Why Can’t I Grow Facial Hair?
With facial hair, it’s all a matter of perspective. Some men find shaving that five o’clock shadow daily a burden, while others are self-conscious about their inability to grow facial hair in certain parts of the cheeks, chin, or connecting areas.
Even though facial hair is not essential to survival, it can be a core element in someone’s pride in personal appearance and establish their sense of identity in masculinity and maturity.
It’s easy to see why many patients wonder why they can’t grow the facial hair they desire and are willing to take steps to remedy the situation.
Whether you’re struggling to achieve full coverage in your beard or just need some help taking your facial hair to the next level, here’s a look at the biology behind facial hair growth and how modern treatments can help you reach those goals.
Facial Hair Basics and Biology
We are so accustomed to seeing facial hair that we often overlook the fundamentals of its form and function fundamentals. Let’s start with some background facts on facial hair before we get into potential deficiency causes and how to improve beard growth moving forward.
Why Does Facial Hair Grow?
Like all physiological occurrences in the human body, there’s an evolutionary explanation for why we grow facial hair. As humans evolved in cold, harsh environments thousands of years ago, men with facial hair were more likely to succeed on hunts, in warfare, and in propagating their genes to the next generation.
We don’t need beards for survival in today’s world, however. Facial hair is now a style choice, with countless ways to craft and groom your beard to maximize your appearance.
From a biological standpoint, growing facial hair growth is linked to the uptick in testosterone that occurs with the onset of puberty in young men. Androgen receptors respond to testosterone and its byproduct DHT, but unlike alopecia, high DHT levels don’t cause facial hair to thin or fall out.
Furthermore, the phases of facial hair growth are faster and less sensitive than scalp hair, meaning that we tend to see fewer beard follicles shed and replaced by new ones.
What Causes Variations in Facial Hair Growth?
Many variables impact how facial hair develops and changes over time, from DNA to grooming, lifestyle factors, and more. Young men may start with the emergence of a short, wispy mustache or “peach fuzz” on the cheeks, seeing slow growth even through their mid-20s.
Other men will have full, dense, and completely connected beards as soon as they reach the age of 15, driven purely by genetics and the presence of certain androgen receptors in the facial skin.
Patterns of facial hair growth seem to correlate closely with ethnicity, even more so than other genetic factors. East Asian and Hispanic men, for instance, often struggle to grow high-density facial hair even as they age, while some Caucasian and Middle Easterners grow beards with relative ease early on.
These trends aren’t set in stone, of course, as exceptions to the rules always exist. However, these patterns can help patients set realistic expectations and take a strategic approach to intentional facial hair development if they so choose.
Reasons You Struggle to Grow Facial Hair
While it’s rare for men to experience zero facial hair growth, many factors combine to determine outcomes like facial hair density, coverage, growth rate, shape, style, quality, and more.
If you continue struggling to grow facial hair, here is a list of possible reasons.
Some men, especially in their teenage years, simply haven’t yet reached the stage of physiological development at which facial hair begins to grow in full. Patience is an underrated virtue when trying to get the beard you ultimately desire, and it may take longer than you expect.
Remember that the average beard takes about a month to grow a full inch, and growth appears to slow down as the beard and mustache develop. If you can make it through this awkward stage and deny the temptation to trim it, you may find that your beard makes more progress than you thought possible.
Even if you don’t think you can grow the beard you want right now, you owe it to yourself to sit back and see how far your natural growth can take you.
Everyone is dealt different cards with their DNA, so you may be disadvantaged when trying to grow facial hair naturally. Similar to hair growth and hair loss, you can collect clues about your facial hair future by examining your family tree and seeing what facial hair looks like for male relatives on both your father’s and mother’s side.
It’s also worth noting that facial hair type and color majorly affect how a beard looks, even when growth lags behind. The denser, darker, and coarser the facial hair, the more complete a beard will seem despite lower rates of growth or patches in coverage.
Diet & Lifestyle
Since male hormones are closely linked to diet and lifestyle factors, suggesting that a testosterone-friendly approach to health can positively impact facial hair development is not unjustified. Introducing a diet higher in protein and natural fat–such as meat, eggs, and healthy oils–could be the catalyst for a testosterone boost that takes your facial hair to the next level.
Supplementation is another route to testosterone optimization, including minerals like zinc, magnesium, and ashwagandha. The best-known hair growth compounds like collagen and biotin may also support beard growth, so there’s little downside to incorporating these if possible.
Regarding lifestyle, men can increase free testosterone through strength training, sleep optimization, stress management, and removing unnatural environmental elements. Cutting out processed foods and synthetic materials like polyester can help get testosterone production back on track while supporting general health and well-being.
In rare cases, the inability to grow facial hair may be linked to medical conditions causing hormonal imbalances or autoimmune issues such as alopecia areata. Consulting an endocrinologist may be wise for men who suspect low testosterone to be the root cause of low facial hair growth, and exogenous sources of testosterone may be advised.
Unfortunately, alopecia areata has no cure, though some treatments and lifestyle adaptations can help alleviate symptoms or the frequency of flare-ups.
The good news is that beard hair loss from alopecia areata tends to grow back once the system has healed, so all is not lost for patients struggling with this condition.
Encourage Safe and Sustainable Facial Hair Growth
If you’re dissatisfied with your facial hair appearance and ready to make a change for the better, there are safe and proven ways to get on the right track. Start with these steps and commit to a plan of action starting now.
Address Lifestyle and Health Factors
By prioritizing testosterone production through natural means, you may see improved facial hair growth along with other increased markers of male physiology.
Start with a pro-testosterone diet and lifestyle with the above tips, and consider adding supplements that make the most of your body’s natural production cycle. By boosting your health through diet and exercise, you will set the stage for better hair growth over time.
Implement Grooming and Supplementation Methods
Certain grooming methods can increase stimulation and circulation in areas where facial hair growth is lacking. At-home forms of collagen induction therapy have proven successful for some patients, while professional treatments like microchanneling tend to provide better results.
Supplementation is important for various health goals and testosterone support, even with a near-perfect diet. Test out various supplements, essential oils, and other natural sources to give your body and facial hair the support they need.
Look into Beard Transplantation Procedures
Beard transplants are a relatively new treatment type but have seen fast adoption due to high success rates and patient satisfaction. Find a clinic and doctor with a strong track record in all forms of hair restoration, including beard transplant via FUE and FUT extraction methods.
A beard transplant can supercharge your process by grafting real hair from a donor area to the target regions of the face where growth may be sparse.
The consultation and strategic stages of beard transplantation are crucial in this process, so be ready to articulate your goals to your doctor in clear and accurate terms.
Don’t Miss Out On Your Ideal Facial Hair Look
Although facial hair development is largely a result of genetics, this doesn’t mean you should give up on your desired aesthetic. With a strategic, multifaceted approach in health, grooming, supplementation, and possible transplantation, you can work towards your facial hair goals, even despite genetic disadvantages.
The key is to formulate a plan with a proven hair restoration expert and stick to the game plan over months and years, never giving up on your vision.
If you’re ready to take steps toward facial hair enhancement with the best techniques available, connect with Dr. Jae Pak today, and let’s get started.
Bald Patch in the Beard | American Family Physician
DIY Treatment for 5 Common Beard Problems | AAD
Can’t Grow a Full Beard? There’s an Explanation for That | Cleveland Clinic
Find out if Hair Restoration is right for you.
Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!