen phase begins again for that hair follicle.
As you can see, every strand of your hair is always on a different phase of the cycle. It’s because of this that most of us don’t notice we’re shedding. Those who experience a prolonged or pronounced telogen phase may actually notice some hair loss, but as long as it comes back, it’s simply part of the whole hair growth process.
Knowing about the growth cycles your beard hair goes through will help you understand better how to take care of it—and stop you panicking the next time you notice a few falling hairs.
Remember that stress is one of the leading causes of an abnormally long telogen (shedding) phase, as is poor nutrition. Check out the relevant topics in the rest of this guide to power through that telogen phase and get back to your hair-producing glory.
How long does it take to grow a beard?
How long it takes to grow a beard largely depends on a combination of genetics and the beard length and beard fullness you’re aiming for, as well several other factors. Naturally, growing a short beard will result in a shorter growth time. A close cropped, stubbly beard can come in a week or two. Long beards, on the other hand, can take years of growing for even the fastest hair growers.
Age can play a factor in how fast beards grow. Men have the best chance of growing a thicker and longer beard between the ages of 25 and 35, because that is when the hair goes into the longest anagen phases of the hair growth cycle, which is when hair grows, which means you’ll experience the most growth then. (The hair growth cycle is covered in fuller detail in an above section, if you want to learn more.)
There isn’t really anything you can do about the hair growth genes you inherited (yet), but what you can do is make some lifestyle changes to cut out anything that might be stunting hair growth to cut down on the time it takes to grow a beard. Get some sleep, exercise and ensure that you’re getting enough nutrition—especially protein. This will shorten beard growth time tremendously, because a healthy body is more likely to grow hair.
How to grow a beard
Growing a beard is a lot less daunting that it seems at first. After all, you’re a man. You’re biologically programmed to grow a beard. While the characteristics of your beard will vary from other men, because we’re all unique, it’s still important to remember that you can do it. Even if it takes longer to grow your beard than it took your best friend to grow his, you can still do it. And being calm about the whole thing will prevent hair loss and allow your hair to grow at its normal rate.
So, now that we’ve firmly established that any man can grow a beard, we have to make something clear: It takes dedication to learn how to grow a beard the right way. Why? Because proper beard maintenance requires effort and patience, which not every guy has. But if you’re the kind of guy who can stick with something, learning how to grow a beard will be easy for you.
Here are the chronological steps of how to grow a beard:
- Accept that your beard will come in, even if it takes a while.
- Kick start beard growth with adequate protein and beard-boosting vitamins.
- Soothe new beard itch with conditioner, moisturizer and anti-itch products.
- Carefully tweeze ingrown hairs that may appear in freshly sprouting stubble.
- Shampoo and condition your beard as the stubble grows longer to ensure cleanliness and softness, both of which will reduce itch.
- Trim away stray hairs as your beard grows out—but don’t go overboard. Just do the obvious ones.
- This is also around the time you can really start to style your new beard.
- Once your beard really starts to come in, you can shape it. For noobs, it’s important to keep it simple and pick proven styles that suit your face shape until you develop a better eye for beards. (And if you are completely devoid of all artistic talent or discernment, don’t be ashamed to go to a barber at this point—he or she will get you on the right track.)
For some guys, their beard is their baby. Dads will know this definitely has parallels for guides for new parents, which goes to show you the time and patience growing out your beard requires.
If videos are more your thing, this one goes is a condensed view of the whole beard growing process, including helpful tips:
The fastest way to grow a beard
The bad news is that there is no commercially available gene therapy available to make your beard grow faster. But even though you can’t change your genes, you can help your beard grow faster by doing a couple of things.
For starters, get rid of every habit that could be making you lose hair or that is stopping your hair from growing. This is everything from pulling on it to smoking to crash dieting. Any habit that makes the hair fall out on your head will make your beard fall out as well.
Sometimes hair refuses to grow for other reasons. By and far the most common of these is vitamin deficiency. Americans have very poor diets because, as a people, we eat a lot of highly processed food that has been stripped of its nutrients. Taking a quality beard-oriented vitamin supplement, like Beard Boost from Better Beard Club, can get your beard out of its resting phase and help it transition back to the growth phase of the hair cycle. Trying to get your hair back into the growth (anagen) phase truly is the fastest way to grow a beard.
