A beard-grooming enthusiast who writes about beard products, styling and other related facial hair trivia who also sports a beardstache.
Six Stages of Beard Growth
Are you about to embark on the bearded journey to full on beardom? Well, props to you it takes a whole boat load of patience and man determination, but one’s thing for sure — it’s totally worth it.
Of course as you might have come to realise there are a few different stages (specifically around about 6, but you will soon see they gradual overlap — so they aren’t completely distinctive) of beard growth each representing their own obstacles and challenges.
And that’s exactly what I want to run through with you today — the six stages of growing a beard and specifically what you should expect as well as what issues you will be facing at different stages, and how to best tackle them.
See unlike what a lot of people seem to think, a proper beard doesn’t take 5 weeks to grow out and it’s miraculously there, it’s more like 5 months of tender love and care.
There are basically six major stages of beard growth that you’ve got to contend with:
- Clean Shaven
- Light Stubble
- Heavy Stubble
- Short Beard
- Medium Beard
- Full on Beard
Beard Growth Stage 1: Clean Shaven
You’ve gotta start from somewhere right? And to be honest, there’s no better place to start, than actually from clean-shaven — that way you can start in the best manner. If you are unsure on whether you can even grow a beard, we recommend you start here on "How to Know if you can grow a beard".
See even at this very first beard growth stage there are a couple of things you can be doing to ensure that the whole ‘growing’ a beard process can be a lot easier for you in the long run.
Firstly, it’s about making sure you start off on the right foot and do a clean cut to start the beard growth off. Use a proper straight or safety razor rather than an electric trimmer, this will allow for a cleaner cut and the ‘itchy beard’ that’s coming in stage 2 will be less of an issue.
I would even start prepping for a basic beard care routine now, a couple of splashes of beard oil to help moisturise the skin and prep the inner beard. Plus, making sure that you are feeding the inner beard, making sure you are getting biotin and a range of vitamins.
On the whole, this is about doing — pretty much nothing. Let the growth do the work.
Beard Growth Stage 2: Light Stubble
This is about the 2–3 week stage of beard growth that most guys endure from stage 1 — and it’s also where most guys reach and end up shaving it off. Why?
Cause they reach the dreaded itchy beard phase (also known as the awkward beard stage) and it’s a literal pain.
Like we alluded to in stage one, it’s basically a result of the jagged hairs digging into your skin and because they are so short at this stage — they are quite rigid — so they have a good go at irritating your skin. Then it starts all over again, like a shaving catch 22.
Grin and bear it for another couple of weeks or so and it soon passes (or the irritability at leasts lessens considerably), see growing out your beard allows the hairs to become more flexible allowing your beard to not be as irritable.
Plus, there’s a range of things you can do to help soften and sooth the itch — mainly keep up with applying beard oil daily and don’t do anything to irritate or dry up your skin (don’t apply fragrances that contain alcohol, don’t shower with the water being too hot).
Make sure you are still carrying on with a good skin care routine as well. What often happens is guys who start to grow out facial hair, find the stubble and eventually beard gets in the way — as a result the quality of their skin suffers.
Don’t be that guy. Now although beard oil helps to some extent what can start to happen is you can start to suffer with dry skin under the beard — this later leads to beard dandruff. Save yourself a headache and keep applying a moisturiser and face wash — don’t be afraid to get right in there with your fingers and get in amongst the oncoming beard growth to reach your skin.
Beard Growth Stage 3: Heavy Stubble (Stubble Beard)
At this stage you (around 4–6 weeks worth of beard growth) you have should have just about made it through the worst part of your beard causing you physical grief at least.
Now though, you’re probably going to through a bit of a scruffy phase — where your beard doesn’t really know what it wants to be — with this the problem is more of a social aspect. Expect the mocking jokes and people taking the mick, it’s not on, but I just want you to be prepared for it cause it does happen.
Unfortunately, this is the other major reason why a guy will eventually shave off or at least trim their beard.
That’s why I always recommend a good time to be growing a beard is around mid October time. Why? Well you have a good couple of weeks lead into Novemeber with No Shave November and/or Movember — where you now have an excuse for an extra 4 weeks of growth. Then after that, you have another 4 weeks with Decembeard? Plus, you might get an extra 2 weeks or so holiday over the Christmas period.
It’s a difficult one, but what you will probably find is those very people who were mocking you at this stage, are the very same people who will come out complimenting you once your beard has fully grown.
You might have even started to have your own doubts about your beard too, most new beard growers do at this stage. It’s a little patchy? It doesn’t look right? It’s growing uneven? This is completely normal at this phase, remember what I said just a few moments about this being the scruffy stage — this is exactly the sort of thing I’m referencing — don’t worry and stay strong (resist that razor) a few more weeks growth and you will
Like I say, it’s tough but don’t reach for that trimmer — just yet (and even then it’s only to care of the trimming aspects). Keep going with it, keep up the basic beard care routine of applying beard oil daily.
