The Struggles of Growing a Full Beard, and How to Overcome Them

Growing a beard for most men can be somewhat of a struggle. With patchiness, peer pressure to shave, or simply not accepting one's beard for what it is, a man growing out a beard has a lot of reasons to stop growing one.

In this article, I'll lay out some of the problems and struggles that go with growing a beard and some tips on how to get through them. Some of these struggles could also be considered foundations to growing out a beard.

If you're yet to grow out your beard due to things like patchiness or indecision, keep reading. Things may not be as bleak as they seem.

Growing out a beard takes more time than the average person realizes. Sure, there are those that are truly blessed and can grow a full, thick mane in just a couple of months. But we need to remember that this is not the norm, it's the exception.

When we talk about time in the beard-growing world, we don't mean just four or five months. We're talking at least a year. Beyond that year, beards still improve with time, even if you're not particularly wanting to grow out a long Gandalf-style beard.

It takes a lot of willpower to let a beard grow out for that long, but at the same time it's a necessary nuisance.

Slow Starters

Here's where time is one major factor. Depending on where you're at in the hair cycle, a portion of your facial hair may not even be growing during certain times. You'll need to wait it out and allow the hair to cycle back to the anagen phase.

As you may know, the longer your facial hair becomes, along with how much hair there is density-wise and the hair shaft's thickness, the fuller a beard will look. There are many now-bearded men out there that started off growing then-patchy beards, but let time take over. Over the course of a year or more, these men generally come back and are very happy with how the beard turned out in comparison to their initial expectations.

The hair that crops up later on in the beard growing struggle can help more than many people might think, but it's a waiting game.

Not Enough Hair?

Granted, if you're three months into growing a beard and you only have a mustache and some chin hair, exactly as I had at 25 years old, then you may need to change your expectations. It's out of the scope of this post, but there are many reasons as to why a person that should have the genetics for a beard doesn't grow one.

For those such people, using minoxidil for a year or longer may yield you the beard you thought you'd never be able to grow. But that's a year of dedication, and then another year to grow out the potential minoxidil gave you.

And for the sake of clarity, I used minoxidil to grow a full beard myself, so hopefully the credibility stays intact after mentioning being able to grow just a mustache and chin hair! I wrote a guide on minox over at Beard Profile, with some of my journey pictures shown at the end.

Having enough hair on your face is a major factor in achieving a full beard and a struggle for more men than not. Still, there are ways to help that and sometimes men misconstrue the amount they have for being too little, when they actually just need to read this article and realize their beard's potential.

Peer Pressure & Impulsiveness

The mixture of time, peer pressure from those telling you to shave, and your own impulsiveness is a huge determining factor in whether your beard journey comes to a halt or not.

A lot of the time during a new beard growing journey, family members and close friends that know you as clean shaved, or close to it, will comment that you should shave. These are the people that are closest to you, asking, telling, or joking about the fact that you are growing out a beard. The pressure is not easy to overcome, causing men to trim or shave, only to end up regretting it and starting all over again. That's more time during the awkward stages because of an impulsive decision.

Don't let the pressure of others change how you feel about your own beard. If you truly don't like it and have little hope in it becoming fuller with time, then growing a beard isn't going to happen. You'll eventually cave, because there's no motivation in growing something you're skeptical of. But if you're a guy that even remotely likes the way he looks with facial hair, don't stop growing. If you like how it looks when it's not grown out over time, you'll most likely appreciate the extra fullness you get if you have patience.

The pressure from those around us is tough to get past. Carve a neck line to make the beard appear intentional, and not look like you're simply too lazy to shave. Either shrug it off when comments come, or let the person know that you're intent on growing it out.

Awkward Stages

During every bearded man's growing journey, he'll experience at least one awkward stage. We individually perceive ourselves in a harsher light than those around us do. We see our own faces in the mirror every day, we know how we look and what we like — and don't like — about our appearance.

Sometimes a beard can look great, giving your face some extra definition and hiding imperfections you may have. Then it grows a little more. Doesn't look quite as good. We don't like it. It's awkward.

