Whether you’re growing a beard for the first time or are starting over, the question of “How long is this going to take?” will probably cross your mind. We’re talking about growing a full beard and, the truth is, it’s a common question with an elusive answer.
Many factors go into determining the health of your beard and its growth rate, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. But let’s take a look at the process, how it occurs, the things that affect it and, yes, even come up with a timeframe.
First, we’ll talk a lot about beard growth in general and some factors that affect not only it’s growth rate, but it’s thickness and overall health, as well. Let’s begin by looking at the bottom line when it comes to beard growth.
- The average beard growth is about ½ inch per month, sometimes less, sometimes more.
- Studies show that the average beard, if left untrimmed, will grow to 3-feet long. It’s highly doubtful that it will grow any longer than that because the growth stage of a beard (anagen, which we’ll discuss in a bit) only lasts so long.
- In general, a beard will never grow longer than it is at six years worth of full growth.
- It takes around two to four months to grow a full beard, although that varies from man to man. While one person may experience an inch worth of growth in a month, someone else may have less than a 1/2 inch of growth.
- How fast your beard grows depends on multiple factors, including your race, age, and genetics.
- Most men will experience their biggest beard growth from around age 25 to 35, although it varies for each person.
- Testosterone, a hormone, propels beard growth more than any other factor.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a beard as “the hair that grows on a man’s face, often excluding the mustache.” It also defines it as a “hairy or bristly appendage or tuft.” Fair enough.
But, like a lot of things, what’s considered a beard may include the many dozens of styles men rock today – including those we described in a previous post – and many others. For this article, however, we’re talking about growing a full beard and how long that takes.
There’s some confusion regarding what constitutes a “full” beard. For some, that may mean a ZZ Top or Duck Dynasty type of beard that is extremely long, or has been allowed to run wild, so to speak.
What we’re talking about, however, is a beard that fully covers the cheeks, jaw, lip, and chin. The neckline is another matter, and keeping your neckline trimmed as you grow a full beard is important to keep it from looking shabby.
To reiterate, when we address the question of how long it takes to grow a beard, we’re talking about how long it takes to grow a full beard.
So, How Long Does it Take to Grow a Full Beard?
The simple answer is two to six months, for most men. Genetics, as we’ll see, play an important role in the growth process, as do many other factors, but the majority of men will sport a full beard after six months of growth, and many a lot sooner than that.
Your beard grows in several stages; the first week’s growth generally consists of stubble while the beard steadily (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) fills in as long as you don’t trim it.
Indeed, the simple act of putting down your razor, and doing your best to keep your hands off of it, ensures that your beard will reach its full-growth stage in the proper amount of time. Trimming and shaping it will delay the process and skew the timeframe by which you can grow a full face of whiskers. It's up to you whether slow, steady, and well-maintained is your speed, or if you're simply going for length.
The Phases of Beard Growth
Let’s spend a couple of minutes talking about the stages of hair and beard growth. It comes down to three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen, all of which affect androgenic hair, AKA, facial hair.
The anagen phase
Anagen is the growth phase and can last from several months to up to a year for androgenic hair. Scalp hair can remain in the anagen phase for much longer but this phase ceases more rapidly for beard hair, which is why most of us will never grow a beard long enough to reach the floor.
Facial hair can grow about a half-inch, tops, each month during the anagen phase. How long your hair remains in the anagen phase largely comes down to genetics.
The catagen phase
Not much happens during the catagen phase except that hair strands become separated from the hair follicle and become attached to the skin. The blood supply to the hair’s roots halts, as well.
The telogen phase
A lot goes on during the telogen phase in which the hair remains intact for 2 to 4 months while follicles slowly return to the anagen phase. The new, incoming hair pushes the old hair out of the skin and eventually causes it to fall off.
Your Best Bet for Beard Growth
The Optimal Age
The first phase of hair growth in males usually takes place between 12 to 16 years of age. That’s when many adolescents notice some hair above the lip, and cheek stubble starts to appear not long after that. Of course, we all remember the dude in junior high with a full beard – or close to one – but he was, and still is, an anomaly.
But the optimal age for hair growth is from 25 to 35 years of age because testosterone levels are rising which, in turn, extends the length of the anagen phase of hair growth. And hair that has more time to grow typically has a better growth rate.
It’s also the period of life when your beard should grow fastest although, again, nothing is truly etched in stone regarding beard growth.
Don’t Shave It!Want to Speed Up Beard Growth?
As our very own Eric Bandholz points out in this video, “When in doubt, grow it out.” In other words, if you want your beard to grow at its natural rate put down the razor and exercise a bit of patience.
It’s obvious enough—if you’re trying to grow your beard to a certain length, you'll get there faster by not shaving and trimming it along the way. Grooming it is another matter, kind of, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Here’s something else to consider: when your patience wanes and you consider shaving off those hard-earned whiskers, don’t act rashly. Instead, give yourself a day to think about it for every month that you’ve grown your beard. For example, if you’ve been growing your beard for six months, give yourself six days to seriously consider whether you want to shave it off or not.
