Should You Grow a Long Beard?
Growing a long beard changes you. Okay, yeah, it significantly alters your appearance, but there’s a whole lot more that goes on beneath the surface when growing a full beard—or growing to your beards full potential.
There’s more to it than simply not shaving anymore. It takes patience, conviction, discipline, and stamina to grow a long beard. Look, we’re not saying it’s the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, but it takes an iron will to put some serious distance between your chin and the end of your beard.
We think everyone should grow a long beard at least once in their life. It’s a profoundly gratifying process to endure; one that not only will you learn a few things about yourself, but may even bring to light which people are really in your corner and will support you even if you look like the fourth member of ZZ Top.
We say give it a shot, at least once. Before you dive in chin first, we put together this list of 11 things to consider before growing a long beard. We'll then give you some tips to get started.
But, first things first, let’s identify what even constitutes a long beard.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A LONG BEARD?
There is no formal definition, but at Beardbrand, we consider any beard over six inches in length to be a long beard.
Beards are unique for everyone, so it often makes more sense to measure a beard in terms of time, i.e., a six-month beard or a yeard (a beard that’s been grown for a year). For a vast majority of men, beard hairs will grow at a rate of a half-an-inch per month or six inches per year. Once you get past that yeard mark, it’s safe to say that you have a long beard.
How long can a beard grow?
Your terminal beard length is determined by your genetics. For most men, beard hairs will reach terminal length around the six-year mark and max out at around 36 inches. Again, every beard is unique, some will grow longer, some will grow shorter.
Of course, there are always the outliers, like Hans Langseth, who holds The Guinness World Records entry for the longest male beard. His beard was 17.5 feet long when he died in 1927. You likely don’t stand a chance at topping that record unless you’re a descendent of old Long Beard Langseth.
A few more cold hard facts about beard growth:
- 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 most significant beard growth from around age 25 to 35, although it varies for each person.
- Testosterone propels beard growth more than any other factor.
11 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE GROWING A LONG BEARD
PEOPLE WILL ASK TO TOUCH IT
While beards are commonplace, long beards are still a bit more mythical. People will ask to touch your beard. We don’t know why; it’s a weird thing that people do. This will especially hold true if you’re out at the bar. And when there is alcohol involved, you can anticipate a few fingers finding their way towards your follicles without asking permission. This may not be a big deal for some, but if you’re not a fan of unsolicited beard to hand contact, this is something to be wary of.
PEOPLE WILL EITHER BE REPULSED OR INCREDIBLY ATTRACTED TO IT
While beards, in general, are widely more accepted and considered attractive in 2020, long beards are a whole different topic. There’s not much of a middle ground on how people feel about long beards. People will typically be entirely repulsed by your long beard, or they’ll be a full-on pogonophile about it.
What’s a pogonophile? It’s someone with an immense attraction to beards.
IT WILL BE A CONVERSATION STARTER
Once your beard hits a certain length, it will become the default opening line that a majority of strangers will use on you. It doesn’t matter where you are, it can be the supermarket, in line at the coffee shop, at the office, or out at a bar.
Like an athlete talking to the media, fielding the same questions over and over regarding your beard will become part of your daily routine. How do you grow a beard like that? How long did it take to grow? You must be hot with that beard, right? Start getting your canned answers ready.
YOU WILL BE DEFINED BY YOUR BEARD
It doesn’t matter what you look like—when you have a long beard, it will become your most memorable feature. It will offset every other one of your physical traits, and people will describe you as “that dude with the ridiculous beard,” or something similar. Of course, there’s more to you than just your beard, but the long beard will become your trademark.
YOU WILL GET CALLED ZZ TOP OR JAMES HARDEN
It’s human nature to compare—we all do it. When you grow a long beard, people will start comparing you to ZZ Top or James Harden, two of the most notable long beards out there. These people will also think themselves incredibly witty as if no one else had ever made the connection that you and Billy Gibbons both have long beards. Just smile, say thanks, and walk away.
