7 Ways to Convert Thin Vellus Hair Beard into Thick Terminal Hairs

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| 13 minute read
illustration of vellus hair on beard
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The truth is that every one of us has the facial hair follicles to grow a full face of beard. Those developed while you were a 5-month old fetus.

In fact, you likely have a full beard of tiny vellus hair growing from those follicles too right now, you just really can’t see that without high-quality magnification.

In some cases, you do see the thin vellus hairs growing on your facial hair area, but they’re not thick and dark terminal hairs yet, and closer to what is well-known as; the peach fuzz.

Today you are going to learn how to naturally convert the light vellus beard into thicker, darker, terminal beard.

Let’s get at it. ↓

The Difference Between Vellus and Terminal Facial Hair

vellus vs terminal hair closeup

The above image shows a clear difference between really small unnoticeable vellus hairs, a bit more noticeable long vellus hairs, and on the right, thick terminal hairs.

There can be three different types of hair spewing out of your facial hair follicles.

Those include:

  • Small, light, vellus hairs, these are almost impossible to see when looking into the mirror but tend to cover nearly all of the skin surfaces of your body with active hair follicles. Vellus hair tends to grow only to ~2mm in length
  • Larger more prominent vellus hair, often called “peach fuzz”. You can spot these if you look close enough. This type of hair is light, extremely thin, and it isn’t connected to the sebaceous gland. Although thin, the length can reach up to 4cm.
  • Thicker, darker, terminal hair. This is typically the stuff you need in order to grow a “real” beard. It grows about ½ inch (~1cm) per month and doesn’t stop until it falls out within 2-6 years and is replaced by a new hair in its anagen growth phase.

What Makes Vellus Hair Convert to Terminal Hair?

androgen effects on hair follicleVarious factors impact the conversion from thin peach fuzz into terminal beard, but the biggest and most important of them are the androgens; the male hormones testosterone & DHT.

When the hormones bind to the androgen receptors, then DHT and testosterone have entry to the DNA of the cell, and through there, they promote masculinizing effects.

And when the hormones bind to the receptors in your facial hair area, the masculinizing effect is the conversion from the vellus beard into the terminal beard.

Through androgenic stimulation, the beard follicle connects to the sebaceous gland and pushes the old thin hair strand out, beginning the process of growing a much darker and thicker terminal androgenic-hair strand.

This usually begins in puberty and continues through the life of a man thereafter.

Depending on your levels of androgens, as well as, the sensitivity of your androgen receptors, you will either see beard growth or continue to see only thin vellus hair on your face.

If you are at the later stages of your puberty, or even close to your 30’s or 40’s without a beard yet, then I have some good news:

You can naturally promote the vellus hair to terminal hair conversion in your face. ↓

1. Vitamin D3 Speeds Up the Maturation of Beard Follicles

vitamin d capsules in a spoonIt has been long known that vitamin D plays a huge role in the production of the male hormone testosterone.

This alone should help a lot in the natural conversion from vellus to terminal, as testosterone is one of the two key androgens of the human body.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Men taking 3332 IU of a vitamin D supplements daily for a year, saw a 25.2% increase in their testosterone levels1.
  • Older men supplementing with vitamin D + calcium are more likely to have higher testosterone levels2.
  • In an Australian study, lower vitamin D levels were associated with lower testosterone production3.
  • In a study of 1362 men, a positive correlation was noted with blood vitamin D levels and testosterone levels, all the way up to 80nmol/L4.

On top of all the evidence in terms of testosterone, there are also some studies which have shown that the vitamin D receptor plays a crucial role in the maturation of the hair follicle5,6.

If your vitamin D levels fall short (low sun exposure, poor diet), your facial hair follicles may have a harder time to spew out androgenic-hair. 

Personally I noticed much stronger facial hair growth after I started taking high dose vitamin D supplement (10000 IU 3 times per week during winter), but this might be due to the fact that I live in Finland, and there’s rarely any sun out here in the winter months as I’m so close to the North-pole.

For most men living in Scandinavia and other low-light areas, vitamin D supplementation is crucially important. For someone living in Florida and spending much of their day outside, it’s likely not going to bring about similar benefits.

Ultimately though, the best way to find out is to have your vitamin D levels checked at a lab and adjust supplementation accordingly if necessary.

