In the early stages of growth, it can be disheartening when you don’t see the results that you want. Beards can take a bit of time to look substantial and full. It took me until I was about 30 years old to be happy with my beard. If you are younger say 16 – 25 or so, you may just not be in the stage of life where your beard is at it’s fullest. If you want to speed things up here is everything you need to know to answer the question: Can beard growth be stimulated?

Stimulating beard growth comes down to enhancing the first stage of beard growth – the anagen phase. Hair follicles on the face are sensitive to testosterone and another chemical – dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is produced from testosterone after it is metabolized by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. Boosting testosterone may be your best bet and you can do this with diet, high-intensity exercise, and sleep. If you want to look for medical intervention minoxidil and micro-needling has been seen to stimulate beard growth in patchy beards.

To understand how you can stimulate hair growth we must first understand how hair grows and the types of hair that are on your body. Not all hair is created equally!

How hair grows

Hair grows continuously while you are alive. That is true for any part of the body. However, facial hair follicles are woken up at the onset of puberty as hormones flow throughout your body! Beard hair follicles respond aggressively to testosterone, the sex hormone produced in men’s testes after puberty. Once these hairs are activated you’ll notice a thickening and darkening of the hair on your face.

Once activated the hair goes through three stages throughout its life cycle.

The three stages of the hair growth cycle

Once the fair follicles on your face have been stimulated with testosterone the hair growth goes through three different stages which are highlighted in the list below:

  1. Anagen stage – the cells at the root of the hair divide rapidly and the hair gets long very quickly. This stage is from when the hair isn’t visible under the skin until it has reached its full length.
  2. Catagen stage – end of the growth phase and the hair doesn’t get any longer. As the blood supply to the root of the hair is cut the hair works its way to the surface of the skin.
  3. Telogen stage – the hair is released from the skin. You’ll probably find the hair on your desk, on your pillow, stuck in your brush and hopefully not stuck on anyone else!

Take a look at this simple graphic that highlights each of the stages of hair growth.

In the anagen phase, the emerging hair will remain here for anywhere from two to six years – that’s a pretty lone time! About 80 percent to 90 percent of the hairs on your head are in this stage of hair growth at any one time!

Sometimes, when I’m stroking my beard it can seem like I’m pulling out a load of hairs. As my beard is getting longer I also notice a huge amount of hair on my desk as I’m working. Fear not! The average person can lose up to 100 hairs per day – so losing hair is a natural part of growing hair! Trippy, hey?

All of the hairs on your face undergo this process at a different time and a thick beard relies on a dense collection of beard hairs that are in the anagen phase for a long period of time.

There are also different types of hair on your body and this determines how much it can be stimulated!

How beard growth gets stimulated

As teenage boys enter puberty testosterone gets produced in the testes and stimulates the growth of facial hair. The facial hair grows longer and becomes thicker due to the effect of testosterone on the hair follicles. Before that, there is hair present but it is faint and thin.

Hair follicles on the face are sensitive to testosterone and another chemical – dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is produced from testosterone after it is metabolized by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

Without DHT there is no beard.

However, there are genetic factors at play that determine the levels of testosterone in the body as well as how sensitive the hair follicle is to DHT and testosterone.

The importance of DHT to stimulate beard growth

Can beard growth be stimulated? - the importance of DHT infographic

Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is made from testosterone by an enzyme called 5AR.

DHT is the primary hormone responsible for promoting the production of body hair which includes your beard! The more DHT there is in the blood and the more sensitive your DHT receptors are the fuller and thicker your beard growth will be.

All of the beard stimulation that we will talk about in this post act in one of three ways:

  1. They increase the activity of the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. Making the enzyme more efficient or more active is a great way to boost beard growth.
  2. They boost the testosterone levels in the body which makes it more available for the enzyme. With more testosterone around it is more likely, that it can be turned into DHT.
  3. Increase the number of receptors that are exposed to high levels of the beard-growing chemical DHT.

The reason your beard is growing slow.

If you are not getting the beard fullness or growth that you want there are a couple of key components of beard growing that you may be missing.

  1. You may lack the nutrients that you need for beard growth – pretty much every beard-growing blog that I read has this info on it! There has never been a better time to say “you are what you eat”. If you have been eating rubbish, like fast food, you can’t expect that your beard will be very good at all!
  2. You may be experiencing a change in hormones – if you suspect that your body may be going through changes you need to speak with a health professional right away!
  3. Your beard may have reached its terminal length – it may be that your beard just won’t get any longer! There is a thing called terminal beard length. It’s unlikely that your beard is at thins length unless it is wizard-like. But still, it may be an option for you.
  4. You may be over-grooming your beard – this is a big one! You may be ripping out your hairs…Beards are a funny hair type. They are heavily affected by environmental conditions. When they don’t behave themselves we often think that we need to tame them. Sometimes we can be too rough and force them into position! Don’t do that! Use softer approaches to beard grooming like products and good conditioning in the shower!

Are there beard growing supplements that work?

There are tonnes of products that claim magical results for people that are struggling to grow a beard. At best these expensive supplements are a way to extract your money from your wallet and actually grow your hair. At worst, they can cause some serious side effects and leave you wondering why you have no money in your bank account.

Nothing may seem easier than to pop a pill to solve problems. As humans, we love the idea of a simple pill that fixes our biggest issues. The reality, however, is that these types of products often over promise, under deliver and are designed only to pry on the insecurity of beard growers.

Take the time to improve these factors below and if you are still unhappy with your beard – it would be best to seek out the help of a professional!

The best ways to stimulate beard growth

Here we will look at the best ways that you can stimulate beard growth and help you on the road to a thick and healthy beard!

Can beard growth be stimulated? the best ways to stimulate beard growth infographic

Remember that all of these approaches are for the long term – do not expect results overnight and looking after your body is a lifestyle choice that will pay dividends to your health (and beard).

1. Diet

Diet is something that is incredibly easy to fix – it just takes a little bit of will power to stick to.

Yes, we all want to eat rubbish food – it tastes GOOD! It’s OK to eat chocolate, chips and fast food occasionally. However, your everyday diet should be healthy and nutritious.

Try adding or increasing the amount of this foodstuff in your diet – they are all really tasty and have been backed by science!

  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!

Eat healthily and over the course of about six months, you will start to feel much better!

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!

High-intensity training

HIIT workouts vary greatly in content, but they can be categorized into three types:

  • Tabata – 20 seconds of work alternated with 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of four minutes.
  • Power intervals – Used for cardio such as walking, swimming and running. 90 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest in between.
  • Turbulence training – eight reps of weight training alternated with 1-2 minutes of high-intensity cardio. Done for up to 45 minutes

Visit Men’s Health for more information on HIIT there are even some worksheets that you can use to structure your work out.

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.

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.

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 

Rare

  • 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 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 final word

So, can beard growth be stimulated? It appears that there are a number of approaches to beard growth stimulation and you must select the right approach for you!

Slow and steady wins the race!