There are plenty of myths and misconceptions when it comes to caring for your beard. From the belief that all beards are dirty and itchy to fallacies about how beard oils and balms do nothing for the health of your beard, beard care experts often find themselves having to separate fact from fiction for their bearded clients. But one long-held misconception is making a resurgence: the idea that shaving your beard with a razor will make your beard grow faster.
To be clear, razors or the act of shaving with a razor hold no magical powers to increase the rate at which your beard grows. So, what does determine how fast your facial hair grows? The true magic of beard growth lies mainly in the complex interaction of genes and hormones, not in the sorcerous prowess of a razor.
How Fast Do Beards Typically Grow?
For the record, beards typically grow at a rate of 0.27 mm every 24 hours. However, this quickness is all an illusion because hair growth follows a natural rhythm of expansion, contraction, rest, and rebirth. The beard becomes a living, changing symbol of manhood as it grows in lockstep with nature's rhythm. Beard development is more than a biological event; it's also a story about heredity, identity, and the complex hormone dance.
What Are The Genetic and Hormonal Influences on Beard Growth?
Facial hair begins during adolescence, typically somewhere between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. This rite of passage into manhood occurs when male hormones begin to activate the facial follicles that have been dormant since birth. Young men usually first notice this transformation when they see a slight mustache on their upper lip. Sideburn, chin, and cheek hair growth come next, followed by an appearance in the neck area.
Our genetic makeup is the unsung architect behind this teenage metamorphosis, a symptom of puberty that sets the stage for early beard growth and the tsunami of other physiological changes yet to come. Our genetic code predetermines the exact number of hair follicles we will have at birth, forming a "beard blueprint" influenced primarily by our ancestors and ethnicities.
Now, while the significance of DNA in facial hair growth is still not fully understood, research shows that a genetic indicator located within the LNXI gene on chromosome 4 plays a role. Variations in this gene determine how thick or sparse your facial hair develops. While people of the same ethnicity often have similar thickness patterns, their growth rates differ substantially.
Two androgen hormones, testosterone and DHT, are the principal sex hormones that regulate the formation of beards well beyond puberty. Testosterone binds to receptors on hair follicles, promoting the replacement of vellus hairs with coarser, darker terminal hair. DHT, a by-product of testosterone, contributes to increased body hair, muscle mass, and fat storage. About five to ten percent of testosterone is converted to DHT, leaving testosterone to build muscle, improve mood, strengthen bones, and promote good sex.
While science has come a long way in explaining the effects of genetics and hormones on facial hair growth, no scientific evidence exists to support the claim that faster beard growth occurs by shaving with a razor. Beards can look and feel different after a shave, but shaving won't make them grow thicker or faster. Essentially, the razor only cuts and shapes the beard without affecting the rate at which it grows. It is a sculptor rather than a stimulant.
Is There Anything Men Can Do to Stimulate Faster Beard Growth?
While there is no known fast-forward button that guarantees accelerated beard growth, there are things you can do to encourage a healthy beard and enhance the appearance of growth. Consider the following:
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
- Make sure your diet includes enough vitamins and minerals that are associated with healthy hair, especially biotin and vitamins A, C, and E. Be sure to include zinc-rich foods (oysters, pumpkin seeds) and foods high in iron (dark leafy vegetables, beans, beef). Foods with Boron, a trace element that increases testosterone and DHT, are also helpful (peanut butter, avocados, raisins). Also, eat protein-rich foods like almonds, eggs, cottage cheese, fish, Greek yogurt, shellfish, and quinoa.
- Stay Hydrated! Drink plenty of water to keep your body and hair follicles hydrated.
Adopt Healthy Grooming Practices
- Regularly trim your beard. Contrary to the misconception, trimming doesn't make your beard grow quicker, but it can prevent split ends and breakage, providing the appearance of a fuller, healthier beard.
- Consistently clean and condition your beard to keep it healthy. Keep it well-groomed, and apply balms or oils to your beard to hydrate and nurture your hair.
Exercise And Control Stress
- Frequent exercise increases blood circulation, which supports healthy hair development.
- Manage your stress levels as best you can. Excessive stress can alter hormone levels, which may affect the growth of a beard. Engage in stress-relieving exercises like yoga or meditation.
Get Sufficient Sleep
- Make sure you're getting plenty of restful sleep. In addition to being essential for general health, sleep may also positively impact the health of your beard.
Limit Alcohol and Avoid Tobacco
- Cutting back on excessive alcohol use and quitting smoking can improve your general health, which can influence beard development.
While many believe that razor-shaving can stimulate faster beard growth, it is a myth. Based on scientific evidence, we know that facial hair development is closely linked to both hereditary and hormonal factors, with testosterone and DHT being major players. Your genetic blueprint determines beard growth density, pattern, and placement passed down from ancestors, and a particular gene on chromosome 4 influences patterns of beard thickness. This may be discouraging news to some; but be encouraged – the considerations listed above, if practiced consistently, will position you to see healthy growth!