Your facial hair on the chin grows in strong, same goes for the upper lip, but when you stop shaving and try to grow a beard for the first time, your cheeks end up resembling a baseball team; you know, nine on each side.
Well, you’re not alone. Millions of guys are desperate to find out the real patchy beard solutions, and who can blame you.
Most men just want to know how to fill in a patchy beard, and it’s annoying when you almost have what it takes to rock a full beard, but then fall short just a little bit because of sparse cheeks or beard bald spots.
And it doesn’t help that so many companies are now pushing their scammy beard growth enhancers to the market (most of which do absolutely nothing).
I know how it feels because I used to have thin facial hair myself.
Luckily, I did find multiple natural remedies for my sparse cheeks and was eventually able to learn exactly how to grow a thicker beard naturally.
Here are my own patchy beard before and after results:
In this article, you are going to learn the ten proven ways to fix a sparse & thin beard naturally, so that your beard doesn’t look like a bunch of pubes.
No fluff like in most of the other patchy beard articles you see online, just real methods that work and are backed by evidence.
We are going to figure out exactly what you can do to fill in your beard so you can finally get rid of those sparse areas and bald spots.
It will take some time, but not too long, the difference between the photos from left to right above is just about 14 months, and I wasn’t even doing all the ten steps on this list (it would have been much faster progress if I had).
Table of Contents
- What Causes Patchy Beard Growth
- How to Fix a Patchy Beard
- 1. Minoxidil is the Most Effective Beard Filler
- 2. Fighting Thin Beard with Nutrition
- 3. Fix your Mineral and Vitamin Intake
- 4. Derma Roll the Bald Spots
- 5. Activate your Androgen Receptors
- 6. Sleeping More Could Help Fill Beard Patches
- 7. Minimize Estrogen Exposure & Levels
- 8. The Surprising Benefits of Coffee
- 9. Carnitine for Fullness and Density
- 10. Castor Oil
- Bonus: DIY Beard Growth Oil for Patchy Beard
- Best Styles for Thin Facial Hair
What Causes Patchy Beard Growth
Weak and patchy beards are a common 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 them 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.
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 that beard growing you hoped.
Common characteristics of men with the lower amount of male hormones are indeed a thin beard, growing only on the chin and mustache area, or no facial hair at all.
Simply put, you can’t really grow a beard without testosterone and DHT, and you are going to grow one faster when your levels are higher.
Aside from androgenic hormones, your patchy beard can also be the result of inactive and dormant androgen receptors (which we look much more closer below).
The receptor sites in your facial hair follicles that “receive” the hormonal growth signals might not be active enough to grow the beard, even if you would have enough hormones in your blood.
(Sidenote: Did you know that the human androgen receptors – or lack of their sensitivity in this case – is the reason why Asian men struggle with beard growth).
Will my sparse 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 sparse beard naturally.
However, there are plenty of research-backed beard growth tips out there, more so even than the 10 mentioned here.
Without further introductions, let’s take a look at the patchy beard solutions.
How to Fix a Patchy Beard
1. Minoxidil is the Most Effective Beard Filler
If you’re looking for that one answer for what to use fill in a spotty beard, and refuse to do anything else, then pay close attention here.
Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine), is hands down the #1 patchy beard solution.
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 grows more hair by activating dormant receptors1.
Minoxidil works by opening potassium channels, which causes hyperpolarization of the beard follicle cells. This 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 (Here’s a full article about the beard growth stages).
So if minoxidil is so great for scalp-hair growth, can it be used on the face for beard growth?
The answer is yes, and you will certainly not be the first one to do so (there are at least 50,000+ men using it already, as explained in our minoxidil beard FAQ).
There’s also a Thai study where 3% topical minoxidil solution was able to “significantly and safely increase” new hair growth on face2.
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, routines, etc; please read our full “minoxidil for beard growth” article.
2. Fighting Thin Beard with Nutrition
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” unhelpful type of info.
Fact is that you can significantly increase testosterone levels and DHT levels to force stronger 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 is great for beard, 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 some evidence suggesting that men who switch from vegetable fats to animal fats, see big increases in their testosterone and DHT levels, aka. the hormones that make your beard patches fill naturally.
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 (read more about this in our beard growth foods guide).
