One of the biggest hurdles when growing a beard is our own ability to grow them. While our beards are our own and many men have figured out ways to own their patchy bald spots growth (Johnny Depp, for instance), it is still very disheartening if your beard grows in but not in the style you want.
There is a multitude of factors that can cause this, each with its own solutions. But first, let’s break down this issue a little further. If your beard is patchy and less full than you want, there are ways to go about that. On the other hand, discovering a sudden bald spot in your beard where there wasn’t one before is demoralizing in an entirely different fashion.
Every man is different, and they have differing levels of hair follicles. Some men can grow in thick beards, while others can’t. If you want a beard, there many ways to work around the issue.
How to Thicken a Patchy Beard
There are two general approaches to making a patchy beard thicker. One involves working with the beard, while the other takes a direct approach to stimulate hair growth. Even if you can’t get your beard to grow an extra bit thicker, you can likely find a way to make it look fuller than it is. However, if your beard just straight up does not grow, maybe then it will be time to try something more.
Making a Beard Look Fuller
Give it Time
Be patient with your beard. One of the bigger issues men run into (and especially young men) is just not giving their beard the time to grow in. Your beard might start out patchy, but the first few weeks of any beard’s growth make it look patchy and unruly unless you have godlike beard growth abilities.
As your beard grows, it will take on a more full appearance and likely fill in any gaps and connectors. That gives it the time to find itself and filled in to complete its look.
Keep A Shorter Style
The shorter you keep your beard, the less accountable you are for how well it grows. Maintaining a stubble beard, or even just a short style, like a boxed beard, will allow you to work with your beard’s patchiness and not let it hold you back.
Many men have trouble growing hair on their cheeks. A boxed beard shaves the cheeks, so it hides any patchy growth you might have. Wearing differing lengths at different sections of your beard is another possible route, though it’s one to be careful with, as it can easily look unruly.
Taking this option lets you embrace your patchy beard as a natural extension of who you are. Instead of fighting your beard, you let it work with you. Besides, people are widely accustomed to how differently people’s beards grow. Likely, it won’t draw any attention because nobody will look at your beard as closely as you do. Having patchy stubble isn’t anything to be concerned about or something anyone will call you out for.
Go for the Beard Comb Over
If you have only a few sections of patchy hair in an otherwise full beard, you can make a few simple stylistic adjustments to hide the fact your beard is a bit patchy.
Using high-hold styling and conditioning products will tame your unruly hairs and allow you to blend longer hairs over any bald patches.
While it’s always recommended to use a beard oil at night (since it’ll keep your beard moist and prevent itchiness), switch to using a beard balm during the day. Beard balms are great for nourishing your bear too. They commonly have high amounts of shea butter and essential oils to keep your beard healthy.
More importantly, they’re thicker. They’re not quite as thick as a beard wax or pomade, but they’re certainly thicker than oil. Applying them in the mornings lets you shape your beard, which is often enough to maintain its look and hide any patches.
Invest in a Quality Beard Brush
Getting a beard brush pairs with the combover technique can help cover any bald patches in your beard.
Make sure you get a beard brush that’s made of boar’s hair, or a synthetic that achieves a similar effect. The beard brush distributes the natural oils in your hair, which usually collects at the root. It makes your hair take on a lusher appearance and curtails your natural features, using them to their full benefit.
Brushing your beard in the mornings and evenings is recommended. Brush it gently, so as not to hurt your skin. Though you do want to use enough force to make your beard hairs move and cooperate better.
Brush your beard in the mornings before applying beard balm. To hide any beard bald patches, brush the hair toward the bald patch to redistribute the hair to act as cover.
Use a Beard Dye
While this isn’t a sure-fire fix, dyeing your beard can help if your issue is less than your beard has patches and more that it’s very light. Men’s beards aren’t uniform colors, and it’s not at all uncommon to have two-toned shades of very fine, light blond hair and darker brown hair. Especially as men age, or their hair starts to go grey.
Dyeing your beard hair to an even color will give it the impression of fuller growth. The trick is to pick a color that makes sense for your existing hair. Make sure it either matches your beard or at least the hair on your head. Brushing it and styling it otherwise will shape it to look much fuller.
Stimulating Hair Growth
If your beard is patchy, the chances of getting hair to grow where follicles don’t exist are non-existent. Don’t fall for any Microderm needle tricks to stimulate growth. There’s a possibility of new follicles developing as you age, but only time will tell if that’s true.
Adjust (or Supplement) Your Diet
Your hair is a natural byproduct and is made of keratin. The foods and vitamins we eat will affect how well they grow. Certain supplements will make your hair grow thicker or fuller. While most of these products are marketed to people who want thicker hair on their heads, the vitamins can’t distinguish if the hair is on your head, face, back, or legs. It gets distributed all the same around your body.
