Why is my beard scraggly? The 5 insider reasons!

There comes a time in every bearded person’s beard growing journey where they look at themselves and they say “well, my beard is looking a little bit scraggly”. A scraggly beard can be caused by a variety of reasons but the good thing is that all of the reasons that a beard looks scraggly are easy to fix. Ultimately, we want to end up with a beard that we are proud of and one that when we look in the mirror we say “that is a good beard”. In this article we are going to go over all of the reasons why your beard looks scraggly and I will point you to all of the resources you need to make your beard look as awesome as possible.

Your beard looks scraggly because it is dry, patchy, thin, you have light beard hair, and you have no defined style cut into it – or a combination of two or more of those! The good thing is that a scraggly beard is very easy to fix, all you have to do is be mindful of each of the reasons that I will go through below and take the appropriate steps to tackle the symptoms of a scraggly beard.

The first thing will look at is a patchy beard…

Patchy beard

A patchy beard is something that can easily, and quickly, make your beard look scraggly. If you want to know more about how to solve your patchy beard problems go check out my YouTube video where I talk about patchy beard advice and the six insider tips for getting rid of your patchy beard:

A patchy beard can cause you to be able to see the skin underneath the hair. It is this contrast between the skin behind the hair and the hair laying on top that can make it look a little bit scraggly. Typically, this happens with short to medium size beard and people with long beards do not suffer from a patchy beard as much. That is because as hair grows longer it can be positioned to cover up any gaps in the beard growth and coverage.

If you don’t want a long beard you can actually use trimmers to your advantage to cover-up this patchiness. Much like how a good fitting piece of clothing accentuates the good bits and covers up the bad bits you can use a trimmer with a short guide to fade into the problem areas. Also, using your beard to its best will also involve choosing a beard style that matches your growth pattern and density.

Having a patchy beard does not mean that you shouldn’t have a beard at all. Very much the opposite! You just have to make sure you choose the right beard for the right beard growth.

Thin beard

Having a thin beard is one of the most prolific ways of getting a scraggly looking beard. A thin beard can be cause for a couple of reasons. It could be that you have not reached your full growing potential yet or your hair follicle density is low and it causes your beard to look thinner than you would want.

Also, if you find that the ends of your beards are looking thinner than usual it could be that you don’t have the density to back up the growth that you are experiencing at the extremities of the beard. In this instance one of the best things that you can do is to trim back the beard to its point where it is the most dense this will sacrifice a little bit of length for your beard but it will ensure that your beard is looking thick and full.

I talk about reasons why beard looks then and the six simple hacks to keep it looking thick in my YouTube video, below:

Having a thin beard is primarily dictated by your genetics so there isn’t too much that you can do about it other than choosing a beard style that matches your beard growth pattern. This is an important thing to realise early on during your beard growing journey because you should aim for a style which you can achieve rather than aim for a style that your beard growth cannot support. Choosing a beard style that your beard growth cannot support is one of the quickest ways to make your beard look unintentional and as if it is struggling and therefore scraggly.

If you find that you’ve got a thin beard you can use a volumizing treatment which keeps beard hair looking much thicker.

Dry beard

Having a dry beard is one of the first symptoms of a scraggly beard. Dry hair has a number of symptoms that you should look for:

  • a brittle texture – does your beard break easily when you are grooming in the morning? If your beard breaks easily and the surface of the hair is not smooth to the touch this could signify that you have brittle and dry hair.
  • Dull hair – healthy hair has a little bit of a shine to it. If your beard hair does not look like it’s got a bit of a shine it could be dry or damaged.
  • Split ends – split ends can occur from everyday wear and tear from things like styling, combing, using heat, and other aggressive styling techniques.
  • Hair is hard to manage – if your beard is becoming increasingly hard to manage it could be that it is very dry. I find that my hair lies easiest in position when it is well nourished and is hydrated. I can do that using a range of products and giving my beard a few days off from any harsh heat treatment.

If you’re finding that your beard hairs are incredibly dry and you are struggling to keep it moisturised check out my other article – 10 best beard conditioners [beyond oil and balm] – click here. This is a massive article where I go through all of the best beard conditioners currently on the market and go through some home-made beard softeners that will leave your beard hydrated and feeling awesome! Spoiler alert: some of the home-made beard softener solutions may surprise you – there’s even an egg in there!

Stray hairs

Hairs that do not behave themselves and regularly flay out from the sides can cause your beard to look scraggly very quickly. I think pretty much every beard has some form of stray hairs or problem areas that stick out. For me, it is under my chin and along the jaw line where my beard is the most curly and I struggle to keep the beard within its defined shape. For you, it may be a completely different region.

