Sideburns a Bit Sparse? Here Are Your Options

Some men have a hard time growing sideburns – and are understandably self-conscious about it.  

But here’s the deal:

When you look closely, just about every man has some level of patchiness to their beard.  Common areas include the philtrum (indent on the upper lip), chin, cheeks, and, yes, the sideburns.

In just a minute, we’ll take a look at some of the options available, but before we do, you should know the following:

What Determines if You Can Grow Sideburns?

Here are a couple of factors that impact sideburn growth:

  • Age:  While facial hair begins growing during puberty, most men don’t experience full facial hair growth until their late 20s or early 30s.  Therefore, if your sideburns are sparse, you may just need to wait a little bit before they fully develop.  Use your judgment here.  If you are in your teens, wait, and don’t do anything.  If you are older, you may want to consider some of the options available to you.
  • Genetics: Beard growth is tied to genetics.  Some men simply can grow thick and full facial hair while others cannot.  It’s a bummer – but that’s reality.
  • Alopecia Areata: This is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks body hair follicles in small patches.  Typically about a quarter in size.  Consult with your physician for further information if this is what you are experiencing.

A Few Solutions Available

When it comes to filling in the sideburns, there are very few options available. So here we are breaking it down to actual solutions vs. claims and misconceptions:

Actual Solutions


The active ingredient found in Rogaine, Minoxidil, is the only FDA-approved topical solution to regrow hair.  While designed for top-of-the-head use, some may apply it to their facial hair and achieve new growth.  But here’s the deal: minoxidil only works if you have existing vellus hair to activate.  Vellus hairs are the fine and short hairs that cover your body.  If it’s completely bald, then minoxidil won’t work.  The downside is that once you stop applying minoxidil, the hair will fall out; it’s not a permanent solution.


Some men may consider a beard transplant.  This is a permanent solution that can effectively provide hair to your sideburns. However, do know that this is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Additionally, a transplant takes on the properties of the donor hair (often the back of your scalp).  Therefore, the sideburns would have the same hair texture – not ideal for long beards, but shouldn’t be noticeable on stubble or more conservative length.


To prevent you from wasting time and a whole lot of money on “miracle ingredients,” you should know the following:

Growth Products

Over the past few years, several beard growth products have been introduced in the market.  Classified as supplements, these growth products are largely unregulated and are only backed by claims – not scientific evidence.  These growth products come in many different forms, including sprays, pills, topical solutions, and more.  Additionally, most testimonials are either paid or feature stock models.  In short, don’t be fooled here.

Beard Oils

Only a small portion of beard oils are marketed as growth products.  However, growth is not the primary intent for beard oil, beard balms, and more.  Instead, you should know that these are conditioners that men apply to provide relief from dry and itchy skin.  We discuss a few more of their benefits here.

Alternatives to Consider

Of course, in virtually all instances, no topical solution or transplant is necessary.  Consider the following:


As you know, you can style facial hair in various ways.  Depending on the size of the patch on your sideburns, you have a few options available: 

  • Small Area: Let the hair around it grow and cover it up.  You can use a beard brush to add volume to the surrounding area to reduce the appearance of the patch.
  • Large Area: Reduce the facial hair to stubble as it will not draw as much attention to the patchy area of your sideburns. Consider using a stubble trimmer for consistent results.


As I spoke at length with my struggle of going bald, sometimes embracing the look can do wonders for your confidence.  So go ahead, be yourself and rock the patchy look.

How you carry yourself and treat those around you is more important than anything else.  

Keep being your awesome self!

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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