At this stage, it might be worth starting to shampoo and cleanse your beard too but the bottom line is you need to be making sure that you aren’t using a regular shampoo on your beard as ultimately this will ruin it (by stripping out all the natural oils and preventing any from getting in).
Instead, use either a dedicated ‘beard’ shampoo or a natural soap that will gently cleanse it — you don’t want to be doing this everyday either, just once a week is about right at this stage.
Beard Growth Stage 4: Short Beard
At this stage around 8–10 weeks in, you should have what starts to resemble an actual a beard, a short one but a beard nonetheless.
This is where you can start to think about what it is you actually want to start doing with your beard in terms of shape and style — think about your general face shape and the quality of beard you have to work with. You might even pop to a beard barber for them to have a good a trim up (even with potential fading) and at least put in the initial shape up for you to maintain.
It should be about this stage, that you actually start to feel pretty darn good about your beard and that the previous 3 months of had work and patience is starting to pay off. With your beard being trimmed up, the scraggly beard aspect should have been dealt with as well as any unruly fly aways that you have been having to contend with.
In all, give yourself a pat on the back as you have pretty much entered the realm of beardom. Of course, you can keep your beard at this length and just keep it trimmed back either through regular trimming yourself or with a few visits to the barber.
If you haven’t already you can and should start to experiment with a few more beard products too such as beard balm which is basically like a leave in conditioner. Or if you are after something that’s going to give you a bit more hold and style with your beard, it could certainly be worth looking into a beard wax to try out.
Around about now, if you haven’t already it’s worth thinking about investing in a beard comb or beard brush (in particular a boar’s bristle brush). If the beard conditioning products is one half of the beard grooming aspect to keeping a good quality beard, then to me this is certainly what I would consider the other half.
Up until now regularly applying beard oil has been fine — but if you want to maintain a neat good looking beard from now on in — a tool like a comb or brush is what’s going to neaten it up. Plus, it will help with distribution of the oil and balm. Remember to also keep up with the skin care, it could even be worth thinking about investing in a clarisonic if you are really starting to struggle.
Beard Growth Stage 5: Medium Beard
Around the 4 to 6 month mark, you will have gained a few extra inches on the depths of your beard and should have a set of dashing whiskers that is looking rather badass.
From here on in, it’s just about making sure that you are maintaining it and keeping it in good shape. You will have already by this time come to some sort of beard grooming routine, but it should resemble something like the following:
Applying a beard oil daily — obviously upping the dose from the earlier stages, whether that be in the morning or at night (perhaps even twice daily if it is particularly humid) along with a brush or comb to keep everything in check. When your beard gets dirty, as we spoke about earlier you want to be doing that not too often, perhaps once or twice a week when it gets to this length.
At this stage, it's time to start deciding whether you are going to stop shaving the neckbeard as well.
You could start to think about a beard conditioner (also known as a beard softener) — these are essentially the beard equivalent of a hair conditioner. These can be applied daily and it’s something I do pretty much otherwise I can feel my beard getting sort of groggy.
At this stage it’s also apparent whether you have a curly beard or not? If you do, I say embrace it — besides beards are meant to be curly — but a lot of guys aren’t so keen, if this is you there are techniques to help the beard straightened out.
Beard Growth Stage 6: Long Beard (Yeard)
For the really committed amongst you, you can for the longer beard (8 months worth) or gain some real respect amongst the beard community and go all out for a yeard (technically though, you shouldn’t actually trim that ‘even once’.
At this length it takes a lot of maintaining, a regular brush down to keep the beard in check as well a whole load of beard oil and products being used on it regularly (so it can get on the expensive side, unless you are planning on making a lot of the products yourself — homemade style).
But finally, you can bask in all your bearded glory and see the benvy (beard envy) in men’s eyes as their women gaze upon your luscious manly mane. Plus, it’s something to be pretty proud of too. A lot of patience, care and commitment went into that beard.
Please bear in mind the guidelines above should be taken as exactly that “guidelines” the truth is everyone’s beard is different and will look different at varying stages.
There are varying factors to consider that have a say on one’s ability to grow out a beard for instance like age, hence people’s hair grows at varying rates, some hairs will appear darker and thicker than others — giving the appearance of a fuller beard — plus at the end of the day some just have more beard friendly genetics.
Have a stint of growing it out for 10 weeks, by that time you should be able to judge exactly ‘how well’ you can grow a beard — assess it from there — and see if you want to carry on growing. Even then though, if you have got a patchy beard — all is not lost — there’s still ways of rocking that look as well (think Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp).
Like always, if you have any questions, comments or queries on the beard growth stages, please don’t hesitate to go right ahead and shoot them down in the comments below .
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jonathan Lees