Annoyed by a rogue bald spot in your beard? Well, it’s very common for beard hair to grow in uneven ways. Even the hair on our heads may grow unevenly but because of higher follicle density and length, it’s not as noticeable. But, in a beard, uneven growth or low-density growth is a bit more noticeable.
While it’s perfectly normal to have a patchwork beard with “bald” areas, sudden bald spots in a beard that are well defined and expanding over time might be caused by a condition called alopecia barbae.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a balding beard and a patchy beard. Is it beard hair loss or a patchy growth pattern? Let’s find out.
Even while lumberjack beards are popular, patchy beards are still pretty much everywhere. Even in Hollywood, men are confidently rocking patchy beards. Actor Keanu Reeves has an uneven beard-grown pattern and has worn his beard short, long, and downright grizzly. There are areas of concentrated hair growth and bald spots throughout. This is still a totally normal and healthy beard.
Beards come down to genetics, ethnicity, hormones, and hair follicle density. More on this later.
If you’re 20 years old and upset about a patchy beard, wait it out. Your beard is still developing.
Most beards from 18 to 30 will continue to change in thickness and texture. So, if you’re on the young side, hold out for your fully developed beard before you get too discouraged.
If your beard has always grown in patchy and uneven causing bald areas, it’s not likely to be due to alopecia barbae.
This condition causes sudden beard growth changes that result in smooth, round bald patches.
Alopecia barbae is caused by a misfiring of the immune system. It may resolve as quickly as it occurred, but it's best to see a doctor if you have sudden bald spots in your beard.
Learn more: Beard Hair Loss: Shedding, Breakage, or Alopecia Barbae?
As with the hair on your head, there are a few reasons behind a patchy beard with bald spots. If you’re asking “Why do I have bald spots in my beard?!” read on.
We can’t fight our genetics, unfortunately. If your dad or either grandfather effortlessly grew grizzly beards -- there’s a good chance you will too.
But, if their beards had bald spots, and it grew consistently patchy -- you might also have this type of beard.
The same way the hair on our heads is partly determined by genetics, so is your beard hair.
If you’re under the age of 30 or 35, your beard might still be maturing. While men do start developing their beard when puberty begins, most men’s beards will continue to thicken and mature well into their 30’s.
So, if you’re in your twenties and cursing a patchy beard, wait it out and see how your beard continues to mature.
Studies show that men of Mediterranean descent tend to grow thicker beards compared to other countries.
In a 2016 study, Chinese men were also found to have less facial hair growth than caucasian men.
Ethnicity can also determine where your beard grows and where it doesn't. In the same study, researchers found Chinese men tend to have more concentrated facial hair growth around the mouth while caucasian men tend to have more hair on their cheeks, neck, and chin.
You haven’t let it grow in yet
Some beard experts say you don’t really know your beard potential unless you let it grow in for around 90 - 120 days.
Just 30 days of growth isn’t enough to see if your beard is truly patchy. Beard experts say patchiness is the “in-between state” for a beard. Many men report the beginning of beard growth as “very patchy”, especially around the cheek area. With time, these areas might fill in.
However, time and unbridled growth won’t fix all patchy beards -- but it’s worth a shot.
If you think your beard has fully matured, and you’ve allowed it to grow in and it’s still patchy in areas -- embrace it.
Actor Dev Patel has a beard pattern that seems to grow unevenly, with “bald spots” on his chin and cheeks, however, he leans into it. He rocks a disconnected goatee that is uniquely attractive. People are shaping their full beards this way to emulate his naturally patchy beard.
Bald spots in a beard are very common. These areas of low-density hair growth can cause a patchwork beard that is perfectly normal.
However, if you see sudden changes in your beard growth and bald areas suddenly develop, you should seek the advice of a doctor as it could be an autoimmune condition known as alopecia barbae.