YOU WILL SHED
As your beard gets longer, the hairs will start reaching their terminal length. The result is that you will begin shedding hair to make room for new growth. You will find long beard hairs everywhere—in the shower, in the sink, in your bed, on your clothes, etc. Finding hairs of that length and knowing that they came out of your face will slightly gross you out.
YOU WILL SPEND MORE MONEY ON PRODUCTS
Can you grow a long beard without using products? Yeah, hair is going to grow regardless of whether or not you take care of it. Is it going to be healthy and look good? Most likely not. Growing a long beard and keeping it in tip-top shape requires a serious maintenance regimen.
As the hair gets long, the ends are going to become prone to breakage and damage. Excessive breakage will leave you with a scraggly beard and will prevent your hair from growing to it’s longest potential length. Keeping the hair, and skin beneath, hydrated is going to require significantly more Beard Oil, Utility Balm, Beard Wash, and Beard Softener.
For most beards, we recommend three to five drops of Beard Oil. But once you get into the yeard and tweard territory, you’re going to want to be using 10+ drops a day. You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand that you’re going to go through a bottle of oil much faster than if your beard was shorter.
PEOPLE WILL ASK YOUR PARTNER WHAT THEY THINK
If you have a romantic partner, people will ask them how they feel about your beard, as if your partner couldn’t possibly be in favor of it. It’s interesting the first few times it happens. This question will often come from men whose partners are firmly against them growing a beard of such length—or at all.
IT WILL BLOW IN THE WIND
Feeling the wind in your beard, especially when it’s at a length where the wind can move it, is one of the coolest experiences of having a long beard. It’s a feeling that only a small percentage of men will ever know. Just be wary, it will also blow in your eyes and in your mouth—and in other people’s.
IT WILL GET CAUGHT IN EVERYTHING
Seatbelts, car doors, zippers, backpacks, you name it—your beard will get caught in it. Sharing a bed with your partner? Yeah, it will get trapped under their body. It will hurt, and it will get annoying.
A LONG BEARD MAY NOT BE YOUR HEALTHIEST BEARD
Your beard may be thick, full, and round at six inches of length, but that shape and thickness may not translate to a longer beard. While some men can grow very thick and full beards down to their stomach, many men who go beyond the yeard experience hair that is wispier and more transparent towards the bottom.
Additionally, the longer your beard gets, the more difficult it becomes to keep the tips of the hair from becoming dry and brittle. Even with the use of high-quality products, preventing breakage will be an everyday challenge.
An important question to ask yourself is, are you growing purely for length? Or are you growing for quality? If your answer is quality, then length may need to be sacrificed. Of course, a long beard may still be a high-quality, healthy beard for you.
The only way to honestly know is to grow it.
TIPS FOR GROWING A LONG BEARD
If nothing on the above list has dissuaded you from growing a long beard, here are some tips to help you along the way.
STICK WITH IT
Above all else, this is the most essential part of growing a long beard. At a minimum, you’re going to be looking at a year of growth, but if you’re going for significant length, we’re talking years.
There are going to be days where you’re completely over it; days where your beard won’t do anything you want it to, and days where you feel like cutting it off.
Bad beard days are going to happen. Don’t do anything drastic, and never chop off your beard in the heat of the moment. Always sleep on it, or better yet, give yourself a week. Chances are, you’ll change your mind come morning.
ENLIST THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL
A good barber will keep you from having a scraggly beard without sacrificing length. If you don’t have one already, find a barber who knows what they’re doing with a beard of this magnitude. A barber who went to barber school as opposed to a stylist is going to have more experience working with beards. It’s not a knock on stylists, just a matter of the types of clients they have the most experience working with.
Yes, you can trim your beard yourself. But, be wary; trimming and shaping a beard is challenging, and the last thing you want to do is accidentally cut too much, or the wrong section of the beard, setting you back months in the process.
HAVE A LONG BEARD STYLE IN MIND
There are quite a few long beard styles, and knowing which one you’re going for is going to make the process easier. If you aren’t sure, check out our full guide to the top 21 beard styles. Or, find a picture of a long beard that you like, save it to your phone, and show it to your barber every time you go in for some upkeep.
