For some men, their beard is their pride and joy. If your whiskers start to become thin or begin shedding abnormally it can be quite a scary and frustrating process.
Just like the hair on our heads, beards can become thin, sparse and you can experience beard hair loss.
If you’re worried about beard shedding, beard thinning, or your beard downright falling out -- you’ve come to the right corner of the internet. Let’s go over everything you need to know about beard hair loss.
The hair on your beard is not unlike the hair on your head. Both areas go through periods of healthy shedding.
Most of the time our hair is in a growing phase that lasts 2-6 years. That’s followed by a brief time of ‘transition’, and then the hair ‘rests’ for around 3-6 months. After resting, the hair is pushed out of the follicle by new growth -- that’s called shedding -- and the cycle repeats.
So, seeing some beard hairs in your brush or in your sink after grooming is nothing to be too worried about.
A normal level of beard shedding depends on the density of your beard, but it’s estimated to be far less than the 100 hairs shed from your head every day. But in a beard of tens of thousands of hairs, that’s no big deal.
And remember, when hair sheds that normally means brand new hair is on its way.
While some shedding is normal, there is a point where someone might start to worry about the level of shedding. Just like your scalp, your beard can be influenced by genetics, hormones, and the immune system.
So, there are cases where beard hair loss isn’t normal and might be an indication that something is amiss.
If you are seeing physical changes in your beard -- i.e new patchiness, round balding areas, and thinning -- there might be a bigger problem at play.
Here are 2 causes of beard hair loss:
Hair is made of protein and if those protein bonds become damaged, the integrity of your hair can decline and lead to breakage. Breakage isn’t hair loss but rather, a splitting. The hair doesn’t come out of the follicle, but it shatters along the shaft.
Hair damage can be caused by overwashing, excessive dryness, chemical treatments, rough drying/styling, and heated beard brushes.
To combat beard hair loss, focus on gentle cleanses (every 3 days is recommended) and nourishing beard oils.
Alopecia barbae is an autoimmune condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles on your face. This may cause round bald patches in the beard that appear suddenly.
These patches are often between the size of a dime and a quarter but may become larger. Although rare, alopecia barbae may lead to a total loss of beard hair.
However, this is not a very common cause of beard hair loss.
Image sourced from American Academy of Family Physicians
It’s still unclear why alopecia barbae occurs but it seems to be linked to other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, thyroid disorders, and vitiligo.
This may resolve on its own but is also often treated with injectable corticosteroids.
Sudden changes to your beard are a cause for concern. If you are seeing small, round, and bald patches in your beard, see your doctor as this might indicate alopecia barbae.
Treating this early, as with any hair-related condition, is best.
Read more: Bald Spot in Beard: Is it Patchy Growth or Balding?
If you aren’t worried about alopecia barbae but your beard is looking a bit sparse, there are a few things you can do.
There are many health conditions that can affect hair growth. If your beard is becoming thinner, book a visit with your primary care doctor to rule out any underlying conditions or nutrient deficiencies.
Studies have shown that regular scalp massages can significantly increase hair thickness. This same principle can be applied to facial hair. Regular gentle facial massages can help deliver oxygen-rich blood to your hair follicles which may encourage new growth.
Your beard hairs need nutrition in order to grow plentifully. If your hair is shedding (normally) but your hair growth is sluggish, your beard might appear thin because your growth cycle isn’t keeping up with your shedding cycle.
Make sure you are eating adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and foods high in vitamin D, zinc, and iron.
If you are worried about beard hair loss, you might want to consider trying minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) on your beard. This product helps to increase scalp blood circulation which may stimulate new growth.
Read more: Does Minoxidil Work for Beard Growth?
Beard hair loss isn’t straightforward.
There are varying levels of hair loss and many potential causes for beard thinning. You might just be experiencing healthy shedding, sluggish hair growth or you may be experiencing breakage caused by damage.
Patchy growth can sometimes be confused for thinning, or balding. But patchy growth might worry some guys but low-density growth is nothing to be worried about.
But, there are health conditions such as alopecia barbae that can directly cause beard hair loss. If you see round bald areas appear suddenly, speak with your doctor.