Do beards get darker with age?

If you are in the early stages of growing your beard you may be wondering: do beards get darker with age? It can be a very painful and long process watching your beard grow. In fact, if you open only recently started puberty beards grow much later in the puberty cycle because it is a secondary effect. Most beard growers start noticing their beard growing at the age of about 16 or 17. However, many beard growers do not experience significant beard growth until their mid-20s or later. In this article we are going to discover whether or not beards get dark with age and how you can make your beard darker if you want to accelerate the process.

Yes, beards to get darker with age because the vellus hair turns into terminal hair after puberty. The Beard hairs also get longer and thicker, which absorbs more light, and as your beard grows it becomes dense, the hairs intertwine so that it traps more light making it look like a thicker and fuller beard.

As with most things in the Beard world patience and persistence is your number one friend. To understand why beards get darker with age we need to understand a little bit about how testosterone affects the hairs on your face.

The reason beads get darker

The number one reason why your beard gets darker as you age is that the vellus hairs turn into terminal hairs. Let’s take a little bit more of a look into the action of testosterone, once it is produced by the body, and how the hairs on your face respond to it.

Vellus hair to terminal hair

If you look closely across your entire body you will notice that there are very tiny hairs all over every part of your body. Areas such as your earlobe, or forehead have this very thin and translucent hair coverage.

These are the vellus hairs, which can also be called baby hair or fuzz, and are present on the human body from childhood.

The growth cycle of vellus hair to terminal hair follows the following path:

  • Lanugo – this type of hair is first produced by beetle hair follicles and is present on the foetus from about 16 weeks of gestation up to 33 weeks until birth.
  • Vellus – the less hair replaces the previous type of hair and is present in children and adults. It is an essential part of controlling your temperature as well as providing sensory input for detecting and sensing 3D space around you.
  • Terminal – vellus hairs can turn into terminal hairs once they have reached puberty. The notable change is that vellus hair is stronger, longer, and more noticeable due to its thickness.

This transition occurs because some parts of your body have receptors which respond to testosterone and its derivatives such as DHT. A study published in 2008 goes through the effect of these hormones and hair growth.

The main hormones regulating changes in human hair follicles are called androgens. In mammals hair is produced by the hair follicle which is a highly complicated organ which is crucial for evolutionary purposes.

Androgens stimulate the tiny vellus follicles which turn the superfine vellus hairs into larger and deeper follicles which can grow thicker and more pigmented hair. This is shown in the figure from the study, below.

Dermatologic Therapy, Volume: 21, Issue: 5, Pages: 314-328, First published: 06 October 2008, DOI: (10.1111/j.1529-8019.2008.00214.x

Although these androgens can stimulate hair growth on the face and the upper chest and other areas, in men they can also have the opposite effect on the scalp which can cause balding. This is essentially a reverse version of what happens on the beard where the long and thick pigmented hairs become vellus hairs with much smaller hair roots.

This is an issue which is commonly encountered by men and is a hormonal paradox as the same hormone can have completely opposite effects depending on the hair follicles sensitivity to the androgen hormone.

  • During puberty, the first facial hair to appear tends to grow at the corners of the upper lip (age 11–15).
  • It then spreads to form a mustache over the entire upper lip (age 16–17).
  • This is followed by the appearance of hair on the upper part of the cheeks and the area under the lower lip (age 16–18).
  • It eventually spreads to the sides and lower border of the chin and the rest of the lower face to form a full beard (age 17–21).
  • Although this order is commonly seen, it can vary widely, with some facial hair starting from the chin and up towards the sideburns.

The reason hair follicles respond so differently is because of the genes that the person has inherited and are expressed at different hair follicles at different sites on the body. Interestingly, a follicle will retain its original androgen response even when transplanted. Genetics play a very important role and heavy beard growth and building runs in families of Caucasians and exhibit more hair than Japanese descendants and they also have more boldness than African descendants.

This is the biggest reason why beard hairs get darker as you get older but there are also other effects which can make a beard look darker as men get older.

Beard hairs intertwine and get longer

As hairs get older and longer, they become intertwined together. This wrapping and interaction between the Beard hairs means that there is an appearance of thicker and darker hairs. When, in fact, it is really lots of hairs joining together which give a more substantial look and density to the Beard.

If you want your beards hairs to start to intertwine you need to grow it out for at least three months so that the hairs are long enough and flexible enough to start to wrap around each other. This traps more light and absorbs more light giving the appearance of a darker beard.

Sometimes, people feel like they need a little bit of help with creating a darker beard. In the next section we are going to go over all of the ways that you can get a darker beard which includes the application of some products you may not have heard of.

How to get dark beard

Getting a darker beard is relatively easy if you know the simple steps and products you can use to give your beard a darker and more substantial look. Here are all of the ways that you can get a dark beard.

Let it grow

It is a common joke on my YouTube channel that pretty much every single beard issue can be resolved by letting it grow – getting a darker beard is no exception!

Patience is the ultimate virtue when you are growing a beard. If you are in the early stages of puberty and your beard growth journey – fear not – you have plenty of time to grow your beard and for it to develop.

If you are after the age of 25 and you want a darker beard one thing you can do is let it grow so that the hairs get longer and look more substantial. If you want to read more about why beards look so thin check out my other article – why does my beard look so thin – everything you can do about it – click here to be taken to the article.