If you’re looking for quality Vit. D supplement, this is the one I’m taking.

2. Carnitine

opened supplement capsule

For many men, they do have high enough levels of testosterone and DHT, yet the beard is still not growing, and the peach fuzz hair isn’t converting to androgenic-hair.

What’s the issue?

Most likely, desensitized androgen receptors. Which can be caused by genetics (Asian men, for example, tend to have more copies of the human AR, leading to less sensitivity), or it can be caused by environmental factors.

One thing that is proven to help in activating dormant androgen receptors, is an amino acid supplement known by the name of L-Carnitine L-tartrate.

In two human studies, it has been shown that 2g/day of carnitine, resulted in significantly better density and sensitivity of the androgen receptors, in both sedentary and exercising subjects. The results were proven by actual muscle biopsies7,8.

Since the androgen receptor is essentially the “gate-keeper” in your facial hair follicles that lets the androgenic hormones (testosterone & DHT) in, increasing their sensitivity and sensitivity through carnitine supplementation could help to convert the beard vellus hairs to terminal hair.

This is the carnitine supplement I’ve used for some time.

3. Minoxidil (Rogaine)

man with thick dark beardChances are you might already be using minoxidil if you’re reading this, as in the beginning, it causes increased growth of the vellus hair.

And one of the most common questions I’ve seen from guys using Rogaine for their face is something like this:

I’m seeing lots of new long vellus hair on face, when will these turn terminal?

The answer is; usually in 3-12 months. And once they’ve turned terminal, they’re usually permanent as well.

But let’s take a step back real quick here.

If you don’t know what minoxidil is and how to use it for your facial hair, know that it’s a scalp hair-loss drug (prescription-free) that has been both anecdotally and scientifically proven to grow facial hair as well.

It’s not completely side-effect free, but safe enough for the FDA to have ruled it available over-the-counter. Anyhow, if you want to learn everything about minoxidil for facial hair, click this link to read our full article on it.

4. Mucuna Pruriens

mucuna pruriensMucuna is a relatively unknown herbal extract that has quite an array of evidence backing up its effects as a possible beard growth stimulating supplement.

The way it works is two-fold:

  • Firstly, Mucuna has been shown to increase testosterone levels in various animals and humans9–12.
  • Secondly, the L-Dopa compound in the herb has been identified as human androgen receptor co-activator protein13,14.

Due to its cheap price and research-backed benefits, Mucuna Pruriens is one of my all-time favorite supplements.

You can get a cheap, yet quality, standardized extract from Amazon.

5. Fix your Diet

potatoes on a basketNutrition is one of the most important factors when it comes to growing facial hair and boosting the hormones involved in converting your vellus beard into that thick terminal androgenic mane.

I have written an extremely detailed review of the best nutrition habits to follow for beard growth and androgen boost in my article here. The post also includes all the scientific-references to the claims below.

I also have a specific post about the foods that can help with facial hair growth.

But as a snippet, these couple bullet-points shall do for this article:

  • Don’t eat a fitness-bunny diet. Men on low-calorie diets tend to have lower androgens. The Catch-22 is that fat men also have lower androgens.
  • Eat enough carbs, testosterone and DHT production rely partly on glucose, and so does your thyroid hormones T3 and T4 (these are important for facial hair growth).
  • Eat medium fat, but make sure to limit polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and include more monounsaturated fats and saturated fats in their place.
  • Get some protein but not too much, protein malnutrition is bad for T & DHT, but so is protein excess.

I know some people are vegans, some are keto, some follow the latest hype; the carnivore diet, but for what it’s worth; research shows that for androgen optimization and therefore beard growth, the optimal macronutrient ratios are something close to this:

~20% protein ~25% fats ~55% carbohydrate.

6. Microneedling

derma rollerUtilizing a product called the Derma Roller can help stimulate circulation and increase the delivery of fresh blood – rich in nutrients and hormones – to the facial hair area.

So what is a Derma Roller?

Well, it’s basically this handle with a wheel that is filled with tiny needles. And yes, you do roll it around your face, causing small punctures to the surface of the skin.

The punctures are harmless (as long as you make sure to keep the Derma Roller clean), and they prompt the body to repair the damage.