How to grow a thicker beard
A lot of guys want to grow a thicker beard. We’ve discussed the role beard vitamins play in beard growth elsewhere in this guide, and growing a thicker beard is no different. But there are other things you can do to grow a thicker beard as well.
Before going further, it’s important to reiterate that the thickness of your beard is somewhat limited to your genetics. The goal for thickening your beard should be achieving the maximum beard thickness your genetics allow for. Also, if you’re a teen or even a guy in his early twenties, be advised that your beard is likely nowhere near its level of adult fullness, so you probably won’t be able to achieve maximum beard thickness for a few more years anyway simply due to your age.
Exercise is perhaps the best thing you can do for promoting a thicker beard. Facial hair happens because of the way your body reacts to testosterone. By naturally boosting your testosterone levels through exercise, you give your body more testosterone to react to. A thicker beard is often the result. Anecdotally, girls often say their eyebrows come in fuller after they start exercising regularly, so it makes sense that this phenomenon would transfer to beards for guys.
How to grow a longer beard
The obvious answer to how to grow a longer beard is don’t shave it. But I’m going to assume you already know that and move on to other ways to grow a longer beard.
Maintaining your beard’s health is crucial for growing a longer beard. The key is preventing the hair from breaking before your beard reaches your desired length. Firstly, get enough vitamins and eat enough protein. Once you do that, you can look at topical remedies for breaking beard hair.
Beard oil, like the woodsy-scented Beard Oil by Mountaineer Brand, goes a long way towards strengthening your beard, thereby allowing it to grow longer. A good beard oil replaces the natural oil that other products and environmental pollutants strip away. A lack of protective oil is a leading cause of hair breakage both at the ends (as in split ends) and at the shaft itself; all of that breakage is hindering your beard from reaching its full length and must be destroyed. Beard balm can also help with this issue, if that’s more your thing.
When you trim your long beard, keep it simple. Do only what you need to do to maintain the shape you want and no more. By practicing adequate nutrition, good beard care and some common sense, you’ll be able to get your beard to your desired length in no time.
How to grow a healthier beard
To grow a healthier beard, it’s important to become a healthier you. Ditch empty carbs and go for protein instead, like omega-3-containing fish and other lean protein. Get on a vitamin regimen and be sure to devote at least 7 hours a night to sleep. And as always, exercise—it promotes beard growth.
Once you optimize your body and prime it for beard growth, focus on keeping your beard healthy from the outside. Only use beard shampoos and conditioners, which will contain the right pH for your beard and face. Beard moisturizer and beard oil are two of the best products you can use to promote healthier hair grow. Try something like this Beard Oil Conditioner from Urban Prince; not only does it condition your beard, but it moisturizes it and treats it with protective oils. Using products like this before your beard becomes damaged is crucial to growing an overall healthier beard.
How to reduce the itch while growing your beard out
Beard itch should only be a temporary phenomenon, occurring only in the first few weeks of growing out your beard. Any beard itch that lasts longer or is very severe could be the sign of a medical condition, such as fungus, allergies or some dermatological issue like rosacea. If you have severe itching, itching that lasts longer than a few weeks, or itching accompanied by unexplained redness, welts or flaking skin, see your doctor.
All of that said, once again, itching usually occurs when you’re just starting to grow out your beard. While it can drive you crazy, there are some easy ways to manage it that will help you get over the hump, so to speak.
For general beard itching, it’s important to follow proper beard hygiene. Remember that beards catch a lot of debris like pollen and bacteria. While this is great for your health, because you’re not actually ingesting these unfriendlies, it can still lead to a lot of skin irritation as your beard grows out. To solve this problem, cleanse with a quality beard shampoo like Medicine Man’s Anti-Itch Beard Wash; what’s great about this product is, not only does it clear away the nasty debris, it’s specifically designed for men with itchy beards like yourself.
