How Do I Deal with a Patchy Beard?

Kay Paddock

A patchy beard is one that has thin or bare spots mixed in with normal hair growth. There are many different types of beards, and some show patches more than others. A patchy beard can sometimes be made thicker by cutting or trimming the beard into a particular beard shape, shaving and letting the hair re-grow or by using medications designed to promote hair growth. A beard transplant, which involves transplanting hairs onto the face, is also a permanent solution for a patchy beard that some men may wish to consider.

A beard may benefit from being shaved off and allowed it to regrow.
A beard may benefit from being shaved off and allowed it to regrow.

Growing a beard is not something everyone can do successfully. Some men have naturally thick hair that grows on their faces, while others may only get thin coverage. There also are men who have both thick and thin coverage and cannot grow a beard that offers full coverage. One or more patches of thin hair can mar the look of the beard. When a patchy beard is seen as a distraction from a person's looks, a number of things can be done to minimize the patchiness.

Someone who grows a patchy beard may use an electric razor to help shape their facial hair.
Someone who grows a patchy beard may use an electric razor to help shape their facial hair.

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The method that often offers the best guarantee of filling in a patchy beard is a beard transplant. Done much like a hair transplant, the procedure comes with side effects, such as soreness and the possibility of infection. Additionally, a transplant will not work in every case. People who suffer with alopecia areata, which simply means facial hair loss, will typically have one or more bald or thin patches in their facial hair. These cases can usually not be corrected even with a transplant because the disease itself would destroy the newly implanted hairs.

Beard problems not related to alopecia can usually be corrected with a transplant. This type of procedure is not something every man wants to do, however. Other options include doctor-prescribed medications that can help promote new beard growth. Choosing from beard styles that minimize the bald patches and draw the eye elsewhere can also be a good choice.

A patchy beard may look less uneven if the hairs are shorter rather than longer. A thick beard typically draws more notice than a thin one, so it is only natural for fewer people to notice the patchiness of a thin beard. If the beard appears patchy simply because of lighter patches of hair, dye might help give the beard a more uniform color and disguise the lighter patches.

A first beard or a thin and uneven one may also benefit from being shaved off. The hair, contrary to the popular notion, will not grow faster after it is cut or shaved. It can, however, grow back in at different angles and in new places, filling in a patchy beard and giving the face a more even appearance.

Eating a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods such as spinach, may prove helpful when trying to grow a thicker beard.
Eating a diet rich in biotin, which is found in foods such as spinach, may prove helpful when trying to grow a thicker beard.

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Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- Have you tried beard oil? I've heard that oil works very well for some people. Natural oils can nourish hair and encourage growth.


@fBoyle-- It's hard to comment without seeing pictures, but my recommendation is to leave your beard alone and to let it grow.

Contrary to popular belief, shaving frequently does not make facial hair grow faster and it doesn't make it grow neater and without patches either. In fact, it makes things worse. Minor patches will disappear on their own if the beard is allowed to grow to a good length. Give yourself at least two months of growth time and see if those patches go away. More than likely, they will.

If you have a very patchy beard and hair loss that does not disappear with time, then you can think about hair growth treatments.


Unfortunately, a beard transplant is not an option for me. I need a different solution. My facial hair is not very thin, but it's sparse and the hairs grow in different directions. So my beard has a patchy look and I want it to look fuller and neater.

Should I shave my beard and start over? Should I try hair growth treatments?


@clintflint - You might think you don't like facial hair but there have been studies that show that women and men are both more likely to be attracted to or respect someone who has it.

I mean, we aren't used to it because it's not seen very often these days, but in reality facial hair would have been the norm a few thousand years ago, so it makes sense that our brains would unconsciously like to see it on adult men.


@pastanaga - Honestly, I don't even think facial hair looks that good most of the time. I think people should be able to choose what they do with their bodies, but if patchy beard growth was bothering me, I'd just shave it all off and have done with it.

This seems to be a problem for younger men and they generally grow out of it eventually anyway.

A lot of my male friends had patchy facial hair when we were younger but they are almost all capable of growing a full beard now, if they wanted to.


Apparently in countries where facial hair is a matter of pride, beard and mustache transplants are very common. I actually kind of like this fact, because I think people in the US tend to think of women as being naturally superficial because they have the majority of cosmetic surgeries there.

But it's a cultural thing and when there is pressure on men to look a certain way they are just as willing to jump under the knife, even to correct patchy facial hair.

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