Why can’t I grow a beard?

Let’s answer the question, ‘Why can’t I grow a beard?’ Not being able to grow a beard can have various reasons.

Let me list the most common ones down below.

Why can't I grow a beard? Potential reasons

  1. Genetics

    One of the aspects that affect beard growth is genetics.

    Like a lot of things in life, it comes down to genetics, to the “luck of the draw.” Genetics can be the main reason why you can’t grow a beard, seeing as genetics and beard growth are directly correlated.

    Some people can smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and live a healthy life up to the blessed age of 100. However, these guys are very few in between, and I would certainly not recommend anyone trying it out just because some rare individuals can do so.

    The same can be said about beard growth. Your genetics will primarily determine whether you have it in you to grow a beard or not.

    Genetics are passed from generation to generation. Thus, by default, you get your genetics from your parents, and they from their parents before them. If your dad and grandfather can grow a full beard (or god forbid, your mother or grandmother) then chances are you will be able to do so as well. If you are a man, that is.

    When we are talking about the genetics of beard growth, we are talking about androgens. Androgens are a group of hormones who are responsible for the typical masculine traits men experience during/after puberty. These androgens typically deepen the voice of men during puberty, as well as allowing them to grow body/facial hair.

    The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts the androgen hormone testosterone into a different hormone, which we call dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

    When DHT binds to the receptors of your hair follicles, it stimulates the growth of facial hair. However, even though DHT works stimulating for beard growth, it inhibits the growth of hair on one’s head.

    It should be noted that the potency of the effect of DHT is not only determined by the amount of DHT, but also by the hair follicles’ sensitivity to the DHT present. This sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone is largely determined by one’s genetics. This means that it will be hard to grow a beard if it’s not in your genes. However, there are some things we can do to optimize our genetics.

  2. Age

    Young adult men often have a harder time growing a beard than older adult men.

    This comes as no surprise, since men generally experience increased beard growth/density until around the age of 30, and sometimes even beyond that.

    This means that it’s very hard to know at what age your beard will be fully grown, or at what age you will start growing a beard for that matter.

    In some cultures, the full beard is looked at as a signal of maturity and wisdom. This might be related due to the fact that younger men typically have trouble growing a thick, full beard.

  3. Ethnicity

    A person’s race can have a profound effect on their ability to grow facial hair or, rather, the amount of facial hair they can genetically grow.

    Let us take facial hair patterns by ethnicity, for example. Studies have shown that people from Mediterranean countries tend to be able to grow a thicker, fuller beard compared to people from different regions. Keep in mind that these are averages, so outliers can and should be expected.

    Chinese men have been reported to generally have less facial hair growth compared to their Caucasian peers. It has been noted that the beard growth of Chinese men tend to concentrate around the mouth, while Caucasian men mostly have their facial hair located on the chin, neck, and cheeks.

    These are just a couple of examples of how beards can be different by ethnicity.

  4. Low testosterone levels

    Low testosterone is not ideal for beard growth.

    Low testosterone levels are rather unusual, unless you are a man who’s already at an advanced age.

    However, it is entirely possible to be a young man, in his 20s or 30s suffering from low testosterone. And it’s impossible to grow a beard without testosterone because testosterone and beard growth go hand in hand.

    People with low testosterone levels will produce fewer androgens and DHT and therefore, there will be less masculinizing androgens present in the body.

    This means that low T levels can potentially impact one’s ability to grow facial hair. For this to happen, however, your testosterone levels have to be clinically low.

    Low testosterone symptoms include:

    – Low sex drive
    – Erectile disfunction
    – Fatigue
    – Irritability
    – Frequent mood changes
    – Trouble building muscle mass
    – Increased amount of body fat

    Take note that more testosterone does not necessarily mean more facial hair. As the hair follicles’ receptors ultimately decide if the testerone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which decides if you can grow a beard or not.

  5. Alopecia areata

    Alopecia areata is classified as an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system attacks its own body. In this case, the immune system attacks one’s hair follicles.

    Allopecia areata can cause the hair of the afflicted person to fall out in patches. Be it the hair on your head, or the hair of your beard.

    No cure has been established yet for alopecia areata. But there are several treatment options available, such as:

    Minoxidil
    – Dithranol
    – Phototherapy
    – Oral immunosuppressants
    – Topical immunotherapy
    – Corticosteroid creams
    – Cortisone tablets
    – Steroid injections

    Important to always remember is that just because you can’t grow a beard does not mean that you are any less of a man than those who can! A man is not just defined by physicality, but also by personality.