Why Do Men Grow Facial Hair? (& Why Some Of Us Can't)

Why Do Men Grow Facial Hair? (& Why Some Of Us Can't)

Written by: Piers Le Moignan



Time to read 9 min

Beards, facial fuzz, scruff – whatever you want to call it, facial hair is a defining feature for some men. But why is it that men grow beards? And, more importantly, why can't some of us grow beards at all?

Aside from just complementing facial features and making you look more ruggedly handsome, having a bit of hair on your face actually has some practical benefits.

For a lot of men, once they go bearded, they never go back. But for others, the decision to grow facial hair isn't so simple.

Why Do Men Grow Facial Hair?

There are two angles to this question – the science behind how beards grow and the reasons why men choose to grow them. Let's start with the science.

The Science Behind Growing a Beard

The growth of facial hair is largely determined by genetics and hormones.

During puberty, testosterone levels increase in males, which triggers the growth of facial hair. This hormone stimulates the hair follicles on the face, causing them to produce thicker and coarser hair.

But it's not just about hormones – genetics also play a big role.

The amount and distribution of facial hair are determined by your genes, specifically the androgen receptor gene (AR). This gene regulates how sensitive your hair follicles are to testosterone, and variations in this gene can result in different levels of facial hair growth.

The number of hair follicles present will also determine the thickness and fullness of a beard. Some men have more hair follicles on their faces, while others may have fewer or none at all. This is affected by a number of things, including ethnicity and age.

The Reasons for Growing a Beard

Now, let's look at the reasons why men choose to grow beards.

Historically, beards have been associated with masculinity, power, and wisdom. In many cultures, beards are seen as a sign of maturity and virility. This is why many men may feel more confident and attractive with a beard.

If we rewind back to prehistoric, cave-dwelling times, beards were also a practical feature. They helped protect the face from harsh weather conditions and provide warmth. In some cultures, beards were even used for intimidation or as a form of self-defence.

Today, beards are still seen as a symbol of 'masculinity' – although we're much more fluid with our appearances, so the exact definition of masculinity is a personal thing.

Some men may grow beards to make a statement or express their individuality. Others may simply like the look of a beard and choose to keep it for aesthetic reasons.

What Are the Benefits of Growing Facial Hair?

It might sound a bit trivial, but growing beard hair does have a fair few benefits, some of which we've already touched on.

  1. Protection: A beard can act as a natural barrier against UV rays, wind, and even bacteria.

  2. Keeps you warm: A bit of scruff can help keep your face warm in colder temperatures.

  3. Moisture retention: A beard can help retain moisture in the skin, making it less prone to drying out.

  4. Style versatility: Beards offer endless style options, from a full lumberjack beard to a well-groomed stubble.

  5. Improves appearance: For some men, a beard can enhance their facial features and make them feel more confident in their appearance. It can also complement some hairstyles really well and create a more balanced look.

  6. Saves time & money: Let's face it, shaving can be a hassle. Growing a beard means you can ditch the razor and save some time on your morning routine.

  7. Hides certain imperfections: A well-groomed beard or 'tache can hide scarring or an uneven skin tone that you may feel self-conscious about. Also, they can hide the shape of your jawline or make it look more defined depending on how you shape it.

  8. Makes you look older (or younger): Depending on your age and how you style it, a beard can make you look more mature or youthful. It really depends on how you want to look.

Does Every Man Grow Facial Hair?

As many of us are (slightly sadly) aware, not all men are blessed with the ability to grow facial hair.

Many men may experience delayed or incomplete facial hair development, and some may never be able to grow a full beard. You might remember being at school and noticing some of the lads were sprouting a bit of peach fuzz while others had a full beard by the time they reached 17.

Why Can't Some Men Grow Beards?

The truth is, there's no single reason why some men struggle to grow facial hair. It could be due to genetics, hormone imbalances, or even health conditions.

  • Genetics: As mentioned earlier, genetics play a significant role in the growth of facial hair. If your family has a history of patchy beards or slow facial hair growth, chances are you may experience similar issues.

  • Hormone imbalances: Testosterone may be the key hormone in beard growth, but it's not the only one. Other hormones like DHT (dihydrotestosterone) and estrogen also play a role. Imbalances or fluctuations in these hormones can impact facial hair growth.

  • Underlying health conditions: Some medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or autoimmune disorders, can affect hormone production and therefore slow down beard growth.

  • Stress, diet, & age: These factors can also play a role in facial hair growth. High levels of stress, a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients, and age can all contribute to slower or patchy beard growth.

Is it Possible to Improve Beard Growth?

If you're one of the unlucky ones who can't seem to grow a beard, don't lose hope just yet. There are some things you can do to potentially improve your facial hair growth, such as:

  1. Eating a well-balanced diet: A diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals can help promote hair growth.

