I recently got introduced to Bollywood movies.
It was purely by accident, but I’ve watched a couple of the films now. I like them. They’re full of action (some ridiculous), and it takes a bit to get used to the style, but I get it why they’re so popular.
If you’re not going to watch them, let me give you my general synopsis on these movies.
Lots of crying. A few dances. A few songs. Always a wedding at the end. Dramatic turns and stares with murderous intent.
And I noticed one other thing:
Guys with great beards.
Check this fella.
Or this dude.
Damnit man! I can’t pull that off!
Like seriously! Does the whole country of India naturally have great beards?
If you’re like most guys (or not Indian), you probably can’t get that incredible, thick beard that you would see in these movies.
I think you’ll agree that you probably have a few bald spots in your beard. And if you’ve just been watching the characters on your favorite Bollywood film, you’ll quickly develop “beard envy”.
I know what you’re thinking:
I’m just stuck with this beard and it looks horrible. I’m better off not growing it.
Please don’t! I’ll be the first to say how manly it looks to have a beard and how much women appreciate the look of well-groomed facial hair.
In this article, I want to show you not only how to fix a patchy beard, but I also want to show you that a beard bald spot isn’t the end of the world.
Stick with me as I show you:
- The causes of a patchy beard
- How to get rid of a patchy beard
- A great beard bald spot fix
- Active steps you can take today to eliminate patchy beard hair
- …and (what many others won’t tell you) how to rock a patchy beard with some simple styling
You might not have thought it before, but it’s time to start grooming your facial hair and doing the best with what you’ve got.
Help! I Have Sudden Beard Bald Spot!
When you were growing up, you started out just like everyone else in your class. Except for that Lebanese kid who had a full mustache at age 14.
You grew patchy hair. Your body was going through puberty (or maybe it still is), and your hair follicles haven’t developed yet.
So you sprout these awkward hairs all over your face and neck. The best you can hope for is a patchy beard.
But for most guys, that ends there once puberty is finished.
Their beards start to fill in and develop around the age of 17-20. During the end of puberty, testosterone is flowing through your body and triggers the hair follicles on your face and neck to grow and thicken. It’s an outward sign that you have reached sexual maturity (Aww Yeah!).
To begin, your hair will be thin and dark-colored. This hair is called vellus. It’s essentially the same hairs you had when you were born, but now they’ve been colored darker.
More often, new vellus hairs will start to sprout on the upper lip and in patches on the neck.
That hair, when it thickens into the beard hair you want and crave, is called terminal. Terminal hairs are those constantly re-growing beard hairs that are thick, dark, and full.
The more terminal hairs you have, the thicker your beard will be.
Are Beard Bald Spots Random? Or Is Something Else To Blame?!
That process of developing the vellus hairs into terminal hairs can last right up to your mid-to-late twenties. Some guys even see changes into their thirties before the vellus thickens into terminal hairs.
But for most guys, that growth isn’t happening all at the same time. Those hairs behave differently and mature differently.
That leaves you with bald spots in your beard.
This could be for one of two reasons:
- Undeveloped Vellus Hairs: From a distance, vellus hairs are noticeably lighter than their counterparts. They stand out and look thin on your face. So, if you develop patches of vellus hairs on your face, they stand out as being patchy beard spots. For the most part, don’t worry about those hairs. I’ll get to some treatment plans later on, but that hair just has to mature into terminal, and it will over time.
- Alopecia Areata: About 2% of the population suffers from this rare form of alopecia. It’s also known as “spot baldness”, although it normally occurs on the scalp. It’s a coin-shaped spot that can be anywhere on your body, including your beard. If you think that you have a prominent beard bald spot that doesn’t have any hairs at all, not even vellus hairs, you could be one of the lucky 2%. Treatments for this condition include cortisone injections and just simple sunscreen. These beard bald spots can actually spontaneously re-grow hair without any treatment at all. It’s a mystery and doesn’t respond consistently to any type of treatment.
But the third possibility is that you may just have bad genetics. You could be the product of parents who’ve passed down genes that don’t predispose you to luscious, full beards. There’s not a lot that I can suggest about what to do with bad genetics.
Beard Bald Spot Treatment Options
So, what do you do about those patchy beards? Prompting growth of beard hair can be tricky, but let’s cover some of the options out there.
Yes, you can get beard vitamins for hair growth. Products like VitaBeard claim to promote and enhance beard thickness through natural vitamins. They all include some form of Biotin.
Biotin, or a Vitamin B complex family member, is said to be an essential vitamin that has some link with hair growth.
Namely, there was a study done on thinning hair and the amount of biotin in a person’s body. There was a link drawn between a lack of biotin and the hair loss perceived by the individual.
That being said, it’s not easy to make a case that biotin is the miracle cure for beard bald spots.
I’ll also say this:
Biotin is not a synthetic vitamin. It’s naturally found in protein-rich foods. Chicken, beef, nuts, eggs, etc. all contain the average person’s normal recommended amount of biotin per day.
The point being, you likely won’t see any added growth by taking these vitamins if you are relatively healthy. So, it’s likely best to skip overpriced beard vitamins altogether.
If you’ve ever done any research on beard bald spots, I’m going to cover a compound that you already know.
Minoxidil is certainly touted as one of the best chemical compounds for treating hair loss. Here’s what you should know about this drug.
- FDA Approved – I’m a HUGE fan of this point. Like Donald Trump “Yuuuge”. If you want to take a drug that’s untested, that’s entirely up to you. I won’t get in your way. But if you’re asking my opinion on what drugs to take to treat certain conditions, I’ll stick with the trusty FDA. If they’ve approved Minoxidil as a certified way to treat hair loss, it’s because they’ve worked extensively with scientists much smarter than me to say it works. I’ll stick with the smart scientists.
