Hormones and Hair Growth

We say it all the time at Beardbrand—time and genetics are the two most significant contributors to growing a thick, full beard. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything you can do to alter those two things.

That said, when it comes to your genetics, namely your body's production of testosterone, there are ways that you can help set yourself up for success. 

But how exactly do genetics affect your beard? It all comes down to your hormones, specifically testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The amount of DHT you have in your reproductive system plays an essential role in your beard and hair growth patterns.

What Is DHT

To summarize, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen sex hormone that contributes to hair growth, muscle gain, fertility, etc. DHT is a natural bi-product of testosterone, and everyone has it to some degree. 

However, not everyone reacts to DHT the same, and that’s where your genetics come into play. How your body reacts to the hormone directly impacts your hair growth—beard included.

How DHT Works

In a nutshell, testosterone gets converted to DHT by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) in the gonads—so yeah, kind of actually in a nutshell. Alright, alright, the conversion also takes place in the prostate, skin, and other parts of the body as well. 

Nearly 10% of testosterone is converted to DHT daily. It is believed that that percentage is much lower before puberty, which would at least explain why no toddlers are running around with beards. 

As DHT circulates through the body, it attaches itself to receptors throughout the body, including those found in hair follicles. 

DHT is stronger than testosterone and is believed to be more responsible for men acting like—well, men. Basically, testosterone is getting all the credit for the work that DHT is doing. 

That said, the two go hand-in-hand, and in theory, boosting your testosterone could potentially increase the amount of DHT produced. But, of course, nothing is ever that cut and dry.

    DHT and Hair Loss

      DHT is credited with being one of the main contributors to male pattern baldness.

      We talk about hair growth stages in another blog, but here's a quick overview. All hair goes through three phases of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. 

      The anagen phase
      The anagen phase of the hair growth cycle represents the growing stage. The cells in the root of the hair follicles divide at a rapid rate during the anagen phase, and hair strands may grow a half-inch, or more, per month.

      The catagen phase
      Catagen is the shortest of the three phases and represents the “transitional” part of the cycle. Hair growth stops during the catagen phase, and hair strands become separated from the hair follicles and attach to the skin. Additionally, the blood supply to the hair cuts off completely.

      The telogen phase
      New, incoming hair pushes the old hair out and eventually causes it to fall off during the telogen phase, which may last for two to four months. While the old hair sheds, the follicle returns to the anagen phase to start the beard growth cycle all over again.

      Generally, it takes two to six years for hair to go through this three-phase cycle. For men whose head hair is more sensitive to DHT, this cycle is going to be on the shorter end, resulting in hair that is thinner, more prone to breakage, and more likely to fall out faster. 

      Now, your hair follicles naturally shrink as you age, causing your hair to thin out, but research indicates that high levels of DHT expedite the rate at which the follicles shrink, ultimately leading to hair loss. 

      Again, this varies slightly from person to person depending on your genetics and your hair’s sensitivity to DHT. 

      DHT and Beards

      Here’s where things get interesting—DHT impacts head hair and facial hair differently. 

      Have you ever wondered why guys with absolute beasts of a beard tend to be bald or balding? DHT is a big reason for that. 

      Beards need DHT to develop and reach their full potential. In most cases, lower levels, or lower sensitivity to this hormone leads to less beard growth.

      Men with higher levels of testosterone and DHT will typically have significantly more facial hair than men with lower levels. And, if your body is particularly sensitive to these hormones, you'll likely grow a beard at an earlier age than others—like that one kid in 8th grade who had a full beard. 

      That said, just because you are in your 20s (or even 30s) and still have a patchy beard, it doesn't necessarily mean you have low hormone levels. The follicles on your face may just be less sensitive to the effects of DHT.

      DHT Blockers

      For men with a family history of male-pattern baldness, or who are just starting to show signs of a receding hairline, DHT blockers can help slow the hair loss process. 

      DHT blockers aid in preventing DHT from sticking to the receptors inside the hair follicle and research has shown them to be successful to varying extents.   

      Generally, DHT blockers taken orally are the most effective, but blockers also come in topical form and can be found in many product ingredients.

      Ingredients with high quantities of lauric, oleic, and linoleic acid have been scientifically shown to inhibit the production of DHT.  

      Some known DHT blocking ingredients include:

      • Aloe Vera
      • Argan Oil
      • Coconut Oil
      • Emu Oil
      • Grapeseed Oil
      • Olive Oil
      • Sweet Almond Oil

      Note: this is an abbreviated list. To see an extended list visit https://www.beardwiki.com/dht.

      DHT Blockers and Beard Growth

      The question as to whether or not using beard products formulated with known DHT blockers can impact your beard’s growth has become more prevalent. Unfortunately, most hair growth research has focussed on head hair, and there are far fewer studies on facial hair, so it’s hard to say with certainty at this point. 

      That said, Beard Oil does work its way into the pores on the face, and hair follicles underneath. If the Beard Oil is formulated with carrier oils like Argan, Grapeseed, and Emu—all known DHT inhibitors—it’s possible that it could be blocking some of your DHT from attaching to the AR-5 receptors in the beard hair follicles. 

      Our product ethos at Beardbrand is to formulate class-leading, healthy products that work with the body’s natural chemistry. We’re meticulous about the ingredients that we use, and strive to never be complacent with the products that we make. 

      Even though we felt strongly that Beardbrand Beard Oil was the best in the world, as we learned about DHT we saw an opportunity to reformulate it, and develop a Beard Oil that was like nothing else on the market. 

      We developed the new Beardbrand Beard Oil using only ingredients that have not been shown to block or inhibit the body’s natural production and impact of DHT. The result is all-day softness from a Beard Oil that is incredibly lightweight and long-lasting, without being greasy.   

