Beards are funny things, and the hair growth pattern can be very erratic. No matter where the hair grows on your face, its direction depends on your genetics and the direction that the hair follicle sits relative to the surface of your skin.
If your beard grows upwards, you can let it grow so that gravity can pull it downwards, you can use wax products and heat to hold it throughout the day, or you can choose chemical straightening for a longer-lasting control.
The good news is that various ways are relatively inexpensive for controlling a beard that grows upwards. Your gravity-defying beard can be tamed and trained to grow in the direction that you want it to.
Here are all of the reasons your beard grows upwards and why it may be a good thing.
Why your beard grows upwards
Your beard grows in a variety of different directions. When you have shaved your face, you become intimately aware of the directions of the hair growth by running your fingers over the skin’s surface with a small amount of growth in various directions.
If you are in the early stages of growing a beard, I recommend that you spend a moment creating a mental map of the direction of your hair growth. This process will allow you to identify any potential problem areas in the future and set your expectations for how long different parts of your face will tame and grow in the direction you want to grow it in.
Hair follicles pointing upwards
Your genetics dictates the direction of your hair follicle growth. The growth angle can also determine whether or not the hairs are particularly curly all if they are straight.
Beard hairs that grow out perpendicular to the skin’s surface tend to be straighter than those growing at an acute angle relative to the skin’s surface.
There is no way to change the direction that the hair follicles point unless you use surgical intervention. There is a surgical approach that allows you to remove individual follicles and research them under the skin, but its success depends very much on your body’s ability to reintegrate the hair follicle after it has been re-implanted. You could end up with a gap in your beard if the hair follicle does not take.
It is short
The issue is that hair, particularly beard hair, takes a while to get long enough to be held in a certain position. When you have short hair, it is rigid and straighter than if it grows out a little bit more.
In the early days, there isn’t much that you can do about it other than push through any awkwardness you feel and let the strange growth direction grow out so that the weight of the hair slowly pulls the beard hair is into a position that better suits the surrounding hairs.
Sleeping on your beard at night
Sleeping on your beard at night will not permanently change the direction of the hair growth, but it can encourage some of the hairs to lay upwards.
It is likely that the effect of sleeping on your beard is temporary and can be fixed with a deep cleanse followed by heat treatments such as a blow dryer or a beard straightening comb.
Neck and cheeks in the common area
The neck area is a common place for beard hairs to grow in strange directions. It could be something to do with the change in angles that are present at the neckline and the jawline.
Depending on where your upward growth occurs, you may be able to hide it using surrounding hairs. The neck area is a particularly turbulent place in terms of hair growth.
Like a cowlick on your head, a swirl (or cowlick) is created by the direction your hair follicles point. This swirl is the result of the hair growing in the direction that the follicle is pointing.
If you want to know more about a beard cowlick and the ultimate guide to solving it, check out my other article.
It may be a good thing, eventually.
Believe it or not, if your beard is growing upwards, it may eventually pay off if you grow a particularly big beard.
If the beard hairs are growing upwards on your neck, your beard may look thicker and fuller at longer lengths. The thickness of a beard is partly determined by the density of hair that supports the front-most growth. If hair grows together, a beard can end up looking much thicker and fuller.
Of course, this is not much assurance to people who want a medium or short length beard or are not long into their growth journey.
The different directions are not as likely to pay off in a shorter beard, and you’ll have to use some of the other techniques below to solve any issues caused by upwards growing beard hairs.
Solutions for a beard that grows upwards
Luckily, your beard growth can be controlled using a combination of the techniques below.
Because your beard is unique to you, you may find it useful to trial all of the different options below and experiment until you find the best combination of interventions that provide you with a significant and long-lasting effect.
Grow it longer
One of the jokes on my YouTube channel is that pretty much every beard issue can be solved by growing a longer beard.
This problem is no different.
As your beard grows, it gets heavier and more malleable. The weight of the hair could eventually end up pulling it in a downward direction. If that doesn’t work out, the long beard hairs are much easier to bend and shorter. The cross-sectional area of beard hair is typically very wide and irregular, causing it to be very stiff when it is short.
Growing it out will allow you to bend it and for products to hold the shape much more effectively.
Choose a style that suits the growth
Because your beard is unique, choosing a beard style that matches your growth pattern and shape is important.
If you’ve got upwards growing hair on a particular part of your face, you should consider changing the style of your beard so that you can fade into the problem areas. Keeping the problem areas shorter means that you can avoid taming them and may provide you with an opportunity to trial a different beard style.
Using a heat treatment on a beard is a common practice for many men.
Using a beard straightener or hairdryer is a great way to straighten and hold a beard in place reproducibly. If you want to know more about beard straighteners and heat treatment, check out my other article – should you straighten your beard? – Click here.
Using a heat treatment on your hair modifies the bonds that create the hair shape. Simply heating the hair and holding it into shape modifies the bonds, which changes the hair shape.
Using heat is only a temporary solution to creating change in hair growth. As soon as you get the hair wet, the bonds will return to their natural formation, and so the shape of the hair will be restored to how it was before the heat treatment.