Follow up your shampoo with some beard conditioner, like Zeus Beard Conditioner Wash for Men. Not only does it soften all that new beard bristle you’re experiencing, it has a manly, subtle verbena lime scent that will make the ladies swoon.
You may think your beard-softening job is done after conditioning your beard, but not so fast—beard moisturizer will kick that softening up a notch, which is exactly what you need if you’re experiencing an itchy beard. Go for a beard moisturizer with added benefits, like Percy Nobleman’s Face and Stubble Moisturizer. Not only is it designed specifically to soften new beard growth, but it also reduces wrinkles and skin damaged. Better still, it’s pH-balanced to keep both your skin and your beard at their healthiest.
After you’ve cleaned and softened your beard, you may feel 100% better. But for beard itch that’s just a little bit tricky, you may have to take some additional steps.
Take a look in the mirror and see if you can spot any ingrown hairs. In general, they will have some redness around them, maybe a little bit of pus. If the problem is minor, take some tweezers and pluck out the offending hair; the itchiness in that local area should resolve, and you can always apply some anti-itch ointment like Neosporin Eczema Essentials Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream. The hydrocortisone aspect will reduce inflammation around the ingrown hair area while the anti-itch part will sooth residual itchiness while the spot heals over the course of a day or so. (Remember that products containing cortisone and its relatives are a type of steroid, which is why they are so great at reducing inflammation; the double-edged sword with these topical treatments are they can actually thin skin long term, so be careful not to overuse.)
That said, if an ingrown hair is super-infected or has warning signs like red streaks coming out of it, see a doctor and get on some antibiotics, because facial infections are no joke. And if you don’t take that seriously, consider a bad infection could have dire consequences for your beard, so it’s important to get severe ingrown hairs professionally treated.
Be sure to follow a regular brushing or combing regimen for your beard to encourage your beard to grow in a uniform direction to prevent future ingrown hairs. Try something like this Beard Brush and Beard Comb Kit for Men by Repsol Care. It’s made with natural materials like boar bristles and real wood, and with the combo kit, you’ll be sure to have the right tool at all times.
How to make your beard softer
A softer beard starts with a good foundation. Wash your beard with beard shampoo only, so that your beard’s natural pH is maintained and you aren’t exposed to any harsh abrasives that might roughen up your hair.
Beard conditioner is the first beard softening product every man should know about. Conditioner is what sets your beard on the path to softness. Like shampoo, you always want to go with a beard conditioner as opposed to whatever you’re using on your head. The Art of Shaving’s Beard Conditioner is a good example of the sort of conditioner you should be using on your beard. It’s a very general beard conditioner that works with most beard types.
Go for a beard and facial moisturizer combination to soften your beard while simultaneously shortening your beard care routine, like this one from Stubble & ‘Stache.
Beard oil and beard balm are also great beard softeners, and should be among your beard care essentials. This beard oil and beard balm kit from Topher’s Beard Company comes in their Drunken Pirate scent, which is their interpretation of Bay Rum.
Finally, it’s important to note that you should be brushing your beard if you want it to be softer. (But really, just in general you should be brushing your beard to keep it well-groomed and stuff.) Use something like this Boar Bristle Beard Brush from Huntsman Beard to detangle and soften your beard like a boss.
How to trim and shape your beard
If you’re new to the whole having a beard thing, it can seem like a challenge to learn how to trim your beard. In reality, it’s not as difficult as it seems and can be broken down into a few simple steps.
- Comb your beard: You should comb your beard all over, even in places you usually neglect, and ensure it’s 100% tangle-free. Also, comb the hair into a single direction to ensure you get a nice, even trim.
- Use your clippers to evenly trim your beard: If you don’t have a lot of experience using clippers, it’s always best to start with a bigger guard. This ensures you don’t accidentally trim too much and you can always go smaller if you find you need to.
- Trim and fade your neckline: Generally, the most desired place is an inch above the Adam’s apple.
- Fade your cheekline: This avoids that artificial-looking hard stop on the cheeks. Though, it must be said not every guy has to worry about his cheekline—this step primarily depends on your beard growth pattern and if you have any hair there to manage.