If you feel like this is a problem for you but you don’t want to cut off any hairs you can train your beard to grow down in some way check out my other article – can I train my beard to grow down? Six awesome options… – Click here.

The bad news is that we cannot train hair follicles to lie in a different direction. The hair follicle direction is primarily dictated by your genetics and so the only way to train hairs to lie in a certain direction is to grow out the hair and then allowed the weight of the hair to fall in the right direction. Quite often cowlicks become a problem for people with wild hair growth directions and you can check out my other article – beard cowlicks, everything you need to know (with videos) – click here – if you feel like cowlicks are really annoying for your beard.

Also, stray hairs can be caused by particularly curly or wild growing hairs. If you are of African descent your beard may be particularly curly and hard to control. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is to keep on trimming the hair as it will not lay in position with any amount of wax or product. The wildness of the hair is due to its relatively flat cross-sectional shape which causes twists and turns in the beard hair.

Light beard hair

Having belonged for particularly light beard hair can cause it looking scraggly when you compare that to someone with a dark beard colour. A really dark beard that has a medium density definitely looks fuller than it is because of the amount of light that it absorbs.

Light beard hair is easier to see through and that causes it to look as if there is no defined edge. Having no defined edge on a beard makes it look scraggly and it can make it hard to define with a trimmer.

There is not much you can do about having light beard hair other than using a strong, natural, beard dye that isn’t too far away from your current beard colour. If you change too much there is a risk that you will start looking unnatural compared to your eyebrow and head hair (if you have got any).

No defined style cut in

Lastly, one of the things that can make your beard look scraggly is the fact that you have no defined style. Choosing a style for your beard is an important part of making sure that you are heading in the right direction and that your beard matches the growth pattern on your face.

If you want to find out more about different beard styles check out my comprehensive list at my other article – click here. In that article I go through everything you need to know about choosing a beard style that matches your face. I go through everything from short beard styles (including the goatee, the short shaggy beard, stubble, et cetera) all the way through to long beard styles (such as the square cut, the lumberjack, hipster beards, and many other styles).

How do I choose my beard style?

Choosing a beard style is a very personal decision. It can be easy to choose a style that you think is fashionable or that you have seen on someone else. The truth is that your beard needs to look good for your beard hair density and face shape. These are the things that you need to take into consideration when you are growing out your beard and choosing a beard style:

  • The hair density on different parts of your face
  • Your face shape
  • How long you have to grow a beard
  • If your partner or job require you to stop at a certain length

All of these factors will come to play when growing a beard – check out my other article on the ultimate beard growing guide – for some guidance on the best beards for a load of situations.

Now, let’s take a look at all of the ways that you can overcome looking scraggly with your beard. The good thing is that you will see that it is incredibly easy to keep your beard looking as good as possible!

Scraggly beard fixes

If you want a massive article that goes through everything you need to know about fixing your scraggly beard check out my other article – five scraggly beard fixes – click here.

Scraggly beard fix

Fixing a scraggly beard means being really deliberate with the trimming and styling and product selection for your beard. These are the things that you can do to keep your beard looking as an scraggly as possible:

  • trim your beard – trimming your own beard can be quite daunting at first but with the right amount of practice and guidance you can trim your own beard at home which makes your beard look less scraggly. For maximum impact trim and cut away any hairs that escape the main bulk of your beard and cut back to its full density for maximum effect!
  • Products – using beard oil, beard balm, beard conditioner, and beard wax are all perfect ways of keeping your scraggly beard looking as conditioned and together as possible. Do not rely on products for the majority of the hold of your beard but rather use them as a way to put final touch is and to keep those pesky problem areas under your control.
  • Brush and comb – using a good wooden comb as well as a natural bristle brush will mean that your beard is well looked after and you will not be introducing any unnecessary static to your beard causing it to puff up and look scraggly.
  • Heat treatment – heat treatment is a really effective way of looking after your hair and keeping it under your control. Be careful that you don’t overuse any heat treatment because it can easily dry out your beard and become a much bigger problem than scraggly hairs.

Fixing a scraggly beard of the above approaches and being mindful of all of the things that you put in your hair and all of the things you do to your hair. It’s a balancing act that you will need to experiment with to find the right combination of treatments and processes for your beard.

Conclusion

There are all of the ways that your beard can look scraggly. A scraggly beard is one that is dry, thin, patchy, and poorly maintained. But this is all easily fixable as long as you are mindful about the products and treatments that you put and do to your hair.

Remember, that a lot of the issues that we see with scraggly hair are due to things that you cannot change. There is a point where you have to focus on controlling the things you can control such as the style, cut, and maintenance of your hair, and not the things like the growth pattern and the color of the hair. Focus on each of these carefully and there is no doubt that eventually, you will end up with a non-scraggly looking beard that you are proud of!

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 trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!