There are two methods for using heat:
- hairdryer – use a hairdryer on medium or high heat to dry the hair as you hold it into the final position.
- Hair straightener – you can buy a dedicated hair straightener designed to heat and comb your hair into position. They can take two forms: flat irons that are pressed together with the hair in between or combined with a brush to apply heat while you are combing. Either is good. As long as it works for you, that is all that matters.
You have to be careful, though, when using heat. Heat styling creates cracks in the protective cuticle (outside layer) of the hair. If you use heat styling all the time, the outside layer becomes degraded, resulting in dry, frizzy, and fragile hair.
So even though straightening your hair with heat treatment is very effective, you must be careful not to overdo it. Once you have your beard in the right position, you can utilise products such as beard oil, beard balms, beard wax, or a dry texture spray.
One way that is very easy to control the hair throughout the day is to use a product with a high wax component.
A beard balm with a high wax component may not be enough to hold your beard in a downwards position, but a much higher hold product such as a moustache wax is worth investigating if you struggle to choose the right product.
Beard balm contains a holding element such as wax. There are so many great benefits that a good beard balm can provide to your beard. One of the best ways to make beard balm is by combining wax, shea butter, coconut oil, other oil, and essential oils in your DIY recipe. Check out my YouTube video where I go through the best DIY beard balm recipe that provides nourishment and hold to train your beard to grow downwards:
If you suspect that your beard is growing upwards because of your sleeping position, you could try wrapping your beard.
Your beard can be protected using a beard bandanna while you sleep.
If you want a full run down on the effects of beard wraps, check out my other article the best beard wrap for sleeping? A full comparison guide – click here.
Using a beard wrap for sleeping also has the following benefits:
- you can use beard products at night, and they won’t end up absorbing into your pillow.
- It helps protect your beard from breakages
- seals in product and helps keep beard details would and soft
I have not worn a beard bandanna to bed yet, but I am very keen to try it, and I shall report back on this blog as soon as I have run my experiment.
One of the most reliable and easy ways to ensure that your beard is sat in the right direction is to use hairpins to hold the beard in place.
This approach can only be done on beards that are long enough to pin into place. I recommend that you pin the beard hair in the morning before you head out for your day.
You can use hairpins on your beard as it dries naturally after a shower and shampoo and condition. You can even get ready for work as the hairpins hold your beard hair in place.
A top tip is to use non-crease clips to pin their hair in the do the new direction. Click here to be taken to Amazon to find the creaseless clips.
If you don’t want to buy hairpins, you can also braid or plat the hair into position while drying. This approach is as simple as either tying a small elastic band around the section of the hair to keep it in place or by doing a three-stranded Platt over the affected area. You can also use beard weights and cuffs if you need a little bit of extra weight on the end of the hair.
Ensure that you can keep the pins in the hair for more than 30 minutes to ensure that the hair sits in the right place after removal. If you don’t have 30 minutes to dry, you can use a heat treatment such as a beard straightener or a hairdryer.
Another really impressive way of training your curly beard is with a beard relaxing cream. This cream is a chemical treatment for your beard and will semi-permanently give you a nice straight beard.
How to use a beard relaxer and straightener
Using a beard relaxer and straightener is incredibly simple. It is something that you can do at home. You can fit it into your weekly or monthly routine with ease. And if you can you shampoo and conditioner, you can quite easily use a beard relaxer. Here are the basic steps:
- wet your hair in the shower like you would usually do when shampooing your hair
- Apply the relaxing shampoo from the roots to the tip of the hair – divide your beard into smaller sections if you have to.
- Use a fine-tooth comb to get the relaxing agent to distribute throughout your beard evenly
- leave the beard relaxing shampoo in for about 30 minutes – go about your normal showering routine
- after about 30 minutes, rinse your beard with water to remove the majority of the relaxing shampoo
- once a note of the shower, blow dry your beard on a medium heat setting
- use a straightening iron to straighten out any of your curls
- apply the neutraliser to stop the relaxing cream from working and lock your straight beard hair in place
- using the shampoo that came with the beard straightener cream, wash your beard three times.
- Towel dry your beard and apply the sealer to seal in and lock the hair in a straight position.
- Finish drying your beard how you would normally do, for example, with a hairdryer, and complete the process.
Your hair will stay straight for a relatively long time, and the new hair growth will be curlier than the straightened part. Once the new growth makes up about 25 to 50% of your beard, you can repeat this process.
Using a beard relaxer is a fantastic way to remove one step from your weekly maintenance schedule. This semipermanent approach allows you to be confident that your beard will remain straight for many weeks.
The final word
in this article, we have gone over the seven easy solutions for you to try if your beard grows upwards.
Embracing the beard growth direction and choosing a bearded star that allows you to hide the problem areas of your beard will be the easiest way for you to avoid dealing with this problem head-on.
A combination of heat treatments, products, and pinning may also allow you to train your beard to grow down. For more ways of how to train your beard, check out my other article – click here.