- Use scissors to detail your beard and trim your mustache: Some guys are petty adept at using clippers to trim their mustaches, but that can be somewhat tricky. The safer thing to do is to use scissors. Scissors are also crucial to detailing your beard and getting rid of stray hairs.
- Finish up with beard oil and/or moisturizer: Don’t skip this step—it’s important to nourish and soothe your beard after a trim!
If you’re in need of a more visual guide, check this one out:
How to choose the right beard style your face shape
The key to choosing the right beard style for your face shape really boils down to trimming and styling your beard so that it complements the shape of your face. What that means, basically, is that you want your beard to make smaller than average facial features look larger and larger than average facial features look smaller. Essentially, you’re styling your beard to even out your face, which immediately makes you more handsome.
A square jaw is ultra-manly, but if your jaw is exceptionally wide, go for a beard style that’s shorter on the sides. If your chin is small, you can grow the beard longer there. The result is that you’ve made your chin larger and your jaw smaller, averaging out your facial features.
On the other end of the spectrum, guys with rectangular faces, which are a much longer facial version of a square face shape, hence the name, should opt for longer hair on the sides and shorter on the chin so they don’t make their already long face even longer. This look is great for tall lanky guys who have narrow faces, because it adds some extra bulk and substance to their visage.
There are a lot of named beard styles, as we’ve previously discussed. If you want to know which one is right for you, consider its characteristics. For instance, if that style is long on the sides, you’re going to want to avoid it if you have a round face, because it will add extra width to you, which you don’t need.
And of course, there’s the Bandholz. As previously stated, the Bandholz is a beard style that looks universally good no matter what you look like underneath it. On the one hand, it is large so it pretty much covers your lower face and neck. But’s also got a slight squarishness to the silhouette which sharpens up men with softer features but doesn’t look like overkill on men with angular features. Because this aspect, it truly looks good on anyone.
BeardBrand gives a good explanation of beards and face shapes in this video:
How to fill in patchy beard hair
Some men will always have a patchy beard. This is genetics-based and occurs in men of all ancestries. If you fall into that category, embrace it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with patchy beards, and there are a lot of styling tips out there to optimize their appearance.
And if you’re a teenager, or a guy in his twenties, remember that you won’t know your beard’s true density until you’re anywhere from late twenties to early forties. It’s only in this late stage—after adolescence ends—where men grow the thickest beards.
All of that aside, it’s important to note that most men will experience patchiness at some point in the growth cycle—even those who ultimately wind up with full, thick beards. A lot of this simply has to do with your hair growth cycle in general. You could theoretically have a lot of beard hair in the shedding stage at the precise time you’re growing it out, giving the appearance of a patchy beard when it’s really just temporary shedding.
Regardless of what causes your patchy beard, there’s a few things you can do.
Eat well and get adequate nutrition. Remember, inadequate protein intake and vitamin deficiencies are common causes of stunted hair growth. Go for grilled chicken breast and a decent beard growth vitamin, like Wild Willies Bad Ass Beard Growth Dietary Supplement, which nourishes follicles to encourage growth and simultaneously calms inflammation that may be hampering beard growth.
From a style standpoint, Eric Bandholz advises men to go with a shorter beard to make the patchiness less noticeable. Listen to his explanation in this video:
If you tackle the patchy problem from each of these angles while avoiding snake oil, it will usually all work itself out. Even if you beard stays patchy due to genetics, remember patchy beards can look awesome when you know how to maintain them.
What tools are necessary to groom a beard?
We’ve covered all the necessary products to care for your beard already throughout this guide, and top picks can be found in several selections below. What we haven’t talked about a lot are beard grooming tools.
Basically, there are a few grooming tools every bearded man needs:
- A boar bristle brush
- A beard comb
- Beard clippers
- Styling scissors
There are some supplementary tools as well that aren’t necessary, but can help you achieve your desired beard look.
If you have a curly beard (which is a topic covered earlier in this guide), you may also have need of a flat iron/hair straightener and a hair dryer with diffuser and concentrator attachments.
There may be other gadgets out there, but these are the only tools you need. (I, personally, don’t refer to beard care products like beard shampoo and beard oil as tools, because specific language is important when you’re writing an instructional guide.)
