So, you’ve taken the popular decision to grow a beard. You cannot wait to develop the type of look that can turn an amiable and meek chemistry teacher into a revered and notorious bad-ass.
Perhaps you are easily-influenced and have seen a number of your friends grow beards over the past few years, or simply want to transform your look by capitalising on one of the very latest trends.
Regardless of your motivation, let me tell you there is a definite gap between perception and reality when growing a beard.
This is especially true when appraising the length of time required to develop facial hair, as this can be a delicate and time-consuming process that varies from one male to another.
As a result, that rare commodity patience is crucial if you are to successfully grow a beard from scratch on your boyish, clean-shaven face.
We all want to imagine that we are working towards an obtainable goal, so in this post we will look at the length of time required to grow a beard and share some advice that has been borne out of our own experience.
A Look at the Facts and the Three Stages of Hair Growth
Let’s start with a basic assertion; beards are definitely growing on the British public. In fact, YouGov data confirms that they have become increasingly popular since 2011, particularly among younger Brits who are keen to tap into the latest style trends.
Six years ago, it was estimated that some 37% of men sported a form of facial hair, but this had risen to 42% during the most recent survey taken in November 2016.
Beards are at the forefront of this trend, with 44% of the men who sport facial hair now preferring a full beard over any other variation.
This number has increased from 29% in 2011, meaning that beards have clearly superseded designer stubble as the preferred facial hair option in the modern age.
In this respect, we are certainly not alone in your desire to revamp your own, personal look by growing a full beard.
This is where the process gets a little complex, as the process of growing hair includes various stages and is also impacted by various factors such as your own inherent genetics.
These dictate that we will typically need between two and six months to grow a full beard, but from my own experience I know that the process can take longer in some instances.
And it’s important not to believe the common myths.
No, not shaving for two months will not help you sport a full beard.
So, we hear you ask, what are the three stages of hair growth, and how will they shape your beard as you strive to refresh your look?
- Anagen: The first and most importance hair growth stage, it is during this epoch that your beard will grow at the fastest rate. This stage typically takes up to two months or more, while it is also the period of time during which your genetics will be at their most influential. If, like me, you tend to grow hair quickly, you will see your facial bloom well within this time. If your hair grows slowly, it will take a little longer to see a formative beard emerge. Patience is particularly important during this phase, as this is when you are most likely to give up and return to square one.
- Catagen: As the anagen stage passes, you will suddenly notice your facial hair growth stop. Try not to panic, as this is a necessary phase during which your facial hair embeds into your skin and hopefully stays there (for a period of months in some instances). You will probably get frustrated at the lack of progress during this phase (I know I did), but it is something that you must push through if you are to grow a full, stylish and ultimately fearsome beard.
- Telogen: I found this to be the most rewarding phase, it is during this time at a new hair is born and your old follicles are forced from your skin. This not only kick-starts the anagen phase of the cycle once again, but it also tends to create a softer and more manageable beard that is less irritable to your skin. I do remember that some of my facial hair began to fall out during this time, but rest assured that most will remain and others will grow back stronger in the weeks ahead.
Make no mistake; understanding the staggered nature of hair growth is important when cultivating a beard, particularly during the first two phases when are you are most likely to quit.
From my own perspective, it certainly helped me to manage my own expectations, as I came to the shocking realisation that full beards do not grow overnight!
How Can You Aid the Process of Growing Your Beard?
No matter how hard you try, you are not going to alter your genetics or the scientifically-proven stages of hair growth.
Trust me, it is best to let nature take its course when growing a beard, especially during the Anagen stage of growth when your hair must be allowed to grow uninterrupted.
So, from the moment that you decide to grow a beard, stop shaving completely and refrain from even touching a razor blade for the first four weeks at least.
Yes, we hear you ask, but what happens after four weeks? Well this is entirely up to you, but at this stage there are some steps that you can take to sculpt your burgeoning facial hair and realise its true potential. Here are some of our own ideas:
#1 – Do Not Excessively Sculpt the Beard as it Grows
As a man who knows a lot about beards, I understand that allowing facial hair to grow freely during the Anagen phase is far easier said than done.
You may find that the idea of walking into work with a wild, untamed beard is simply unpalatable, for example, or you’ll discover that your partner is not keen on cuddling up to a sleeping Yeti.
Fear not, as you can take some small steps to tame and sculpt your new beard.
It is relatively easy to shape the neckline at any stage of the process, simply by using a beard trimmer to define your desired neckline before taking a traditional razor to remove the remaining stubble. This instantly creates a tidier and more deliberate look, without interrupting the all-important Anagen phase of growth.
The cheek line defines the upper threshold of your beard, and we would recommend leaving this to grow without wielding the razor.
The main reason for this is that it can vary the length of your facial hair and restrict its growth, potentially ruining your beard before it has fully grown. If you do find that stray hairs are creeping up your face and towards your cheekbone and creating the dreaded werewolf effect, take a standard razor and remove these to create a more clearly defined cheek line.
#2 – Eat Right and Allow Your Beard to Grow
While genetics may rule the roost when it comes to growing a beard, I can confirm that there are other factors that impact on the speed of growth and the strength of your facial hair.
One of these is diet, as eating healthy foods that are rich in nutrients ensures that your beard receives the sustenance that it needs.
There are numerous foods that have been proven to boost the rate and pace of hair growth, including eggs (which are rich in protein), spinach (which provides iron) and Vitamin E-laden products such as avocado.
So with a healthy and balanced diet you definitely help your beard to grow quicker, while also creating a leaner and fitter body in the process.
We have found that excessive smoking can also damage your beards’ growth as it impacts negatively on your circulation, so cutting down on the cigarettes will definitely create fuller facial hair more quickly.
#3 – Above all else, Stay Committed and Allow Nature to Take its Course
In your quest to grow a full and fearsome beard, knowledge and commitment remain the most potent weapons in your armoury.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, beards cannot be grown over night so you have to understand the hair growth process and remain disciplined throughout.
During the various stages of growing a beard, I have found myself flirting with the razor, covering my face and scratching furiously at the irritated skin beneath.
I can assure you that these stages of growth quickly pass, hopefully leaving you with a striking beard that can define and new exciting look!
Even if you do ultimately choose to revert to the clean-shaven look of your youth, you can at least say that you have tried to grow a beard and know that this image is not for you.