There are some lOOOOOng beards in the world! There’s no doubt that growing a beard takes patience and sometimes it may feel like your beard has stopped growing. The correct term for the final length a beard will reach is called its terminal length. But what does this mean and will your beard actually STOP growing or getting longer?
Hair never stops growing it goes through three stages and can only reach a certain length before it falls out. It is the hair growth cycle that limits the maximum length that can be achieved and this is different from person to person.
Here’s the first thing that you need to know: your beard will never stop growing! FACT!
Your beard will never stop growing (once it starts)
Hair, no matter where it is on your body, grows continuously throughout your life. Beard hair follicles are activated at the onset of puberty with happens. It turns out that facial hair follicles respond aggressively to testosterone, the sex hormone abundant in men after the onset of puberty.
The three stages of the hair growth cycle
Once the fair follicles on your face have been activated the hair growth goes through three different stages.
- Anagen stage – the cells at the root of the hair divide rapidly.
- Catagen stage – end of the growth phase and the hair doesn’t get any longer
- Telogen stage – the hair is released from the skin.
Take a look at this simple graphic that highlights each of the stages of hair growth.
In the anagen phase of the cycle, the cells in the root of the hair divide rapidly, which then slowly adds to the length of the hair. The emerging hair will remain in the phase for anywhere from two to six years. About 80 percent to 90 percent of the hairs on your head are in this stage of hair growth at any one time!
The catagen phase is a short intermediate stage that occurs after the anagen phase. This is the end of the growth phase of the hair because there are no more cells added to the bottom of the hair. At this stage, the hair is detached from the blood supply. The hair will slowly die and become detached from the bottom of the hair follicle.
The telogen stage is after the short catagen phase. Here, the hair is released from the skin and the hair follicle takes a rest for about three months.
Sometimes, when I’m stroking my beard it can seem like I’m pulling out a load of hairs. But fear not! The average person can lose up to 100 hairs per day.
Importantly, all of the hairs undergo this at a different time and a thick beard relies on a dense collection of hair follicles that are in the anagen phase for a long period of time.
World record beard length?
So, given that the hair has a “growth lifetime” surely it can only get as long as it remains in the anagen (growth phase), right?
Well, there is a natural limit but that depends on each and every person’s beard growth rate vs loss rate.
The world’s longest beard belonged to Hans N. Langseth (Norway, b. 1846) and it measured 5.33 m (17 ft 6 in) at the time of his burial at Kensett, Iowa in 1927 after 15 years residence in the United States.
Clearly, if this is the world record it’s very unlikely that your beard will get longer than this. Also maybe a 5.33 m beard is also something that you don’t aspire to.
Hair has what is called a terminal length but what exactly does this mean?
What does terminal length mean?
Terminal length is the length your hair would reach without cutting or breaking. Technically, there’s no defined terminal length – hair doesn’t stop when it reaches a certain length. It stops growing when it reaches the end of its growth cycle.
The average growth phase it between two and six years although this is heavily influenced by your genetics, race and hair type. If your growing phase is on the shorter end (two years) you can grow a maximum of 12 inches. However, the average person can expect to grow anywhere between 12 and 36 inches before their hair stops growing and calls out.
Although some people will have a genetic advantage, there’s a natural limit on the length that you can achieve with your beard. There are ways that you can increase the length of your beard by increasing the amount it grows in the anagen phase.
It’s all about getting that testosterone level up!
Increasing growth in the anagen phase of the growth cycle
The more testosterone you have flowing around in your body the more your beard is stimulated to grow as it is in the anagen phase. If you are struggling to grow your beard at all, check out this link!
There’s a lot of research that demonstrates how effective exercise is at getting your testosterone levels up! Not all exercise has the same potency, however. Make sure your exercise contains these activities:
- Sprinting – Studies have shown that testosterone levels can be increased significantly for people who performed a series of very short (but intense) 6-second sprints. The good news is that the testosterone levels remained high even after the participants recovered from the sprint workout.
- Lift heavy things – Studies have shown that it takes heavy weights to boost testosterone levels. You can do this by focusing on full-body exercises like squats, deadlifts, benchpresses and free weights at 85 – 95 % of your one-rep max! For such heavy lifting make sure that you have someone spotting you – I want you to be safe!
- Use long rest periods – Longer rest periods (of more than 120 seconds) between reps are better than shorter rest periods. So give yourself a little break in between each set.
- Remember to use your legs – Nothing feels more ‘manly’ than doing upper body exercises, like bicep curls or bench press, but studies have shown that there are significant increases in testosterone when leg and lower body exercises are included in the routine. Also, no one wants to be out of proportion when they are a little bigger!
Try this example routine as a workout:
- Four sets of eight reps bench press with the same squats in between the benchpress.
- Four sets of eight reps deadlifts with the same pull-ups in between.
- Five sets of maximum 10-second sprints
Do this at least three days per week and you should notice an increase in your overall health alongside a thicker and more substantial beard.
Combining your exercise with a diet that will promote testosterone production in your body can help grow your beard longer during the anagen phase. Try adding or increasing the amount of this foodstuff in your diet – they are all really tasty!
- 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.
- Pomegranates – In another study scientists have shown that drinking pomegranate juice for 14 days increased the testosterone found in their saliva by 24 percent.
- 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.
- 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! So I guess Popeye was on the right track.
If you are stressed your body produces more cortisol – the human stress hormone. High cortisol levels are correlated with lower testosterone levels – but this does not mean that cortisol causes low testosterone.
Let’s see what the science says:
A study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, looked at the relationship between the two hormones.
Scientists measured hormone levels in 57 men who were pitted against each other in one-on-one competition. The cortisol and testosterone levels of the participants were measured before and after competing.
The men who lost the competition were asked if they wanted to compete again. All the men who declined had high cortisol levels as well as a drop in their testosterone levels. It could be that this is the body’s way of preparing you for escaping after losing a ‘battle’.
Low testosterone and high cortisol share the same symptoms. So it can be hard to differentiate between what is happening in the body. To reduce stress in your life is always a good thing! Linit these things to make sure you are minimizing the stress in your life:
- Exercise regularly – see above
- Don’t smoke, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Don’t self-medicate with drugs!
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get enough sleep. Which is very important!
- Set realistic goals in your life and come up with small manageable ways to get there.
- Ask for help if you are struggling. This is something men are particularly bad at!
Make sure that you follow these rules and your stress will be low and, if nothing else, you’ll be able to concentrate on your beard growing!
The final word
The question “Will your beard stop growing?” is a little bit of a misdirected question in that beards continuously grow. It’s the hair growth cycle that limits the maximum length that can be achieved. This varies from person to person. There are ways, however, to increase the length hairs can reach while they are in the anagen growth stage!
Happy beard growing my friends!