Beard growth vitamins
Beard growth vitamins and beard supplements are pretty popular right now and tons of brands have crawled out of the woodwork as a result. Be sensible and avoid snake oil products.
Keratin is one of the big no-go ingredients that even some otherwise high-quality beard supplements contain. Remember, consuming keratin is like eating your own fingernails, so that’s always an ingredient to avoid.
Meanwhile, there are some vitamins that have some more exotic ingredient than the standard B vitamins and iron that most people already know about. Collagen is one of these ingredients. Supplements containing collagen are a good thing, because it’s a building block of protein, which is crucial for new hair growth. Not all beard growth vitamins contain collagen, but you can supplement it with a separate collagen product if your chosen brand doesn’t have it as part of their ingredient mix.
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of Vitamin C in collagen production and protein synthesis. Your body can’t produce protein—and therefore a beard—without it, so it’s an important ingredient in today’s best beard vitamins, like Virilitas Beard & Hair Growth Support, which has levels of Vitamin C that specifically support protein synthesis for increased beard growth. Plus, it’s made in America; not only are you supporting American jobs when you buy it, you’re also buying from a company that has to comply with American product safety laws.
Beard tonics are very similar to beard oils in that they are not only made of oil, but hold many oils in common to standard beard oils. The real differences are small and tend to focus towards specific goals like healing the skin below your beard or promoting beard growth.
Powell’s Beard Tonic is made in Arizona, USA, where the air is hot and dry, which can be harsh on skin. Because of their dry weather expertise, they’ve crafted a beard tonic that’s a great beard oil alternative for those living in ultra-dry climates—it’s great for getting rid of itchiness too.
Unlike most OTC products, Powell’s is FDA-approved—something not mandatory for non-prescription topicals like their beard tonic. It’s also USDA approved, which also isn’t required for their purposes—it’s an extra step they chose to take to ensure their customers of their exacting quality standards.
Beard oil is an absolutely necessary component in your beard maintenance routine. It goes a long way towards nourishing and hydrating your beard, and many beard oils can also function as a leave-in conditioner or a facial moisturizer, if you’re trying to be thrifty.
A lot of men don’t like a lot of scent period, or they prefer unscented beard oils as some scented beard oils contain harsh smelling oil like tea tree oil, which isn’t what you want to smell all day long right under your nose. If you fall into this category, go for an unscented beard oil like Leven Rose Beard Oil. It’s 100% organic and contains only two ingredients: Organic Moroccan Argan Oil and Organic Jojoba Oil. Limited ingredient products are also great for guys with sensitive skin, so that’s something to consider as well. Additionally, Leven Rose Beard Oil also functions as a leave-in conditioner.
Beard wax doesn’t have as many hair shaft and hair follicle benefits as balm, for instance, but it is a great product for styling your beard—particularly your mustache.
Percy Nobleman’s Hair & Beard Wax can be used or both hair and beards, as the name suggests. This is great if you’re a low-maintenance guy who doesn’t want to hassle with a bunch of different products.
Beard balm is one of the most versatile beard care products out there. It can function as a solid beard oil, a wax and a leave-in conditioner, because it provides hold, hydration and manageability all in one convenient product.
Smooth Viking Beard Balm uses rich shea butter and beard-friendly avocado oil, among others, to turn your beard into something just a bit more manageable. It also functions as a leave-in conditioner.
Beard butter is a product that we’re seeing more and more of. It typically has the consistency of something in between a cream and a balm, which, depending on your hair type, may be exactly what you need.
Maestro’s Classic Beard Butter in Wiseman’s Blend combines the unique texture and styling capabilities of beard butter with frankincense, rosewood and cypress to stimulate your senses. The result is a good styling product with a chill aromatherapy vibe.
Beard shampoo is the backbone of beard care. It cleanses debris out of your beard as gently as possible while maintaining your beard’s ideal pH balance, unlike scalp shampoo, which can be harsh on beards.
Beard Wash by Mountaineer Brand is designed to be extremely gentle while at the same time imbuing your beard with beneficial essential oils to promote better beard growth.
