Sorry, Guys, Beard Growth Products Are (Mostly) Bullshit

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If you’re a man in 2021 and you don’t have a beard already, then you’ve at least thought about how amazing it would be to have a truly magnificent beard. But maybe you find you have a hard time getting your desired beard gains.

That’s where beard growth products can help. Or, can they?

It’s well documented that we can fight pattern baldness with certain hair loss products. For guys with receding hairlines, there’s minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine), which is applied topically to your scalp. Finasteride, a prescription medication that promotes hair growth, is also a popular hair loss treatment.

But what about all those beard growth supplements and oils? If we’re to believe the marketing, there’s a whole slew of over-the-counter beard growth products that can help promote facial hair growth.

We spoke to a few medical experts and grooming experts to get the inside scoop on these products. Do they perform as advertised?

The consensus was clear: most beard growth products will not directly promote beard hair growth. Unfortunately for our unbearded brethren, there’s no miracle elixir that will deliver faster beard growth, no matter what that beard growth oil says.

If you want to learn how to grow your beard faster, the hard truth is that you need to manage your expectations. So unless you’re making an appointment with a hair loss surgeon or taking prescription finasteride, your beard is already growing as fast as it can.

The only products that are known to promote hair growth are minoxidil and finasteride, which aren’t in most beard growth supplements, shampoos and oils. If you’re not using these medications, then you aren’t doing anything to directly promote hair growth.

However, that doesn’t mean that all beard growth products are total BS. For instance, the more responsible grooming companies only suggest that taking better care of your skin and facial hair could promote optimal hair growth, which is true enough. There are also situations where a particular product can help promote hair growth in response to a specific medical condition, such as vitamin D deficiency, thyroid and hormone imbalances, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out in clumps. For example, people suffering from a biotin deficiency could see positive hair growth by taking biotin, but only if they’re suffering from a known biotin deficiency, and that’s not usually something you can confirm with a Google search.

But let’s jump into the individual kinds of beard growth products that claim to promote facial hair growth. We’ll break down what the experts say, whether or not they work, and if not, what benefits they might still offer.

Do Beard Growth Oils Work?

We’re sorry to say that even the best beard oils do not directly promote beard hair growth in any way.

Dr. Corey L. Hartman, the founder and medical director of Skin Wellness Dermatology and assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, told us that while oils may give your beard a healthy sheen, they’re not doing anything to actually promote hair growth.

He told us ingredients such “castor oil and coconut oil won’t do anything to make your beard grow.” He added that if you’re hoping they’ll somehow stimulate growth or turn your beard hair to its active growth phase, “that’s not going to happen.”

Kari Knight, a dermatology certified nurse practitioner and the founder of Kari Knight Dermatology in Washington, agreed with that assessment. She said ingredients such as essential oils “play absolutely no role in hair growth when applied topically.”

Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist and writer for Zelen Life, a skincare website, suggested that no beard growth product, including beard oil, will make much of a difference if the guy in question doesn’t know what’s causing his hair not to grow.

But in the interest of some balance, we reached out to Beardoholic, a beard product and grooming website, for opinions. The site disputed the idea that beard growth oils are totally useless, and a spokesperson suggested to SPY that oils can indirectly promote growth by promoting healthier skin and hair.

A Beardoholic spokesperson told SPY, “Beard growth oils often contain unrefined jojoba and pure argan oil that moisturize the skin underneath your beard. These oils help remove dead skin cells and other impediments, which encourages faster beard growth. They can also contain niacin (vitamin B3) that improves your body circulation. That means more nutrient-carrying blood will reach the facial hair follicles and encourage your beard growth.”

But even Beardoholic offered two caveats applicable to all beard growth products. “There is no ‘magical’ beard growth product that can make your facial hair grow miraculously,” and whatever beard products you do try, “consistency is the key…It will take time to see significant results from the product.”

While we concede that using oils and having healthier skin and hair certainly won’t hurt beard growth, they do not directly promote beard growth, as many sites market them.

Verdict: Oils do not directly promote beard growth, but the best beard oils will promote overall beard health.

Biotin and Other Vitamins

Another classic so-called beard growth product is biotin. Biotin reportedly helps strengthen hair and nails, but does it promote new growth?

According to most experts, biotin gummies and similar beard growth supplements won’t won’t either.

Dr. Hartman said it was a “misconception that biotin makes your hair grow.” He clarified that you could see improvement in hair strength if you’re biotin deficient, but noted that most people aren’t. “I wouldn’t expect biotin to drastically change the makeup of the hair.”

Knight said the same thing. “Biotin, a B vitamin, is often recommended for hair growth in general and can be helpful to supplement, but only in the case of a deficiency. If an individual is not biotin-deficient, there is no evidence that taking extra will improve hair growth.”

That being said, a lot of people still believe in the power of supplements like biotin, which is often touted as a way to support hair growth.

