Can’t Grow a Beard? What are Your Options?

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Trying to grow a beard but frustrated with the results?

Is it just a question of age, patience, diet, beard genetics, or something else?  Or perhaps it could be a blend of all of these factors?

This article will go over the leading reasons why some men can’t grow facial hair.

Genetic Predisposition

The primary reason why men cannot grow facial hair is simply due to genetic predisposition.  If the men on both sides of your family have very sparse facial hair, you will likely inherit this trait.  

It’s worth noting that certain ethnicities are more likely to grow facial hair than others. For example, researchers found that caucasian men grew eight times more facial hair than Japanese men (source). While unrelated to the scope of this article, there was another study we came across that found that race and ethnicity predicted facial hair growth in women (source).

Simply put, some ethnicities have strong beard genetics, where others are relatively sparse.  If you want any hints, look in your family tree and see whether men have successfully grown facial hair.

Age

Facial hair is androgenic hair and is different from the hair on the top of your head. Androgenic hair begins to develop during and after puberty (source). 

Additionally, androgenic hair continues to grow and thicken in men until the age of 30. Therefore, if you are younger, it may simply be a matter of time before growing a beard.

Patience

Growing a beard takes time.  The average growth rate for facial hair is between 2.1mm and 3.5mm per month.  Here we wrote extensively about the beard growth stages should you want to learn more.

Diet & Lifestyle

In extreme cases, your diet or lifestyle can have an impact on beard growth. For example, if you are deficient in Biotin (vitamin B7), it may be the reason for the lack of beard growth. 

However, as the National Institute of Health stated in their fact sheet, biotin deficiency is rare, and most adults in the United States get enough vitamin B7 in their diet.

Stress is also often cited as a reason why men can’t grow facial hair. Specifically, many will point to increased cortisol levels, the hormone that is released when experiencing stress. 

Researchers found that hair growth can be impacted when high levels of cortisol are present (source). However, once the stress is managed correctly by exercising regularly, mediation, etc., hair growth should resume (source). 

However, would stress lead to zero facial hair growth? That doesn’t appear likely. 

Minoxidil

The active ingredient in Rogaine, minoxidil, is the only scientifically proven topical solution to regrow hair. Minoxidil will activate dormant hair follicles, typically vellus hairs, and lengthen the growth phase.  Minoxidil will also help to grow a thick beard as it increases the overall volume of growth.

But here’s the deal:  

If you have completely bare skin with no vellus hairs, minoxidil will not make a difference. It can’t grow hair if there is no follicle root for it to activate. Additionally, minoxidil has some severe side effects that you should be mindful of before using. 

A beard grown with the help of minoxidil will require regular application permanently. However, once you stop applying minoxidil, the facial hair will gradually shed over several months. 

Lastly, minoxidil was approved for scalp hair, not beard hair (androgenic hair).  However, one study found promising results of it being an effective growth option (source). Additionally, consider visiting the forum /r/minoxbeards. This is a community of men who actively use minoxidil to grow facial hair.

Beard Growth Supplements

Beard vitamins are repackaged dietary supplements that have been marketed to promote beard growth. However, we have yet to come across an independent and scientific study that has demonstrated that regularly taking supplements will grow a beard. 

Additionally, some beard conditioners such as beard oil, beard balm, and others contain peppermint oil, jojoba oil, and other natural ingredients touted as effective ways to spur beard growth. But, again, these haven’t been scientifically proven and are just claims.

Simply put, anything claiming increased beard growth through the use of pills or natural oils should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism. 

Beard Transplant

Men who are serious about growing a beard and have the money to do so may consider a beard transplant. By taking hair from the back of your scalp and then implanting it on your face, it is one of the few ways that men can suddenly have a beard. 

However, beard transplants are a serious procedure and a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We wrote about beard transplants should you want to learn more.

Speak with a Doctor

Ultimately, if you are concerned about your lack of facial hair growth, speak with your doctor. 

They are a knowledgeable source of information that can help answer questions and check if anything else could be going on, such as alopecia areata, which could impact your beard growth.