- Active Ingredient in Rogaine – When undergoing drug testing, minoxidil was first being looked at to see if it lowered blood pressure. But when the researchers noted that the patients experienced increased hair growth on the body, they started to look into this drug for that purpose. When they used a solution of about 2-5% minoxidil and added a carrier to the mixture, they created Rogaine, which is currently the number one hair regrowth formula on the market.
- Opens Up Blood Flow – This drug belongs to a group of drugs called vasodilators. The way that minoxidil works are to open up the potassium channels in the hair follicles to the blood flowing around them. It allows the hair follicles better access to the hormones naturally found in the blood. More blood flow means more life to the root of the hair follicles. It promotes the root of the follicle to grow thicker and faster.
- Works on All Hair – While offered as a scalp regrowth formula, minoxidil promotes hair growth anywhere it’s used. The first patients undergoing the testing saw hair regrowth all over their bodies.But if you glance at the bottle of Rogaine, it doesn’t say anywhere that it’s designed for your face. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. Many men online have claimed great results with applying minoxidil directly on to their bald patches.
- Topical Application – Unlike vitamins and supplements, you can directly target the areas you need to cover by using minoxidil. It’s usually sold as foam or a liquid. Simply apply a small amount per day to the affected area. You can also use this method to test to see if it’s working. I would not recommend applying it to your whole face right away. Instead, apply it sparingly to a small patch on your beard to see if any noticeable results occur.
- Can be Time Intensive – While many online users report using minoxidil and seeing results as early as one month after use, it’s best thought about as a long-term treatment. It’s like antibiotics in that way. When you take antibiotics and you notice an improvement, you normally stop taking them. That’s the worst thing you can do. You need them to run their course to be most effective. The same goes for minoxidil. You could start to see results quickly, but it’s better as a long-term use the promote vellus hairs to grow and thicken into terminal hairs that fill out those patches in your beard.
Hair Follicle Implants
If you’re serious about your beard, there is always the option to get hair follicle implants into your beard. If you can’t get those vellus hairs to thicken, if you can’t promote growth using drugs (it doesn’t always work), extreme measures do exist.
- Your implanted beard hair has to come from somewhere. The hair that most closely resembles your beard has to come from the back of your scalp. Nothing comes for free in this treatment.
- The implanted hairs actually fall out after a few days. That’s normal, but transplanting hairs stimulates growth of the beard hairs you already have.
- It can be pricey. Look in the amount of $5-7000 for an average session. If you need a complete makeover, you could run at least 5 figures. That’s an expensive beard.
- You’re not alone in doing it. The procedure was performed on thousands of men last year alone. Men who, like you, are interested in fixing a patchy, balding beard. And it seems to work!
Don’t Fix A Patchy Beard. Fill it!
I get it:
You’re not too keen on either of those ideas. You don’t have to be.
There are other ways you can work your beard bald spot to fill your patchy appearance. You could actually just work with what you’ve got.
Get creative with your beard.
Use some of these tips to fill a beard bald spot.
- Brush Your Beard: The reason women use a brush when doing their hair is because it adds volume to their hairstyle. You can do the same thing with the hair on your face.Instead of using a beard comb to tame that scruffy look, you can use a brush to create a fuller look. Brushes lift the hairs and increase the volume of the beard. Provided you have enough hair to make this work, it can cover up any patches that would normally show through.
- Use a Beard Balm – If you’re not interested in stimulating beard growth, you might be more interested in styling what you already have.Use a beard balm instead of beard oil on your facial hair. Balms use wax in their make-up. That wax can help you cover up your beard.I can hear you saying:Isn’t that like a comb over?Yes and No. It allows you to position the hair in your beard over the areas that show noticeable holes. But it’s not as tacky as a comb over. Less tacky, more tactical.
- Grow Your Beard Out – If you’re just managing some stubble, of course it’s going to look patchy. Most guys, even those with full beards, don’t look like a filled-in facial hair when they just have stubble.Grow your beard out to longer lengths. You can cover up patchy beards better with longer hair that extends over thinning areas. Allow at least two months growth to get a better result.
- Pick a Better Beard Style – Just because you have a patchy beard does NOT mean you must grow it out. Use a style that still gives you cool facial hair, while masking the fact your hair isn’t as thick as you’d like.Think styles like goatees, chin straps, and handlebar moustaches (if you want to draw attention away from your beard). If you get on top of your facial hair, the girls might want to get on top of you…
- Rock What You’ve Got – Some guy don’t mind simply using what the Good Lord has given them. They grow their patchy beards and don’t bother about appearing less full than their beard brothers.And many famous people have worked this well. Keanu Reeves, James Franco, Chris Pratt, Johnny Depp, and even David Beckham aren’t known for full, thick beards. But that doesn’t stop them from “going rogue” and rocking out a mountain man appearance.It’s a rugged, manly appearance that, if you have the confidence to make it work, will absolutely work for you.
Here’s the thing:
Your beard doesn’t have to be the way it grows out. You may have a patchy beard, for whatever reason, but that shouldn’t stop you from growing out that sign of sexual maturity.
And to be fair, you’re probably the only one that notices. You care way more about your own beard than any other person. It could be not as big a deal as you first thought.
Play with your beard. Groom it. Trim it. Control it. And soon you’ll be rocking out a killer look that you’ve made all your own. Genetics be damned.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.