Even in the modern era, there’s still this misconception that guys don’t know about style. Yet, throughout history, men have had to be at the forefront of fashion. Sure, most of us can’t name top designers in Milan right now, but that doesn’t mean we get to wander through life oblivious to all fashion.
Instead, men’s fashion looks a lot different from women’s fashion (and even that is a gross oversimplification). While women might be scouring fast-changing trends, they haven’t had to reinvent leg hairstyles in decades. Meanwhile, look at any beard from 10 years ago and it's completely unacceptable today. And, that’ll be true again in 10 more years.
If you want to have any hope of having a fashionable beard, you first have to master growing facial hair. Sure, most of you can do some form of this without trying. Our shadows might appear at different hours of the day, but growing a beard is all-natural. You don’t have to try, right? Unfortunately, that’s at least a little wrong. There’s a lot you can do to influence how your beard grows. If you’re trying to grow one faster, thicker or prettier, there are some tips you need to learn. Thankfully, you’ll find everything worth knowing right here.
Beard grooming and growth starts with skincare. The hair follicles are located in the epidermis. On top of that, hair has to grow through the skin before it can be part of your visible beard. If growing a beard was like growing crops, your skin would need to be the fertile soil for your manly beard. Ok, that analogy is a little weird, but you get the point.
Skincare comes in various forms, and each is important for your beard in its own right. You need clean and clear skin. You also need to keep the skin properly hydrated. Perhaps most important is your skin’s external pH. If all of that wasn’t enough to track, you have to take care of the beard itself in addition to the skin. Let’s lay all of this out in plain terms.
It Starts With Exfoliation
If you’re not familiar with the practice, exfoliation is the gentle scrubbing of the skin. The purpose is to clear the pores of dirt, oil, dead skin cells and anything else that might hide there. The process of exfoliating also clears the hair follicles, and the importance of that action should be obvious. If you've been trying to figure out how to get rid of beard dandruff, listen up!
So, here’s how you do it. You should exfoliate one to two times a week. You can do it in the shower or the sink. You want to use a gentle face wash and a soft agitator. The agitator can be a normal washcloth, or you can get a loofah. As long as it doesn’t leave your face red or feeling raw, it can do the job.
You gently scrub your face with the soap and then rinse. The whole thing should only take a few minutes. It’s much easier than most guys assume before they try it the first time. When you get into exfoliating, remember two things. First, you have to be consistent. There’s nop point in exfoliating once a month. Consistently clear pores and follicles will grow a healthy beard.
Second, exfoliating shouldn’t hurt. It shouldn’t leave you feeling sore or exposed. A gentle tingling sensation is ok, but anything more than that means you’re being too rough and you’re doing as much harm as good.
You Have to Moisturize
If exfoliating is half the battle, then moisturizing is the second half. Dry skin is bad for growing beards for a number of reasons. For starters, it makes the skin rougher. The beard has to work harder to get past that rough layer. It leads to curlier, coarser and less consistent beard growth.
If that wasn’t enough, dry skin is also prone to irritation and similar issues. Irritated skin is not a fertile condition for growing a beard. Sure, you’ll still get some facial hair, but if you’re going for a magnificent beard, you want to avoid dry skin.
As a bonus, moisturizing will be good for your skin in general. It’ll help you look young and be more attractive in general. Let’s all assume that’s a good thing.
Skincare Transitions to Hair Care
As your beard grows, it’s going to get harder to take care of your skin. All of the things you were doing before are still important, but you need to switch up your methods. Instead of using face lotion to keep things hydrated, you can employ beard oil and moisturizing beard shampoos.
Exfoliating also changes. Eventually, the beard puts up a defensive layer that makes it hard to scrub the fleshy parts. The simple remedy is to use the beard itself as the exfoliating agent. Use a good shampoo/conditioner and massage the bearded part of your face. The hairs will work to clear the pores, and the soap will dissolve everything you can rinse your face and feel fresh.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel just as good after washing your bearded face as you did when your skin was smooth.
It Takes Patience
No matter how perfectly you care for your face, beard growth doesn’t occur in a straight line. There will be periods where you cruise along, and there will be periods where the beard annoys you or feels like growth has slowed. All of that is normal.
The most important thing is to maintain patience through all of this. If you hit an itchy face (which is extremely common), you just have to ride it out. Eventually, the hairs will get longer and softer and stop itching. If things seem uneven, don’t try to groom them into submission (at least in the first two to four weeks of growth). That will only set you back. Maintain patience and you can grow a beard that belongs on the cover of a magazine.
A Little Lesson in Hormones
Skincare is crucial, but it doesn’t exactly dictate beard growth. You need healthy skin for a healthy beard, but the part of your body that determines how fast and thick your beard forms is not located on the outside. This is all regulated by hormones. There’s good and bad news tied to this fact. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to naturally regulate your own hormones and promote an awesome beard. The bad news is that it requires a lot more effort and discipline than simply washing your face.
The Key Ingredients
A lot of different hormones can minorly contribute to your beard, but for the most part, there are two key players: testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Even that isn’t quite right. For the most part, it’s the DHT that will tell your hair follicles to get to work growing that beard. Still, DHT is synthesized from standard testosterone, so you’ll want to try to promote the production of both hormones to get your full beard. The next few sections will help you learn exactly how to do that.
The very most important thing you can do to promote healthy hormone levels in your body is sleep. You need enough sleep, and it has to be good sleep. For most guys, that’s 7-10 hours every single night.
