So, you want to grow a beard but you’re afraid it’ll come in patchy. Or maybe you’ve been growing your beard and you’re not happy with how thin it seems.
You aren’t alone. Many men who aspire to grow a beard fear the dreaded patchy-beard syndrome. The thing to realise is that a beard evolves as it increases in size.
The patches you notice in your beard today may simply be a stage in your beard’s development. The truth is you need to give your beard time. Lots of time. At least two or three months.
That doesn’t mean you are helpless to the whims of your patchy beard though. You can do something while you wait for your beard to reveal its true self. You can help it along.
Below, I’ve rounded up some of my best tips and suggestions to give your beard the best chance to be as thick and full as possible.
Daily Maintenance is Crucial to a Patchless Beard
The number one way to grow a beard without patches is to maintain your beard properly. No tricks or pills or miracle oils. What you need is a great daily routine.
Just like your head hair, skin, and muscles, taking care of yourself is the first line of defense against worrisome symptoms.
Follow my routine below and you’ll have the best chance at growing a beard without patches.
Wash Your Beard Every Other Day
Don’t wash your beard daily. It strips away all the vital oils that keep your beard healthy. Also, it helps you avoid split ends (yes, your beard hair can have split ends). Instead, rinse your beard in the shower.
Every morning hop in the shower and soak your beard in warm water. This nourishes the hairs and hydrates your skin. When it’s time to wash your beard, dig deep with your fingers and scrub that skin. Healthy skin means healthy hair, and healthy hair means a thicker beard.
Be Gentle with Your Towel
When you towel dry your beard don’t be harsh. Vigorously drying your beard like you do your head will lead to confused, wiry beard hair.
Pat your beard down and dry it in the direction you want your beard hair to grow. Usually this means cupping your face with the towel and stroking in a downwards motion. That way you’ll train your beard hair to fill in those bald spots.
The Rule of Beard Oil: Less is More
Beard oil isn’t a gimmick. It’s essential for growing a healthy beard. It smells good, too. I rarely apply cologne these days, since beard oil fragrances smell more natural and last me all day.
Your beard oil needs to contain quality ingredients. This most likely means it won’t be the cheapest product you can find.
My tip: read the ingredients. Look for all-natural oils, like jojoba and argan. Avoid anything synthetic or synthetic sounding. Many of the cheap brands will do more harm than good.
When applying beard oil apply less than you think you need. If you’ve got a one- or two-month beard, a couple drops will suffice.
Think of it like baking a cake: you can always add more later, but you can’t take it away. A beard with too much oil will ruin your day.
Try a few drops at first. Rub the oil in your hands to warm it up. Then work it into your beard. You want to get it down to your skin. If you’ve been finding yourself with dry skin since growing a beard, it’s probably because your skin is dry. Beard oil will help.
Not Your Average Comb
Buy a quality comb. I know an expensive comb seems unreasonable when the pharmacy sells them for a few bucks. Think of it this way. It’s a purchase you’ll use for the rest of your life.
Cheap combs rip and tug at your hair. They have sharp edges due to the quick molding process. A bad comb will leave you with a patchy beard. Purchase either a quality plastic comb or a wooden comb.
You don’t need a boar bristle brush unless you plan to grow your beard out beyond three inches. That’s about six months of growth. The bristle brushes are for contouring and shaping, which just isn’t a concern for short beards.
After drying and oiling your beard, comb it out. Be gentle. You don’t want to pull out any hair. The key is to minimize how much hair you lose while combing.
Start at your side burns and work your way down. Use the wider teeth first, then switch to the finer teeth. Again, comb in the direction you want your hair to grow.
I comb my cheeks downwards and the hair under my jawline towards my chin. Essentially, I aim all my strokes either down or towards my chin, depending where I’m combing.
The trick is to refine the natural growth tendency of your beard. After months of work, your beard with fill itself in surprisingly well.
Respect the Beard
This is easily my most important tip. Seriously. Respect the beard.
That means avoiding needless touching, petting, stroking, and pulling of your beard. Think about it, you’ve added oils to protect and nourish your beard. You’ve combed it and nurtured its development.
Every touch with your fingers strips the beard of all that love and care you showed it a few short hours ago. Your hands are dirty. I mean, you touch your phone with your hands and it’s ten times dirtier than a toilet seat.
Truthfully, I experienced problems with respecting my beard. When I first grew a beard, I stroked and plucked at it all day. I had this one tick where I licked the side of my mustache. And wouldn’t you know, my beard was patchy because of those bad habits. Once I stopped my beard grew in fuller.
Crucial Trimmer Do’s and Don’ts
Avoid trimming for at least two months. Keep those scissors away from your face, too. Let your beard grow no matter how much you hate it. Trimming too much or too soon is a definite way to end up with a patchy beard.
But eventually, you will have to trim your beard. To reduce the risk of patchy spots, here are some helpful trimming Do’s and Don’ts. I’ll start with the Don’ts because they’re more important.
Don’t trim the hair under your jaw. Your neck and jaw hair add weight and fullness to your beard. Plus, it helps to reduce the patchy look. Your neck hair is where most of your bulk comes from. For many beards, the cheeks do very little work.
Don’t trim fly away hairs. You’re picking on the new hairs that aren’t yet long enough to be part of the big beard club. But soon, in a couple weeks or months, they’ll contribute to the fullness of your beard. Use beard balm to keep them in line.
Don’t trim your mustache. Mainly the sides of your mustache, as they fill in your beard more than you may realize.
Do grow the corners of your beard out, near the back of your jawline. As they grow in, they look awful, but they’re important to a full-looking beard.
Do trim your sideburns. You can cut as low as your tracus. That’s the ear’s little flap of skin near your sideburns. Side burn hair won’t affect your overall beard. I prefer mine shaved down, so it can better fade into my haircut.
Do trim your neck hair. That is, the neck hair passed the curve of your neck, near your Adam’s apple. All that hair can go.
Do trim your mustache. Okay, I know I said don’t trim your mustache. This one is up for debate. Personally, I don’t like to taste my beard when I eat. So, I trim the hair around my upper lip. I don’t trim the mustache hair around the corners of my mouth though, as they add fullness to my cheek hair.
Style over Substance
It’s important to have reasonable beard expectations. If your beard remains patchy, it’s not the end of the world. The key is to adapt. Turn the negative into a positive. It’s time to recalibrate what a perfect beard means to you.
Instead of matching your beard to your imagined style, why not switch it around? Try matching your style around your beard. Wear clothing that doesn’t call attention to your patchy beard. Black and dark brown help maintain an illusion of a thicker beard better than white or gray clothing.
You could also just roll with it. Plenty of men rock patchy beards. Tom hardy and Post Malone are two stylish men who don’t let their patchy beard get in their way.
The point is, it’s not the end of the world even if you have a patchy beard. Think out of the box. Don’t let your ideal beard hinder you or force you to shave it off.
Enjoy What You Got
All the above information will up your chances of growing a great beard. How much it helps depends largely on your genetics. The fact is certain men have a beard that comes in thinner than other men.
A lot of “how to grow your beard” videos are made with men with naturally thick beards. It’s equivalent to a female model explaining how to have better skin. Gentlemen, the game is rigged.
But that’s okay. If you maintain a realistic beard perspective, you’ll be happy with you’ve got. The most important thing you can do is focus on how to get the most out of your facial hair.
Growing a full beard without patches involves work. It’s a time commitment. Spend that time wisely. Take the two or three months as a challenge to take care of yourself. Patchy or not, you’ll learn from the experience. And that’s priceless.
Further Reading: How Long Does it Take to Grow a Beard?