Many men – when growing beard for the first time – notice that their facial hair is patchy, (especially on the cheek area which has weaker circulation) just like Keanu’s on the image above.
The purpose of this article is to teach you how to naturally fix your problems with sparse facial hair, hopefully forever.
We are also going to look into making sure that the beard styles and trimming methods you’re doing suit your patchy beard, that is, while it still grows in patches.
These are the question this article answers:
- Why is my facial hair patchy and will my beard ever fill in?
- How to fix patchy beard and make it fill in naturally over-time?
- How can I make my beard thicker naturally?
- Patchy beard styles for covering and minimizing the bald spots.
Table of Contents
- Why is My Beard a Patchy Mess?
- Infographic: 10 Methods to Fix a Patchy Beard Naturally
- 1. Patchy Beard Secret: Minoxidil
- 2. Eat Like a King
- 3. Fix your Mineral and Vitamin Intake
- 4. Derma Roller to Promote Thickness
- 5. Activate Androgen Receptors
- 6. Sleep your Beard Thicker
- 7. Minimize Estrogen Exposure & Levels
- 8. Exfoliate, Stimulate & Massage Follicles
- 9. Drink Some Coffee
- 10. Nicotine Preserves DHT Levels
- Best Styles for Sparse and Patchy Beard
Why is My Beard a Patchy Mess?
Like said, this is a pervasive problem, and especially on the area of the cheeks.
There are few scientific reasons as to why peach fuzz beard and thin facial hair happens.
The most common of the sparse facial hair causes is that the cheek area has significantly weaker blood flow than the area of the upper lip and chin.
Meaning that over time fewer nutrients and beard growing hormones (testosterone and DHT) make it to the cheek area, resulting in beard patches and thinner facial hair on the cheeks.
Another explanation is that your overall levels of androgens (testosterone and DHT) might be on the lower end.
Meaning that the supply isn’t enough to trigger facial hair growth in the full beard area.
Common characteristics of men with the lower amount of male hormones are indeed a thin beard, growth only on chin and mustache area, or no facial hair at all.
There’s also the issue of the androgen receptor (which we look much more closer below).
Mainly based on your genetics and some other factors which you might be able to influence, the receptor sites in your facial hair follicles that “receive” the hormonal growth signals might not be active enough to trigger beard growth.
(The human androgen receptors – or lack of their sensitivity – is the reason why Asian men struggle with beard growth).
This video explains it quite well:
Will my beard ever fill in then?
You may have heard people saying that it’s all in the genetics and there’s nothing that can be done to fix a patchy beard. However, there are several research-backed ways to increase natural beard growth rate.
Infographic: 10 Methods to Fix a Patchy Beard Naturally
1. Patchy Beard Secret: Minoxidil
Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine), is hands down the number #1 secret to fixing a patchy beard.
It’s the popular scalp-hair loss drug that’s available without a prescription, and hundreds of clinical trials have confirmed that the active ingredient when applied to the scalp, grows more hair.
It works by opening potassium channels, which causes hyperpolarization of the beard follicle cells, which rushes in nutrient and hormone-rich blood through significantly improved local circulation.
Aside from this, minoxidil also boosts the size of the hair follicle shaft, increases the diameter of the actual hair root, and encourages the follicles to shift from the resting phase to the active growth phase.
So if minoxidil does all this to scalp hair, can it be used on face to fix a weak facial hair?
The answer is yes.
It has been confirmed by hundreds of anecdotal before and after pics from various beard forums; Minoxidil does grow the beard.
There’s also a Thai study where 3% topical minoxidil solution was able to “significantly increase” new hair growth on face.
Let’s say you will start using minoxidil, here’s a simple guide:
- Get yourself either Rogaine 5% or Kirkland 5% minoxidil.
- Apply 1-2ml twice per day to facial hair area. Leave for 4-hours.
- Do this for 6-12 months, and you WILL gain much more facial hair.
For more information about possible side-effects, more proof, and more detailed information about the actual mechanism of how minoxidil works, please read our ultimate guide to minoxidil for a beard.
2. Eat Like a King
No, I’m not here to give you the usual BS you see in articles like this.
