If you are somewhere in the process of growing out your beard or growing one for the first time, chances are you have seen a man with a thick, full beard and a streak of jealousy overwhelms you.
The feeling, felt by most men at some point of their life, is what we refer to as beard envy.
Beard envy usually results in making your way to a mirror and thoroughly inspecting the current state of your facial hair. Following this critique, a level of frustration and disappointment often follows. Many men have cut their beards shorter or shaven them off completely as a result.
While some men shave their beards as a method of surrender, others are relying on a commonly embraced theory,…shaving makes facial hair grow back faster and fuller.
If we are going to modify our grooming based on the hypothesis that shaving makes hair grow faster, we must begin by looking to see if there is verifiable evidence to backup such a claim.
While we never like to burst anyone’s bubble when it comes to wrongful practices, after looking at multiple studies, we can very confidently say, shaving does not cause hair to grow any differently. It does not grow back fuller because you shaved it. It will not grow longer because of shaving it. So moving forward, know, just as with shaving any part of your body, shaving does not have any effect on its growth. While this may seem disappointing to some, all hope is not lost.
The reason your beard doesn’t look like you would like is, almost always, because you have not let it grow for a long enough period of time. If you want a fuller beard, rather than shaving it, do the opposite and let it grow until you like the way it looks.
It is worth noting, while shaving does not speed up the growing process; the tools and techniques used when shaving can alter the rate which you need to shave and hair appears to grow.
The reason for this is that some razors cut much lower than others do. For example, some razors require men to shave daily while others shave so low that the user doesn’t have to shave but every other day or multiple days. Take a good quality cartridge razor for instance, it works by not only cutting the hair as it passes but also lifts the hair so that it is cut beneath the skin’s surface. Razors such as rotary electric razors only cut within a few centimeters of the skin and require more frequent shaving.
Understanding Beard Growth
When growing your beard it will go through multiple, distinct hair growth stages. As your facial hair grows it begins with the anagen stage.
- Anagen Stage is also known as the growing phase and this is the stage that occurs after puberty when you start to first see facial hair. We believe this stage is the culprit for why men began to believe that shaving makes hair grow in faster. Often when you first began to shave, the more often you shaved, the more new little hair began to pop up. While this seems convenient, the reality of the situation is your body is having a raised testosterone level and hair is starting to grow in more and more places each day. In this stage, hair grows at around a half an inch a month (think about that, it takes 6 months to grow a beard that is 3 inches long minimum). Believe it or not, hair actually grows faster in the summer than the winter due to winter creating an environment that is less optimal for hair health. The anagen stage of each hair last between 3-5 years. As a result, the full length of most men’s body hair is anywhere from 18 to 30 inches. The counter to this tends to be those from asian decent as their hair has been known to last for 7 years or so and can reach 42 inches in length. At the end of the anagen or growing stage of a hair, it immediately enters a new stage.
- Catagen Stage can also go by the name the regression phase. Around 1% of hair can only go through though this phase at one time. The phase usually lasts 10-14 days and it is when the hair shrinks to about 1/6th of its original length as the body restricts nutrients from the hair and it prepares for the 3rd stage.
- Telogen Stage is the stage where hair rests, is released from the skin and eventually falls out. The follicle for that particular hair then goes in a hibernation period for 3 months or so and the whole process is ready to start over. As each and every hair goes through its cycle independent of other, you will never have periods of massive hair loss at one time and usually have over 95% active hair growth follicles at once.
You may be asking yourself, “What about balding men?” Balding happens when a hair’s growing cycle is interfered with or disrupted. There can be a multitude of reasons for why this happens like chemical imbalances in the body, illness, nutrition, and genetic traits. For example, if a man ever goes on a diet with major restrictions, they tend to speed up the balding process because a hairs anagen stage is impeded or cut short and can not recover easily.
So remember, the next time you are overwhelmed with beard envy, let it grow. Your beard will look fuller which every month that it is left to grow. While that may be frustrating to some, there are a few things that you can do to speed up hair growth somewhat.
How to Improve Hair Growth
By now, you have probably run across a product like a pill or serum that claims to make your beard grow quicker and fuller than ever before. Products like Minoxidil (famous ingredient in Rogaine) have recently garnered some attention with men finding results of beard growth when applying it to their face. While it is promising to a certain extent, only a few men have seen results and the byproduct is usually minimal at best.
The following are hands down the best way to aid your body’s ability to grow facial hair.
Facial hair is, almost, solely regulated by, the notoriously male, hormones, testosterone and DHT. Since that is the case, eating foods that not only keep the body thriving at an optimal level but also aid in the production of testosterone and DHT will make the body function as it should and keep hair healthy and thriving. While eating a healthy diet should always be the first goal, there are foods that will naturally increase the production of hormones in the thyroid, lower SHBG which, consequently, allows testosterone and DHT to move more freely and become more active. On top of that, certain foods just boost levels of testosterone and DHT naturally. Let’s look at which foods assist this pursuit.
