Why do some men have patchy beards?

Why do some men have patchy beards? Or more specifically, why would some hair follicles lack sufficient 5-alpha reductase while others nearby don't when their genetic code is identical and they are both the same type of cell? (See below.)

(Though my actual question is more broad in nature, the answer to this particular example should give me what I'm looking for.) On this website ( explaining why some men grow patchy beards it says:

"When the dermal papillae of your beard follicles utilize testosterone, they actually metabolize it and create another androgen as a byproduct called dihydrotestosterone… To utilize testosterone and create dihydrotestosterone, your beard follicles need yet another substance, an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is necessary for this conversion, and if you have low levels of it, then you have low levels of dihydrotestosterone. More importantly to the topic at hand, if you don't have enough 5-alpha-reductase, the dermal papillae of your beard follicles can't properly use testosterone to tell your hair matrices to make hair. And if your beard hair matrices aren't making hair, you aren't growing a beard."

What it doesn't explain is why certain hair follicles have sufficient hormone (or enzyme to utilize it) and others don't.

Why is My Beard Patchy?

If there’s one thing men struggle with when growing a beard, it’s the headache that comes with battling patchy spots. Bald areas often appear on the cheeks, jawline and at the sides of the chin, and they can make an otherwise well-trimmed stubble look unkempt. While there are a number of factors as to why men have patchy beards, the good news is that there are ways to deal with this issue. But before delving into that, let’s find out why beards get patchy in the first place.

Common Patchy Beard Causes

We all learned the basics of this aspect of beard growth when we were teenagers…

In middle school and high school, we all knew kids who grew—or had to shave—a full beard whether they liked it or not, as well as kids who could barely grow a moustache if they tried.

Genetics are one of the biggest factors determining the thickness, length, and shape of our natural beards.

In fact, people are born with all of the hair follicles they’ll ever have.

As children, most of these follicles remain dormant, but as we hit puberty they begin to activate.

This may seem like bad news to people who have patchy beards. You may be feeling like growing a beard is impossible.

But this is actually good news. Some hair follicles can remain dormant late into life, but it’s always possible that they activate given time or the right stimulus.

Beards didn’t affect a man’s attractiveness rating consistently, but those who let their facial hair grow were perceived as more dominant

We found that male voices that sounded deeper than average were rated as the most attractive. Really deep or high pitches weren’t as popular. In contrast, men’s voices were perceived as increasingly dominant the lower they were. Beards didn’t affect a man’s attractiveness rating consistently, but those who let their facial hair grow were perceived as more dominant than others – in line with previous research.

The ability to grow a beard isn't necessarily linked to testosterone levels (Credit: Getty Images)

The tension between attracting a mate and competing with others doesn’t just apply to beards and voices. Men on average also think their body should be more muscular than women report that they want, while women on average believe they need to be thinner and wear more make-up than men report that they want. We’re not always that great at judging what the other sex finds appealing, but maybe that’s in part because our instincts are to out-compete our peers as well as attract a partner.

Of course, most of this research has been carried out within western populations. Make-up use, average body composition, and even the very ability to grow facial hair all differ enormously across the world – meaning we could get different results elsewhere.

But the point is that, whether it’s facial hair or something else, we often see this pattern of competing requirements leading to differences in appearances. Think you can please everyone all of the time? You can’t.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation, and is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

Care for those Hairs

Another easy tip for blending those bald patches? Take good care of your beard hair! If your hair is brittle or wiry it will only make the patches more apparent.

  • Apply beard oil — Beard oils soften your scruff, reduce itch that often occurs during growth, and moisturize both your hair and the skin beneath. Having healthy skin is essential to having a healthy beard your skin is literally the base for your beard. Beard oil will keep those face follicles happy and healthy and promote more growth.
  • Apply beard balm — A good beard balm made with the right ingredients, like beeswax will really help your beard beyond just the growing process. You want to use the balm as a styling product. Now, I know what you’re saying, “Styling, I’m busy trying to grow!” I hear you, but beard balm will help train your hairs to grow in the direction you want them to grow. So, use the balm to guide your healthy hair over those patches.
  • Brush your beard — Using a quality beard brush or comb will help you guide that beard hair over your patches, and it will make you look clean, professional, and uniform. There’s nothing more gentlemanly than a perfectly groomed beard.

Why Men Grow Full Beard?

