Can you grow a beard at 16? Everything you need to know

As you are waiting for puberty to take control of your facial hair it can be a very frustrating time. When I was about 13 or so I just couldn’t wait to shave. The fuzz on my cheeks and upper lip never seemed to turn into anything substantial – all I had to do was wait. Growing a beard is something that many 15 and 16-year-olds want to do as a signal to the world that they have transitioned out of childhood into adulthood. So, can you grow a beard at 16? In this article we will cover everything you need to know about the later stages of puberty and when you should expect for them to turn your light hairs on your face into a beard.

There are plenty of people that can grow a beard at 16. However, the actual age that most people can grow a reasonable beard is much later. The reason for this is that beard growth is a secondary sex characteristic and it happens in the later stages of puberty.

If you cannot grow beard at 16 do not worry – there is plenty of time for your beard to develop.

Growing a beard does not just rely on your age. In fact, beards care very little about what age you are – beard hair only cares about hormonal changes in your body. And for a teenage boy that main hormonal signal is testosterone.

Can 16-year-olds grow beards?

You may have some people in your school that have a full beard at a relatively young age. I had a friend who seemed to have gone through all the stages of puberty when he was about 12 years old. Personally, I did not have any facial hair – or at least any significant dark facial hair – until I was about 20 years old.

If you want to know more about if beard growth increases with age check out my YouTube video – does beard growth increase with age? The teen and adult beard roadmap:

Facial hair growth is regulated by testosterone as well as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The testosterone gets turned into DHT via an enzyme. In the early stages of puberty testosterone increases and causes the characteristics such as growth spurts, deepening voice, and increase growth of the genitals. However, DHT has its affects much later on in the puberty onset.

At the root of the hair your body has androgen receptors – these detect the presence of DHT and testosterone which signals for the light hair to turn into dark and thick hair. The thing about these androgen receptors is that the density and sensitivity are dictated by your genetics.

In most men, DHT and androgen receptors don’t really sensitise until they are in their early 20s. So, if you are 16 and you still want to grow a great beard you just must wait a little bit which is the hardest thing to do.

At what age is a beard fully developed?

This is a question with quite a complicated answer. Due to the variation in human bodies there is no “normal age” to expect to be able to grow beard. It’s actually anywhere between about 16 and 40 years old is also perfectly normal to not ever be able to grow a beard at all.

This same question was posed to Reddit and the answers are all over the place. Here are some typical responses when you ask people about their beard and when it was fully developed:

I’m 37, mine’s still patchy..

Never even had facial hair yet on late 20’s. Still baby smooth skin.

I think I was about 18 before it really started to show itself. I was shaving every day for 4 years and then stopping for longer periods of time that really allowed it to bush up though.

23. Was pretty pathetic prior to this age but very quickly got out of control. Now I could grow a beard that starts at my nose, down to my ball sack all the way up to my hair on the back of my neck. It’s disgusting

I will be 22 in 4 days, and I don’t know if my facial hair has finished developing. I’m able to grow a decent beard, and the cheeks are finally starting to fill out more, but my mustache is thin and wispy.

So, you can see that there is a huge array of answers. Overall, people are finding that as they grow older their beard is getting fuller and thicker and the patches are filling in.

One of the common misconceptions about beard growth is that if you shave your light coloured hair, known as peach fuzz, that it will thicken up quicker. That is a common misconception – let’s take a look at that now.

Should a 16 year old shave?

For most boys who have gone through the early stages of puberty they will begin to grow facial hair about the age of 15. This is when they will begin to shave their face. Often in the first stages of facial hair growth, the facial hair will not be full or evenly spread across the face. A common area for boys to shave first is on the upper lip. This is where the first signs of beard growth occur.

If you want to get rid of the dark hair on top of your lip or on the sideburns seek instruction from an adult that you trust on how to do it most effectively. You can shave as often as you need to I started at about once a month which then escalated to twice a month then once a week then twice a week and then every day. This was a process that was started at about the age of 15 until I was 18. But that doesn’t mean that my beard had actually come in in a decent thickness or darkness.

Should boys shave peach fuzz?