There are products packaged as a hair growth supplement that you can purchase. However, biotin is the key ingredient for supplementing hair growth, and you can simply get a store brand variety of that from your local pharmacy.
Don’t get your hopes up, though. This will improve the health of your existing hair and will take time before you notice any real effects. It won’t make new hair grow from follicles that weren’t there, to begin with.
Take the Chemical Route
Certain chemicals have been known to improve hair growth. The most famous of these is Rogaine, but the generic version of it is minoxidil. It promotes hair growth by improving blood flow to the hair follicle. The hair grows in thicker (and is less likely to fall out).
However, minoxidil has had mixed results when used on beards. Its main design is as an anti-balding agent, primarily for the hair on your head. It isn’t really meant to be used on beards, except in the rare instances of beard hair loss.
That said, there are reported successes and minoxidil is not a harmful chemical. It’s available over-the-counter and can be used indefinitely.
Before considering this route, it’s recommended to speak with a dermatologist. They will be able to determine more specific causes as to why your beard isn’t growing and can offer advice that is matched to your circumstances.
Addressing Alopecia Barbae
If you’re noticing sudden bald patches or hair loss in your beard, it could have a deeper cause. Alopecia barbae is an autoimmune disease that damages facial hair follicles. It’s a variation of Alopecia areata, which damages hair follicles on the head.
Alopecia barbae is a form of autoimmune hair loss. Unlike male pattern baldness, it’s typified by beard loss in coin-sized patches. Male pattern baldness usually starts with a receding hairline and bald spot on the crown.
These are caused when your immune system attacks otherwise healthy hair follicles by mistaking them for an invasive foreign substance. Over time, it whittles away at these follicles until they stop producing hairs altogether.
Alopecia barbae usually does not make your entire beard fall out, and if it does, it follows extended hair loss (usually over years and years). It’s also not always a permanent loss. Most commonly, hair loss is on and off over several years, following a pattern of hair loss and regrowth.
The exact causes of this disorder aren’t well understood, though the leading thoughts are that it’s a byproduct of people with autoimmune diseases, or from families who have a tendency towards having them. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to have this hair loss if you have psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, or vitiligo. It has been noticed to occur alongside people with asthma or severe allergies. Stress has also been noted as a probable cause of alopecia barbae.
Do I Have Alopecia Barbae?
Most frequently, alopecia barbae causes hair loss over several weeks. The patches start by itching before hair loss, which is usually no larger than the size of a quarter. One of the trademark signs of this condition is “exclamation mark” hairs, which grow in thinner towards the root in the area surrounding the bald patch.
Along with hair loss, damage to fingernails is also noted with alopecia barbae. You’ll possibly notice pitting or splitting in your nails, as well as other damage.
How to Treat Alopecia Barbae
Since this is a medical condition, it’s best treated by visiting a dermatologist.
Hair loss can have multiple causes, especially if stress is a huge factor. This is not a hugely common condition and exhibits a fairly consistent pattern. It’s important to first get an official diagnosis. The dermatologist will have to do a biopsy of your hair and follicles to determine likely causes.
There are treatments available, which vary in intensity. It’s not unusual for treatments to occur simultaneously or be prescribed at once. It’s a slow process to treat alopecia barbae, with treatments lasting for months. Even if the treatment can slow hair loss, there’s no guarantee lost hair will be restored. Regrown hairs might also come in different shades or at different thicknesses.
It is possible to surgically repair these areas. Scalp hair can be transplanted to the face for more even growth. However, that quickly becomes an incredibly expensive venture, easily in the thousands of dollars range. View it as a last resort to fixing this issue.
Common treatments are usually topical and work to stimulate hair growth in some fashion.
The likely first treatment is a topical corticosteroid. These are either a topical ointment or an injection. They suppress the immune system around the patch, causing the over-active immune system to be less damaging to the hair follicle.
Corticosteroid treatments are ongoing for months, though their length depends on the severity of your hair loss.
Anthralin is another topical medication. Its primary use is to treat psoriasis, though it is used to treat Alopecia barbae, as well. Anthralin control skin growth and can also prevent the immune system from interfering with the hair follicles.
Minoxidil (or Rogaine)
Minoxidil is also a topical medication. It’s used to treat alopecia barbae by improving blood flow to the hair follicles. Its use under these circumstances is much more application due to its anti-balding uses.
It speeds up the hair growth process, pushing the follicles to reach their active, or anagen, stage of growth, establishing sustainable growth. It improves hair thickness in the areas affected by hair loss. It also prevents hair from falling out or dying.
Having a patchy beard is incredibly frustrating when you want to sport the full beard look. However, it is your beard, and even if it is a limitation, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue the look. Finding a way to work with your natural hair growth can still result in a great look.
Adjusting your shaving and style techniques can make the issue less noticeable. However, you can take a more stringent route by treating it directly.