We get it. You’ve made the important decision to grow a beard, a decision that is not to be taken lightly. Perhaps a friend has grown one and talked to you at length about its many virtues, including more second (or lingering) glances of women he’d like to know better.
Perhaps he’s told you that a beard could make you look like more of a bad-ass, and being the man you are, the light bulb goes from dim to bright in a nano-second with that very phrase. Maybe you’ve imagined yourself with a beard for a long, long time.
Now that you’ve decided to go for it, however, and have started the beard-growing process, you’ve realized that there’s more to it than meets the eye. You realize a lot of things, in fact, including that it requires some patience. No, making the decision to grow a beard doesn’t mean you’ll have that eye-catching growth of facial hair by the weekend when you’re dying to test it out on potential admirers.
Ah, patience. We all have it, but often it asks a lot of us, especially when you’re making an important change to the who-you-are, like growing a beard on a face that has for all, or most of your life, been shaven clean. It’s how people know you. You’ve played the same hand forever, but now you’re adding a wild card to the mix. Now you’re wondering, “How long is this going to take? When will I have the full beard, at the length I desire, that I’ve been hoping for?”
Let us talk a little about the process while perhaps easing the anxiety – and lack of patience – which comes with your big decision. Of course, you’re not alone. Others, many, many others, have journeyed the very same ground, waiting for the magic day when you wake up, look in the mirror, and see that fully-bearded, irresistible beard to which you’ve committed time and energy.
1. The 3 Phases of Hair Growth
How long to grow a beard? Typically two to six months for a normal beard. There, that basically answers it, but now you may be wondering, why so long? Why not sooner? Which, in turn, leads us to the hair growing cycle that occurs not just on your face, but on your entire body. Every single hair goes through this process, and it consists of three phases:
This is the most important phase of all when it comes to hair growth, and it’s the phase in which your beard will grow the most. This can take two months, and beyond, but how the anagen phase clicks for you is dependent on genetics as much as anything. If it’s in your genes to grow hair faster than other men, then a bit of luck is on your side. If it takes longer? Well, that’s DNA, too. Relax. Slow growth doesn’t mean you’re an ineffectual male by any means. In fact, the anagen phase for head hair can last anywhere from two to six years. Again, be patient brother.
This is the phase when your hair stops growing and, quite frankly, doesn’t do a whole helluva lot. It embeds into your skin and just sort of sits there for a few months.
This is the new beginning, so to speak, when a new hair is born that pushes the old hair follicle out of your skin. It brings you back to the anagen phase, and the entire cycle begins anew.
An important thing to remember during the telogen phase is that there’s no reason for alarm when hair is falling off. Only a few will actually drop off, while the rest will grow and continue through the different phases.
2. And Now, Some Tips
Let’s say that you haven’t actually started to grow your beard but the decision to do so has been made. Let’s say you’ve decided that you’re going to start next Monday. What do you do when Monday comes around? That’s simple: you stop shaving completely. Yes, not to be Captain Obvious here, but that’s it – put down your razor. Put it down for at least the first four weeks of growth. A common rookie mistake would be to give in to temptation and start shaping and sculpting your beard way too early in the process. Give it four weeks, not four days. Otherwise, you’ll probably cut off more than you wanted without letting your beard hairs really evolve as they should during the growing phase.
What to do after four weeks? Here are some handy tips:
The Neck Line
Commence with shaping and sculpting by starting first at the neckline. This is the area along the bottom of your beard around the neck. This can be tricky, and may best be handled by a professional barber/stylist.
If you decide to do it, first use a beard trimmer to trim it down the unwanted hair, define the neck line, and then banish the remaining stubble by using a razor or electric shaver.
The Cheek Line
The cheek line is the upper limit of the beard on the cheeks. To be honest, it’s best not to do anything with this; just let it grow natural without worrying about shaving or sculpting it. Shaving the cheeks into unusual shapes can turn Excellent Beard into Mortifying Beardless time than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 meters. The only reason to shave or sculpt this part of your beard if it’s starting creep up toward your eyes.
The Beard Oil
By this point, you should strongly consider applying beard oil. Better yet, start applying a few drops on day one and slowly continue to add more as your beard grows longer. Beard oil will also make your bearded days itchless, healthy-looking and more manageable – among other benefits.
3. Staying Committed
A few words about staying on the path and honoring your commitment to no matter how long it takes (to grow a beard). First, don’t let itching knock you off-course. Your facial skin merely is adapting to the new growth during the early phases and can grow dry and itchy. Keep it moist with beard oil while shampooing it often to keep the skin underneath clean.
Something else that can help you stay strong – set a target date, say six weeks from when you first begin growing the beard and only then decide if you’re going to keep the beard or abandon it. Do not reach for your razor anytime before then!
4. How Long Will It Grow (Length, that is)?
The average beard, if left untouched, will grow three feet long. Some may grow longer, but the only way to really know is to let it grow and see what happens. You’ll know that your beard has completed its growth phase until hairs start falling out of it. When long hairs begin to shed from your beard without you tugging or pulling on it, or brushing them out, it’s safe to say that it has reached its maximum length. Of course, you may not want a three-foot beard, but you get the idea.
One thing to note, however, is that not all hairs have the same lifespan in the anagen phase. Some will fall out while others will continue to grow. So, don’t be alarmed by a few stray hairs falling out. If you’re noticing more hairs than usual, however, then your beard has probably reached its full length.
5. Keep It Healthy and Growing Strong
Growing the epic beard that you deserve can become a reality by making a few adjustments in your lifestyle. For one, maintaining a healthy diet will ensure that your facial hair is getting the proper nutrients it needs. Also, limit your stress, because stress can stunt hair growth (among other things). Finally, if you smoke, then you’re going to have a harder time reaching your beard potential, as well as damaging your health in several hundred ways. Smoking, for one, is bad for your circulation, and your hair, like anything else, needs the proper blood flow to grow its best.
How long will it take for your beard to grow fully? Again, that depends on factors such as genetics, and even maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The key is to be patient. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your beard won’t be built in a week. Put the razor down, sit back and relax, and let your beard do its thing.