You know, the “drink more water, eat more protein and salad” sort of fart-winds.
Fact is that you can significantly increase testosterone levels and DHT levels to force thicker beard growth, by manipulating your daily nutrition habits.
How? Let me break it down:
2.1 Dietary Fats
Try eating more saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (meat, coconut oil, dairy, olive oil, butter) and less polyunsaturated fatty-acids (vegetable oils, fast food & frying oils, canola, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, and processed margarine).
There is a gigantic pile of scientific proof that shows very clearly how men who switch from vegetable fats to animal fats, see massive increases in their testosterone and DHT levels, aka the beard stimulating male sex hormones.
How much fat did you ask? Research suggests that 20-35% of daily calories is optimal for androgenic hormone production.
It’s all the rage right now to go to “war against carbohydrates” which is pretty bonkers, considering how vital glucose and fructose (to what all carbs eventually break down to) is for the optimal functions of the cells and neurons.
Again, there’s a mounting pile of clinical data which suggests that the more carbs you eat, the higher your testosterone and DHT levels will go.
The effect is even stronger in active people, who seem to benefit even more from high carb consumption and suffer even more from low-carb diets.
Here’s a nicely explained review of the scientific evidence, and to pick a vital study out from there that directly relates to beard growth and fixing patchy facial hair, we can see that Anderson et al. found how higher-carb, lower-protein diets compared to higher-protein, lower-carb diets resulted in significantly higher DHT (the hormone that promotes linear beard-growth), and testosterone (the hormone that controls beard growth rate and primes facial hair follicles).
We at Beard Resource follow and recommend every man interested in boosting their beard growth rate to get roughly 50-70% of their daily calories from carbohydrates; potatoes, fruit, pressed fruit juice, and dark berries.
As you might already guess from the above subheading, protein is possibly the least important macronutrient for beard growth optimization.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat it at all! Since chronic protein-malnutrition has been shown to wreck your hormonal health, and the keratin and collagen that builds the hair shaft and roots, depend on protein.
However, you might want to keep your protein intake at moderate amounts, just enough to fuel your muscles and hair roots, but not too much that it would interfere with optimal hormone production.
Recommended reading: 12 Foods that Boost Beard Growth.
The optimal for fixing patchy facial hair seems to land somewhere between 15-25% of daily calories. If you practice heavy-weightlifting, you might want to bump this up to 30%, but by all means, that should be the max if you’re not looking to worsen the sparse facial hair problem.
3. Fix your Mineral and Vitamin Intake
To fill in your patchy beard spots and finally make that beard grow thicker naturally, you want to optimize your micronutrient intake.
Above, you learned about the importance of macronutrients (protein, carb, fat), and to finalize your knowledge of beard nutrition; it’s essential that you understand the critical role that micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) play in the big picture of beard follicle health.
In a perfect World, you would get all the beard boosting fat-soluble vitamins; A, E, D, and K2 from the foods you eat.
However, with the modern food processing and factory farming, the levels of these vitamins in our food sources have dropped dramatically.
Also in a perfect World, you would get plenty of the water-soluble vitamins like C and the whole B-complex, but since traditional foods like liver are almost completely forgotten, and people eat less whole fruits than ever, most people end up deficient in these critical vitamins as well.
Lastly, if all things would be optimal, your body would be filled with DHT and testosterone boosting beard hugging minerals like zinc, magnesium, boron, selenium, and iodine.
However, power-farming and depletion of the soils mineral content, has caused massive reductions in the availability of these important minerals from the foods sitting in our grocery store shelves.
The simple fix?
High-quality multivitamin. I mean really, a good one, which has the micronutrients in a good and correct amount in the most bio-available form.
4. Derma Roller to Promote Thickness
I’ve talked about the benefits of micro-needling the beard a couple of times earlier on this website.
The idea is simple, and recently there have even been scientific studies conducted on the subject.
So how it works is you get yourself a product called Derma Roller, which is a wheel with tiny needles you often see women use in spa commercials.
You then use the Derma roller on your facial hair area 2-4 times per week to puncture tiny wounds into the skin.
Derma roller doesn’t hurt or cause any scars, but it’s enough to trick the body into sending hormone and nutrient-rich blood to the area to repair the damage.
