Well, well well. Isn’t this the question on every budding beardsman’s lips. How do you thicken up your beard? Hope you’ve got your scalpel, because we are going to dissect this issue in great detail.
At some point in his life, almost every guy has wished for a slightly thicker… *ahem* – beard. You see, lower than average thickness-of-beard stops a lot of guys in their tracks. Patchy beards, baby haired beards, slow beard growth – all caused by a frustrating lack of thick hair.
What makes a beard seem thick?
Here’s the thing, amigos. In this game (the beard game), there’s very few shortcuts. However, understanding some of the sciencey goodness behind thick hair will go some way towards curtailing your frustration. Seems like a good place to start.
Thick hair is a mystery, right? Are people talking about how thick the actual hairs are? Or how many hairs per cm2 of hair? Turns out it’s a bit of both…
Thickness of strand
Hair varies a lot. Let’s take it back to the follicle. The thickness and curliness of each of your individual facial hairs is down to your follicles. A thicker and fuller beard is (amongst other things) the result of each and every hair being thick.
The follicle can be thought of as a pocket in your skin, from which your hair grows forth. The bigger the pocket, the thicker the hair that comes out of it. Towards the skin, cross sections of beard hair are quite a bit larger than the head hair equivalent. This is why beard hair tends to be a lot stiffer.
Number of strands (density)
So it turns out that the quantity of hairs is another way of measuring thickness. As you may have guessed, having more hairs in a specific area will lead to a thicker beard. Beard hair is pretty dense – however, the area density is affected in a big way by ethnicity.
The highest density of head hair per square centimetre will usually be found on your crown, before you hit puberty. Ah – the good old days! Back then, you could’ve boasted 250 – 400 hairs per square centimeter.
Most beards clock in between 20 and 80 follicles per square centimetre – a fact which took a more-than-usual amount of researching, but it’s from a real-life scientific paper* so don’t believe any of the other nonsense you read.
Another factor of hair thickness is the colour. Kinda.
The general rule of thumb is that the darker your hair is, the thicker the strands are. However, blondes tend to have a higher density of hair – so it’s swings and roundabout. Plus, these are generalizations – it’s the old ‘correlation not causation’ distinction. Ultimately though, the colour of your beard will have an effect on it’s perceived thickness.
How to Grow a Thicker Beard
Now, the only real way to get thick, full beards is to address the points you’ve just read. Meaning you’ll either want to grow more individual hairs to thicken your beard, or you’ll want each individual hair to be thicker. Or maybe just dye it, if it’s blonde.
Apart from hair transplants and dodgy internet treatments, there’s not much you can do to in the way of actually changing your follicles. However, there are ways to maximize your chances of thicker beard growth. Essentially, the way you treat your beard will have an impact on how thick it looks.
We love a good groom, mate. A proper pamper. However, incorrect grooming behaviour can have negative consequences for the thickness of your beard.
Par example – using a plastic comb instead of a proper beard comb. “What’s the difference?” you cry in vain. On a microscopic level, cheap plastic combs have horrible jagged teeny-tiny plastic edges, which can tear up your precious beard hairs without you knowing. Not a good way to achieve healthy facial hair!
In fact, replacing your crappy comb with a proper boar-hair brush or wooden comb isn’t just a case of not-splitting-hairs. When using jagged teeny-tiny comb, you’ll probably find that it pulls hair off your face from time to time.
In fact, various grooming strategies can lead to this, including rough towel drying. It should be obvious that this kind of carelessness leads to hairlessness – and as you’ll recall, thickness of beard is partially down to hairs per area of face. If you want a thick beard, you can’t afford to lose hair through bad grooming!
If you really want to grow your beard, a little bit of product goes a long way! Beard oil and beard balm can certainly help you grow a thicker beard faster.
How so? Again, it’s down to the all important hair-per-square-area of face. Enriching your beard with a luxurious beard balm for example, won’t just make it smell good. You’ll also benefit from less dead skin cells, which can potentially block your follicles and stop hairs growing where they should be.
Furthermore, certain essential oils can help prevent hair loss and breakage. Check out the label for such oils as Jojoba and Argan oil. These will stop your furry little fuzzer drying up, becoming brittle and ultimately withering away. No-one wants that.
Finally, beard oils and balms are usually composed almost entirely of stuff that’s naturally great for your skin and hair. Shampoo and conditioner on the other hand aren’t always so kosher. Neither are some moisturisers or scrubs which you might use for washing your face.
Normal head hair shampoo (and indeed, overuse of beard shampoo) will probably cause itchiness and dead skin below your beard. In turn, picking and itching your beard will cause your hard-earned facial hair to fall out. Enough to make even the gnarliest of beard styles to seem a little bit less thick.
It’s kinda weird how things that have pretty much nothing to do with your hair can be crucial to the success of healthy hair growth. Did you know pregnancy can make your hair fall out? Well, probably not yours personally – but still.
On the other hand, certain parts of your lifestyle – such as stress levels and smoking – can lead to hair loss. We’ll say it again – this leads to your beard appearing less thick! Unfortunately, there’s not a whole load you can do in the way of increasing the number of hairs on your face, but you can do your best to look after the ones you’ve got.
Other elements of your life which are typically associated with healthy hair growth (all over your body) are exercise (which stimulates hair growth by improving blood circulation) and getting enough hours of sleep every night. A healthy body is a healthy beard… And a healthy mind. So that’s like, two for one.
Finally, the way you wear your beard can have an impact on how thick it looks. Weird huh? Let me explain…
For starters, it’s perfectly natural for the thickness of your beard to vary in different parts of your face. In fact many of us dudes won’t have full beards until we hit our thirties.
This also varies with genetics and ethnicity. Individual Asian head-hair strands tend to be straighter and thicker than their Caucasian cousins, however they number less per square centimetre. Asians also tend to struggle more when it comes to growing a full beard.
If your beard hair is naturally thicker on some parts of your face (for example, around the moustache and chin) but seems finer on the cheeks, you aren’t alone. There are many ways to fix a patchy beard, but one crucial thing to remember is that it’s tough to fix a beard that isn’t fully grown.
Once you’ve grown it out fully, carefully trimming away at the parts of your beard where hair growth seems thicker will even it out, giving the impression that your beard growth is more consistent across your face. It’s not perfect – but it’s better than nothing!
Let your face decide
Finally, if you struggle with varying levels of thickness, it’s possibly worth just letting your genetics and ethnicity dictate your look. After all, how your beard naturally looks is part of what makes you unique man!
Sure, most dudes crave a thick, manly lumberjack beard. I guess that’s what’s fashionable at the moment. But cast yourself back to the time of Alexander the Great, who conquered half the known-bloody-world before he even turned thirty.
A the G was clean shaven (probably because he was too young to grow any beard let alone a thick one). The man was so powerful that for hundreds of years, everyone shaved their beards to look more like him. True story.
The point is that whilst it may be seen as a blessing now, in those days you’d have cursed a thick, rapidly growing beard. So go with the flow and enjoy what you’ve got. Even if it just a pointy little Dali moustache. Don’t even get me started on him…
Unfortunately (as often happens in the beard game) the powers that be determine who gets a beard and who must go without. Aside from being healthy, hygienic and crafty with our grooming strategies there’s not much you can do.
That being said, with a little patience it’s genuinely possible to nurture your beard to full thickness. Feel free to share your tips with us – we’d love to hear what works for you. Oh – and hit up our mailing list for beautiful, beardy goodness in word format!