This repairing process is what forces nutrients and hormones to the area, and increases the production of collagen and keratin in your cheeks as a result.

Currently, there are no studies which directly look at microneedling for facial hair growth.

The only evidence we have is a 2013 study which found that microneedling the scalp resulted in the new growth of hair.

The researchers conclude15:

Microneedling works by stimulation of stem cells and inducing activation of growth factors.

7. Patience and your Age

little boy getting a shaveAs I have written in my previous articles about “how long does it take to grow a beard” and “teenager beard growth“, you need to have some patience if you’re still under your 20’s.

Even though facial hair growth usually starts during puberty, most men actually see the most increases in their natural beard growth rate in their 20’s and 30’s.

If you’re well beyond puberty by now, consider using all the six steps above to increase the conversion from thin vellus hair beard into thick terminal hairs…

…But if you’re still in your teens, relax and don’t rush it. Take some time and see if you’re able to pull off a full beard naturally in the future before stressing about stuff like this.

Conclusion on Vellus Hair to Terminal Hair Conversion

I hope these seven steps helped you out and you can finally turn that peach fuzz beard into thicker darker hairs.

Some years ago I was desperately seeking information on this topic online, only to find that nobody really writes or seems to know anything about it. There was also a lot of misinformation on various forums about some men claiming to “not having the follicles” etc.

So hopefully this post answered some of your burning questions, it took quite some time to write and compile.

As always, thanks for reading and keep on beardin’,

1.
Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011;43(3):223-225.
2.
Bischoff-Ferrari H, Orav E, Dawson-Hughes B. Additive benefit of higher testosterone levels and vitamin D plus calcium supplementation in regard to fall risk reduction among older men and women. Osteoporos Int. 2008;19(9):1307-1314.
3.
Diamond T, Smerdely P, Kormas N, Sekel R, Vu T, Day P. Hip fracture in elderly men: the importance of subclinical vitamin D deficiency and hypogonadism. Med J Aust. 1998;169(3):138-141.
4.
Nimptsch K, Platz E, Willett W, Giovannucci E. Association between plasma 25-OH vitamin D and testosterone levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(1):106-112.
5.
Amor K, Rashid R, Mirmirani P. Does D matter? The role of vitamin D in hair disorders and hair follicle cycling. Dermatol Online J. 2010;16(2):3.
6.
Aoi N, Inoue K, Chikanishi T, et al. 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 modulates the hair-inductive capacity of dermal papilla cells: therapeutic potential for hair regeneration. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012;1(8):615-626.
7.
Kraemer W, Spiering B, Volek J, et al. Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(7):1288-1296.
8.
Kraemer W, Volek J, French D, et al. The effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(3):455-462.
9.
Yamada T, Nakamura J, Murakami M, et al. Effect of chronic L-dopa administration on serum luteinizing hormone levels in male rats. Toxicology. 1995;97(1-3):173-182.
10.
Gupta A, Mahdi A, Ahmad M, et al. A proton NMR study of the effect of Mucuna pruriens on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011;55(5):1060-1066.
11.
Shukla K, Mahdi A, Ahmad M, Shankhwar S, Rajender S, Jaiswar S. Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Fertil Steril. 2009;92(6):1934-1940.
12.
Prasad S, Qureshi T, Qureshi S. Mucuna pruriens seed powder feeding influences reproductive conditions and development in Japanese quail  Coturnix coturnix japonica. Animal. 2009;3(2):261-268.
13.
Wafa L, Palmer J, Fazli L, et al. Comprehensive expression analysis of L-dopa decarboxylase and established neuroendocrine markers in neoadjuvant hormone-treated versus varying Gleason grade prostate tumors. Hum Pathol. 2007;38(1):161-170.
14.
Margiotti K, Wafa L, Cheng H, Novelli G, Nelson C, Rennie P. Androgen-regulated genes differentially modulated by the androgen receptor coactivator L-dopa decarboxylase in human prostate cancer cells. Mol Cancer. 2007;6:38.
15.
Dhurat R, Sukesh M, Avhad G, Dandale A, Pal A, Pund P. A randomized evaluator blinded study of effect of microneedling in androgenetic alopecia: a pilot study. Int J Trichology. 2013;5(1):6-11.

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