Growing a beard is pretty much the final milestone on your way to manhood. You spend your formative years looking up to bearded wizards like Ernest Hemingway, Chuck Norris, and Obi Wan Kenobi fully expecting to one day join their ranks. Then you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and see . . . patches? No one ever said there’d be patches!
The cold, hard truth is that not all beards are created equal. For every Galifianakis, there are at least a dozen sad, scruffy Keanus out there. If you find yourself on the splotchier end of the facial hair spectrum, don’t worry. The good news is that facial hair growth can only get better with time for most young guys (sorry, old-timers). And though there’s no magic potion for miraculously filling in the gaps and growing a full-fledged beard overnight, there are ways to work with what you’ve got.
Let It Grow Chances are, you’ve never given your beard the opportunity to flourish. Once those first patches pop up after a week or two, you go straight for the razor. We dubbed it The Stubble Cycle, and it does nothing but keep you in perpetual state of patchiness. Try this: the next time you feel the urge to clean shave your stubble, don’t. Give yourself at least a month. It’ll be hard. It’ll be itchy. But there’s no other way to reach your mug-rug potential than by letting your face run free. Once you’ve let your follicles spread their wings, assess the situation. Tidy up your neck and shape your jawline. If everything is satisfactory, congratulations, you have a beard. If you look like Wooly Willy, it’s time to move on to our next tactic.
Master the Short Game So you went whole hog and patches are still a problem? No worries, the lumberjack look is overrated anyways. Try opting for a more refined five o’clock shadow, a la Tom Ford. It’s shorter than a beard, but not quite stubble. Start by investing in a quality beard trimmer with an adjustable length setting. Trim your beard after a few day’s growth, and really focus on shaping your jawline and cheeks. Both should be nice and clean (and definitely not too high). Patches will be less noticeable, and you’ll have enough facial hair to earn yourself some grooming street cred.
Brush It Hear us out. If your facial hair tends to be unruly, give it a good brushing or use a comb to control the direction of your growth. We’re not saying sit in front of the mirror and give your beard 100 strokes before bed. Just work it enough to even things out and fill in the not-so dense areas. Go against the grain for a fuller effect. And remember to use conditioner! A lush beard is a happy beard. Avoid shampooing too often; that’ll dry things out and leave your beard brittle. The hair on your face is just as important as the hair on your head, so treat it the same.
Supplements Honestly, don’t bother. The science behind most supplements is dicey, and the results are inconsistent. Biotin has been a go-to remedy for hair loss and guys hoping to fill out their beards, but there’s no data to actually confirm that it works. Besides, Biotin is naturally found in foods such as eggs, carrots, and milk, so you’re better off focusing on maintaining a well-balanced diet to promote healthy hair growth.
Facial Hair Transplant Nah.
Embrace It Sometimes patchy isn’t so bad. If the whole package looks sharp, then a patchy beard can add an element of ruggedness. Just take a look at Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal and his rakish ‘stache/stubble combo. Or Bob Dylan circa Nashville Skyline. Or Bruce Springsteen in his prime. Or Johnny Depp, he’s cool! After all, nothing looks better than breaking the rules.