Actually, the relationship between beard growth and testosterone is a little more detailed than that - and a whole lot more interesting. Let’s dig in…
It’s a word that we hear and use pretty regularly. But what actually is it?
Testosterone is a hormone, which is a chemical substance made inside your body to help and control the way cells and organs go about their work.
Testosterone is a sex hormone and is typically associated with masculinity. When a dude reaches puberty, testosterone production ramps up and everything gets bigger - height, muscles, vocal folds (making a deeper voice) and of course sexual organs.
Not just men have testosterone. Women naturally produce it also, but in smaller quantities - hence the reason women typically don’t grow beards.
Fun fact: testosterone sends signals about sexual desire to your testes, but does the same to a woman’s ovaries.
Testosterone governs not just sex drive and sperm, but muscle size and strength, bone density, fat levels, red blood cells, and of course… facial hair and body hair.
There’s a steroid in testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This stuff has specific control over how hair grows all over you. How much or little DHT you have inside you is programmed into your genetic blueprint.
What’s also programmed is how your skin and follicles respond to DHT’s effects. So a thin beard isn’t necessarily a sign of low testosterone.
So if your beard grows thickly/sparsely, you can thank/blame your family predecessors. Your ethnic genetic background has a lot to do with this as well. For example, many Asian men don’t grow heavy beards or much body hair, while some from a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean background grow whiskers and body hair like the thickest broom.
We know that for some guys, the wait for a beard to grow in full and meaty can feel like an eternity. But, alas, nobody can do anything about time and genes.
The good news is that for most guys, over time the speed of facial hair growth evens out to roughly a half inch per month. So in 6 months it’s possible to have a good 3 inches of growth, which can be enough to fill the gaps in some patchy-looking beards.
Have you ever seen a dude wearing a t-shirt with an arrow pointing up to his head and the words “It’s not a bald patch - it’s a solar panel for a love machine”? It’s funny, but there’s a tiny grain of truth in it.
That’s because DHT is a double-edged sword. Loads of testosterone enhances strength, speed, aggression, a strong sex drive and thick facial hair. But a build-up of DHT also frequently causes a receding hairline and baldness.
This is why bald guys can grow big honking beards. The more DHT, the thicker a beard may grow (but not necessarily longer).
From adolescence, some guys might develop a thin, fluffy hint of a mustache along with a few stray chin hairs.
In their early 20s, some with higher testosterone levels might develop full beards. Others might have to wait a bit longer for their full forest to flourish.
But from their 30s to 50s, pretty much every man is at their beard-growing peak. As we said above, testosterone levels and genetics determine just how much of a beard grows.
While you can’t change your genetics, your lifestyle and general health can play an important role in keeping your beard as thick, healthy and lustrous as it can be.
If you have clinically low T, your doctor might prescribe supplements. (You can’t get them over the counter.) But there’s no guarantee a supplement will help boost your body’s production of DHT, which controls your beard hairs.
Sure, anabolic steroids can boost testosterone and promote hair and muscle growth. But they have huge health risks and nasty side-effects – high blood pressure, heart attack risk, blood clots, artery damage, ‘roid rage, acne, shrunken testes, reduced sperm and so on. Steroids also interfere with your body’s natural production processes, making you become dependent on the drug for getting testosterone flowing at all.
It’s a total myth that shaving will make your beard grow out again faster or thicker. Here's more info on that: Does Shaving Your Beard Really Make it Grow Faster?
We blogged about this. The jury is out because it’s designed for head hair, not facial hair. Besides, you have to keep using it, which gets expensive. As soon as you stop, the effects reverse themselves.
Science has shown that there is no link at all between testosterone levels and beard length.
In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t make anything else longer either 😎
Even if you can’t do much about your testosterone and your beard’s thickness, chin up! Because a healthy and well-groomed beard looks thicker. So, look after your whiskers and your skin:
Whatever your testosterone situation, my man, you can still grow and maintain a beard worthy of renown. Look after it well. Look after yourself well. And shape it and trim it to a style that truly brings out your rugged best!
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