So you’ve made the decision to grow out your beard, but have you ever considered the science behind how your hair grows? Contrary to popular belief, hair is not always growing at a fixed rate. On average, hair grows about half an inch a month. However, similar to a volcano some hairs are actively growing and some follicles are dormant. To understand the cycle of beard growth keep on reading.
The Four Phases of Beard Growth
- Anagen – The growth phase
This is the stage of hair growth and formation. How long this phase lasts depends on the hair type. If we are talking about the hair that grows on your head, than this type of growth can be years in the making. Depending on genetics, the hair on your beard can be in this stage for 2-4 months.
- Catagen – The regressive phase
The next stage is Catagen.. When this stage occurs, the areas of the follicle that propel hair growth begin to shrink. The hair follicle itself, can shorten their length up to percent. This shrinkage allows the follicle room to evolve and support growth again, when stimulus is applied. This stage can last for several weeks.
- Telogen – The resting phase
This is when the follicles lie dormant. After months of working hard at growing, they will take a well deserved break and “rest”. This break can last for several months.
- Exogen – The shedding phase
While in the previous three stages, the hair is securely anchored to the root of the follicle, this stage it becomes loosened. This allows the hair to fall out more easily, which it does. Then the cycle repeats itself.
Why Does This Occur?
Hormones are the root of all hair growth. These are the things that tell the hair follicles what stages of growth they are in and what they need to coordinate for the next cycle. One way to understand it is to picture the evolution of “peach fuzz” to mature hairs. When we hit puberty, a hormone signals for the hair follicles to transform. Instead of producing the soft vellus hairs, they will be producing terminal hairs that are often darker and thicker. This happens over the course of a year on average.
In terms of when this change happens, it really is different for everyone. So if you are in your twenties and still don’t have a beard, don’t fret. There is still plenty of time for your hair to develop. The structure of your beard can continue to change until your mid thirties. Much like other parts of male development, your best beard years may still be ahead of you.
…don’t forget about genetics
Similar to other genetically linked physical attributes, your beard growth depends largely on your genetic makeup. If you’re not predisposed to growing a large, thick bushy beard than more than there is no magical pill that will cause your body to create new hair follicles. There are however, things that you can do to encourage your existing follicles to grow strong, healthy strands. One thing you can do is develop a consistent beard grooming routine. Using a beard shampoo, beard conditioner and beard oil on the daily can make your beard hair stronger and appear thicker. Using a beard brush can also encourage growth by circulation.
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