Most men are able to grow a bit of facial hair, but can’t quite pull off the full beard because their facial hair is full of bald spots and sparse areas, while many men also struggle with growing beard on the cheeks specifically.
Patchy beard is a very common problem, but luckily, it can be remedied with the ten ways to fix a patchy beard I’m about to share below, which will easily turn your wispy thin beard into a respectable one.
Some of the methods stimulate new beard growth directly and make the existing facial hair fibers larger in diameter (helping you get a thicker beard) while some are purely cosmetic “hacks” to make your beard appear fuller and less patchy (kind of like using temporary beard fillers is).
“When you use them together, there is no way that your beard would not end up looking more dense, thick, and full.”
How can I be so sure? Well, I’ve done it myself, and I’ve seen thousands of men utilize these same techniques, with proven before-afters to post about it.
If you make it to the end, I will share a bit of info about my own patchy beard success story (and the routine I used), but please, before you do make sure to read and comprehend the patchy beard solutions I’m about to explain below.
They are powerful, and some of them are pretty underground stuff. I know it all sounds just too good to be true, but just stick with me for a bit and I will promise you it will all be worth it.
NOTE: If your patchiness is only targeting the upper lip, we do also have a specific guide on fixing a patchy mustache.
Ready to get started? Let’s get that patchy beard of yours filled up:
Why Do I Have a Patchy Beard?
It was believed before that the hair and beard growth genes were passed down from your mother’s side, but currently, the scientific consensus appears to be that they can come from either one or a bit from both.
If most of the men in your family have thick full beards, then it’s likely that you will also be able to grow one. If not, then it will be more and more likely that you were not dealt the best hand in terms of facial hair genetics.
Don’t fret though, some of the tricks I’m about to share below are powerful enough to fix even the most hopeless cases of sparse beard.
Low Levels of Beard Growth Hormones
Facial hair is androgenic-hair, which means that it grows in response to the male hormones; testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
If your levels of these two hormones are low, then it’s likely that your beard growth rate and the overall density will be lacking. On the flip-side, if your levels of T and DHT are high, you can expect faster growth and fuller coverage.
To understand just how powerful the impact of these two hormones is, you only have to look at FtM trans-people, who can often grow full beards soon after starting testosterone injections.
Unresponsive Androgen Receptors
In some cases, testosterone and DHT levels can be high, but the beard still has bald spots in it.
This is likely caused by poor sensitivity in the androgen receptors within the facial hair follicle cells.
You see, in order for testosterone and DHT to have any actual impact on your facial hair growth, they have to be able to enter the DNA of the beard follicle cells, and to enter, the hormones need to bind with the androgen receptor.
Think of the hormones as keys, and the receptors as locks. Even if you have plenty of good keys, it won’t help if the locks don’t work.
One example of this in practice are Asian men, who are genetically predisposed to having less sensitive androgen receptors – which causes them to have a harder time growing full beards – even though their testosterone levels are on par and sometimes even higher than what is seen with Caucasian or African men.
Poor Circulation in the Cheeks
The cheek area is known to have weaker surface circulation than the area around your mouth and chin.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s much easier to grow mustache and goatee, but filling up the upper cheeks may seem impossible.
Lifestyle (Poor Nutrition, Stress, Lack of Sleep, etc)
Deficiency in vitamins and minerals, poor sleep quality, low sleep duration, chronic stress, and low-calorie fitness-bunny diets are all known of wrecking your natural hormone production.
And when the endocrine system starts to shut down, one of the first to go are the reproductive hormones (testosterone and DHT), which just so also happen to be the main hormones that regulate your facial hair growth and density.
Medical Conditions (Alopecia Barbae & Areata)
In rare cases, beard patchiness can be caused by medical conditions such as Alopecia Barbae and Alopecia Areata. This type of spot baldness forms perfectly round coin-shaped bald spots into the beard area.
Alopecia Barbae and Areata are autoimmune conditions where the immune system mistakes healthy facial hair follicles as foreign cells and attacks them.
Currently, there is no known fix for alopecia – even though it can often randomly resolve itself.
If your patchy beard growth is caused by either one of these, then I’m sorry to say but I’m not able to help you out with the tips below, and you should instead seek advice from a doctor that specializes in autoimmune skin and hair conditions.
How to Fix a Patchy Beard in 10 Steps
1. First Just Try Letting it Grow
I promise to get to the actually helpful tricks soon enough, but let’s start from this boring fact first…
To really know if your beard is patchy or not, you should let it grow out first.
Not for weeks (I’m sure you have heard of the 4-week rule) but instead about two months or so.
The reason being that most beards look incredibly patchy during the first weeks and months of growth, especially on the cheek area which tends to grow in slower than the rest of the face.
