Around the age of 14, when we boys have enough testosterone to power a small country, it’s almost inconceivable that we’d grow up to have anything other than a beard to rival Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson.
However, mother nature can be cruel, and it’s during these formative years when natural production of the hormone peaks, which can cut the road to an impressive thatch of facial hair short.
Of course, a few years later whiskers (okay, wispy bum fluff, then whiskers) start to sprout out of chins and top lips, and some are able to join the ranks of the bearded. Yet others suffer slow, patchy growth – or no growth at all.
The short answer to ‘how can I turn into a caveman overnight?’ is you can’t. It’s just genetics. But there are a few hacks that can help make the most of what facial furniture you have.
Make Your Facial Hair Grow Faster
Check Your Diet
When it comes to making things grow faster, the most important component is the same for your face as it is your sex life: what you put in your mouth (not like that).
Water, along with a diet rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, C and E, folic acid, zinc, magnesium and omega-3 gives hair the nourishment it needs to grow. If you’re not getting your fill of grains, red meat, oily fish, leafy greens, seeds, legumes and fruits (let’s face it, who is?), consider multivitamins and supplements that top up your levels.
Modern life is hard: we’re expected to excel at work, maintain a social life, drink enough water, exercise, text everyone back, stay sane, survive and be happy. Without the zen of a Buddhist monk, it’s impossible to do all that without a little stress, which has been proven to stunt hair growth, so do your best to swerve it.
The most effective de-stressors after a weekend getaway in a mountaintop monastery include getting plenty of sleep, making time to relax away from emails and working out. Trust us, your beard will thank you.
Look After Your Face
Let’s get one thing straight, you should already be looking after your skin – moustache or not. Just because you can’t see it anymore, doesn’t mean you should neglect what’s underneath.
The jury’s out on whether massaging your face encourages facial hair growth, but one thing dermatologists agree on is that the healthier your skin, the better your beard will look. Use a facial scrub along with a face wash to keep your follicles clear, then follow up with a moisturiser loaded with vitamin B5, which increases bodily functions and circulation required for that ‘stache to sprout.
Consider A Beard Transplant
If the only thing standing between you and this final manhood milestone is a few patches, there is the, albeit pricey, option of a beard transplant, which has steadily risen in popularity over the past decade.
The two most common types of hair transplant surgery are ‘FUE’ (which stands for follicular unit excision and is done by taking single follicles from a donor area which are then inserted into tiny cuts in the face) and ‘FUT’ (which stands for follicular unit transplantation and involves removing a strip of skin, which is then divided up into single follicles and inserted as with the FUE procedure.) Both techniques have their merits, so it’s worth getting advice from a consultant.
Don’t Over-Trim It
To put paid to an old wive’s tale, shaving or trimming your beard won’t encourage it to grow faster. That doesn’t mean you’re a complete follicular failure. The real problem might not be a lack of growth, but lack of time.
Facial hair can take several weeks to come into its own, so avoid reaching for the straight razor at the first sign of a patch, and wait to see what you’re working with before picking a beard that suits your face shape.
Show Your Beard Some Love
Just like the scruff on your scalp, in order to grow long and strong, a beard needs to be shown some love. Fortunately, there’s no need to start writing it affectionate letters or taking it out to dinner.
While it won’t turn you into John Hamm overnight, washing your facial hair with a dedicated shampoo once or twice a week, brushing it and applying a nourishing beard oil will keep what you have in good condition, helping to avoid breakage that will set your #beardgame back.
Kick Bad Habits
There’s not a lot smoking is good for — unless a face that looks like a Shar Pei’s nads is what you’re after — but one thing it’s really not good for is your beard, and we’re not just talking about the smell.
Cigarettes have a similar effect on hair as ageing. The 5,000 or so chemicals that make them up impair blood flow to the root, cause oxidative stress and deplete the body of B vitamins. All of which is going to result in a sub-par handlebar. So if you want to stand any chance of getting beardy, it’s time to kick the sticks.
It takes patience and dedication to cultivate the perfect pushbroom, two characteristics that also come in handy when it comes to boarding the train to Gainsville in search of a summer body.
The two main hormones that stimulate beard growth are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), both of which are produced during resistance training (such as weightlifting). For maximum results, opt for a full-body workout, which creates more of a spike than a single exercise, such as a bicep curl.
Work With What You Have
If a beard transplant is off the cards for financial reasons (or because you don’t fancy being pricked by a sharp tool 1,000 times), turn to the other type of professional. Consult your barber when next in the chair to discuss which style and length they think would help conceal the crop circles.
Beyond that, you could cling on to the hope that ‘peak beard’ is actually thing. That soon the nightmare will be over and the likes of Tom Hardy, David Beckham and Bradley Cooper will return to being baby faced. Let us know how that goes.