(Originally Aired on 5/11/19)
Beards: the fuzzy face accessory that society has deemed the ultimate symbol of manliness. Because of this it’s no wonder so many trans men want to grow one so badly. For many, this is what makes the biggest difference in how strangers on the street read your gender, and takes them from the awkward teenage boy look to the full blown manly man manness so that they can man all the way to man town.
Usually once you start taking testosterone, the face fuzz comes in naturally, but is it really just that easy? Well, a lot of that has to do with your genetics. There are cis men who can’t grow a beard to save their lives, and the same is true for trans men. Some can grow a full ZZ Top beard, and some can only dream of a mild stubble. Some have to wait a few years on T before things start to fill out, and some are just the play-doh fuzzy pumper. If you don’t remember that toy, it’s a little dude that you shove play-doh into and he grows a beard and hair. Google it, children.
So if you’re not blessed with the fuzz, do you just give up and accept a life of perpetual baby face? Not necessarily. There are a few things you can do to try to coax your follicle friends to do you a solid.
For one thing, wash your face! Good facial hygiene promotes beard growth for the simple reason that healthy follicles are more likely to actually do their job. Use a good facial cleanser that is right for your skin type, exfoliate every so often, and moisturize! Just because you’re a man does not mean you need to look like you just emerged from deep within the mountains.
While we’re at it, let’s take care of the rest of our body care habits. Sleep well, eat healthy, and exercise, and you’ll be doing your face a solid in promoting correct blood flow and nutrients to you skin. Your face will thank you, and do you a solid right back in the form of the glorious fuzz. Results will vary, because again, genetics are a thing.
Some men find that a good, natural beard oil helps them fill in patchiness and grow fuller and healthier beards. This is primarily because the natural beard oils use plant extracts that promote healthy skin. That being said, you should treat these oils the same way that you would a dietary supplement, and remember that they are not regulated by the FDA, nor are they considered to be an actual medical treatment. Not to mention you always run the risk of allergic reaction if you are starting any new supplement regimen.
Along those same lines of natural remedies, there are also supplements that can be taken orally to promote the health and growth of hair, skin, and nails. You can find these over the counter at your local pharmacy or supplement shop. Again, always take precautions before starting any new supplement regimen, and consult your doctor or herbalist to make sure that it will not negatively interact with anything else you may have going on medically.
There are some men that skip all the natural plant stuff and go straight for the Minidoxil, aka Rogaine. This is a chemical compound that has been around for a few decades now, and is generally used by cis men to fight male pattern baldness and thinning hair. The chemicals in it are meant to stimulate the follicles and kick them back into gear to grow thicker, stronger hairs. If you do opt for this method, make sure you follow the direction to the letter to ensure it works the way it’s supposed to. I’d also recommend consulting your doctor before starting that kind of treatment, just to make sure that it does not negatively affect anything else going on in or on your body.
There are also some men who use a process called microneedling to promote hair growth. The tool used is also called a dermaroller, and it consists of a cylinder covered in teeny tiny needles that you roll across your skin. These needles cause the body to send out signals that it’s being damaged, causing your body to send keratin and collagen to the area to do repairs, both of which promote stronger, thicker hair. The act of rolling itself also promotes blood flow. And, you know, us trans masc individuals just can’t get enough of needles, right?
There is also a theory involving red light and its effects on the skin, hair follicles, and androgen receptors. The idea is that if you have a red light of the appropriate wattage for a specific period of time it will stimulate the skin and follicles in just the right way that you’ll grow a beard easier. However, I would definitely suggest additional research and talking to your doctor before any lengthy exposure to any form of light.
There you have it my future fuzzy friends, just a few examples of how you can potentially promote hair growth in all the right places.