Is your beard growing late? This may surprise you…

There is a load of reasons why beards do not grow. Is it testosterone level? Is it that you have not yet been through puberty or is it that your genetics prescribe that you’ll never be able to grow a beard? If you think you have a problem with your beard growing late. Check out this handy guide to help you decide on what you should do!

Your beard will grow after the onset of puberty. That is between the ages of 12 and 16 for boys. Genetic and environmental factors play an important role in the timing of puberty. It’s likely that your beard is not late – but rather you are in the population where puberty happens a little later.

If however, you are well past puberty and your beard still hasn’t grown your genetics is the biggest factor in determining beard growth. If your male relatives don’t have a beard – it’s likely you won’t be able to grow one either.

When should a beard grow?

Puberty for boys happens between the ages of 12 and 16. During this time the human body becomes sexually mature (you’re able to have children). Puberty is not something that happens in one go and beard growth is part of the later stages of puberty.

In my experience, a beard takes some time to thicken even after puberty has started. I actually don’t think I was able to grow a good beard until my 20’s. But I’m not sure if I am remembering that correctly.

What happens at puberty

The first stage of puberty is an increase in the size of the testicles at around the age of 12. This lasts for about six months and after the increase in the size of the testicles the penis increases in size.

These steps almost always occur before the onset of public hair. That is, hair in the pubic region, leg and arm hair and other body hair. The bear is one of the last things to grow. Therefore, you may not notice any improvement in facial hair despite having all of the other signs of puberty!

Other things that happen in puberty are:

  • Growth spurt – you will grow quickly during puberty. About 17 – 18% of your full adult height will be achieved during this time.
  • Bone growth – bones grow and their density increases.
  • Weight changes – During puberty for boys fat increases but muscle mass grows faster.
  • Emotional changes – being a teenager going through puberty is a really tough time for many. Social pressures and looking the right way is what can consume the mind. Many adolescents are self-conscious and may experience mood swings, anxiety, confusion, and sensitivity. Not being able to grow a beard in these times are another thing that people worry about.

If you are well past the puberty stage and still can’t grow a beard. I have some bad news for you. You cannot fight your genes!

Maybe you’ll never grow a beard?

While you may well be past puberty and you may well have tried everything under the sun to get your beard to grow thick and strong. Maybe growing a beard is just out of your reach!

Dr. Amy McMichael told online publication elite daily “The largest factor that determines beard growth is really genetics”. Dr. McMichael works with people who have conditions like alopecia and hirsutism.

The fact is that some men simply have genetics that means their hair follicles are sparsely populated on their face and the hair growth is slow.

Some men will have to accept that they will not be able to grow a beard no matter how hard they try.

You may have heard that boosting your testosterone is a sure-fire way to grow a beard. But unless you have a medical condition that severely limits your production of testosterone – it probably isn’t the issue.

Blame your mum, dad, and grandparents if you can’t grow a beard.

If you really want to thicken up a patchy beard or try something a little more drastic – like medication here are a few options for you.

Interventions for growing a beard

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there is no quick fix for a bear that arrives late. A beard is grown by your body and if you want to give your body the best chance at growing a beard you are going to have to start looking after yourself.

Here are the basics of looking after yourself and some recommendations from science to back it up!

1. Diet

Eating fast food and quick sugary meals are exactly what we all crave! But a little will power goes a long way if you are looking to build a healthy lifestyle!

Try adding or increasing the amount of this foodstuff in your diet – they are all really tasty and have been backed by science to increase your testosterone levels. Also, it just a good thing to eat healthy, right?!

  1. Ginger – A 2012 research project showed that taking a daily ginger supplement for three months increased testosterone levels by 17.7 percent. Ginger teas and stir fry is an easy way to increase ginger consumption.
  2. Pomegranates – In another study scientists have shown that drinking pomegranate juice for 14 days increased the testosterone found in their saliva by 24 percent.
  3. Fortified plant milk – Vitamin D found in plant milk such as almonds, soy, hemp, and flax can increase testosterone levels. You can also get a great boost of vitamin D from the sun too! So remember to get out in the sun.
  4. Leafy green vegetables – Leafy greens are crammed with magnesium – an element that has been shown to increase the levels of testosterone in the human body. Eat lots of spinach, kale and swiss chard!