  2. Exercising regularly: Regular physical activity can boost testosterone levels and improve your overall health, which may have a positive impact on facial hair growth.

  3. Reducing stress levels: High levels of stress can disrupt hormone levels, so finding ways to manage stress can potentially help with beard growth.

  4. Taking supplements: Some men have reported improved facial hair growth after taking certain supplements like biotin or saw palmetto.

  5. Using topical products: Various beard growth serums and oils can help stimulate follicles and stimulate hair growth.

While these factors don't guarantee you a James Maddison stubble or a Jason Mamoa beard, they may help you achieve a decent amount of facial hair growth. Or they'll at least improve your chances.

How to Know If Facial Hair Will Suit You

If you're debating whether or not to grow a beard, the best thing you can do is try it out. Some men may surprise themselves with how great a beard looks on them, while others may decide it's not for them.

It's also important to consider what type of beard will suit you. Just because you can grow a full beard doesn't necessarily mean that style will flatter your face shape or enhance your features. A simple stubble or goatee may be a better fit.

Your face shape and features can also play a role in determining what beard style will suit you. For example, if you have a round face, a longer beard may help elongate your face shape.

Your haircut and hairstyle can affect how a beard looks on you, too. Hairstyles like a buzz cut or crew cut can complement a beard really well as they create contrast and balance.

You could also consult with your barber or groomer for their professional opinion – they'll be able to give you advice on the best beard style for your face shape and hair type.

Most Popular Beard Styles for Men

If you need some encouragement to take the plunge and grow a beard, some beard inspiration (or beard-spiration, if you will) can give you a kick in the right direction.

You could even use these as reference points when discussing beard styles with your barber.

#1 Short Boxy Beard

Credit: @champagnepapi

A boxy stubble is probably the most common beard style for men. It involves creating a 'boxy' shape by squaring off the beard on the jawline and trimming it short all over. This style works well for most face shapes and is relatively easy to maintain.

#2 Circle Beard

Credit: @therock

A circle beard keeps the facial hair around the mouth and chin area, creating a 'circle' of hair. It's most usually kept short, to a stubble length, and can be a good option for men who struggle to grow hair on their cheeks or sideburns.

#3 Van Dyke Beard

Credit: @davidbeckham

The Van Dyke beard is a combination of a moustache and goatee. The two sections of facial hair don't connect, creating a distinctive look that works well for men with a more angular face shape.

#4 Full Beard

Credit: @jharden13

A full beard is the holy grail of facial hair for men. It involves growing out all the facial hair – cheeks, chin, moustache, and sideburns – to create a full, bushy beard. This style requires patience and proper grooming to maintain its shape.

The Verdict: Why Do Men Grow Facial Hair?

Whether it be personal preference, style, confidence, or the handy practical benefits, there are many reasons why men choose to grow facial hair.

But regardless of the reason, one thing is for sure – a well-groomed and maintained beard can elevate any man's look.

That being said, don't be disheartened if you're not able to grow a beard. Embrace your individuality and rock the clean-shaven look with pride.

Read more hair grooming tips and tricks over on the rest of our blog.


Why Do Men Have Beards & Women Don't?

The main reason behind this is hormones. Testosterone is responsible for stimulating facial hair growth, and as women typically have lower levels of testosterone, they don't grow as much facial hair.

Why Would a Man Grow a Beard?

Beards are associated with maturity, masculinity, and attractiveness. Men may also grow beards for practical reasons like protecting their faces from the elements or simply to make a fashion statement. Cultural and religious beliefs may also play a role in beard growth.

Should I Grow a Moustache?

Similar to beards, this comes down to personal preference and what suits your face. If you can grow a full moustache, it could add a bit of personality to your look.

How Long Does it Take to Grow a Beard?

This depends on the type and length of beard you're trying to achieve, as well as genetics and overall health. Clean-shaven stubble can start to grow back after just a few days or a week, whereas long beards can take around 3 or 4 months.

Piers Le Moignan

Piers Le Moignan is the founder and CEO of Salt Grooming, an award-winning British luxury men’s haircare and styling brand. 

Founded in 2018, Piers has quickly grown the company into a global brand that has distributed to 43 countries and counting.

Headquartered in London, Piers leads an agile workforce of 10 employees and consultants, including the company’s formulation team which features some of the UK’s leading cosmetic scientists. Piers is responsible for overseeing logistics, supply chain, and performance marketing, and is the driving force behind Salt’s product innovation and brand/creative direction. 

Previous to foundership, Piers spent a decade at some of London’s leading creative agencies, developing global brands and communications for the likes of Adidas, Jaguar Land Rover, British Airways, and more.

Read more

Salt Grooming Recommends...