The one thing that makes a beard look more substantial is the density of the hairs. You’ll notice that your chin and moustache are the areas with the highest density of beard hairs and these will tend to look the darkest on many men.

Before you make any rash decisions on whether or not your beard is dark enough make sure that you wait at least six months of good amount of growth before deciding your beard is not dark enough. A lot of the time or you need is a few months of growth to completely change your beard and how you feel about.

Dye it

Dying your beard is one of the quickest ways to make it look darker. If you want to find out more about dying your beard check out my other article – is it okay to dye your beard, busting the myths – click here to be taken to article.

Dying your beard a darker colour is an awesome option for people with naturally light beard hairs and you can find a good selection of organic and easy-to-use hair dye for beards. Regular dying may cause issues such as beard hair damage and a thinning beard. This is because some beard dies contain harsh chemicals which can slowly erode the Beard hair and make it brittle. Freshly coloured beard hair has a slightly thinner texture than normal but you can use products like extra virgin coconut oil and aloe vera gel to prevent the beard from thinning out too much.

How to dye your beard

after you’ve chosen the right beard dye in terms of colour and application preference here are the steps that you need to go through:

  • firstly, test a small part of your body with the dye to make sure that it won’t irritate your skin on your face. You should aim to do a small coin sized area before launching into your full beard. Do this test on your forearm where the skin is a little bit more sensitive to make sure that you don’t get a reaction.
  • Do not wash your beard before colouring. Get rid of any obvious dirt about two days before but a good beard dye requires a little bit of natural oil in your skin for the beard dye to transfer properly. A dry and brittle beard is much harder to get to absorb the dye molecules.
  • Make sure that you wear and of T-shirt because the beard dye will stain everywhere that it touches. Also you could cover the area you have chosen to dye your beard with an old sheet or some cling wrap. This will keep everyone you share the bathroom with happy.
  • Use Vaseline on the lines of your beard (like cheek and necklines) where you do not want the beard dye to take. Some beard dyes can dye the skin as well as their hair and you do not want it to darken the skin and make the lines of the beard uneven.
  • Then use the product as recommended by the manufacturer. Follow all of the steps and wait for the appropriate amount of time for the dye to take.
  • Wash out your beard with water until the water runs clear. And then pat dry your beard with a towel. There may still be a little bit of dye left in the beard so you should use a towel that you don’t mind throwing out or reusing for beard dying.

If in doubt always follow the recommendations of the manufacturer and read the entire process before starting to make sure that you understand exactly what you need to do to get the dye to take to your beard efficiently and give you the best results.

Use Beard pencil

You can purchase a beard filler pencil which gives you a much darker beard. The great thing about using a commercially available beard filler is that you do not get any smudges and it is water and sweat resistance.

The process for using a beard pencil filler is to start by drawing on the contour of your beard and moustache so that you have defined the ages. Then you simply brush the product over the rest of your beard as if colouring in between the lines.

This product is great if you have a patchy beard as it will even out the colour and perceived thickness and density over your entire face. You can even use it on your eyebrows or other areas of your body hair that you want to appear thicker.

It has been designed with four tips on the top so that it’s easy to apply and get a well-defined edge.

Use beard hair fibres

there is also a product called Toppik hair fibres. These hair fibres are made of coloured kerosene that is ecstatically charge which intertwine with your existing hair for a natural look.

These hair fibres typically resist things like wind and rain but they easily removed with a shampoo. This means they are not a permanent solution to having a light and thin looking beard but for a special occasion they are the perfect solution.

Frequently asked questions

Here some answers to typically answer questions about beard darkness.

Do beards get thicker with age?

Beards do get thicker with age because of the same reasons that beard hairs get darker. You need to look at the hormonal effect of testosterone and its derivatives like DHT on beard hairs to understand why they get thicker with age.

This doesn’t mean, however, that beard hairs will inevitably get thick. One of the number-one things that determine your beard colour, thickness, and other properties are your genes. Have a look at your family and your heritage for an indication of the sort of beard thickness that you will be able to grow. There is a rumour that this is determined by the genetic heritage from your mothers side but both play an important role.

At what age is beard fully developed?

Beards are typically fully developed at the age of about 35. But this can change for individuals based on their genetic heritage. Most people start growing a beard in their late teens and only really fully develop the capacity to grow beard later in their 20s and early 30s.

If you are only just starting to grow a beard you have a lot of time and potential to grow your beard and patience is really the only tool that you can use to make sure that your beard becomes a beard that you are happy with.

Do beards get better with age?

This is a very subjective question but in my opinion, yes, beards get better with age. This is because the hairs on your face have fully developed and you are also able to hone in on the perfect style and maintenance routine for your beard.

This combination of genetics and practice maintaining your beard means that beards tend to get better with age.

The bottom line

In this article we have looked at whether or not beards get darker with age. We have looked at the science which explains why the vellus hairs on your face turn into dark terminal hairs and the important factors which determine how thick and dark your beard looks i.e. the beard density.

If you are not happy with what your beard naturally does you can use products like beard dyes, beard pencils, and hair fibres to fill in the gaps of your beard that you are not most satisfied with. Ultimately, your beard is unique to you so that you can grow a beard that you are happy with.

Growing a beard takes a long time and patience in the early stages will mean that you lay a great foundation for a thick and dark beard later on in your beard growing journey. Do not lose patience and continue to let your beard!

Happy beard growing!

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!