2. Exercise

High-intensity exercise including weight lifting has been shown by research to increase the amount of testosterone in teenagers and older males. To get the best results, you should keep your workouts short and you should definitely avoid workouts for more than one hour.

As a rule of thumb, you should exercise large muscle groups like your legs. So don’t focus only on the upper body even though they always seem like the best exercises to do.

Short, intense exercise like lifting weights and high-intensity interval training will be the best for your beard growth stimulation. Focus on the biggest muscle groups: legs, back, and chest.

Try this as a work out:

  • Warm-up with some light jogging and stretches.
  • Four sets of eight reps bench press with the same number of squats in between the benchpress.
  • Four sets of eight reps deadlifts with the same number of pull-ups in between.
  • Five sets of maximum 10-second sprints.
  • Cool-down with light jogging and stretches.

Do this three days per week and you should notice an increase in your overall health and also your testosterone!

3. Sleep

In today’s fast-paced, portable electronic, and social media-driven world, it can be very hard to get enough good quality sleep. But put aside that

Studies have shown that the QUANTITY of sleep a person gets is correlated with the morning testosterone levels in males. At least seven hours of sleep is recommended for males and, for teenagers, up to nine hours is preferred.

Try these techniques to get a good nights sleep:

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine eight hours before bed.
  • No alcohol – Alcohol stops the body from entering a deep sleep!
  • Avoid using screens at bedtime – try at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed.
  • No binge eating before bed – a full stomach will disrupt your sleeping
  • Create a sleep-friendly bedroom – a dark quiet and cool room will help you get the best night’s sleep.
  • Avoid long weekend lie-ins – this can actually give you the same feeling as ‘jet-lag’ on Monday mornings.

4. Minoxidil

The most well-known hair growth treatment is Minoxidil – you can find out more about it in this wiki – click here. It’s found in hair regrowth products such as Rogaine.

The FDA has NOT approved Minoxidil for use on the face and so all of the instructions are for the scalp.

One of my favorite places on the internet, Reddit, has a subreddit where people show their progress pics. check out this from user u/ImBadAtHalo.

Beard growing longer on one side - Minoxidil

You can see that the cheek hairs of his beard are much hairier and denser than when he started.

One of the issues is that once you stop using a Minoxidil containing product the hairs will simply stop growing. So you need to be aware of the potential expense and commitment required before embarking on this usage.

Besides the fact that you need to do this treatment for a long time – up to a year and a half, you may experience some side effects. Also, if you stop using Minoxidil the effects on your hair growth will also stop!

Side Effects with Minoxidil

No medication comes without side effects. Here are some of the common side effects that Minoxidil can cause:

Less Common

  • Itching or skin rash 


  • Acne at the site of application
  • burning of scalp
  • facial hair growth
  • increased hair loss
  • inflammation or soreness at the root of the hair
  • reddened skin
  • swelling of face

Signs and symptoms of too much medicine being absorbed into the body—Rare

  • Blurred vision or other changes in vision
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • flushing
  • headache
  • lightheadedness
  • numbness or tingling of hands, feet, or face
  • swelling of face, hands, feet, or lower legs
  • weight gain (rapid)

Should you start to encounter any of these side effects you need to contact your healthcare professional immediately.

Medical intervention is quite a serious step to take if you are finding that your beard is growing longer on one side of your face. While others have found the topical treatment to be most beneficial you may want to consider the non-medical interventions before taking that leap.

5. Micro-needling

Derma rollers and micro-needling are popular with women to smooth out wrinkles and now the manufacturers have men in their sights.

The way they work

  1. The small needles on the beard roller enter the surface of the skin.
  2. The body responds by healing the area and sending blood to the affected area.
  3. Circulation improves where the skin has been rollered. This brings along nutrient & hormone-rich blood to the affected area.

This study shows that scalp hair can be stimulated by derma rolling. Importantly this study also shows that when combined with Minoxidil the effects on the scalp are amplified.

Remember that this is only done on the scalp and the science still hasn’t shown that it will work the same on the beard!

The Author

Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialling different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!