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Having beard struggles? Here’s how to fix a patchy beard, according to an expert

Fix your patchy beard with these easy tips

There are a few worries some men experience when they attempt to grow their beards. None is more prevalent than the dreaded patchy beard. You invest all of your time and patience into not taking your beard clippers to your face, only to have certain areas come in with full growth (like the mustache and goatee areas) only to have other areas look like a pubescent teenager attempting their first facial hair growth.

It can feel not only frustrating but demoralizing to a man’s ego when that’s all he has to show for his facial growth. This stressful situation is one that happens to many men, so just know that you are not the only one. Surprisingly this problem can be solved with a little product, a little patience, and a little help from our friends.

We asked men’s grooming expert Chris Bossio, for some help in the matter. Bossio is not only a successful barber in his own right; helming Headlines, a chain of shops in the Tampa, Fla., area. He is also the barber’s barber, offering tips on cuts, grooming, and running a barbering business on his educational and informative YouTube channel (currently clocking more than 415K subscribers). Ever the entrepreneur, Bossio also has a line of shaving products called Tomb45, which includes beard and lineup enhancement products, shaving shears, pro shop products, and much more.

Beard growth struggles are real

A man looking at himself in bathroom mirror.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“We like to call them ‘struggle beards’ in the shop, says Bossio, speaking of his customers who ask for help with patchy beards. “Growing a full beard is not easy, or natural for a lot of guys.”

Bossio, who sports a beard of varying sizes, didn’t even attempt to grow his own until he was 31 years old, an inspiration to his clients and followers. He’s got several tools in his arsenal to defeat the patch beard problem.

Your new best friends: Derma rollers and microneedling

The Beard Roller from Copenhagen Grooming Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do a quick scroll through beard grooming product websites, and you’ll find the latest grooming gadget; something called a derma roller. The tool looks a little bit like a cross between those facial rollers that were all the rage a few years ago and a medieval torture device (or maybe even a lawnmower). The idea is that the tiny needles on the roller actually puncture your skin and that minor injury is supposed to “trigger nutrient-rich blood and collagen-rich tissue to stimulate new facial hair growth, activate dormant hair follicles and improve skin texture while stimulating collagen” (according to the description on one site).

“The derma roller can work, but it can also be painful,” says Bossio. “It takes a while to build up a tolerance to it, but even then you have to be careful: the roller can actually tear the skin.”

Bossio points out that his clients have had better results with microneedling, which is, in effect, the same thing; but is a more controlled procedure done by a dermatologist.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association reports on its website that in one study, men with mild hereditary hair loss on their scalps who were treated with minoxidil in combination with microneedling saw better results than those who were treated with minoxidil alone, so there does seem to be some validity to the procedure.

Bossio shares this video on his YouTube channel that echoes those findings, and which also dismisses the derma roller. Also be sure to check out this one; which takes down Floyd Mayweather’s beard transplant, which seemed an extreme response to a patchy beard problem.

Color enhancements

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If puncturing your face has you worried that you’ll end up looking like you’ve been binge-watching the Hellraiser movie series, then adding a little color may be an easier solution. We’re totally okay with guys using makeup to get a competitive edge, and a beard filler can go a long way towards making a patchy beard look finished.

“I’ve had several clients refuse to wear ‘makeup,’” says Bossio, “but once we started describing it as ‘color enhancement,’ that made using it okay.”

Bossio advises not to paint your face with the product, because that can look fake. Just use it to fill in spots. His Tomb45 Beard and Line up Color Enhancement product comes in two shades — onyx and brown/black — and is water- and sweat-proof. You’ll need to wash to remove it, but you’ll want to do that before you go to bed anyway, for the sake of both your skin’s and your pillowcase’s health.

Bossio also cautions against using hair dye on your face. “It can have a bad effect on face skin since the product is made for the scalp. It can produce a rough reaction. I’ve even heard of people going to the emergency room from using it inappropriately.”

Back to skincare basics

Man putting product on his face and beard.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The great news is that Bossio’s best recommendation for fixing a patchy beard is all about straightforward skincare and beard maintenance.

“First, remember, it’s not the hair we have to care about, it’s the follicles. Beard balms can help, but it’s really about the skin below the hair.”

Start by making sure that the beard and skin are clean and moisturized. Don’t use the same shampoo as you do for your scalp: It’s too harsh for your face’s skin. After washing, moisturize, being sure that both beard and skin are getting coverage. Massage product into the beard and work from the roots out. By caring for the skin underneath, you’ll keep follicles healthy, setting them up for long-term growth.

Beard growth tip: Playing for the long game

Man having beard dye applied to beard.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“The biggest problem I see from some of my clients who want to grow beards is a lack of patience. I advise everybody to go a full two months before trimming, cutting the beard line, or anything. Hair grows differently on different parts of the face, so you have to allow time for it all to catch up.”

As much as you may not want to hear it, patience is still a virtue. You have to allow time for those patchy areas to grow in on their own time before you start cutting anything away or giving up entirely. Most guys go through an awkward stage when initially growing out their beards so make sure you hang tough. As the beard grows, brush it regularly to distribute natural oils. Stick with that cleansing and moisturizing routine to avoid dryness which can result in a new-beard itch. Once you’ve got a full face forest going, start by shaving a beard line to make it look fuller. Then work on trimming the beard itself. Also, for those first few trims, don’t be afraid to get some expert guidance from your barber before you go it alone. Learn from the pros before you decide to take it on solo.

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John Jones
John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to…
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