First things first: All beards are perfect, and none of them need fixing. But it’s understandable that if a guy’s beard isn’t as full and luscious as he wishes, he might want to take matters into his own hands. And there are solutions for that. You can thicken your beard, with a variety of tactics. However, you cannot generate new hairs without transplanting them or cloning them, and our wager is that you didn’t come here to learn how stem cell technology works. For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the things that are more directly in your control, without any major medical bills.
We’ll break these beard-enhancing lessons in half: The first tips focus on making your beard appear fuller and thicker, which might be all you’re looking for. The second batch of advice is how to actually thicken and strengthen the physical hairs, so that the beard looks fuller en masse. Apply it all at once, or pick and choose the tips that suit you best. No two beards will need the same help, but all beards can benefit.
How to make patchy beards look thicker
Before we discuss ways to physically thicken the hairs you have, let’s hone in on the ways you can enhance the appearance of your whiskers. These tips will give off the illusion that your beard is fuller than normal. It doesn’t make you a hack, either: It’s the same thinking behind hair-thickening shampoos and hair dryers and stylers. You’re taking what you already have, and enhancing how it works.
Let it grow
The first thing we have to say is this: You need to be patient with your beard. If it’s patchy in those first couple weeks, it won’t be so patchy in a couple more. The beard is unruly and each hair twists and turns and takes on its own life. When they’re all grown out, they give the illusion of a fuller beard.
Or keep it short
One of the best perks of maintaining beard stubble, as opposed to growing it out fuller, is that you are a lot less accountable for how your beard looks. You can’t exactly shape it (even if you can pick a short beard style), and aesthetically it still looks natural. People are so accustomed to the fact that whiskers don’t grow out uniformly from one guy to the next, and in this case, you can embrace the patchiness, but you don’t draw as much attention to it since the hairs aren’t standing more than a few millimetres off your face. You won’t get called out for having “patchy stubble.”
Use heavier stylers and conditioners
If and when you do grow it out, you should opt for higher-hold conditioning and style products. They help control stubborn hairs and allow you to style those longer strands over top the patchy spots. (It’s like a combover, but for beards.) While a nightly application of beard oil will keep the beard soft and prevent itchiness, you should pick a balm during the day. They’re typically packed with nourishing and conditioning ingredients like shea butter and essential oils, but are also heavy enough to take control over the curlycues.
A beard brush’s main function is to distribute the natural oils that collect at the shaft of the hair. However, while you’re in the habit of using this brush nightly, you could also start your morning styling routine with a brushing over of the longer hairs – to help cover up the patches. Then, apply said beard balm and style into place. Be gentle enough that you don’t irritate the skin, but firm enough that you disrupt whatever equilibrium those pesky hairs are enjoying as they expose your bare spots. A couple quick swipes in the same direction should suffice.
If all else fails: dye it
This isn’t a tip that will work for everyone, but if your patchiness is less of a baldness and more of a blond-ness (or a grey-ness), then consider dyeing your facial hair. This is especially effective for the guys will grow two-toned beards – super light, blond hairs alongside dark brown ones, for example – and a little natural-colour hair dye will bring out one uniform colour that in turn makes the beard look thicker and fuller. The keyword is natural: Pick something that matches the rest of your whiskers, or at least the hair on your head. As you brush and style your darker beard, it looks much thicker to the passing eye.
How to stimulate beard growth (and make patchy beards actually thicker)
Until stem cell technology becomes widely available (and that’s not so far into the future), you cannot grow a hair from a non-existent follicle. Forget these silly micro-needle dermarollers and claims that you can generate new hair growth. If you have a patchy beard, the only thing you can do is to thicken the hairs you already have, with the hope that they all work together to thicken your beard itself. Here are some ways to do that.
Supplement your diet
When we talk about hair supplements, it’s rarely for facial hair and almost always in regards to growing (or re-growing) the hair up top. But when you take supplements, all of those pro-hair vitamins are distributed around the body. So, fold your beard-fortifying supplement plan in with your hair-strengthening plan, and invest in vitamin-packed pills like Nutrafol, or even a simple daily biotin supplement from the corner store. There’s no denying that they make hair grow faster and thicker, but don’t expect any miracles: Again, you cannot grow hair from follicles that don’t already exists.
Talk to your doctor about minoxidil…
One way that men re-grow and retain hair on their head is with minoxidil, which you might know as Rogaine. (The generic minoxidil is widely available over the counter, and is quite affordable now.) By carefully dropping it onto the scalp once or twice a day, men increase blood flow to the hairs and in turn improve nutrient delivery to each follicle. The hairs grow thicker and stronger, and they don’t fall out as easily, nor do the follicles wither away and die so quickly.
This isn’t the problem with beards, though. Your beard hairs aren’t going to fall out, and the follicles aren’t going to dry up. (It’s just the hairs up top, on the crown, that fall victim to hormones and aging.) However, some men have had success by rubbing minoxidil into the follicles of their beards to strengthen and thicken these hairs. It’s important that you talk to your dermatologist before doing so, because he or she can offer tailored advice as to why it might or might not work for you. (And either way, they’ll be your point-of-contact on the matter moving forward.)
So, our advice isn’t to run to the pharmacy buy minoxidil, and apply it freely to your face. It is instead to talk to your doctor about if it’s OK to try, and to build a plan for how much minoxidil you should apply, and how frequently you should do so.
Or, if you’re really serious about this…
Consider a beard transplant. We used to scoff at the notion of beard transplants, but the truth is that they work. And, since many of the hairs on the back of your head are as thick as the beard itself, they often blend in without anyone noticing. Since the technology behind transplants is changing so fast (and since the cost changes in both directions along with these improvements and increased availability), start the conversation with your dermatologist, to assess if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. He or she will assess the patchiness, compare it to the other hairs on your head, and explain the best options available to you – one of which might be to drop the idea altogether.