Before you uncover the reason why you can’t grow a full beard, find out first why men are going crazy about sporting facial hair. Some do it to bolster their masculinity, others are just too lazy to shave, while some simply want to impress the opposite sex.

But according to a study by Nigel Barber, there is an inverse relationship between the number of men with beards and moustaches to the number of marriage-age women. Based on this research, the number of single women decreases as the number of men who grow beards increases.

However, some studies pointed out that growing beards doesn’t necessarily equate to attractiveness. According to some researches, some women find fully-bearded men older and more aggressive while they are more attracted to clean-shave guys.

In an evolutionary point, growing a full beard is associated with the pursuit of dominance. As mentioned above, some women find bearded guys the more aggressive and older one thus making them more dominant in many aspects.

That’s from an evolutionary perspective. But in the present time, it is more of a personal choice. Also, growing a beard has become more of a fad now or jumping into the bandwagon based on what is trending on social media.


Alright, you’ve given your beard a few months and have done everything mentioned above to help your beard grow to its full potential. At this point, there are some techniques that you can use to help your patchy beard look more thick and full.

Get a pro beard trim

Head to your barber and let them know that you’re working on growing a beard. Your barber can help define your cheek and neckline, and getting your beard hairs to a more uniform length can help accentuate the areas where your beard is more full. You may still have some patches in your beard, but getting rid of those flyaways and hairs growing in different directions will make a big difference, and can help give the appearance of a fuller beard.

Brush it

A Beard Brush can help your beard hair lay in a more uniform direction—which, when long enough, can help you cover up some of those patchy areas. We find that beard hair responds better to 100% boar’s hair bristles over nylon or synthetic bristles. Add a small amount of a medium hold product like Styling Balm and then brush the hair into place. The Styling Balm will help keep your beard hair locked in throughout the day.

Boar’s hair is also great for exfoliating your skin, which addresses beard dandruff, irritated skin, and clogged pores. The bristles also increase circulation to the skin through its gentle massage—and healthier skin means healthier beard hair.

Hit it with some Sea Salt Spray

If your beard hair is straight and fine, you can give it a little more volume using a product like Beardbrand Sea Salt Spray. You know how a day of swimming in the ocean makes your hair a little more wavy? Sea Salt Spray does the same thing, and that added waviness in your beard can help it look more full.

Beardbrand Sea Salt Spray is infused with kaolinite clay, which removes excess dirt and oil from your beard and skin without stripping away your natural oils. It contains aloe, which moisturizes the beard and skin while providing a little hold. And it’s loaded with Dead Sea Salt (yeah, legit salt from the Dead Sea), which is packed with minerals that nourish your facial follicles and give beards a boost in texture, helping to provide a thicker and more full appearance.

Check out the video below to see it in action:

According to women, there’s something distinguished and undeniably sexy about men with a gray beard. Women consider older men, as someone who ages to look more desirable. So what is that that makes a man who embraces his salt and pepper beard, attractive?? Here are the 5 reasons men with salt and pepper beard look more attractive.

1. You Feel Less Self-conscious About Ageing :

As common as women tend to hide their age, men don’t. A man rather prefers that he tells his age as it is. A man who embraces his age and the physical changes that come with age, like early grays, is considered to be a focused and confident man. Especially the salt and pepper beard look is currently big in trend. A man with a salt and beard implies he is not conscious about aging and rather embraces it with confidence and grace.

2. You Look More Sophisticated And Confident :

Nothing attracts a woman more than a man who is confident in nature. Salt and pepper beard just adds up a little to that. Irrespective of the length or the style or the beard, gray hair can adapt, blend, and has a style of its own. Perhaps an example could help you understand that – George Clooney. Some men have grays early in their lifespan. But instead of covering it up, when you embrace it, it will make you appear rather more mature and sexy.

3. It’s Fashionable And Trendy :

Gray is the new black!. That’s right, the salt and pepper look is fashionable and extremely trendy. From movies to tv shows, catwalks to billboards the salt and pepper look is everywhere. Movie stars and celebrities have confidently carried this look in their premiers and appearances.

However, this beard style is less famous among youngsters as compared to hairstyle. But having a salt and pepper beard any day will make you the most fashionable and well-groomed one in the room. Suits best for men in the age group between 30-40!

4. Women Love That Rugged Look :

There’s no denying that a salt and pepper beard can be rugged and a bit messy to look at. But at the same time, this is something that is found extremely attractive by women. Women find guys with salt and pepper beard sexy. Mark Ruffalo, Ben Affleck, David Beckham, and George Clooney are a few among many charming actors who have carried this look with great attitude and style.

