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Last updated: May 04, 2022
5 min read

How to grow a beard: 7 tips for facial hair growth

raagini yedidiAmelia willson

Medically Reviewed by Raagini Yedidi, MD

Written by Amelia Willson

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Around one in three American men have beards (Prince, 2021). 

Ask any of them, and they’ll probably tell you there’s an art to it. Whether this is your first time growing a beard, or you’ve done it before but are determined to make the process smoother, keep reading for tips on how to grow a beard. 

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How long does it take to grow a beard?

Beard hair grows quickly, just about as fast as the hair on your head. 

More specifically, it grows between 0.3 and 0.5 millimeters per day, or about one centimeter per month (Maurer, 2016; IQWiG, 2019). Based on that timeline, it takes around two months to grow a good base for your beard. 

Beard growth tips for a healthy beard

Growing a beard is a sophisticated endeavor. You’ve got to understand your face shape, where and how your whiskers naturally tend to grow, and more. Here is a step-by-step look at how to grow your best beard.

1. Choose your beard style

There’s a whole world of beard shapes, lengths, and styles out there. If you need some beard inspiration, think about celebrities who have a similar face shape to yours, and see what beard styles they’ve chosen. 

Beards can either highlight your natural face shape or change it entirely, depending on the style you choose. For example, you can make a square face or angular jawline look rounder and softer by trimming at curved angles, or you can make a round face appear longer by drawing the eye downward with longer hairs on your chin and shorter hairs on your cheeks.

Also, be aware of what type of beard might be realistic, given your hair growth patterns. You already know these if you’ve been shaving for years. Beard hairs vary in thickness and stiffness, and they can grow in at different angles and rates (Maurer, 2016). 

In what direction does your hair grow, and how quickly? How far down your neck does it grow? If you’ve got areas of patchiness or thinner hair, a full beard may not be the look for you, but you can go with a goatee or a Van Dyke (a goatee paired with a mustache) instead.

2. Start with a clean shave

Just like any artist, you want a blank canvas before you start growing your beard. 

Here are some tips for achieving a clean shave and minimizing ingrown hairs and razor burn (Maurer, 2016):

  • After a warm shower, massage a pre-shave oil into your skin to lubricate it. 
  • Then, apply shaving cream and massage the cream in a circular motion over your face. 
  • Finally, use a fresh razor to shave with the grain (i.e., in the direction your hair grows).

Using shaving creams and oils can prevent skin irritation from shaving. And the warm shower water hydrates your facial hair, which can significantly reduce the stiffness of your beard hairs and enable you to use less pressure while shaving—which further reduces any irritation you may feel from the shave (Maurer, 2016).

Take your time and consider this your ceremonial goodbye to a clean-shaven face. When you’re done, rinse your face off, and apply a moisturizer.

3. Be patient

It takes time to grow a great beard. Be patient and trust the process. 

It may feel like you’re waiting forever for your beard to arrive. Don’t worry if you notice areas of patchiness or slow growth. Ride the wave and let your facial hair do its thing. It’s common for areas to fill in eventually, as beard hairs often grow at different rates and have different amounts of thickness and stiffness (Maurer, 2016).

In the meantime, stubble balm and beard oil are your friends. 

Stubble balm can soften those sharp, short hairs, while beard oil helps moisturize the skin, relieving beard itch and preventing dry skin. Brushing with a beard comb can help further distribute your skin’s natural oils, which can help with hair texture (Gavazzoni Dias, 2015).

4. Keep it trim

You may be able to say goodbye to shaving daily, but beards still require maintenance, especially as they’re growing in. To avoid developing a “neckbeard,” consider regularly shaving your neckline and using a beard trimmer to keep your cheeks clean.

At this point, it’s still too early to start shaping your beard. However, you do want to keep the beard area defined as it grows for the first month or two. 

By shaving your neck and cheek lines, you’ll start to see your new beard come into place. Choose where you want the bottom of your beard to fall. People usually choose somewhere just above their Adam’s apple. Then, shave or trim it around that boundary. As hairs start to sprout on your cheeks, consider shaving those, too, for a defined look.

5. Shape your scruff

Once you’ve made it through the first few months, it’s finally time to shape your beard! 

Like your regular haircuts, sculpting your beard helps the hair grow in the direction and style you’re looking for, whether that’s a natural-looking long beard or a super-manicured goatee. Keeping it fuller in some areas and shorter in others gives a healthy beard its shape. 

Get yourself a pair of beard scissors to snip strays and split ends as needed. Use a beard trimmer with multiple guards, starting with the longest one and switching out with shorter ones as you define your beard’s shape and trim it to the desired length. 

6. Adopt a skincare routine

It’s easy to focus on hair care when growing a beard, but don’t forget where that hair grows. Give your skin some TLC to nourish the hair follicles and enable your beard to grow in fuller, shinier, and healthier. 

Your skincare routine should include washing your face daily. You might want beard wash and beard conditioner, too. Formulated a bit differently than regular shampoo, these are designed specifically to clean and hydrate facial hair so you can avoid pesky flakes popping up in your beard. You can wash your beard in the shower, apply beard oil when you get out, and finish with beard balm or cream for styling.

Additionally, search for products made for men, as male skin has different needs and biological properties than female skin and responds differently to sunlight, heat, and stress (Oblong, 2012). 

Male skin is also more prone to water loss. However, research shows that men who perform a daily skincare routine have more hydrated skin and lower sebum production (Maurer, 2016). Sebum is a fatty substance your body naturally produces to moisturize your skin, but too much of it can lead to oily skin (Endly, 2017).

7. Brush your beard

Brushing is another important part of beard care, which is why we’ve dedicated a separate tip to it. 

Brushing with a beard brush or comb daily (or nightly) keeps your beard clean and trim. Brushing also distributes your skin’s natural oils throughout your beard, which helps nourish the entire strand of hair (as opposed to just its base) (Gavazzoni Dias, 2015). As a result, your beard will be less prone to frizziness, breakage, and split ends. 

Once you’ve grown your beard base, the hard work is done. You’re free to experiment with different beard styles and shapes and make your beard your own!

References

  1. Endly, D. C. & Miller, R. A. (2017). Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 10(8), 49–55. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28979664/
  2. Gavazzoni Dias, M. F. (2015). Hair cosmetics: an overview. International Journal of Trichology, 7(1), 2–15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25878443/
  3. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2019). What is the structure of hair and how does it grow? InformedHealth.org. Retrieved Apr. 28, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546248/
  4. Maurer, M., Rietzler, M., Burghardt, R., et al. (2016). The male beard hair and facial skin – challenges for shaving. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 38 Suppl 1, 3–9. doi:10.1111/ics.12328. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27212465/
  5. Oblong, J. E. (2012). Male skin care: shaving and moisturization needs. Dermatologic Therapy, 25(3), 238–243. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8019.2012.01502.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22913441/ 
  6. Prince, S. E., Chen, H., Tong, H., et al. (2021). Assessing the effect of beard hair lengths on face masks used as personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 31(6), 953–960. doi:10.1038/s41370-021-00337-1. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34006963/