The average man has 30,000 beard hairs on his face, and each one is doing its own thing. Some grow fast, some grow slow, and some grow all curly and weird. Additionally, beard hair behaves differently depending on where on your face it sprouts from.
Let’s break it down. Facial hair grows in 5 different areas:
- The mustache - the hair above the upper lip.
- The soul patch, flavor savor, or jazz dot - the patch of hair directly underneath the bottom lip.
- The goatee - the hair on the front of the chin, above the jawline, and expanding to the cheeks.
- The side-burns or mutton-chops - the hair on the cheeks above the jawline.
- The neck - everything that grows below the jawline.
Facial hair grows differently in each of the five growth areas, and rarely grows in a way that is even and uniform. This becomes especially noticeable around two to six weeks of beard growth when the hair has gone from mere stubble to the beginnings of a beard. It’s natural for a beard to be patchy and disconnected at this point.
Growth patterns differ from person to person and are highly subjective to a person’s age and genetics. Additionally, the hair that grows in each of these areas has its own unique terminal length, which again varies from person to person. This is why some men can grow long handlebar mustaches while others can’t, or why some men have soul patches that are the entire width of the bottom lip, and some don’t.
The majority of the bulk and shape of a beard actually comes from hair that grows on the neck. Typically, neck hair has the longest terminal length of all five growth areas and has a tendency to grow a little bit faster than the rest of your beard.
THE 3 PHASES OF BEARD GROWTH
All hair growth—beard hair included—goes through three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
The Anagen Phase
The anagen phase of the hair growth cycle represents the growing stage. The cells in the root of hair follicles divide at a rapid rate during the anagen phase, which can last from two to six years, perhaps even more. The length of your anagen phase is determined by your DNA. During this phase, the root continuously divides, and hair strands may grow a half-inch, or more, per month.
The Catagen Phase
Catagen is the shortest of the three phases and represents the “transitional” part of the cycle. Hair growth stops during the catagen phase, and hair strands become separated from the hair follicles and attach to the skin. Additionally, the blood supply to the hair cuts off completely. Hair that’s in the catagen phase has stopped growing and is no longer in the active stage. This typically lasts for two to three weeks.
The Telogen Phase
New, incoming hair pushes the old hair out—eventually causing it to fall off during the telogen phase. While the old hair sheds, the follicle returns to the anagen phase to start the growth cycle over. The telogen phase typically lasts for two to four months.