By Katie Cheng (AskMen)
As you already know, not all hair is created equal. Just because you’re able to grow a lustrously thick head of hair doesn’t meant growing a beard or mustache will come just as easily. In fact, a lot of guys — while attempting to grow out facial hair — run into a whole new set of frustrating issues.
Perhaps the biggest one of all? How to make grow it faster.
First things first: how is the hair on your head different from the scruff on your face? Rayon Mclean, renowned barber and creator of the buzzy new grooming line SteelMclean, cites one big reason, and that’s biology. Mclean explains that all hair growth is cyclical: “There are three phases: anagen, when the hair is growing; catagen, when the hair has stopped growing; and telogen, when the hair is falling out.” In short, the fuzz on your face has a much shorter growth cycle than the hair on your head — making it especially difficult to grow out long.
While long and strong is one matter, what if your facial hair is naturally patchy, sparse, or thin? If you fall into that category, Mclean recommends having a one-on-one with your barber. “A barber will be able to analyze your facial hair growth, your facial hair characteristics, and the shape of your face to determine which style would work best,” says Mclean. He also notes that because genetics can also play a role in your hair growth patterns, you might want to speak with “a doctor, dermatologist, or nutritionist to identify ways to correct imbalances that may be stifling your hair growth.”
Regardless of what mother nature gave you, the good news is that there are things you can do to help you grow out the thick, healthy facial hair of your dreams. Without further ado, Mclean reveals tips and tricks on how to achieve just that.
Mind Your Mouth
What you eat can play a pivotal role in hair growth. Though there are certain things you won’t be able to maneuver around (think hair color or texture) because of genetics, Mclean believes that “other factors can impact your facial hair growth, like your diet — specifically which nutrients are being consumed (or not). A diet rich in the B vitamins (B5, B6, B7), Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, and Omega 3’s can increase your body’s ability to grow healthy hair on both your face and scalp.” Below, Mclean shares his shortlist of favorite hair-healthy vitamins and minerals, along with their benefits.
- Vitamin A: generates cell growth
- Vitamin B Complex: the most popular one associated with hair growth is Biotin. Biotin is known to rebuild and repair damaged hair. Vitamin B5 stimulates hair growth.
- Vitamin C: a well-known antioxidant which blocks free radicals, elements known to damage hair and skin
- Vitamin E: an antioxidant that helps to repair hair and stimulate hair follicles, leading to hair growth
- Iron: an essential mineral associated with blood cell development. This matters because hair is fed nutrients through blood flow.
- Zinc: an essential component to the development of healthy hair follicles
- Omega 3: known to increase hair thickness
While supplements are handy when you’re on the road, it’s best to eat whole foods when you can. Try eating more fatty fish naturally rich in Omega-3s – think wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel – and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, to get the most nutritional benefits.
According to Mclean, vitamins and minerals are delivered to your hair through your blood. And that’s why he’s such an advocate of brushing your facial hair and massaging the skin underneath with a quality oil. The process “can stimulate hair growth by increasing the flow of vitamins to the hair follicles. Hair and skin care products that contain vitamins and minerals are very beneficial as well.”
Drink More Water
Eating healthy is all well and good, but you also need to stay hydrated. But why? According to Mclean, “Water, along with a good vegetable- and vitamin-rich diet, is an essential component to ensure your hair receives the nourishment it needs to grow. Insufficient water in the body reduces the amount of blood that will flow to your scalp and face, thus impairing hair growth.”
To stay in the good habit of drinking plenty of water, invest in a refillable bottle like this sharp-looking one from S’well. It’s lined with stainless steel to help keep your beverage cool for a full 24 hours, and is BPA-free. Another perk to traveling with your own water? You save those hard-earned dollars, while reducing your impact on the environment.
“I would encourage men to find ways to reduce stress,” recommends Mclean. “In essence, the same steps that keep our hearts healthy will keep our hair healthy.” (Also, reports have shown that high amounts of stress can trigger conditions that lead to hair loss.) So keep working out regularly, clocking in plenty of sleep, and making sure you regularly carve out personal time to take care of yourself and relax.
Invest In Quality
“There are a lot of of grooming tools that have made their way to the market, to help a man to maintain his facial hair between salon visits,” says Mclean. While having a variety is awesome, navigating through all those products can be tricky. But if there’s one thing that Mclean is a stickler for, it’s quality. He believes it’s smart to pay a little more for well-made grooming products.
SteelMclean Oil Purpose
There’s little this multi-tasking oil from Mclean’s line can’t do. Its original blend of soybean, sweet almond, and peppermint oil hydrates and refreshes both facial hair and the skin underneath. A few drops is all you need. And another perk? You can also use it on the hair on your head, face, even body.
$23.36 at SteelMclean.com
Art Naturals Beard & Mustache Balm
This all-natural product — it features organic argan and jojoba oils, and mango butter — provides just enough hold and control, without a greasy or waxy residue. It rinses out easily, too, and also helps combat itchiness and unsightly "beardruff."
$12.95 at Amazon.com
Beard & Mustache Scissors With Comb
These stainless steel scissors are sized small, so you can maneuver around and snip all the hard-to-reach spots with ease. To sweeten the deal, they come with a handy comb for precise shaping, and a case to keep those tools clean and sharp
$16.97 at Amazon.com
Bluebeards Original Extra Conditioning Beard Wash
Use this mild, sulfate-free wash to deeply cleanse your hard-earned beard and mustache, without stripping your hair or skin. Because it’s so moisturizing, you don’t need to use a conditioner afterwards.
$18.50 at Amazon.com
Beardbrand Tree Ranger Beard Oil