INVEST IN QUALITY PRODUCTS
As your beard gets longer, more foul things are going to get trapped in it—we’re talking all kinds of F words. Keeping it clean is essential, but too much washing can take its toll and dry out your beard. Invest in a high-quality Beard Wash and keep it conditioned.
Beard hair that is dry, brittle, and damaged is not only going to look worse, it’s also likely that it won’t grow as long as it could. Beard Oil, Utility Balm, and Beard Softener are going to be critical in keeping your beard healthy and growing to its full potential.
MASSAGE THE SKIN
It’s not enough to only take care of the beard hair, you’ve got to take care of the skin beneath it, which becomes more challenging as your beard grows longer and thicker.
Every time you wash your beard and apply Beard Oil, use your fingers to really get in there and massage the skin. The hair bulb sits just underneath the surface of the skin, and you want to stimulate blood flow to your face. By stimulating the blood flow, you are encouraging a steady flow of blood and essential nutrients to the hair bulb.
TAKE A WEEKLY PHOTO
There are going to be times in your long beard journey where it seems as if it has stopped growing altogether. You may go weeks with seemingly no change to it, leading you to believe that the hair has reached terminal length.
Instead of trying to eyeball the change daily—which is about as useful as trying to watch yourself grow taller—take a photo of yourself once a week. Pick a day of the week and make that your selfie day. Use the same posture and camera angle so you can truly compare and contrast from week to week.
Not only will this help you keep tabs on your length, but it will also prevent you from making any pre-mature decisions about whether your beard is still growing, helping you stay motivated in the long run.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
For hair to grow at its optimal ability, it needs nutrients. But, when it comes time for your body to divvy up those nutrients, your beard hair is pretty low on the priority list. If your more essential organs, including your skin, are in bad shape, your beard hair isn’t going to be the number one priority.
Additionally, not taking care of your health has been shown to decrease your natural production of testosterone—and lowered testosterone isn’t going to help you on your long beard quest.
You don’t have to be a fitness model, but implementing the following into your lifestyle will benefit your beard growth goals.
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.
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, are known 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.
To learn more about the impact of testosterone, and more specifically, DHT, check out our blog on hormones and hair growth.
DOES BEARD GROWTH OIL WORK?
Can beard growth oils or pills help you reach your long beard goals? Most likely not.
There are plenty of people out there advertising pills or oils that will magically make your beard grow faster, stronger, and fuller. These products are essentially the equivalent of penis enlargement pills—they have no scientific backing and target men’s insecurities.
At the end of the day, your genetics are going to dictate what your beard can and can’t do. Nothing has been proven to be able to modify that.
That said, supplements like biotin can help your beard grow to its full potential.
The 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 essential 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 an essential 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.
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At Beardbrand, we define a long beard as any beard that is over six inches in length. We think everyone should grow a long beard at least once in their life. It’s a profoundly gratifying process to endure, one in which you will learn quite a few things about yourself.
Here are 11 things to consider before growing a long beard:
- People will ask to touch it. Some people won’t ask and proceed to touch it anyway.
- People will either be repulsed or incredibly attracted to it. There isn’t much of a middle ground with how people feel about long beards.
- It will be a conversation starter. In fact, it will be the only way that most strangers start conversations with you.
- You will be defined by your beard. You will be referred to as that dude with the long beard. Or…
- You will get called ZZ Top or James Harden.
- You will shed, and finding long face hairs will gross you out a bit.
- You will spend more money on products.
- People will ask your partner what they think.
- It will blow in the wind, and it’s a really cool feeling.
- It will get caught in everything, and it’s a really not cool feeling.
- A long beard may not be your healthiest beard.
Tips for growing a long beard:
- Stick with it.
- Enlist the help of a barber.
- Have a long beard style goal.
- Invest in quality products.
- Massage the skin beneath when you wash it or apply Beard Oil. This helps stimulate blood flow to the hair.
- Take a weekly photo.
- Take care of your health.