After shampooing your beard, you should always opt to use a beard conditioner. It could be a leave-in conditioner (which many balms and oils double as) or it could be a conditioner you wash out. Either way, conditioner is important because it fixes roughness in your hair cuticle while protecting it from damage.
Professor Edward J Fuzzworthy’s Gentleman’s Beard Detangler Bar is both a beard conditioner and a detangler, which utilizes Tasmian beer—yes beer—and honey to soften your beard while getting out those stubborn tangles.
Beard moisturizer is a little different than beard conditioner, and you’re definitely going to want to use it if you use a wash-out beard conditioner, because you need to put moisture and nutrients back into your beard.
Beardsley Lotion for Beards is a gentle, Bay Rum-scented beard moisturizer that is infused with keratin to nourish your beard. (I know I’ve railed against keratin in this guide, but I want to stress it is fine to use it topically and it has a lot of benefits topically.)
Beard thickening shampoo and beard thickening conditioner
Beard thickening shampoos and conditioners are, as the name would suggest, shampoo and conditioner that are made to thicken and volumize your beard hair. This is great for patchy beards.
The reason the beard thickening shampoo and beard thickening conditioner categories are combined for their product recommendation, is because there is a set that has both covered:
Polished Gentleman Beard Growth and Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner work together to promote faster and thicker hair growth with key ingredients like biotin and rosemary extract, which have both been scientifically proven to promote hair growth, and oat amino protein to strength hair, give it a protein boost and pump up your beard’s volume.
Beard texture paste
Beard texture paste is one of those newer beard products that many men don’t really know about, but it can be useful for creating hold and texture simultaneously in your beard, which is great if you have super silky fine beard hair, which is rarer than other beard hair textures, but does occur.
While not specifically for beards, Smooth Viking’s Styling Clay adds texture and hold to your beard without making it shiny or sticky.
Beard combs are an essential tool for any bearded man. You may not have much use of one if you have a very short beard, but the longer—and more tangled—your beard gets, you’re going to want a quality beard comb.
Ideally, the best beard combs are going to be made out of all natural woods with properties that are beneficial to beards, like the green sandalwood comb in the Beard Comb Kit for Men from Hunter Jack. It’s handmade and features handle dual action teeth, which makes it great for all hair types. The sandalwood itself smells nice and adds extra nourishment to your beard.
A beard brush is another one of the beard tool essentials every bearded man should own. It’s even good if all you’re sporting is stubble, because even short beard hair needs to be guided in a sensible direction every now and then.
Go for a natural boar bristle brush like this one from Smooth Viking, which features 100% black wild boar bristles. Boar bristle is superior to synthetics, because it doesn’t irritate the skin below your beard and is easy to work with.
Beard trimming scissors
Beard trimming scissors are important for shaping and detailing your beard, as well as cutting stray hairs that you may have missed.
While you can use any good quality styling scissor for trimming your bear, it’s best to use a compact scissor like Percy Nobleman’s Beard and Mustache Scissors, because they’re small enough for you to do fine detail work that’s typically necessary if you have a mustache.
If you want to maintain a short to medium-length beard, beard clippers are definitely going to be one of your absolutely necessary beard maintenance tools.
Choose a beard clipper that comes with the necessary attachments and a large assortment of built-in length settings, which are not only crucial to clipping your but also doing a nice neckline and cheekline fade, like the Philips Norelco Multigroom 5100 Grooming Kit. It’ll save you loads of time while maintaining your beard, and it has everything you need in case you start styling your beard differently, so it’s a pretty good value.
Hair dye for beards
Chances are, if you’re considering dyeing your beard, it’s because you’ve got a lot of gray beard. A lot of guys choose to rock the gray, but that’s not your thing, there are a lot of dyes available from Just for Men brand, which tends to be a cut above some of the alternatives out there, which are often of dubious quality.
If you want to get rid of some of the gray while holding onto a little, go for Just for Men Touch of Gray; it comes in a variety of shades, and it lets you keep that distinguished look while keeping your beard more in line with the hair on your head.
Natural beard care products
As the beard care industry grows, a lot of guys are looking for natural alternatives to their favorite beard care products.