We’re also aware of the dreaded beard itch which often occurs in the early stages of beard growth. Beard itch has driven many a man to the brink of shaving their beards and it’s not surprising that a few take the leap and pull out their trusty razor prematurely.
There are many ways to deal with beard itch, including Beard Oil, that magic potion that every man should have in his grooming arsenal, and any other method for moisturizing your beard and the skin underneath it.
Again, patience and resilience are important during the wild and often wonderful process of growing a beard. Beard itch, at least the most aggravating forms of it, will subside over time. You may experience itchiness even after you’ve grown a full beard, but nothing to the extent of how it feels in the first few weeks.
There’s really no need to shave your beard until it gets too long or needs to be shaped (or if you decide to shave it completely), don’t listen to the old wives’ tale that shaving your beard speeds up its growth.
Keep in mind that what we’re talking about is not shaving your beard, period. Feel free to shave the facial hair on your cheeks and neck, especially your neck. The fact is, not trimming your neck is a faux pas that can identify you as a rookie vs. someone who knows what the hell he’s doing.
Whatever you do, don’t let your beard overtake your neck like an overgrown forest. Instead, trim all the hair that isn’t just above your Adam’s apple. Doing so will prevent you from looking unkempt while you grow your beard out.
BiotinThe best supplement for beard growth?
You’ll read a lot about biotin when you do any research into beard growth, including how to help beards grow faster. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, specifically, vitamin B7. Scientifically speaking, biotin is part of a variety of metabolic processes, including the use of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids.
It’s noteworthy that biotin is part of the vitamin B complex, which consists of important nutrients needed for healthy nerve, metabolic, cardiovascular, and digestive activity. Biotin plays a vital role in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids; when we consume foods that contain fats, proteins, and carbs, biotin helps convert and utilize them for optimal physical activity.
The key question, at least for our purposes and for anyone growing a beard, is how does biotin affect beard growth? For starters, biotin improves the body’s keratin infrastructure and keratin is a basic protein that makes up the hair, skin, and nails. The result is healthier, thicker hair, both on the scalp and the face.
Biotin also improves the health of the skin, including the facial skin upon which your beard resides, or will reside. It also supports the body’s metabolic function, lowers cholesterol, and helps regulate blood sugar.
A biotin deficiency can lead to a variety of skin problems, including acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, and itchiness. In fact, poor skin health is a leading sign of a person not having a healthy level of biotin.
Patience is one of the keys to using biotin to help accelerate your beard’s growth because you may not notice results at first (or, perhaps not at all). Biotin’s proponents advise taking a 2.5 mg biotin supplement daily to strengthen hair and whisker shafts.
So, does it work? While there’s not enough scientific proof that guarantees biotin plays a role in hair growth besides helping to strengthen keratin’s infrastructure, many people report a positive change in how their beard grows.
Main factors that affect beard growth
A lot is going on when you’re trying to grow a beard and some of it isn’t under your control. That’s no different than hair growth in general, whether it’s on your scalp, face, or elsewhere, and many factors come into play:
Your genetics tell us things like, “If your grandfather went bald prematurely, there’s a good chance you may, too.” Or, they note your dad's patchy beard while providing a pretty clear-cut explanation of why your beard seems only to grow in fits and spurts.
Not that genetics can guarantee everything—just because your father had a long, healthy beard doesn’t automatically mean you’ll rock the same handsome whiskers, as well. Let’s just say that your lineage may be an indicator of the overall health and quality of your beard.
Despite the common refrain among some men, getting old doesn’t have to suck. There’s a lot of good that comes from being older and wiser and, besides, many men are late bloomers.
Age, however, does affect beard growth in some cases. The “prime” time for facial hair growth is between the ages of 25 and 35, generally speaking. But many men report that their beard continues to grow at a healthy rate even after they qualify for an AARP card.
The flip side, however, is that it does tend to slow at a certain point as men get older, but that’s not always the case.
Your race is another factor that may influence your beard growth, although it has more to do with the thickness of your beard rather than how quickly it grows. In general, Caucasians have the thickest facial hair while Asians have a harder time developing a full beard. African-American men may also find it harder to grow a full beard (in length) but, again, that’s not true in every case.
Diet affects many aspects of a man’s life, including his beard. A healthy diet can reduce the time it takes to grow a beard and helps hair to remain in the anagen phase longer.
Foods rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E help enhance beard health, as do foods that include magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and silica. Even more importantly, you need to consume plenty of protein if you wish to enhance your beard’s growth. Foods such as fish, chicken, eggs, salmon, yogurt, tofu, and others, represent great sources of protein.
Many health organizations recommend that the amount of protein you consume each day should be around 25% of your caloric intake.
Fruits and vegetables are a part of any healthy diet, including a diet that’s going to help you grow your beard both in the long run and without waiting forever to do it. Fruits such as apples, strawberries, apricots, bananas, and peaches will help speed up the beard-growing process, as will carrots, avocado, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, and other vegetables.