So if you truly want to start assessing the damage and figure out how patchy your beard really is (the problem areas), then grow out your beard for roughly 2 months and then trim it all to the same length to get a good idea of where you’re starting from.
It might be that your beard was really not patchy at all and you just had a case of a slow growing beard.
2. Eat Foods that Can Help Reduce Patchiness
While there are no foods that could grow you a beard when you can’t normally grow a beard, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any foods that couldn’t help.
As explained, you need good levels of the hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone for a fuller less patchy beard growth…
And as luck would have it, there are foods that can help you increase the levels of both of those hormones, which will definitely help fill out your beard over time.
Here’s a quick list of some good ones:
- Sorghum – an ancient grain which has been shown in one study to increase the levels of an enzyme that produces DHT by 54%.
- Oysters – rich in zinc and selenium, two of the most important minerals for maintaining the beard growth hormones (source).
- Olive oil – in a study of Moroccan men, using olive oil as the main fat source for 2-weeks increased testosterone by 17%.
- Pomegranate juice – shown to increase the beard growth hormone; testosterone by 24%. Good for circulation too (which helps with patchy cheeks).
- Alfalfa sprouts – a study of men eating alfalfa sprouts showed significantly increased free-testosterone and DHT levels. Broccoli also had a small effect.
- Coffee – rich in antioxidants and magnesium, but more importantly it might raise testosterone and DHT levels, quite significantly even.
There are many other beard growth-promoting foods that can help you fix a patchy beard naturally.
The effects are certainly not instant, and you must understand that a single food will never make you go from beardless to bearded. They can only ever so slightly aid your progress.
3. Minoxidil Works on Beard
There’s no magic solution for patchy beard growth.
Except that there quite literally is, and that is the over-the-counter hair-loss drug; Minoxidil.
It sounds almost too simple to be true- that a proven scalp hair growth activator could work in a similar way on your beard – but as luck would have it, that’s the case.
To start, there is literally a scientific study which had men using 3% solution of liquid minoxidil on their beards for 16-weeks, after which their results were compared to a placebo group.
Their rate of new beard growth absolutely skyrocketed, and there was a significant amount of new growth appearing on bald areas – even though minoxidil often takes a couple of months to fully kick in.
Secondly, there’s more than enough anecdotal evidence and thousands of before-after pictures that stem from the 70,000+ member group of people using Minoxidil to grow their beards in FaceBook (Minox Beard Spot).
According to hundreds of men who have used minoxidil to fill up their patchy beards, and then stopped applying, the results are permanent (as long as you make sure that all the light vellus hairs fully transition to thick terminal beard hairs).
This list includes myself, as I did use minoxidil some years ago to fill out my patchy cheeks (I have shared my routine and before-after pictures at the end of this article).
Okay, I’m sold. Minoxidil obviously works as a patchy beard solution, but how do you use it and is it safe?
Minoxidil does have some side effects – and we talk more about those in our bigger guide to using minoxidil for facial hair growth.
There are also many different ways to use minoxidil and few tricks to make it more effective – and those tips are also shared in the article linked above.
I don’t have time to read those posts, can you give me the quick facts?
There are many brands of Minoxidil available, such as the original brand Rogaine, and many generic brands like Equate, Kirkland, etc.
The main thing to know is that all of those work, as all of them have the same amount of the active ingredient (5% minoxidil) diluted in same carrier agents (alcohol and propylene glycol).
So it doesn’t matter which one you get, they will all be just as effective for fixing up a patchy beard.
There’s also foam Minoxidil available, and this works just as well for fixing beard bald spots. It’s just a bit more expensive (but also dries faster and easier to apply).
How much to use, when, and how long should it be on the skin?
The recommended amount is 1ml on the beard area, twice per day. According to this study, it will take about 4-hours to almost fully absorb to your follicles, so that would be our recommendation for how long to keep it on skin before washing it off.
Typically you will start seeing light non-pigmented vellus hairs popping into your beard area within the first few months, but the real thicker terminal beard gains will come usually in 6-12 months of time.
The most important thing is to religiously apply it on the areas where you want to fill out your beard and monitor yourself from possible side effects.
4. Microneedle Your Facial Hair Area
You can use a Derma Roller to cause small micro-punctures into your facial hair area.
This, in theory, stimulates beard growth and helps activate dormant follicles – resulting in less patchy and thicker facial hair.
Puncturing the face is said to prompt the body into a healing response, which means that the area will receive an increased flux of fresh blood filled with nutrients and hormones, enhanced collagen production, and more.
To get the biggest beard follicle activating benefits without causing any damage or scar tissue formation, you would need to Derma Roll 1-2 times per week with a 0.5-0.75mm needle-length device.
