One of the most frustrating things about growing a beard is that most of its success is out of our control.
The two biggest contributing factors to how well a beard grows are time and genetics, with your body’s production of hormones like testosterone being the most important part of this equation.
How does testosterone affect beard growth then and is there anything we can do to get more of it?
Every man has different levels of testosterone production and this is mainly due to genetics, so while we can’t alter our DNA, there are things we can do to help produce it and gives ourselves a much better chance at a successful beard.
We’re going to do a deep dive into beards and testosterone, and how they’re inexplicably linked.
If you’ve wondered about why your beard doesn’t seem to grow as easily as other men, this could very well be the reason, so anything you can do to understand their relationship is going to set you on the path for success and a luscious beard to boot.
The Basics of Beard Growth and Hormones
There are two key hormones at play when it comes to facial hair, so you can blame or congratulate them both of them for the beard you have.
First, there’s testosterone, often touted as the main hormone that has to do with men’s hair. Secondly, there’s DHT or dihydrotestosterone, and the amount of this in your body will impact where your hair grows and how much of it.
The rate that hair grows differs for every man due to these hormones. Some men might find they’re able to achieve a full beard but just 18 years of age, and others will be waiting until their late twenties or early thirties to see what they’re capable of.
Others will never really get the beard they dreamed of and might feel disappointed in patchy or slow-growing facial hair.
Genetics and hormones can be blamed for this for the most part, as they’ll determine where the hair grows, how quickly, and how much of it you get.
However, there are other lifestyle factors to consider that can boost or prevent growth, and most of these have to do with boosting the body’s natural testosterone levels as well.
How Much Testosterone Should A Man Have?
The key component of growing facial hair is hormones, and specifically testosterone, most of which are inherited.
Each man has different levels of testosterone and these change with age, so they won’t always be the same, but when you’re at your most virile age you can expect that your beard will be as well.
The normal hormone range for men aged 19 to 38 is 264 to 916 nanograms per decilitre. The large majority of men will fall within this range and find no issues growing a beard, even if it is sometimes slow-growing or patchy in certain areas.
Men who experience low testosterone will have more issues achieving their dream facial hair, though.
Having clinically low testosterone is something that impacts beard growth, but there are things you can do to enhance it naturally or with medical assistance.
Your hormone levels can be tested by a doctor if you think this is to blame, although you shouldn’t rule out other causes like lifestyle factors, health, ethnicity, and even genetic predisposition to facial hair.
Does High Testosterone Levels Mean a Good Beard?
Testosterone directly affects the rate at which your hair grows and also its thickness.
There is evidence to show that the speed in which your beard hair grows is due to DHT, which is a byproduct of testosterone, and it can be produced by an enzyme in the hair follicle.
Hair should grow around ½ inch per month with good levels of this hormone found in the body.
There’s a common misconception though, that just because a man has a lot of testosterone, he’s going to have a stellar beard.
While it does help a bit, even with high testosterone levels you still might struggle to get good facial hair, and there are many other factors at play that can cause this.
If you’ve had your hormone levels checked and you’re within a good range for testosterone and DHT, you might want to look at your genetics.
Studies have shown that the best way to see how your beard will turn out is to look at your father’s, but also your maternal grandfather’s, so your mother’s dad.
These can give clues about your beard’s length, thickness, and even growth patterns.
DHT and Hair Growth
DHT is made by an enzyme that converts testosterone and this happens all over the body in the skin, prostate, and other parts.
Around 10% of a man’s testosterone will be converted to DHT each day, and this doesn’t start to happen until you reach puberty, which explains why kids never sport bushy beards.
DHT moves through the body and attaches itself to various receptors, most importantly for the bearded man are the ones in hair follicles.
If you have more hair follicles present there are more places for them to attach or reduced sensitivity to DHT, this can further impact how well you grow a beard.
As you age, your hair follicles shrink and your hair falls out, however high levels of DHT persist in the body and tend to grow more in the facial area.
It’s common for men who have lost the hair on top of their heads to also have quite healthy beards as it impacts both areas differently.
Lower sensitivity to DHT means less beard growth, but it also means you’re more likely to hang onto the hair at the top of your head as well. So, it isn’t all bad news if your beard tends to be lacking, because it probably means you won’t go bald as quickly as most men.
Can You Increase Your Testosterone Levels?
While it’s hard to know exactly how much we have in terms of hormones like testosterone and DHT, we do know that there are ways to increase those levels.
Medical routes should only be taken in serious cases, and not simply to try and grow a beard, but you do have options if more facial hair is your goal.
- Lose weight: Studies have shown that obesity can lower the body’s levels of testosterone so if you’re trying to grow a beard, you might consider losing some of those extra pounds.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in protein, iron, and essential nutrients are all beneficial for beard growth. They regulate hormone levels and add energy to the body, both of which are needed for growing healthy hair.
- Workout: Certain exercises like weight lifting boost the body’s energy level which in turn leads it to create more testosterone. Consider adding some strength training to your everyday exercise routine to see if it gives your hair a boost.
- Getting enough sleep: While we sleep, our body releases testosterone into our bodies. When we don’t get enough rest, due to insomnia or conditions like sleep apnea, we’re not able to receive all of the hormones that we should be.
- Check your beard products: Some ingredients in hair products are DHT blockers so make sure you check the labels carefully. Argan oil and grapeseed oil have been shown to block DHT so consider switching up your products if you think this could be slowing your growth down.
Growing a beard can sometimes take a scientific approach and if you’re serious about adding some length and thickness to it, you’ll probably do whatever you can to help.
We’ve got the answers to some common questions about testosterone and hair growth so you get a better understanding of how they impact the other.
Can Shaving Make My Beard Thicker?
The urban myth that shaving your beard will make it grow back thicker is just that: a myth.
Shaving doesn’t impact the growth of the hair as it only removes it on the skin surface and doesn’t take it out at its root, sometimes leading to further issues like ingrown hair and irritation.
Keeping your beard trimmed can improve its health, so this is a better recommendation than regular shaving.
Are Testosterone Supplements Safe?
Testosterone supplements should only ever be prescribed by a doctor as part of testosterone therapy, and never just as a way to try and grow a beard.
As the side effects generally outweigh the positive effects, it’s not recommended to use testosterone supplements unless explicitly directed by a health professional.