The effect is even stronger on active people, who seem to benefit even more from high carb consumption and suffer even more from low-carb diets.
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-growth3), 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 filling the facial hair.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat it at all, since chronic protein-malnutrition has been shown to wreck your hormonal health4, 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.
The optimal for fixing sparse 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 maximum if you’re not looking to worsen the sparse facial hair problem.
3. Fix your Mineral and Vitamin Intake
To fill in your bald beard spots and finally make that beard less of a patchy mess, you may 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 (beard growth vitamins and minerals) play in the big picture of beard health and maintenance.
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 modern food processing and factory farming, the levels of these vitamins in our food sources have dropped dramatically.
Also if things were perfect, 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.
Personally, on top of trying to consume a diet that contains a variety of nutrients, I also supplement with Thorne’s 2 / Day Multivitamin, I think it’s the best-made one I’ve seen so far (this is not 100% necessary, but at least it helps to fill the gaps in your nutrition).
4. Derma Roll the Bald Spots
I’ve talked about the benefits of using a beard roller on 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 and such.
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 eventually help fill your facial hair.
The trick is to combine Derma rolling with already optimized diet and minoxidil use. It’s like a triple whammy to make your beard patches fill out over time.
There’s also a study that supports the use of Derma Roller for beard growth, although it was conducted on scalp-hair5.
“Microneedling works by stimulation of stem cells and inducing activation of growth factors.” – INT J TRICHOLOGY. 2013
5. Activate your 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 spotty beard and facial hair bald spots?
The answer is; natural activation of the facial androgen receptor sites.
What even is an androgen receptor though?
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 the androgen receptor.
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 tissues6 and that different types of resistance exercises lead to different amounts of androgen receptor activation7. What seems to be the most effective, are short bouts of intense lifting activating multiple muscles at the same time, such as the 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 receptors8.
- 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)9.
- 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 rest10 and even more in exercising subjects11. The researchers went even as far as studying actual muscle biopsies to prove this effect.
6. Sleeping More Could Help Fill Beard Patches
Sleep is essential to everything in life. Skimp on it, and you are going to see the effects soon.
How does this apply in filling bald beard spots 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 average12.
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 night13.
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 profile14, take a look at the image below to see the difference.
Since testosterone is the main hormone that controls your facial hair growth rate, thickness, and even the follicle diameter, it’s glaringly obvious that having your levels lowered will also harm your beard.
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 (despite having the opposite effects, testosterone is just one molecule away from estrogen).
Aside from natural conversion, some estrogen gets 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, which ensures that more testosterone is left to bind with androgen receptors.
How do you do that?
- Lower bodyfat as it increases aromatase enzyme15.
- Limit the use of plastics containing estrogenic parabens & phthalates16.
- 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 antagonist17.
- Switch to natural personal care items to reduce xenoestrogen burden.
8. The Surprising Benefits of Coffee
Coffee is something you wouldn’t expect could ever be helping you get rid of beard bald spots.
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 secretion18, 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.
In rats, chronic caffeine ingestion increases “androgenic stimuli,” testosterone by 68% and DHT by 57%19.
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.
9. Carnitine for Fullness and Density
I’ve tested hundreds of beard supplements over the years as part of my work in another site. When it comes to beard patches, carnitine seems to be doing something special.
The reason I started experimenting with this carnitine powder was that of these two studies:
- This one where carnitine supplementation was able to increase the density and sensitivity of androgen receptors in exercising subjects10.
- And this one where carnitine supplementation was able to increase AR sensitivity even in sedentary subjects11.
If you’re familiar with this website, you may already know how important androgen receptors are for facial hair growth; they are the “locks” that open the effects of androgenic hormones, which I like to see as “keys”.
Anyway, back to carnitine.
Every time I would use it, I would wake up the next morning and look at my stubble and notice that it always seemed thicker and darker. I thought back then that I was just imagining things, but then I took a long break from taking it, started over again later, and once again noticed the same thing.
(this was back when I hadn’t grown a full-beard yet).
I’m not sure if it’s purely because of the enhanced sensitivity of the facial hair receptors that causes this, or carnitine having some direct testosterone & DHT increasing effects, but I definitely like the beard growth results it gives.
Aside from its effect on androgen receptors, carnitine can also further help with beard growth by transporting more fatty acids to the hair follicle cells to be used as energy.