The proper directions to microneedle in are these:
The hair growth-promoting effects of microneedle therapy are not all theoretical, as there is a study where a group of men used minoxidil alone and another group used minoxidil in combination with a derma roller on their scalps.
The results showed that combining the Derma Roller with minoxidil was significantly more effective for hair regrowth than minoxidil alone (which was, by itself, also effective).
So if you’re looking for those underground beard patch filling secrets, this one could be one of the most promising ones.
Update: Plenty has changed in the beard growth niche since I originally wrote the above paragraph, and our derma roller for beard growth article, seven years ago! Nowadays derma rollers are not so underground anymore, and many sell them now as “Beard Rollers”, regardless, it’s still an effective tool for filling up a patchy beard.
5. Fill Sparse Beard with 3% Peppermint Oil Dilution
Peppermint essential oil (PEO) has one very interesting trial behind its back which would support its use as a natural beard oil for filling up patchy areas.
You would need to dilute it down to a 3% solution though, and to do this you need 100% pure PEO, a 30ml dropper bottle, and some jojoba oil.
Then just fill the dropper-bottle almost to the brink with the jojoba oil, and drip in approximately 18 drops of PEO, close the cap, shake, and you’re done.
But I’m going too far ahead here…
How could peppermint oil help fix a patchy beard naturally?
Well, it can increase the IGF-1 growth hormone levels directly inside the hair follicle cells, which is known for shifting dormant hair follicles into the active anagen growth phase.
The evidence for this comes from a rodent study where four groups of mice were shaved, and then their skins were rubbed with four experimental compounds for 4-weeks to see which could activate the hair follicles and promote growth.
The compounds tested were saline (control), jojoba oil, 3% minoxidil, and peppermint essential oil.
As to be expected, the saline control had no impact, and the jojoba oil had only a very marginal beneficial effect…
Minoxidil was pretty impressive at covering the rodent’s fur, but the biggest surprise was the peppermint essential oil, which was significantly more powerful at activating the hair follicles than the minoxidil.
Out of all the tested compounds, peppermint oil resulted in the biggest increases in hair follicle IGF-1 levels, hair shaft diameter (thickness), hairs in anagen phase, and in the total amount of hair follicles active.
If you compare the mice from the bottom left corner (saline solution) to the bottom right corner (peppermint essential oil) you can see that the results were far from insignificant.
But these are mice, how could this mean anything for humans struggling with thin and weak beards?
Rodents are often used to replicate the human model since they share similar reproductive and digestive systems to humans. Their hair follicles are also structurally similar to the ones we humans have.
So in my opinion, peppermint oil is definitely worth a shot as a natural sparse beard solution.
But if you decide to try it, please don’t rub 100% pure PEO on your skin. It’s extremely potent stuff (takes 250lb peppermint leaves to produce just 1lb oil) and will burn like hell if you apply it on to the skin without diluting it first.
To achieve the 3% dilution rate as used in the study, all you need to do is to get a dark dropper bottle, some pure PEO, and some jojoba oil.
Then just add 18 drops of the peppermint oil into a full dropper bottle of jojoba and you have got the 3% solution ready to go.
In my humble opinion, peppermint oil is one of the most promising beard growth boosters currently known. You can click here to read our full article on peppermint oil for beard to read more about it.
I can’t take credit for this method as it’s not something I came up with. I believe the pioneers of this idea were Cemmos of BeardProfile.Com and the admins of the Minoxidil Beard Spot; Sam Beckwith and Adam Siddals.
6. Sleep, Exercise, and Limit Stress
This is a very boring and common sense answer to fixing beard patches…
“Just live a healthier lifestyle.”
What I mean by that is that you should keep active (just something as simple as walking daily, increases testosterone; a beard growth hormone) and maybe lift some weights (which is a great way to stimulate the androgen receptors).
In short, working out helps to grow a beard.
You should also sleep a lot because your body rebuilds and recharges itself while you’re dozing off.
More importantly, restful sleep may also work as a natural beard filler since men who sleep more have significantly higher testosterone levels for the following day.
Here’s a graph from one sleep study that shows this nicely:
As you might know, women do like beards. But you probably didn’t know that being intimate with the opposing sex can also increase the beard growth hormones, and help thicken your facial hair.
Last big factor in optimizing your bearded lifestyle would be to try your best to limit chronic stress, which increases the catabolic stress hormone cortisol and plummets the beard-growing hormones (a thing you don’t want to happen if the goal is a fuller beard).
Bottom line: exercise, proper rest and sleep, relationships, and stress reduction can all indirectly help you fix your patchy beard.
7. The Patchy Beard Supplements
There are supplements for everything you can think of, sometimes useful, oftentimes not.
When it comes to beard growth supplements, in particular, there’s plenty of noise and claims, with very little factual evidence.
Are there any that work?
