We’re a little over a week into No-Shave-November/Movember, so how are those beards coming along? Not as fast as we’d hoped? Or faster than the grass in your front yard in July? Studies show that, on average, hair grows about .3mm to .5mm every 24 hours. That may feel like a glacial pace this month when so much is riding on getting that perfect beard or ‘stache together to support your fellow man, but it does mean that by December you should have a real beard growing with somewhere between one-third and one-half of an inch going. (Hey, Santa doesn’t start growing his beard at Halloween, you know.) Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Mostly, growing a beard is about being patient. We’ve talked about this before in reference to balding, but there are four stages of hair growth, no matter where those hairs are. Anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen (there will not be a quiz), or growing, transition, resting, and shedding. Anagen is the longest, lasting anywhere from two to seven years. According to Healthline.com, at any given moment, nearly 90% of your hairs are in the anagen phase. At the catagen phase, for about 10 days, the follicle shrinks, and the hair itself separates from the bottom of the follicle. During telogen, for about three months, hair doesn’t grow, but it doesn’t fall out, either. Finally, at exogen, your skin sheds its hairs. Don’t panic! This doesn’t happen all at once, and only a small percentage of your beard will be going through the last three stages at any moment in time.
Beyond those long-term stages, by the second week of not shaving, you should have some idea of how quickly or how slowly your beard is growing in. You’ll begin to see how and where your beard is filling in on your face. Are there any areas that are patchy? By week three, you’ll be able to tell if you’re going to end up with something Chewbacca would be proud of, if you’ll be sporting a nice trim mustache to Thanksgiving dinner, or if all your friends will be complimenting you on how young you look at all those holiday parties (trust us, it’s not a bad thing). If it is growing in nicely, by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, you may want to see a barber for a trim or start honing your own skills.
Keep in mind that by committing not to shave this month (and hopefully committing to raising some money for research), you’re doing the right thing for men’s health while exploring your own potential for hirsute handsomeness. Sure, there was that guy who had a full beard for his senior portrait in high school. He was the exception back then, and if you’re still under 30 years old, he might still be. Most men have to wait until they are 30 years old, and even then, depending on ethnicity, still might not have much luck. Even if you come from a long line of Vikings or your genealogical roots are firmly planted in the Mediterranean, genetically speaking, just like male pattern baldness, you might not have the right stuff. Don’t sweat it! To paraphrase Billy Joel, “We love you just the way you are.”
If you look around and see that your male relatives (if you can, check beyond your dad and brothers to uncles and cousins on both sides of the family) all have or are capable of growing thick, full beards, be sure to check with your doctor about your testosterone levels. Your beard troubles may be a warning signal and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, if treated early, you may be able to avoid other symptoms like a low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, a decreased sense of well-being or depression, and more. Let’s heed the signs and get things taken care of ASAP.
Of course, since November is all about men’s health in general, other reasons for beard growth troubles and hair loss might be related to stress, so let’s work on managing that monster. Try some yoga, meditation, therapy, or whatever it takes to have a healthier inner life.
Finally, take good care of your beard as it’s growing in for the best results. Grab a beard care kit to maximize its potential. The Beard Club suggests using a vitamin spray and growth oil daily, as well as taking a multi-vitamin to provide the nutrition your baby beard needs. It also recommends using a derma roller which punctures the skin with tiny needles and “the minor injury…stimulate(s) new facial hair growth.” (We’ll give that a pass, but maybe it works for you.) Document your progress or the lack thereof: Beard Club will give you a full refund if you’re not happy!
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