But scientifically speaking, biotin, and really any vitamin that you’re not deficient in, isn’t doing anything special that would result in new hair growth, whether on your face or scalp.

Verdict: Biotin doesn’t directly promote new hair growth for the vast majority of people, though some people still believe it can strengthen existing hair.

Minoxidil & Beard Hair

Everybody SPY spoke to for this article mentioned minoxidil as a potent treatment for hair loss and encouraging new hair growth. It’s uncommon as a feature of beard growth products but a mainstay for treating scalp pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia.

Dr. Chacon flagged minoxidil because it’s available over the counter “and has clinical evidence supporting its use” in pattern baldness and telogen effluvium, a hair loss disorder caused by early onset of the telogen phase of hair growth, which allows for more-than-typical hair shedding.

And for what it’s worth, both Knight and Dr. Hartman endorsed topical minoxidil for hair growth too.

Though the effects of minoxidil on beard growth haven’t been extensively studied, limited studies suggest it is safe and effective, and everyone we spoke to mentioned it as a beard growth product that should actually work. There’s also plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the use of minoxidil for beard growth, including news reports and from online groups such as The Minox Beard Spot.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only recommended minoxidil to treat scalp baldness. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for your beard, but only that the FDA doesn’t have enough information to greenlight it (or redlight it, for that matter) for beards.

Verdict: Topical minoxidil is likely to improve beard hair growth, though it hasn’t been extensively studied or approved for that use.

The Verdict? Focus on Beard and Skin Health, Forget the Miracle Cures

Knight aptly summarized the truth about most beard growth products marketed to promote faster hair growth, saying, “Many of the products marketed for beard growth smell fantastic, are great at keeping the facial area clean and the beard conditioned, but they do nothing at the molecular level to stimulate growth at the hair follicle.”

In short, unless you’re using clinically proven ingredients, your beard growth products aren’t doing anything to make your beard grow faster and longer, though they are probably keeping your beard feeling clean, healthy and strong.

So, now that we know what works and what doesn’t work, here are some products that can actually help with your beard hair and skin. But keep in mind, there are no silver bullets. You might not be able to grow a beard because of genes, and there’s nothing you can do to change your genes. If you have concerns about accelerating hair loss or believe you may have a hormonal imbalance that’s causing hair loss, talk to your doctor, not your search engine.

1. Viviscal Extra Strength Dietary Supplement

Anything you ingest to promote hair growth will help hair growth all over your body because it’s affecting, and typically prolonging, your body’s biological hair growth phase. For one product that might help with that, Dr. Hartman recommended Viviscal supplements. He said he’s had multiple patients in his clinic rave about improved hair growth while using Viviscal supplements and that it’s mild and won’t upset your stomach. Be aware that this won’t replace lost hair; it will only promote growth among existing hair. Supplements aren’t approved by the FDA here in the United States, so we can’t speak to its effectiveness. However, if you’re determined to try beard growth supplements, this is one popular option.

2. Minoxidil Topical Solution

Minoxidil is one of the only proven treatments to promote new hair growth. There are many different brands offering minoxidil treatments, but just about any minoxidil product will work for this situation. Rogaine is the gold standard and comes as a foam, but you can get cheaper minoxidil from Kirkland, and Hims offers an excellent subscription plan so the minoxidil is shipped to your door every three months.

Please keep in mind that the FDA has only approved minoxidil medications for use on the scalp, and the Mayo Clinic advises men that ‘Minoxidil topical foam or solution is for use on the scalp only.”

3. Hims Finasteride

We already know finasteride works for pattern baldness, but Dr. Hartman explained that anything taken orally will affect hair growth over your whole body. He said oral hair growth products, like finasteride, will “prolong the phase of growth, the anagen phase … The longer you can extend that growth phase, it’ll work.” So, why go for specialized beard growth products when you can get something you know already works?

That’s why we recommend getting some finasteride from Hims to promote your beard hair growth. As a telemedicine company, Hims has a doctor review your claims and prescribe a supply of finasteride, which will be delivered directly to your door. Just take it once a day to minimize hair loss and promote new hair growth.

4. Beard Wash & Cleansers

While cleansers won’t promote the growth of new hair, they will keep your beard hair and skin clean, which could indirectly promote growth as well as stronger, healthier hair. And that is important: Keeping your beard clean will also help you avoid fungal and bacterial infections which will definitely negatively affect growth. Knight, the dermatology certified nurse practitioner, recommended gentle facial cleansers like CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleaner or Cetaphil Facial Cleanser “to keep the beard in good condition without stripping the facial skin.”

And then there’s always beard shampoos and washes, which use oils and cleansers to clean and moisturize your beard and the skin beneath it. The Live Bearded Beard Wash will totally deliver the clean hydration you need to at least set your beard up for new growth, if not actually directly deliver the beard hair growth you want.