So you want to grow a beard, but you have no idea what to expect and how long would it take?
No worries, we are here to help with some quality facial hair knowledge.
In this post, our purpose is to teach you how the facial hair growth really happens in the face of a man, how the different transitional phases of the hair follicle work, and how fast you can truly expect your facial hair to grow.
We will finish the article with a week-to-week example of what it’s like to grow your first real beard – or at least – what it is like for the average man.
Let’s dive into the facts.
Table of Contents
- Beard Science: How the Facial Hair Growth Works
- The Phases of Facial Hair Strand Growth from the Follicle
- How Fast Does the Beard Grow?
- Beard Stage #1: The Stubble
- Beard Stage #2: The Itch Begins
- Beard Stage #3: Looking Unkempt
- Beard Stage #4: It’s a Real Beard
Beard Science: How the Facial Hair Growth Works
Many sites address beard growth as purely genetic, and something that just “happens” to some men.
But there’s more to it than just random chance.
Your facial hair grows in response to androgenic hormones, as the facial hair is; androgenic-hair.
And in order for the androgens to naturally promote the growth, those need to enter the DNA, which is where the human androgen receptor – a critical “gate-keeper” of the beard growth rate – steps in.
I have written an extremely detailed breakdown of how your body produces the beard growth hormones (testosterone & DHT) and how they work with the androgen receptor to trigger growth here.
To say that the growth is just about randomness and genetic potential is an understatement.
Simply because there are natural methods to increase the androgenic hormones; testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, and there are also methods to activate the androgen receptors and make them more sensitive towards hormones.
Certain prescription-free drugs like minoxidil (Rogaine) are also proven to help in “hacking” your genetic potential, along with things like micro-needling.
The Phases of Facial Hair Strand Growth from the Follicle
Although your androgenic beard hairs differ from the light vellus hairs on top your head in terms of what actually makes them grow, their growth cycle is still exactly the same.
The Anagen Phase
During the active growth phase – otherwise known as; the anagen phase, the root keeps continuously dividing, which causes the hair strands to grow longer and longer.
In fact, it often takes 2-6 years until this phase ends and the hair follicle starts its natural “rotation”.
The Catagen Phase
The transitional catagen phase is the shortest one in the rotation, lasting usually just 1-2 weeks.
During this stage, the hair strand is separated from the follicle and attached to the skin. The blood supply to the hair strand also stops completely.
The Telogen Phase
During the telogen phase, the hair stays intact in the skin for 2-4 months, while the follicle is already returning back to the anagen phase and starts generating a new strand of hair through the same “tunnel” the previous hair strand was coming out of.
The new incoming hair strand naturally pushes the old hair out of the skin and eventually causes it to fall off, thus; completing the human hair growth cycle.
the maximum length of beard that you can grow is the amount of hair your follicles can produce in 2 to 6 years of time.
Your body is constantly churning through these three phases, which is why you will shed hair on a daily basis, usually anything between 1 to 100 strands per day.
How Fast Does the Beard Grow?
On average, the human facial hair grows a ½ an inch per month.
There are multiple factors influencing that number.
While someone may sprout out couple millimeters of beard in a month, someone else may sprout a whole inch or two in that time.
The factors impacting the beard growth rate include:
- Your race – due to some populational differences in the amount and sensitivity of the human androgen receptor Caucasian and African males tend to grow facial hair on a faster rate than Asian and native Indian men do.
- Your age – although hormones surge in puberty, the most critical facial hair stimulating hormone – DHT – usually peaks somewhere during your 20s. This is why most men will see the biggest beard growth in their 20s to 30s.
- Your genes – There are some genetic factors that are nearly impossible to manipulate. Although you can increase your hormones and enhance the activation of the androgen receptors, some men are genetically prone to having these run on supercharged potential without doing anything.
If you’re going to grow your first beard, below are four of the key stages to expect…
Beard Stage #1: The Stubble
This is the stage you’re in at weeks 1-2 of your beard growth.
It’s when you most likely start to notice a heavy-stubble forming.
You can also start seeing the areas where your facial hair will grow from, and be able to identify parts that will likely end up patchier than others.
If you manage to cover your full facial hair area in a stubble, then consider yourself lucky, as you will be surely growing something majestic in the upcoming weeks.
If however, you see some serious bald spots that will likely end up in patchy growth later down the line, then feel free to take a look at this article on fixing a patchy beard naturally.
Some men like to keep their facial hair at this stage year round, which is not a bad option, considering that heavy-stubbled men were rated as most attractive by women in a recent study.
Beard Stage #2: The Itch Begins
During the weeks 2-5 of your beard growth process, the itch usually sets in.
This is where most men give up, as your beard is likely not looking too good yet, and you are starting to suffer from the horrible itching of the face.
Good news is that like most things in life, the itch is temporary.
Moreover, you can reduce and even completely remove the itchiness with proper beard care, such as beard oil, exfoliating the face, getting a quality beard brush, and making sure you’re not washing with regular scalp-hair shampoo.
Your beard may also grow really uneven, usually getting longer on the mustache and chin area and growing slower on the cheeks.
The uneven growth is natural and has a lot to do with the fact that your cheeks have less blood flow than the chin and upper lip do. I want to say that you shouldn’t be trimming yet. Chances are that you accidentally trim too much and give up on the whole process.
Stick trough this rough patch (pun intended) and glory awaits.
Beard Stage #3: Looking Unkempt
During the weeks 5-8 of your beard growth, your beard will start getting bushier and bushier, and you may even look a bit hobo-ish.
That’s OK. It’s all part of the progress and a good test of patience.
If you can’t make it through a few weeks of looking bit unkempt, then you likely don’t deserve a beard in the first place.
Depending on your growth rate, you may slowly start to trim and groom the beard a little bit, but don’t get into any craziness yet.
It’s best to keep at cleaning the neckline and maybe evening up the length a bit. Remember that some of the facial hair strands are growing in slower than others, and your beard has not reached its full thickness yet, even though it begins to look longer now.
Beard Stage #4: It’s a Real Beard
Congratulations! After 8 weeks, you should be rocking a real beard.
This is the time to start getting serious with the grooming and styling.
I highly recommend you to read through this long article of the best and most important beard & mustache grooming tips for starters.
Then familiarize yourself with the 10 best beard products.
You should be giving your beard the best care you possibly can; after all, it’s a neat trophy to show that you have the patience and the potential to rock a full face of fur.
If you’re at this stage and think your beard just doesn’t really look as it should (as in it has patches and the cheeks aren’t growing well) then, by all means, read through our article on 9 ways to stimulate beard growth naturally.
It’s not a typical article of that nature, there are some actual scientifically proven methods that do work (not the usual just drink water and eat protein broscience).
Conclusion on How Long Beard Growth Takes
What makes a beard grow?
Testosterone, DHT, and sensitive-enough androgen receptors. Or as some people downplay these; the genetics. (remember, there are ways to work around even the worst of genetics, links above).
What are the phases of facial hair growth?
The anagen (growth phase), the catagen (transition phase), and the telogen (resting phase), after which everything starts again from the beginning and keeps repeating.
How fast does facial hair grow?
It’s not easy to predict and has to do with your age, race, lifestyle, and genetics. However, the average human beard growth rate is half an inch per month.