This was shown in a study by Foizik et al. where carnitine enhanced (scalp) hair growth through that exact mechanism. It’s likely that the same effect takes place in beard follicle cells as well.
If you want to give carnitine a shot, the studies above used 2g/day of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate. There’s also some naturally occurring carnitines in meat, but you’d have to eat a lot daily to get the 2 grams.
10. Castor Oil
So what makes castor oil so good for patchy beards?
The answer is within its ability to modulate the prostaglandins, increasing PGE2 (which is linked to increased hair growth, follicle stimulation, and vasodilation) and decreasing PGD2 (which is linked to suppressed hair growth and hair follicle miniaturization).
In other words, it’s a prostaglandin modulating natural beard thickener.
However, due to its consistency, it’s really hard to get any of the active ingredients into the hair follicle to have these great effects, it just isn’t permeable enough.
To make it more permeable, you can dissolve it in alcohol or some other carrier agent, I have a guide on how to do this on this “beard growth serum” article.
Castor oil is also really thick oil compared to many other oils, so using it as a beard oil will give you an instant beard thickening effect since it sticks to the facial hair and adds some mass to it.
Most other oils don’t have this effect, they are simply too thin and liquidy to make your beard look less patchy.
Bonus: DIY Beard Growth Oil for Patchy Beard
If you have some beard growth, chances are that you also use beard oil.
Well, instead of just buying normal beard oil that has no growth-stimulating components (usually they have high-PUFA oils that do the opposite)…
…You could also make your own DIY beard oil at home and save hundreds over the years.
This is what I’ve done for quite some time now.
I feel like I can make the best oils myself, and have come to despise the “beard growth” oils sold on big online retailers for their deceptive claims and $20-40 dropper bottles of olive oil, which claim 6x faster growth rates.
Before we get into the beard growth oil recipe, I want to say that the actual “growth stimulating” effect of the oil is marginal.
This is no minoxidil, but as daily beard oil, it can help a little to stimulate growth + it nourishes exceptionally well while providing a masculine scent.
So, here’s the recipe for the DIY beard patch growth oil:
- First, get an empty 1 oz. dropper bottle (or use any empty old beard oil bottle).
- 1/2 oz. Jojoba oil, it’s jojoba oil is great for beard, as it’s closest to the natural oils produced by the skin and has no known hormone-suppressing effects.
- 1/2 oz. Argan oil, which was found in one study to increase testosterone (orally consumed) by Moroccan men22.
- 4 drops spruce essential oil (this has a very masculine scent, and better, Dr. John Berardi ran some scientific experiments to find out that it increases testosterone).
- 4 drops balsam fir oil (similarly to blue spruce, Dr. Berardi found that balsam fir resulted in elevated testosterone levels).
Initially, everything on that list will seem quite expensive, but considering how long it last, you will be saving a ton of money compared to buying ready-made beard oils + you are in control what goes into yours.
You could also add in a little bit of castor oil (which might promote growth through prostaglandin E2 increase) and couple drops of vitamin D3 liquid (vitamin D plays a role in hair follicle maturation from thin vellus hair into stronger terminal hair23).
Best Styles for Thin Facial Hair
Until your beard fills in, you may want to know what are the best styles for patchy facial hair to make beard appear less patchy.
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 and make defined lines.
(Some other decent tips for making your beard appear less patchy can be found in this article by Men’s Health)
To help with your beard styling voyage, I suggest these posts…
- How to shape and sculpt a perfect beard.
- Best beard shaping tools and templates.
- Best beard bibs and trimming catchers.
- Best beard trimming scissors & best beard trimmers.
You could also use a beard brush to tame the hair downwards (our list of best beard brushes here), and something like castor oil to make your beard appear heavier.
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 beard styles to choose from, and depending the sizes and placements of your beard patches and bald spots; different styles will suit different people.
You can also just try to grow out the patchy beard to eventually fill it, depending on the degree of patchiness, it may be really effective.
Here’s a “one-year growing out patchy beard timelapse” by Drew’s Obsessions on YouTube, he documented his project really well, so make sure to subscribe to him and check out his other beard videos too:
Well, I hope this article helped you learn the methods to finally fix those beard bald spots and turn it into a 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.