      Growing a beard is already difficult enough, why risk making it any more difficult with products that could be working against your body’s natural chemistry and preventing your beard from growing to its full potential?

      How to Boost Your Testosterone

      If you are worried about your levels of testosterone and DHT, the good news is that you can supplement and boost your hormone levels. Natural testosterone supplementation can and will increase your stamina and ability to build muscle. The catch is that it's not necessarily guaranteed to be converted into the androgen form of DHT.

      You could go the anabolic steroids route, which has been proven time and time again to help grow more body and facial hair—but yeah, those side effects… acne, shrunken testes, roid rage? That’s a hard no for us. 

      The use of anabolic steroids can also cause your body to stop naturally producing healthy levels of testosterone, making your body reliant on artificial supplements.

      Instead, let’s focus on ways to naturally up your testosterone. 

      We talk about natural ways to boost your testosterone levels and help your beard growth in the process in our Beard Growth Stages blog. Anabolicmen also has a thorough breakdown of 50 ways to increase testosterone naturally. 

      We’ll go through some of the essentials, and easiest to implement below. 

      Get enough sleep
      Aim for 7.5-10 hours per night. 5 or 6 hours a night isn’t going to do you much good. In fact, even one night of sleeping less than 6 hours is enough to drop your testosterone. Most testosterone is produced during REM-sleep, and studies show how men sleeping for four hours have 50% less T than men sleeping for eight hours. Research is clear on this, more sleep is better for your testosterone. 

      Eat enough food
      Low-calorie diets have a nasty-side effect of slowing down the reproductive system, and your testosterone production will also suffer as a result. We aren’t nutritionists, but we recommend being wary of fad diets and drastic cleanses. Definitely consult with a health professional before making any significant changes to your routine diet. 

      Don’t overdo it on the protein
      It’s easy to assume that more protein means more testosterone, but too much protein begins to negatively impact testosterone production. Instead, aim for getting around 20–25% of your calories from protein.

      Eat the right fats
      Good fats, bad fats, low-fat, no-fat, knowing which ones to opt for can be tricky. Saturated and monounsaturated fats like those found in nuts, avocados, and salmon increase testosterone. Aim for getting roughly 30% of your caloric intake for these fats, and limit trans fats.  

      To carb or not to carb
      Yeah, you should carb. About 40–60% of your caloric intake should come from fruit, sugar (also in fruit), rice, and starchy carbs like potatoes—just make sure they’re not always in fry form. 

      Add a multivitamin
      As you age, your body takes in fewer nutrients from food. Plus, If your diet is heavy in processed food, you may not be getting all of the nutrients you need through food. 

      Adding a multivitamin can help, but there are some things to be wary of. For example, too much vitamin A can be toxic if taken too frequently. If possible, try and adjust your diet first, and then if needed, talk to your doctor about adding a supplement. 

      Hit the weights
      Resistance training has been proven to stimulate testosterone production, as well as increase the activity of androgen receptors in uptaking the hormones. 

      Compound movements that recruit multiple muscle groups, especially large ones like the glutes, hamstrings, and pecs, have been shown to be particularly effective.

      A routine built around squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushups, bench presses, and overhead presses is generally an excellent place to start. There’s a reason these exercises have been around as long as they have. 

      To really reap the benefits, you’ll need to be pushing around some serious weight, so if you’re new to weight lifting, we recommend hiring a trainer as bad form could lead to serious injury.

      Takeaways

      Significant advances continue to be made in helping men combat hair loss and male pattern baldness, but only you can decide which route is right for you. 

      Many men opt to embrace their baldness, and there are ways to incorporate it into your style. Check out the video below for a few tips:

      Plus, chances are if you’re hopped up on DHT and losing your hair, you can likely grow a beard that every patchy bearded man envies. 

      And hey, even if you’ve got a patchy beard, we’ve got some tips for you in this 5 patchy beard mistakes video. 

      Remember, having a killer style is about owning what makes you unique. Work towards being confident in your style, and you’ll see it translate to all areas of your life. 

      As always, Keep on Growing. 

      Want to talk about DHT, hair loss, or anything beard related? Drop a comment down below. There is no such thing as too much knowledge.

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      TL;DR

      Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen sex hormone that contributes to hair growth, muscle gain, fertility, etc. DHT is a natural bi-product of testosterone, and everyone has it to some degree. 

      However, not everyone reacts to DHT the same. How your body reacts to the hormone plays a role in hair growth—beard included. 

      DHT impacts head hair and beard hair differently. DHT is a commonly attributed factor in male pattern baldness and hair loss. However, facial hair requires DHT to grow. That’s the reason why a lot of men with thick, burly beards are also bald. 

      Hair loss can be slowed with the use of DHT blockers, which prevent DHT from attaching to receptors in the hair follicle. These can be taken orally or applied topically. 

      Many common ingredients found in hair and beard care products like argan oil and grapeseed oil have been shown to block DHT—this is fine for your head hair, but could be preventing your beard from reaching its full potential. 

      Our product ethos at Beardbrand is to formulate class-leading, healthy products that work with the body’s natural chemistry. We’re meticulous about the ingredients that we use, and strive to never be complacent with the products that we make. 

      Even though we felt strongly that Beardbrand Beard Oil was the best in the world, as we learned about DHT, we saw an opportunity to reformulate it, and develop a Beard Oil that was like nothing else on the market. 

      We developed the new Beardbrand Beard Oil using only ingredients that have not been shown to block or inhibit the body’s natural production and impact of DHT. The result is all-day softness from a Beard Oil that is incredibly lightweight and long-lasting, without being greasy.

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