Have you ever suffered the masculine struggle commonly referred to as morning wood? Of course, you have. You’ve probably heard some explanations for morning wood that are completely wrong. Maybe you heard that it’s a natural reaction that keeps a guy from wetting the bed. Maybe you heard it has to do with your dreams. Those are both wrong. In reality, morning wood is a consequence of increased testosterone production. Most of the T produced by your body is synthesized when you’re in REM sleep (that’s deep sleep). If you don’t get enough sleep, or if you’re not hitting good REM cycles, your testosterone production will drop. That’s bad for your beard.
For most of you, the difference between a patchy, scraggly beard and being on the box of Just for Men is time. If you carve more time out of your schedule for sleep, you’ll be fine. For some of you, sleep quality is the issue. No matter how hard you try to get enough sleep, you still wake up groggy, and the middle of the afternoon is a struggle. If that sounds familiar, you need to figure out what is killing your sleep (such as sleep apnea).
You can guess around, or you can cut to the chase and see a sleep specialist. They’ll run tests and help you optimize your sleep routine. Once you do, you’ll be in beard nirvana. And, you’ll be healthier in general, so that’s pretty cool.
This is starting to look like every bit of health and fitness advice you’ve ever seen, right? There’s a reason for that. Sleep, diet, and exercise pretty much control your whole life (and we’ll be talking about diet in a minute). In particular, exercise can help you regulate your hormone production, and that’s one of our goals.
You want to focus on an exercise regimen that stimulates testosterone synthesis. For starters, that means you want to aim for a body fat percentage between 8 and 14 percent. If you’re not at that mark, trimming fat is the first goal.
Once your body fat is in the right margins, then you’re looking for a healthy mix of cardio and anaerobic exercise. Cardio is good for general hormone regulation. The anaerobic stuff will specifically stimulate more testosterone production. That means that growing a great beard is easier when you lift weights. Even if you’re one of those guys who’s really against gym memberships, you can steal some ideas from CrossFit and look for ways to get an anaerobic workout without dumbbells.
Ultimately, there’s a key lesson here. When your dad told you that doing chores would put hair on your chest, he might have actually been right.
Fixing Your Diet
We’re stepping away from hormones now. Well, your diet will impact your testosterone production, but it’s important for more reasons than just that. You need the right diet to be able to grow any hair at all, so we’ll discuss what you should be eating and why.
Let’s discuss the hormonal impact of your diet first. There are two things that are known to have a pretty big impact on testosterone production: soy and animal products. Unfortunately, that covers a lot of ground.
Now, we don’t want to get into stupid stereotypes. For the most part, soy won’t hurt your T levels. But, if you’re substituting soy primarily for all of your protein intake, you should have a conversation with your doctor. Everyone is different, but there are studies that link heavy soy intake to lowered testosterone levels, and that can affect your beard.
As for animal products, that’s not just meat. It includes all dairy (including cheese) and a ridiculous range of things you might eat or drink. The first thing to understand is that animal products don’t necessarily mess with your hormones. It mostly depends on what hormones were injected into the animal while it was being raised.
Ultimately, this means that you have to do a little research if you want to optimize beard growth. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is handled can help you navigate the sea of hormones and hormonal influencers to get the healthy, beautiful beard you desire.
Start Counting Calories
This is a surprising lesson for a lot of guys. Plenty of us need to learn weight (starting with yours truly), but it turns out that weight loss is hard on beard growth. You see, in order to lose weight — no matter how you go about it — you have to maintain a negative calorie diet. It’s literally impossible to lose weight otherwise. The problem is that when you stay in negative calorie territory for a long period of time, your body responds in a peculiar way.
Depending on how fast you’re losing weight, you might get symptoms of calorie deficiency. Basically, your body panics at losing weight (even when you’re doing it in a healthy way), and it shuts down non-essential functions in order to save calories. One of the first functions to get killed is hair growth. This applies to your whole body, and it certainly inhibits hair growth.
The lesson here is that you might have to choose between getting to a healthy weight and optimizing your beard. That’s ok. You can still grow a beard while you lose weight. Once you hit that goal weight, then you’ll be able to grow your best beard.
For all of you who don’t want or need to lose weight, count your calories. You need to be in caloric equilibrium to have the very best hair growth.
Eat the Right Stuff
Calories aside, your body needs specific nutrients to grow hair. In general, you want a general spectrum of vitamins and minerals. You also need healthy levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Hair is mostly protein, so getting essential amino acids is important, but carbs and fats both play a role.
That said, saturated fats are the enemy of hair growth. Overall, a healthy beard diet looks a lot like a generic healthy diet. Lean proteins and green vegetables should form the core, but filler starches or other healthy carbs are fine.
If you’re as busy as the rest of us, it might be hard to cook perfectly balanced meals every day of the week. That’s why we have supplements, and they’re worth considering. For the most part, your beard needs two things: fish oil and biotin. They have essential products, including amino acids, that help you grow hair. If you know you’re short of any other vitamins or minerals, feel free to take those supplements too.
As for hair-growing stimulants, you want to be careful. There are products that can specifically help you with facial hair, but they can be a little unpredictable. It’s always best to involve your doctor in these decisions. They can help you carefully test products and find something that works right for your unique biology.
Thus ends your lesson on growing a beard faster and/or thicker. Keep it clean. Leave it alone until you are ready to shave it off. Above all else, stay healthy. It turns out that beards are a great metaphor for life or something. In all seriousness, the general health tips here can help you with a lot more than just your beard, and it’s always worth chipping away at improving on the stuff you know you should be doing anyway. So, until you’re back for the next vital life lesson, stay fresh, and have a little fun. Go get your shaving kit for men today!