The light, translucent, fine, and wispy hairs that appear on your face are called Vellus hair. Vellus hair has a short terminal length – which means it falls out before it gets too long – and is what will eventually turn into your beard.

Vellus hair provides an important role for the human body. It provides thermal insulation and cooling for the body. This insulation regulates your body temperature keeping it at a stable level. The vellus hair works like a wick and evaporator for sweat. You actually have them all over your body. Vellus hair also prevents from bacteria growing in significant quantities on your skin. So if you are deciding to shave you may be increasing the likelihood of a bacterial outbreak on your face.

You should consider shaving your peach fuzz if you are finding that your confidence or your mental health is suffering because of how it looks. There is no “right time” to start shaving your peach fuzz. Also, there is a myth that if you start shaving that it will get darker. That is absolutely not the case.

Does shaving make facial hair grow faster?

No, shaving does not make facial hair grow faster. That is a myth that is perpetuated by the fact that when men start shaving in their early teens their beard ends up becoming thicker. The increased thickness is due to the presence of testosterone not the act of shaving. Shaving does produce stubble and stubble is the base of the hair (the point at which it grows out of the skin). It is thicker than the ends of the hair and so it looks wider but it is exactly the same hair. It’s just a different part of it.

So, don’t use shaving as a way to promote beard growth rather use it as a way to remove hairs that you are self-conscious of. Importantly, you should ask an adult that you trust to teach you how to shave properly. It is relatively basic and simple which means that after one instruction you’ll be well on your way to becoming a shaving professional. In simple terms these are the steps to shaving your face:

  • warm up the face and hairs with a warm towel – warm and hydrated hairs are far easier to cut which will result in a smooth finish.
  • Apply a shaving cream or lather – using a lather or shaving oil will help the blade glide over the skin and cause less irritation while shaving.
  • Use a razor to go with the grain of the hair – using a razor (either a single blade or a cartridge razor) press lightly against the skin and sweep the shaver in the direction of hair growth.
  • Re-lather your face – once you have removed the shaving cream or oil from your face reapply it to go over the same spot in a different direction.
  • Go over the same area perpendicular to the direction of hair growth.
  • Repeat the re-lather and shaving steps until you have achieved the smooth shaving finish you wish to achieve.
  • Once you have the desired shaving effect wash your face with cool water to close the pause and soothe a potentially irritated face.
  • Apply a moisturiser or aftershave balm to make your face smooth and irritation free.

You are never meant to shave against the grain of the hair but in reality I think every man does it and will continue to do it unless it results in serious razor bumps or ingrown hairs.

Perhaps, you feel that you cannot grow any facial hair at the age of 16 – even vellus hair. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you could potentially not be seeing the results that you want from your beard.

Why can’t I grow facial hair at 16?

There are many reasons why you may not be able to grow facial hair at 16. Growing a beard is a slow and tedious task. Despite what all the other blogs and pill manufacturers will say there is no miracle pill for increasing the thickness of your facial hair. Despite what many people tell you it is very rarely the concentration of testosterone which is an issue for growing a beard. Here are some of the more common reasons why people cannot grow beards.


The thickness of your beard and the density at which the hair grows is determined by your genetics. If your male relatives (on both your mother and father’s side) are able to grow thick beards it is likely you will be able to grow a thick beard two.

DHT is the molecule behind the effects of puberty such as a deep voice and the growth of a beard and its effect is also determined by your hair follicle sensitivity to DHT. The sensitivity and density of receptors on your face is largely determined by your genetic make up.


This article has hopefully convince you that there is no particular age that you can grow beard. Men often experience increased facial hair coverage until the age of 30. So if you are only 16 your beard will continue to get thicker as you age.


Your ethnicity can also have a massive impact on your facial hair growth – which is closely intertwined with your genetic makeup. People from Mediterranean countries tend to be able to grow relatively good thick beards when compared to other people from other parts of the world.