Eggs – Eggs tend to be one of the best foods for beard for multiple reasons. First, it contains healthy cholesterol and good fatty-acid ratios which is very necessary for healthy testosterone production which, as discussed above is essential for beard growth. Additional, certain vitamins aid in beard growth like biotin. Eggs are one of the best sources of biotin if not the best.
Oranges – Oranges and Orange Juice have high levels of fruit sugar fructose. These specifically fight to lower SHBG allowing testosterone and DHT to become more active. SHBG has a habit of binding to testosterone and DHT and they can’t freely attach to hair and make them grow faster.
Nuts, Specifically Brazilian Nuts – these are high in a mineral called selenium which increases testosterone as it speeds up the thyroid’s production of it.
Organ Meats such as liver – these are rich in most vitamins including Biotin and Vitamin B which are largely beneficial for hair growth.
We always recommend that every individual tries to get as many nutrients as possible through diet but for many people this is not ideal. As a result, taking vitamins can help growth of facial hair.
Taking the following vitamins have been proven to have positive results for beard growth:
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acidis proven to prevent hair loss and reduce graying. Vitamin B5 is found in foods such as whole grain, egg yolks, and organ meat.
Vitamin C and E are powerful antioxidants that promotes hair growth and stimulates helpful blood flow that delivers testosterone to hair follicles.
Biotinis the vitamin that has given the most positive results for aiding hair growth on the face. This is why dermatologist are beginning to recommend it, specifically, for facial hair growth. Whole grains, liver, rice, milk, eggs and yeast are rich in Biotin. Biotin works as it promotes Keratin production (hair and fingernails are formed out of keratin).
Additional Vitamins like Inositol and Niacin are helpful vitamins for hair growth as well.
It is probably implied by this point that exercise would benefit beard growth because there is, possibly, nothing more essential to boosting testosterone than exercising. Men who have lower levels of testosterone tend to have higher bouts with heart disease and depression to name a few. Not only is exercise allow the body to perform at its best level, it will help your beard grow better. When exercising, not all activities are alike for testosterone production. Each week, your exercise routine should include the following for large increases in testosterone.
Sprinting– While running does boost testosterone, sprinting for small burst can more than double certain testosterone levels. We recommend you include a series of 5-10 sprints of no longer than 15 seconds twice a week. For every 15 minutes of sprinting, rest no less than a minute in between so the body can recover before the next spring.
Lift Heavier Weight for less reps -The harder your body works to lift a heavy object, the more testosterone is produced. We suggest you lift something heavy enough that it does not feel comfortable holding more than twice a week.
Rest Longer between exercises – Most men try to push and push to get the workout done but that can often be counterproductive. You should do reps and stretch for a period or go to a different body part while that part recovers. We suggest you do bench press reps, rest/stretch for a minute then do a set of squats, rest/stretch, then go back to bench press.
Don’t get stuck in the cardio rut – many men who run a lot have slightly lower testosterone levels. This is because they tend to have less muscle mass and, therefore, less testosterone.
The body requires sleep to function properly. No better example of this occurs than with looking at testosterone levels. Studies show that sleeping less than 5 hours any given night can reduce testosterone levels by up to 15%.
Stress Far Less
Stress causes blood vessels to constrict and are proven to reduce testosterone levels as a result. Just as stress is known to cause hair to fall out, it, equally, stops it from growing.
Now that you know how to create the best environment for your beard to grow and thrive, don’t forget that it will still take a long time for your beard to grow. There is not magic serum or pill to have an overnight beard. Most men that eat and sleep well, exercise, and limit their stress will only see a beard that grows to around 5 inches after a full year of untrimmed growth.
Maintaining the Beard
Most men new to the longer beard scene don’t realize that they need to give special attention to their beard so that they look and feel great. Most men that don’t know what to do are left with a beard that is brittle, itchy, and most often dirty and full of harmful free radicals.
When first growing a beard, remember, just as with the hair on top of the head, your facial hair needs to be shampooed and conditioned. A beard must be regularly washed so that it is free of debris and bacteria. You can use a mild shampoo to do this but we recommend that you look into purchasing a shampoo specially for beards. These are crafted to thoroughly clean yet not purge the skin of its much needed sebum oil.
After shampooing the beard, it is now ready to be conditioned. This can be done with a beard conditioner or our personal favorite, a beard oil. Most people believe that beard oil makes hair grow faster. While it would be great if it worked this way, there is no validity to this idea.
Beard oil has always had a specific purpose, to condition and moisturize and make your beard softer. Beard oil tends to be thinner and provides hydration to each strand of hair when brushed through. Beard oils work great in most climates except those that are often really cold or really dry. For the cold and dry areas, looking into using a beard balm as it is thicker and often composed of beeswax and beard butters that protect the skin and holds the formula to the beard hair.
We know that you want a thick, robust beard and it often doesn’t look like you wish it did at this point of its growth.
While the appearance of beard patchiness and other factors can be from genetics and hair color, simply letting it grow for a minimum of six months can do wonders for your beard.
Using the advice of this article will have your beard growing and looking as healthy as it possibly can in no time. After applying our simple techniques, “let it go and let it grow, let it grow.”