Slow Growing Beard?

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Facial hair grows at different rates from one man to another.  This guide will discuss both likely and unlikely causes that impact beard growth rate, the average time it takes to grow facial hair, and finally, if it’s even possible to accelerate beard growth.

What is likely the leading cause of a slow growing beard?

The rate of facial hair growth varies significantly from one man to the next.  Your beard growth rate is often due to the following factors:

  • Genetics.  Your genetic makeup will largely determine the rate of growth for your facial hair.  For instance, researchers found that caucasian men grow facial hair at a much faster rate when compared to Japanese men (source). 
  • Age. As men grow older, their ability to grow androgenic hair (body hair) is improved.  Should you be in your late teens or early 20s, it may just be a matter of time before your facial hair grows quicker and thicker.
  • Area of Beard Growth.  Not all facial hair grows at a constant rate.  Often, mustache hair grows at a quicker rate when compared to the hair on your cheeks or neck. This varies from one man to another.

What are the unlikely causes of a slow growing beard?

Unfortunately, there are several unproven claims made about facial hair.  Here are a few factors that are unlikely the reason that your facial hair is growing slower:

  • Vitamin Deficiency.  In extreme cases, vitamin deficiency, particularly Vitamin B7 (biotin), can lead to hair loss (source).  However, there is very little scientific evidence regarding biotin’s efficacy in growing or volumizing hair for the average person (source).  If you are eating a healthy diet, you are likely already getting enough vitamin B7 daily (source).
  • Sleep.  Getting adequate rest allows your body to recover.  Lack of sleep increases stress and may impact normal body functions such as facial hair growth.
  • Exercise.  The benefits of exercise are many.  Not only does exercise increase blood circulation, but it can also lower stress.  However, we could not find any scientific studies directly supporting that exercise impacts facial hair growth.
  • Terminal Length. Depending on the duration of the anagen phase of your facial hair will dictate how long your facial hair can grow.  Should you have a short anagen phase, then the maximum length that your facial hair can grow is limited.
  • Beard & Skin Care Routine.  Excessive grooming of facial hair may result in breakage or damage.  If facial hair continues to break, it may be why the beard appears to have a slower growth rate.  
  • Excessive Trimming.  Whether resolving beard split ends or for a kempt appearance, trimming too often will make it feel like your beard grows slower than average.

If you are concerned about the rate of facial hair growth, seek professional advice from your family physician. 

Understanding the average beard growth rate (and setting expectations)

Facial hair grows in distinct stages, which include the following:

  • Anagen phase (growing phase). This phase lasts anywhere between two and seven years.  
  • Catagen phase (transition phase). This phase only lasts between two to three weeks.
  • Telogen phase (resting phase). This phase lasts between one to four months.  Once this phase completes, the facial hair will fall out, making room for new facial hair.

Should you have a short anagen phase of two years, your total facial hair length is shorter.  This can lead you to believe that your facial hair has slowed down in growth.  

It is important to know that facial hair will only grow between 0.3mm and 0.5mm per day (source).  This equates to roughly 2.1mm to 3.5mm per week.  We discuss more detail about the beard growth stages should you want to learn more.

Solutions to a slow growing beard

The solutions to fix a slow growing beard are limited.  Here are a few solutions to consider:

Beard growth products

Beard growth products are available in two primary forms: pills and topical solutions.  Many of these products are loosely regulated and are not scientifically proven in independent studies.  

The beard growth products in pill form are often repackaged multivitamins with high concentrations of vitamin B7 (biotin).  If you have a well-rounded diet, you likely won’t see any increase in facial hair growth by taking these vitamins.

Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, is an FDA-approved solution clinically proven to regrow hair.  Studies of minoxidil on facial hair growth are limited but promising (source).  However, minoxidil is intended for spurring hair growth in patchy areas rather than accelerating growth.  

Side effects of minoxidil are serious and include faintness, dizziness, swelling, and more (source).

Styling Tips

By simply brushing your beard upwards then downwards can help to add significant volume to the appearance.  Consider a natural beard brush and one with offset bristle lengths for better-looking results.

When you regularly apply a conditioner like a beard balm, the styling agent can provide a light hold to maintain a longer and fuller-looking appearance throughout the day.

Lastly, also consider a volumizing beard shampoo.  This can give facial hair a thicker appearance. 

Does a patchy beard factor into the growth rate?

A patchy beard is unrelated to the rate of facial hair growth.  Nearly all men have some patchiness to their beards, particularly on the chin and in the philtrum (the indented area at the upper lip).  

For many men, as they approach their late 20s or early 30s, some patches may begin to fill.  

Wrap Up

Unfortunately, there is little one can do to speed up a slow growing beard.  By setting appropriate expectations and styling appropriately, you can have your beard appear longer and thicker with minimal effort.