In a 2016 study it was found that Chinese men generally have less facial hair than white men. The facial hair growth in Chinese men tends to be around the mouth while white men typically have more hair around the neck, cheeks and chin parts of their face. Human hair can also vary in diameter from 16 to 180 micro metres. This is also determined by genetic make up and can vary significantly impact hey thick and for your beard will look.

low testosterone levels

In very few cases does low testosterone actually impact the growth of your beard. It has to be very low and diagnosed by a medical doctor before you should look at an intervention for low testosterone levels.

So, the take-home message is that there may not be too much that you can do if your beard is not growing in as fast or as thick as you would want. Waiting and also accepting that your genetic make up may not be conducive to a thick beard will help you accept what is growing on your face.

How to grow facial hair for a 16 year old

If you want a full rundown on how to grow a beard faster for a teenager check out my other article – how to grow a beard faster for a teenager. Five simple ways. – click here.

However, there are some very easy steps that you can take to ensure that your body has the best potential for growing a great beard. Here are the top things that you should do to make sure your body is in tip top condition:

  • sleep more – sleep is so vital to human health and repairing any issues in the body.
  • Avoid unhealthy foods – making sure that you avoid any fast-food instead eating a lot of healthy vegetables and ensuring you have a balanced diet will help your beard growth.
  • Be patient – if you are 16 is very unlikely that your beard is at its full potential right now. So, be patient and wait for your mid 20s before deciding whether or not your beard is good or not.

If you want to know more about the top foods you can eat check out my other YouTube video about the seven foods that can increase your beard growth:

Stages of facial hair growth in puberty

According to the UK’s national health system puberty begins at about 12 for boys. But this is not when you can expect to see your first beard growth – it takes much longer than that!

The first signs of puberty are that the testicles get larger and there will be a small amount of hair around the base of the penis. The testicles are where testosterone is produced and is the fuel that your beard needs to grow thick and dense!

In the later stages of puberty (one to three years after initial signs) you will start to grow thicker body hair. The hair will go from a light thin type to something much more substantial.

It can take another four years after the initial signs of puberty before boys are ready to start shaving – let alone grow a beard! The hair on the body gets progressively thicker over the course of four years.

So if you are between the ages of 12 – 17 you probably have nothing to worry about in terms of your beard growth and you certainly shouldn’t be looking at any drastic interventions.

By the time a boy reaches the age of 18 – they will have probably been through the entire process of puberty and have reached adult maturity. If however, you are still not satisfied with the quality of your beard you can always check out my other blog posts – how to grow a beard if you can’t and how to grow hair on your cheeks.

The next thing we need to know to grow our beard longer is how testosterone stimulates beard growth after the onset of puberty!

How does hair get produced on the face after puberty?

In teenage boys, facial hair grows 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.

When boys enter puberty the testicles begin producing the hormone testosterone. It is this hormone that is responsible for growing a beard.

Hair follicles on the face are sensitive to testosterone and what it becomes in the body – dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is made from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

Without DHT there is no beard.

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

Once activated by testosterone the hair will grow and go through these stages:

Hair growth cycle

Hair growth goes through three different stages no matter where it is on the body. On the face, this growth cycle is activated by testosterone.

  1. Anagen stage – the cells in the root of the hair divide rapidly, slowly making the hair longer. Hair will remain in the phase for anywhere from two to six years.
  2. Catagen stage – this is the end of the growth phase. The hair is detached from the blood supply and lasts for up to three weeks.
  3. Telogen stage – this is where the hair is released from the skin and the hair follicle takes a rest for about three months before growing another hair.

Maximum beard growth age

Beards are the last thing to reach full maturity during puberty. However, this does not provide much solace when waiting for your beard to come into its full thickness.

You’ll have to wait until you are about 25 before you can make any real decisions about your beard thickness or growth. I know that my beard didn’t become thick until about 22 years of age – before then it was still patchy and not as thick as I would have wanted it to be.


So there we have it, there are all of the reasons why you should be careful before deciding whether your beard is good or not at 16 years old. Remember that the majority of people see thickening and darkening of their beard well into their 20s and most men stop their beard growth in their early 30s.

Importantly you should just look after your body and keep your lifestyle as healthy as possible to help your body make your beard as awesome as possible.

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!