Magazine / Beauty / Grooming

Beard Playbook: How to Grow a Healthy Beard

MD Alexandra Dorobantu
Dermatologist
On Nov 3rd, 2020

For men, beards are a symbol of power, maturity, and masculinity, so a fully-grown moustache and beard is the source of pride. Learn about the stages of facial hair growth and tips for helping your beard grow healthy and strong.

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The Beard Playbook mini-series explores the essential aspects regarding men and beards: from growing a beard, caring and maintaining it, to exposing some common myths. In this first episode, we are looking for tips on how to help your beard grow stronger and thicker.

One of the main reasons why you might struggle to grow a healthy beard is your dry skin. Dry skin causes irritation and itchiness, and with time your skin underneath the beard becomes patchy. You can check out the Skinimalism mini-series to learn how to care for your skin in three simple steps. Another reason for having trouble growing a beard could be a poor eating habits lacking in nutrients necessary for your body. Other contributing factors, such as poor diet, lack of sleep, and skin issues, can lead to facial hair looking weak and growing slow and uneven.

Testosterone

Before explaining the three phases of beard growth, we need to know why some men grow a beard faster than others. It has everything to do with testosterone. Higher levels of testosterone typically result in a better chance of developing a thick and full beard. Therefore, you may ask, how can you increase the level of testosterone in your body?

Studies, such as the one published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, concluded that that daily exercise promotes many health benefits including higher testosterone levels. Other ways to naturally promote an improved hormonal environment include an increase in the protein intake, a good sleeping cycle and making sure you get enough vitamin D.

Nutrients

Certain foods can help with beard growth. Try consuming more eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, almonds, peanuts, bananas, and whole grains. Choose biotin-rich foods and fresh vegetables high in protein and nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron, and potassium. If you need some inspiration for some easy and healthy breakfast recipes, check out our Monday Smoothie mini-series. We have tailored the recipes to use ingredients high in nutrients to fuel a fit body.

Healthy Habits

An average beard has around 30,000 – 35,000 hairs. Of course, they don't grow all at the same time, same length, or direction. For example, your neck hair grows faster than your moustache. Keep in mind that there is no general recipe for success. Genetics and age play a huge role in developing beautiful hair and beard. Also, if you are smoking, it's time to stop now! It will improve your overall health and prevent hair loss, beard included. 

Stages for Beard Growth

So, beard fans out there, let's see step by step how a full beard grows.

Stage one

Stage one starts in week one when nothing much happens. A piece of essential information that you must know is that you need to start using a Beard Oil from day one. Applying the right product from the beginning will help to avoid itchiness. Itchy skin develops because the hairs that arise have sharp edges from all those shaving years. When the hairs can't pierce the skin, folliculitis may develop. Ingrown hairs are the primary reason why men quit their beard growing journey and shave.

At stage one, your pores are open, and dirt, sweat, pollutants and other debris may clog them. I recommend you start using a beard cleanser, specially formulated to keep your skin barrier intact and protect sensitive skin. Do not use soap, shampoo or shower gel on your face! It is a big mistake as those are products that have other purposes. They contain harsher ingredients that can strip off your facial skin, causing irritations, breakouts and excessive dryness.

In the first two weeks, you may want to slow down your cardio workout as sweating can cause irritations. Do more weightlifting instead! Also, now it is the time to quit smoking, drink lots of water and eat the rainbow every day. Proteins are vital too!  Start making healthy choices!

Don't worry! A beard oil solves the problems from week one, softens and moisturises the skin beneath your beard, giving it a healthy look too.

Stage two

Stage two begins during week four to six when you are starting to see that your hard work from phase one is paying off. At this point, you can see one-inch long hairs and establish a growing pattern. You may have mixed feelings about your beard as it grows differently and looks uneven. Don't stress out and continue with your grooming as usual.

Don't try to stimulate the hair growth by massaging it because hairs are not fully developed, and you may break them. Also don't trim and brush them yet. Consider it a waiting zone where the main goal is just to let it grow. Of course, you need to properly take care of your new hairs by cleansing them with your beard shampoo and moisturise after with your beard oil.

Stage three

Congratulations, you reached stage three! After weeks of hard work, your beard is finally here! You made it! You surpassed itchiness and patchiness and had faith in the process. Even though your beard isn't at its full potential, you just don't have any reason to shave now! 

What you will see at this stage is that hairs from the moustache may be annoying while eating. It is ok to trim them a little bit, but only those strains that make you uncomfortable and are around the mouth. Also, now it is even more important to wash your beard accordingly as food may fall and get stuck into it.

Now it is the time to use your grooming tools! After washing and conditioning your beard, you can comb and brush it gently. Using a beard comb that has tiny bristles, you can train your hairs to grow in the right direction according to your wishes. Brushing decreases split ends, ingrown hair, and thus breakouts and folliculitis by distributing sebum along the strands. At this stage, you shouldn't have itchy or flaky skin, but if occurring, you need to moisturise with a lightweight lotion.

How Long Does It Take to Grow a Healthy Beard?

The most important thing is to be realistic with your goals and be patient, especially during the first week, when your beard may become itchy. Please, don't panic, and don't go running to pick up your razor and shave. It's too early. 

After 5-6 months, your beard should be close to what you are looking for. Now you have to start using beard care products daily to maintain its length and density. Choose products specially formulated for facial hair. Check out our next article where we talked about shampoos, oils, balms and how to take care of your beloved beard properly.

Also, even if you don't want to trim its length, you need to style it according to your face proportions. Speaking about trimming your beard, you should use clippers to get the length you desire. There are many ways to cut your beard, and you need to talk to your barber for different styles that suit you. The most common technique that works for almost everyone's face is trimming your sides shorter while leaving chin area hairs a little longer. The moustache should be equal in length with the hair on the cheeks and temple.

Meet me next week when we will talk about what a beard pro has in his vanity kit. Oils, lotions, creams, you name it we got it! Till then take care and show your beard some love!

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