During micro-needling your follicles will get a boosted influx of keratin and collagen proteins, which can possibly thicken the facial hair.
The trick is to combine microneedling with already optimized diet and minoxidil use. It’s like a triple whammy to make your beard thicker over time.
There’s a study about this, although it was conducted on scalp-hair.
“Microneedling works by stimulation of stem cells and inducing activation of growth factors.” – INT J TRICHOLOGY. 2013
5. Activate Androgen Receptors
Let’s say that you’ve fixed your diet & micronutrient intake to stimulate natural testosterone and DHT production.
You’ve also started micro needling + using minoxidil to promote blood flow and stimulate the facial hair follicles for growth.
What more can you do to guarantee that you will get rid of your patchy beard and turn it into a thicker mane naturally?
The answer is; natural activation of the facial androgen receptor sites.
What the heck even is an androgen receptor?
Well, it’s a crucial gate-keeper in determining how fast human beard growth occurs, or whether it occurs at all.
Before the androgenic beard growing hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone can have any impact on your body, they need to go from the bloodstream into the DNA of the cell.
To achieve this, your muscle tissues, skin cells, hair follicles, and so forth are all filled with something called; androgen receptors.
As the name implies, they are there to receive the hormone into the cell. If the hormones are the key, the androgen receptors are the lock.
Even if you have many keys, but the locks don’t work, you will open no doors, which in this case translates to having no actual effects on the body.
“How to increase the sensitivity and density of the androgen receptors in the facial hair area?”
- Explosive resistance training: Studies have shown us that trained men have significantly higher amounts of active androgen receptors in their tissues and that different types of resistance exercises lead to different amounts of androgen receptor activation. What seems to be the most effective, are short bouts of intense lifting activating multiple muscles at the same time, such as deadlift, squat, chin-ups, overhead press, and dips.
- Mucuna Pruriens: This is a relatively unknown herbal extract that contains the precursor (L-Dopa) of the hormone; dopamine. It has been shown to increase testosterone levels and reduce the stress hormone cortisol, but more importantly, L-Dopa acts as a co-activator protein for the androgen receptors.
- Forskolin: This is another herbal extract that isn’t too well known for its hormonal effects. However, there’s some evidence suggesting that not only may it increase testosterone production through cAMP activation, it can also activate androgen receptors through an enzyme called protein-kinase-A (PKA).
- Carnitine: L-carnitine is an amino acid commonly found in meats and muscle tissue. Interestingly enough, supplementation with carnitine tartrate has been found in two studies to increase the number of active androgen receptors at rest and even more in exercising subjects. The researchers went even as far as studying actual muscle biopsies to prove this effect.
6. Sleep your Beard Thicker
Sleep is essential to everything in life.
Skimp on it, and you are going to see the effects soon.
How does this apply in fixing a patchy beard though?
Easy; testosterone. The master hormone behind facial hair growth.
In a Chinese study, 531 test subjects were sleep restricted by one hour; their testosterone levels dipped by 15% on average.
A smaller study with older men saw that the man sleeping for ~8 hours per night had almost the double of the testosterone of men who slept closer to ~4 hours per night.
When young students were sleeping for only five hours per night in a study by Leproult et al. there was a significant drop in their 24-hour testosterone profile, take a look at the image below to see the difference.
7. Minimize Estrogen Exposure & Levels
Estrogen is often labeled as the female hormone.
- Estrone (E1).
- Estradiol (E2).
- Estriol (E3).
Despite the fact that it’s clearly indicated as a hormone of women and feminine effects & traits, men still have it too.
Most of it is made from testosterone when an enzyme called aromatase converts it.
Some get into our bodies through the food source, from tap-water, plastics, and xenoestrogenic chemicals.
Essential to patchy beard correction is eliminating exposure to estrogenic compounds and Lowering aromatase.
How do you do that?
- Lower bodyfat as it increases aromatase enzyme.
- Limit the use of plastics containing estrogenic parabens & phthalates.
- Don’t overeat on estrogenic foods; soy, licorice, alfalfa, and flaxseeds.
- Eat antiestrogenic foods; citrus fruit, mushrooms, oysters, dark berries.