Maple Hill Naturals Honest for Men Original Scent Beard Wash is a great example of a 100% all-natural beard care product, made out of pure ingredients like hemp seed butter and coconut oil, that maintains the high level of quality you’re accustomed to from synthetic products, which are engineered by scientists to be superior.
Maple Hill Naturals’ wash and other natural beard care products can definitely keep up with what science has to offer, if going natural is your thing.
Can any man grow a beard?
The short answer is yes, any man can grow a beard. However, if you’re a full-grown adult male who experiences no facial hair growth, you should consult a physician. But with that said, all healthy men—barring genetic conditions or something of that nature—will exhibit beard growth once they’ve reached adulthood.
Now, how thick your beard is and how fast it grows vary a lot based on genetics. But the important thing for young guys to know is that if you’re under 21, you’re nowhere near the mature phase of beard growth, so if you’re expecting fine beard hair or patchiness, know that this isn’t a sign that you can’t grow a beard. Give it a few years, and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
Another important thing to note is that you shouldn’t judge your beard against the next guy’s. There is nothing wrong with a sparse beard; just because your best friend had a full thick beard at high school graduation doesn’t mean you will or should have the same beard type. And while facial hair is a sign of male physical maturity, the important thing is that you have facial hair and can grow more.
Don’t feel pressure to look like everyone else. If you’re a grownup male who has facial hair, you’re normal—regardless of what it looks like.
What age is it normal to start growing a beard?
The age you start growing facial hair is largely determined by the onset of puberty, and when that occurs is pretty much determined by your genes. Often, facial hair thickening and darkening starts around age 15. However, depending on your hormones and genetics, you could begin growing hair much sooner or much later. Some boys may see darkening in their peach fuzz when they’re 10 while other boys don’t see any until about age 17 or 18.
Your facial hair grows in fuller and darker as you get older. If you’re disappointed by patchy or sparse facial hair at age 15, don’t be; by 17, you could very well have a thick manly man’s beard. Most usually, facial hair will truly start thickening around your late teens and early twenties, which is when you really want to be conscious of learning how to grow a beard the right way to set up future good habits and train your beard as it grows.
Your early to late twenties is when your beard will generally reach its adult thickness and hair growth pattern. What that entails is all dependent on your genetics, but you can help things along by following the best beard care and grooming practices detailed throughout the rest of this article.
For a step by step breakdown of what to expect at a given age, check out this handy Wikipedia article.
What does it mean if I can’t grow a full beard by my early twenties?
It’s important to note that full beard maturity may not happen until your mid-twenties. It’s not just your brain that continues to develop into your mid-twenties—it’s your hormones as well. Simply put, you’re not fully baked until you’re in your mid-twenties, so you shouldn’t expect to physically appear as a full-grown adult male until then either.
That said, it’s important to note that, as with any person, you should have reached important developmental milestones by your early twenties even if you’re not yet fully developed. For instance, you should be at or very nearly at your full adult height by then—and you should at least have some facial hair. It may not be as full in your late teens as it will be in your mid-twenties, because you’re technically still in the throes of adolescence, but there should be some hair there nonetheless. If you haven’t at least began sprouting facial hair by age 17, you should probably check in with your doctor just to be sure everything checks out okay.
Just because you can’t grow a full beard by your early twenties or beyond, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. In fact, beard thickness is largely determined by how your body reacts to testosterone. All men have pretty much the same amount of testosterone; beard growth depends on how your body reacts to all that testosterone that happens as you progress through the various stages of puberty, which is why testosterone supplements don’t really help with beard growth. In fact, elitedaily.com says that going for outrageous hair treatments may do a lot more harm than good.
They also note that there’s a down side to being a testosterone-sensitive, beard-heavy guy—you’re more likely to go bald than your sparse-bearded not-so-testosterone-sensitive counterparts. So, if you have a thin beard and you’ve always worried about the same happening on your head, know that it’s not likely. Also, some patchy beards look damn good.
Love him or hate him, James Franco makes sparse facial hair work for him. And if you have any doubts about that, ask the girls in your life: They will assure you, contrary to what you may believe, James Franco has it going on.