Monounsaturated fats, such as milk, dairy products, and olive oil, should make up about 25% of your diet while carbohydrates such as potatoes, fruits, and whole grains should make up the rest of your diet.
Getting regular exercise is another way to improve your health and wellness, and a healthy man is one who should have fewer problems growing a beard and growing one faster.
Among the many benefits of exercise, is that it increases testosterone levels and testosterone is the hormone primarily responsible for beard growth. It also helps to improve your blood circulation which, in turn, is another way to enhance your facial hair growth.
Weight lifting, including exercises such as bench presses, deadlifts, squats, and rows, can give your testosterone levels a nice boost. Running also helps to improve testosterone levels, although sprint workouts are better than long-distance running. A sprint workout could consist of all-out sprinting for 20 to 30 seconds followed by walking for 90 seconds, for example.
Moreover, exercise is a great way to reduce stress and various studies show that excess stress can lead to slower hair growth, or even hair loss on your scalp.
You can add sufficient sleep to the ways you can improve the rate of your beard growth. The body’s temperature drops during sleep which leads to increased blood circulation which, in turn, causes faster and fuller hair growth.
Ideally, you should get eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep daily because it helps promote immune health and manages stress.
Speaking of stress, it’s time to chill, fellas, especially when you’re growing a beard. Stress management and the health of a person’s immune system go hand-in-hand. A lowered immunity means less hair growth on the face and scalp, and practicing stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness will help you and your beard.
Protecting your skin
Your beard’s growth and health also depends on the health of the skin underneath it. That’s why we recommend using Beardbrand Beard Wash that will clean your beard and skin while also stimulating beard growth.
Keeping your facial skin clean is particularly important if you work out a lot because of the excess sweat that may lead to skin irritation.
Apply Beard Wash to the base of your beard hair and skin, use your fingertips to rub it down to the skin while massaging it in gently, then rinse. Apply Beard Softener to your beard and leave it in for a couple minutes before you rinse it out.
Another lifestyle factor that can influence beard growth is smoking. We all know about the endless list of health hazards posed by smoking cigarettes, and there’s evidence that smoking may lead to hair loss. If nothing else, it’s yet another reason to kick the habit if you haven’t already.
And Then There’s Testosterone
We mentioned earlier that nothing influences beard growth as much as testosterone, which is a key male hormone that regulates muscle mass, red blood cells, fertility, and fat distribution. Women also have low levels of testosterone in their bodies, but not nearly the amount found in men.
The brain and pituitary gland control testosterone production and levels. It moves through the blood to carry out its many important tasks.
What does all this mean for beard growth? Well, for starters, testosterone plays a key role in the health of facial and scalp hair. Men with more testosterone can grow thicker, longer beards than other men, at least in most cases.
There’s also something called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that plays a key role in hair growth and quality. DHT is an androgen and helps give men their male characteristics.
Like testosterone, DHT also helps power beard growth but, interestingly, can wreak havoc on scalp hair. DHT decreases scalp hair follicles, which leads to male pattern baldness. So, a man with a healthy beard because of high levels of testosterone and DHT may also be going bald.
Not that low levels of testosterone guarantee that you will have a patchy beard, or won’t be able to grow one at all. But it probably means that your beard’s growth rate is slower than a man who has testosterone surging through his veins like Superman.
The good news is that you can increase your testosterone levels, both in natural and synthetic ways. The latter method may involve steroids, so proceed with caution, if at all.
Testosterone levels tend to drop as men age. Levels of testosterone tend to fall by 1.6 percent every year after the age of 40. Interestingly, the number of men diagnosed as having low testosterone has increased by leaps and bounds in the past decade.
While testosterone supplements may be prescribed to treat specific conditions, they’re generally not prescribed to counteract the age-related drop in testosterone levels.Maintain Your Beard For Better Growth
Last, but not least, you’ll enhance your beard’s growth by properly maintaining it throughout the journey. Use Beard Oil regularly; the list of positive things Beard Oil does to improve the condition of your whiskers and facial skin is long, indeed.
Terminal BeardWhat is a Terminal Beard?
Another term that’s often tossed around in discussions about beards is “terminal beard.” While it may sound a bit morbid, terminal means when your beard stops growing, usually in a few years. Exactly when it stops growing is primarily a matter of genetics and isn’t the same for every man.
It’s worth noting that the hair on your cheeks and the front of your chin usually has a shorter terminal length than the whiskers that grow below the jawline.
There’s not much you can do to alter the terminal length of your beard, although practicing good habits, from diet to exercise to consistent beard care, will prevent it from becoming shorter.Conclusion
There’s no simple answer to the question of how long it takes to grow a long beard. So many variables come into play, including genetics, lifestyle, beard care, and more, that predicting how fast one man’s beard will grow is always going to be a bit of guesswork.
In general, however, growing a full beard may take up to six months, or it may not take nearly that time. It’s different for every man. The main thing is to stay committed to the growing process. Put down your razor, sit back, and enjoy the ride.