5. You Become The Best Version Of Yourself :

Nobody can deny the fact that most men get attractive with age. From Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Dwayne johnson you can name anyone. They are a few famous stars who have gotten old gracefully. Don’t you agree? When a man embraces his true style and hairstyle with confidence it shows. And no woman can resist herself from a man like that who loves himself and carries his flaws with style.

Why do some men have red beards, but not red hair?

It's relatively rare to see a redhead — just 1% to 2% of humans are natural gingers. So, you might do a double-take if you see a man sporting a reddish or even a full-blown red beard, even though he is clearly not a carrot top.

What's the science behind these curious beards, especially among men with dark, blond or even graying mops?

This follicular fluke hasn't escaped the notice of researchers like Nina Jablonski, professor of anthropology at Penn State University, whose research has focused on the biology of hair hues. "I have observed many, especially younger, men with red beards and red hair and some with reddish beards and light brown, blond or red-blond hair," she told Live Science.

Most redheads live in Celtic countries such as Scotland, Ireland and Wales, followed by England and the Nordic nations, according to The Telegraph. Perhaps predictably, these red tresses exist because of a genetic mutation. Specifically, a mutation in a gene known as "MC1R," which controls pigment production in hair cells, among other things such as fair skin, poor tanning ability and pain perception, which may explain why a local anesthetic is less effective for redheads.

Hair color is determined by the ratio of two different pigments eumelanin is responsible for black tones and pheomelanin causes red ones. People with black or dark brown hair will probably have only eumelanin, or at least it will be the dominant pigment. Blonds, meanwhile, have less of both types of pigment than their darker-haired and redheaded friends. And redheads, of course, have mostly pheomelanin.

One role of the MC1R gene is to code for a protein called melanocortin, whose job is to convert the red pigment into the black one. But if a person has a double mutation in this gene, its resulting proteins aren't as effective, which lead to red locks.

So, what happens when a person has a red beard, paired with a brown head of hair? The answer has some curious genetics at play, according to Jablonski.

"This will almost certainly be due to the differential expression of MC1R in the follicles of beard hair versus scalp hair resulting in the production of a different mixture of dark brown eumelanin and yellow-red pheomelanin," Jablonski said.

In other words, the same gene is behaving differently in different parts of the body and that's probably because there's just a single mutation of the MC1R gene, rather than a double mutation — meaning that the person is effectively a carrier of the redhead gene.

The phenomenon also occurs in some men as they age — usually as they pass their 40th birthday, which is probably because the pigment-producing cells in scalp hair and beard hair age at different rates, Jablonski said.

So you don't have to be young and ginger to have a red beard, but it certainly helps.


What beard style is best for you? Hint: it's not a neckbeard.

Improve your style with these 12 tips and no one will notice if you have a neckbeard.

Everything you wanted (and didn't want) to know about grooming every—and we mean every—part of your body. [definitely NSFW]

We define the neckbeard as a beard style that is achieved intentionally by shaving all areas of the face above the jawline, leaving a beard that exists solely on the neck.

However, the neckbeard has come to be associated with personality traits rather than a style of facial hair. The strong negative connotations may leave you feeling concerned about your patchy neck hair. Read the sections above to dig deeper into some of the facial hair (not personality) traits that can be attributed to an involuntary neckbeard.

Facial hair growth is heavily tied to age and genetics. However, there are several things you can do to reduce the appearance of an unwanted neckbeard:

  1. Give your beard more time. In the early stages of beard growth, it’s common for beards to be uneven, patchy, and thicker on your neck. It typically takes three to six months for your beard to really fill in.
  2. Trim up your neckline below the Adam’s Apple. We give more detailed instructions on doing this in the sections above.
  3. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Being excessively overweight can lead to a double-chin and make your neckbeard look more pronounced. Exercise can also boost testosterone levels, which contribute to beard growth.
  4. Take care of your skin. Beards grow best when the skin is well cared for. We recommend washing your face with the Utility Bar and keeping the skin moisturized with Utility Balm or Beard Oil.
  5. Eat a proper diet, and get enough sleep. Both contribute to beard growth and health.

Remember, part of the whole challenge of growing a beard is accepting what you have and dealing with your problem areas.

If you have questions about your beard or need some grooming advice, use the live chat feature on our website or shoot us a message at [email protected] , and we’ll be happy to help you out.