- Vitamin E increases testosterone and is a direct estrogen receptor antagonist.
- Switch to natural personal care items to reduce xenoestrogen burden.
8. Exfoliate, Stimulate & Massage Follicles
The best way to activate dormant facial hair follicles is the minoxidil mentioned in the beginning.
You can, however, assist the process by a couple of other tricks.
First is by getting an exfoliating scrub and using it a couple of times per week.
Proper scrubbing removes dead skin cells and other blockages from the beard follicles, while also enhancing circulation in the area.
Next would be brushing; a quality beard brush is a great way to stimulate the facial hair area and keep the patchy beard you have in tidy condition.
Lastly; your face is full of muscles – muscles with androgen receptors – which you can stimulate with fresh blood by regularly massaging the area.
The above points are entirely anecdotal – no studies whatsoever – but all three were crucial factors in my own beard growth routine (which is reasonably well explained here).
9. Drink Some Coffee
Coffee is something you wouldn’t expect could ever be making your beard thicker.
It just might though – slowly.
There are many reasons to why I think coffee is a beard thickening agent.
Coffee is ridiculously dense in antioxidants.
Studies suggest that coffee provides more antioxidant polyphenols through diet than any other food group.
Moving on; coffee and caffeine increase testosterone levels, dose-dependently in most cases.
Coffee may promote thyroid hormone secretion, which is a crucial hormone in regulating many growth factors of the human body, including hair, nail, and beard growth.
Coffee slows down the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which is a secondary messenger molecule between cells and hormones.
Have I mentioned already about a hundred times that these are the key beard growth & stimulation hormones?
The only drawback of coffee is that it can also increase the stress hormone cortisol, which in excess is no Bueno.
However, you can quickly reduce the cortisol spiking effects of coffee by adding in sugar, cream, and a tiny pinch of salt.
10. Nicotine Preserves DHT Levels
DHT is roughly 10x more androgenic in its effects than testosterone.
Androgenic effects (from the Greek word “Andro”, meaning man) include things like: deep voice, masculine features, and the growth of body & facial hair.
It’s likely that DHT has a far stronger effect in stimulating facial hair growth than testosterone alone.
After all, DHT is the most androgenic hormone, and beard is androgenic hair.
(Although one can never forget that without T there’s no DHT, as the latter is a metabolite of the former).
Which brings us to nicotine.
It has been shown in a cell-culture study, that nicotine and a metabolite of it called contine, can suppress the enzymes that break DHT down into 3a-diol, which is a weaker hormone that doesn’t do much in terms of facial hair growth.
Higher nicotine exposure might explain why tobacco smokers tend to have higher DHT levels than non-smoking men.
Do whatever you want with this information.
I’m not suggesting you to start smoking tobacco to fix a patchy beard if you never smoked before, but perhaps some pre-workout nicotine gum wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Nicotine gum boosts workout performance and doesn’t come with the harmful effects of tobacco chemicals and carcinogenic smoke.
Best Styles for Sparse and Patchy Beard
Until your beard fills in, you may want to know what are the best styles for patchy facial hair to make beard appear fuller and thicker.
A goatee is a classic one, and it’s often used by the men who can’t grow hair on their cheeks so well.
If you want to maintain a more fuller style and have some hair on the cheeks too, try trimming the hair to be the same length all-around the facial hair area.
Lastly, use a brush to tame the hair downwards, and something like castor oil to your beard to make it appear thicker.
One option is also to just roll with it, let the beard grow at its own phase despite the bald spots, much like Keanu Reeves does. This style might look odd at first, but it’s also rugged and perfectly acceptable.
The bottom line is that there are many styles to choose from, and depending the sizes and placements of your beard patches; different styles will suit different people.
Conclusion on How to Fix Patchy Beard Naturally
Well, I hope this article helped you learn the methods to finally fix you patchy facial hair and turn it into a thick mane of mythical proportions.
Again, it all comes down to fixing your androgenic hormones; we are after gaining more androgenic hair here.
after the androgens (T & DHT) circulate in proper amounts around the bloodstream, you merely need to activate the receptors to sprout out more facial hair.
The ten methods below, they all help + there’s plenty of more here.