The best advice I have for anyone with a patchy beard is this: You first need to accept the fact that your beard is less full than others. If you’re not meant to grow the hair, you’re not going to grow the hair. Sure, it may fill in as you age, but that’s as much a part of your genetics (and so is the patchiness to begin with).
But you can always do a few things to make the most of what you’ve got. Patchy beards are still beards, you know, and they still allow for a bevy of beard styles. Two examples of perfectly executed patchy beards are Dev Patel and Keanu Reeves.
Patel’s is more sparse, and he wears it that way. Keanu’s, when short, showcases lots of uneven density, which fills in a little more as it grows out.
You can follow the below tips in order to make the most of your beard, and whatever you’re capable of growing is something unique to you.
How to Help Patchy Beards Look Fuller
1. Let It Grow
As obvious as it is, this advice still needs to be said first. You have to let your hair grow, and that means enduring some awkward stages along the way. You might be a few weeks, or even months away from your beard looking doubly full. But a good 1-3 month base is going to do you a lot of favors in covering up sparser spots. That being said, don’t use this as an excuse to to ignore trimming the beard a little along the way and letting your neckbeard grow out.
2. Keep It Stubbly
If the goal is a show-stopper of a beard, then of course you need to let it grow out. But if you simply prefer to wear the facial hair short, then that light dusting of perma-stubble can give people the idea of your beard’s potential, without you ever showing them the real thing. The sparseness won’t be nearly as noticeable. Get yourself a good electric shaver, or mow it down with your beard trimmer on its lower guards.
Andis foil shaver
Philips Norelco beard trimmer
3. Apply a Beard Balm
If and when you do grow the beard out, you should opt for higher-hold conditioning and styling products. A hefty balm helps control stubborn hairs and allows you to style those longer strands over top of the patchy spots. (It’s like a combover, but for beards.) Plus, balms are typically packed with nourishing ingredients like shea butter and essential oils that might help promote growth by keeping everything healthy.
Bevel beard balm
Burt’s Bees beard balm
4. Brush It Out
Contrary to popular belief, the brush is not typically a styling tool. A beard brush’s main function is to distribute the natural oils that collect at the shaft of the hair. But for your case, you can also use the brush to enhance fullness—rendering it a styling tool after all. Brush during your morning styling routine, to help cover up the patches. Then, apply your beard balm and style into place by hand. A couple quick swipes in the same direction should suffice. If the whiskers are too stubborn, then apply the balm and coach things into place by hand. (It might help to regularly nourish the hairs with a beard oil, too, to keep them soft, healthy, and cooperative.)
Zeus beard brush
BFWood beard brush
5. If All Else Fails, Dye It
This isn’t a tip that will work for everyone, but if your patchiness is less a problem of baldness and more of blond-ness (or a gray-ness), then consider dyeing your facial hair. This is especially effective for the guys who grow two-toned beards—super light, blond hairs alongside dark brown ones, for example. A little natural-color hair dye will bring out one uniform color that in turn makes the beard look thicker and fuller. The keyword is natural: Pick something that matches the rest of your whiskers, or at least the hair on your head. (Going a shade or two lighter can help, or picking a brand that promises to subtly dye the hairs, instead of a shoe-polish finish.)
Cleverman beard dye
Madison Reed men’s hair dye
6. Consider Topical Fibers
Throughout the years, I’ve worked with a number of celebrity groomers on assignments, and many of them have told me that their A-list clients use topical fibers in their beards on the red carpet, or during important shoots and events. These are those same fibers that were popular some decade or two ago, which sprinkle into the hair and artificially thicken each strand while making everything look uniformly fuller. Truth be told, they can be a mess to apply and wear (and can stain fabrics). They’re a pain in the ass. But if you want a fuller beard for headshot day at the office, or a big event, then it might be your one-off, rinse-out solution. As with dyes, make damn sure to match the color to your facial hair.
Toppik artificial densifying fibers
7. Ask Your Dermo About Minoxidil
Minoxidil is a terrific topical solution for hair retention in men and women alike. It comes in topical and oral options (typically, the topical ones are more consumer facing), and it works by increasing blood flow to the follicles, as well as by prolonging the amount of time each hair stays planted on your head between shedding cycles. (Or rather, it shortens the shedding cycle and expedites regrowth.) Anyway, minoxidil hasn’t been proven to help beards grow, but a number of dermatologists say it can’t hurt to apply a drop or two onto your cheeks whenever you do your daily head application, at least if you’re trying to coerce some idle hairs into growth.
8. Get a Beard Transplant (If You Must)
Hey, hair transplants are extremely realistic these days, thanks to precision technology that implants the hairs individually at natural growth angles. And beard transplants are becoming increasingly popular along with head hair transplants. Your doctor can first relocate the hairs from your neckline, and then might take from the backside of your head, or other spots around the body if need be.