There are hairs doing whatever they want, not lying down or styling the way you need them to, making things look just not right. This is what causes a lot of guys to trim back down to where they liked the beard, thinking it won't get any better with time (or possibly not having the knowledge that it could). In this sense, trimming is fine and the beard still could improve regardless of the trim or not. But for those looking for that extra fullness, some length is required for the beard, so trimming down that length is not what we want.

Awkward stages are impossible to avoid, but you'll eventually get through them by letting them pass. Don't be tempted to shave or trim if your goal is to grow a full beard. It won't get any better that way and you'll only hit the awkward stage again.

If you want to grow out a full beard, you need to fully understand that it's a commitment. Don't let beard jokes, myths, and misrepresentations lead you to believe otherwise. I would take a guess and say that 100% of men, that are reading articles about growing fuller beards, care in some way about how they appear as a person. Sometimes, beards make us look worse, and the only way around it is taking the time to let them fill out.

You can't do that without commitment. You're growing out a beard, make sure you let it grow. Don't shave, don't trim with clippers, and rarely trim with a pair of small scissors. Remember, length is a big factor in a beard's overall fullness and can make facial hair tremendously more appealing. To yourself, and to others around you.

Commitment is a must for guys trying to grow out their beards, and it's a hard thing to do if you're not fully accepting of your beard and its journey ahead. This normally leads to the constant thought of shaving in the back of our minds, causing us to doubt that growing the beard is worth it. This needs to be acknowledged, and then discarded. You want the beard, so commit to growing it.

We should rarely trim our beards, especially in the first few months. If you need to trim, do so with a small pair of scissors to accurately snip the split ends that you might have. Snipping the splits early is best so that it doesn't travel up the hair shaft, requiring you to take more length off the hair. Catch them soon, snip them, and then move on.

Don't use electric clippers because the chances of mistakes increases as the beard lengthens. Take your time and do it right with a pair of scissors. Large ones aren't a good idea either, as you'll need the precision that the smaller ones can only offer.

You'll especially want to trim during the awkward stages, to “even out” the hair on the left and right sides of your face. Unless it looks drastically different, like one side being an inch longer than the other, don't trim. As humans we are not symmetrical, so some differences are completely natural. Many men grow more hair on one side of their face, or notice maybe their mustache or chin hair grows quickest. Everyone is different from one another, but nobody is symmetrical.

A lot of guys make the mistake of shaping their beards at only one or two weeks into growth; finding later that it isn't quite what they wanted, or they just messed up entirely and needed to restart the growing process. Be very sure that there is enough hair to start shaping the beard, otherwise you'll find yourself having to restart constantly, losing out on precious time that could be used to allow the hair to grow out.

For guys with blessed growth, it may take only about two to four weeks before shaping becomes feasible. For guys that need a little more of a push, it could take about two months.

So instead of shaping the entire beard, the neck line can be carved earlier than the cheek line (if you're doing a cheek line at all), as there's an easy rule of thumb for it: 1-2 finger-widths above your adam's apple, while the beard is still somewhat short. As it starts growing down with length, you can abandon lining it up and let the additional neck growth fill in the bottom of your beard.

With a carved neck line, growing your beard looks more intentional and you'll get fewer “forget to shave?” comments.

Another couple of deterrents to growing out your beard might be itching, and less commonly, dry skin. One thing you can do about both of these things is invest a few dollars into mixing your own beard oil, or by simply purchasing a pre-made oil on amazon.com.

The oil will help hydrate your face and its hair, softening the hair which is the cause of the itchiness. Dryness can also attribute to itching, and the oil will help with that. All you need is a few drops massaged into a washed and towel- or blow-dried beard (preferably slightly damp, so finish blow-drying after applying the oil).

Itching should be a rare problem at any stage of a beard's growth. Just remember to keep it moisturized.

At the end of the day, growing a beard requires making a decision and sticking with it.

If you want to grow a beard but are constantly trimming or impulsively shaving, you're not going to grow the beard you've been aiming for. Don't let excuses like itching get in your way when there are solutions to them.

There are going to be a few small struggles, but in the end it's worth it when you look in the mirror one day and suddenly think “wow.” And all it really takes is time and a little maintenance along with your daily hygiene routine.