Yes, a handful – but as you can expect, they are not the “beard pills” which are marketed towards facial hair growth with big beard logos on the bottle.
Instead, they are natural vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and some herbs which have been shown to increase the hormones associated with beard growth (testosterone and DHT) or to fuel the enzymatic processes that are required for beard growth to occur.
If I would have to limit the list down to just two supplements to help fix patchy beard, I would probably start from a good quality multivitamin supplement, which can help you fix nutritional deficiencies.
And no, again I’m not recommending those “beard vitamins”, but just overall a good basic multivitamin that has everything you need in proper dosages.
The most important things to include would be vitamin A, D, E, K2, C, and B-complex vitamins like biotin. From minerals, you should find at least zinc, selenium, boron, magnesium, calcium, and iodine.
Another beard supplement that deserves a special highlight would be the amino acid L-Carnitine L-tartrate.
This is of course hugely beneficial for every sparse bearded man, as the hair follicle cells need to metabolize testosterone and DHT from the blood in order for your beard to grow, and the thing that metabolizes them are the androgen receptors.
Aside from the receptors, carnitine also helps to shuttle more fatty acids into the mitochondria of the facial hair follicle cells for direct energy use.
In other words, carnitine is a lipid transporter.
This results in more dormant follicles switching into the active anagen growth phase as shown by the study of Foizik et al.
You could spend hundreds of dollars trying to buy all the supplements with claimed beard growth-promoting benefits, and waste huge amounts of time trying to figure what to take, when, etc…
So my recommendation is simple: Just take a good multivitamin, and about 2g/day of pure L-carnitine L-tartrate powder per day for best beard thickening results, don’t worry too much about the other stuff. I have tested so many different beard supplements, and always come back to just simple multivitamin + carnitine combo.
8. Dye the Beard to Make it Look Less Patchy
Some healthy common sense and a set of functioning eyeballs can quickly tell you that darker beards look thicker and less patchy overall.
If yours is light, one quick beard filling solution could be to just dye your a shade or two darker.
Another slight beard filling benefit you get from coloring the beard is that the non-pigmented light vellus hairs will also catch the color, and this will instantly make your beard look less sparse.
However please don’t just buy jet black beard dye and think you can fill bald cheeks with it. That would only result in unnatural looking beard and stained skin.
It’s best to stay close to your own natural beard color and possibly experiment filling up your beard with a temporary beard coloring first before moving into the semi-permanent or permanent dyes.
There’s also an option of trying out some beard fillers like Toppik, beard pens, and beard pencils. You can learn more about those in our bigger article about beard fillers here.
All-in-all, dyeing the beard is a quick visual solution to filling beard bald spots and sparseness, but jumping into doing it too quickly and without proper research and planning will make you and your beard look like clowns.
9. Evenly Trimmed Beard Looks Fuller
You can probably see just from looking at the above image, that even a beard with patchy cheeks can be made fuller-looking with just some good trimming and beard sculpting.
What you want to do is to trim down the patchy cheeks into about even length, which instantly makes the area look cleaner and denser.
Then you follow up by trimming the neckline of the beard into a clean sharp angle, few inches below your actual jawline.
This helps to create a visual image of a less patchy facial hair, as you likely have more density on the jaw and neck area than you do on the cheeks.
This type of trimming work is not too difficult to do at home, but if you’re unsure about it, don’t hesitate to go to a barbershop and have them do it for you.
Any expert beard barber will know how to make a beard look fuller, and once done, you can maintain the edges the barber left, at home.
10. Don’t Waste Money on Beard Growth Products
There’s a huge and desperate market full of patchy bearded men who are looking for ways to fill up their beards.
Smart marketers know this, and they have created various products to fill this gap and suck the money out of these guys’ pockets.
Those have credible uses for sure, but what I really despise are the products invented for stimulating your facial hair growth.
Some of the more popular include:
- Beard growth oils (which do not work).
- Beard growth serums and sprays (which do not work).
- Beard growth vitamins and supplements (which rarely work).
- Beard growth shampoos (I’m not even making this up).
I have previously posted a big list of various beard growth products and the evidence behind them all.
To give you the quick facts; that whole article can be summarized in this sentence…
You can see me recommending minoxidil above, as well as a multivitamin and some carnitine, Derma Roller, and peppermint essential oil. Those are the only proven things that can help fill up your patchy beard – rest of the products are pretty much just 100% waste of money.
How I Used these Tricks to Fill My Own Beard
As you can see on the left-most picture above, I did have some beard growth going on some years ago, but the cheeks just lagged behind.
Whenever I tried to grow my beard out longer – thinking I’d just need more length to fill out the cheeks – I would end up at the situation seen in the middle picture…
The rest of the beard would start coming in decently, but the cheeks would just be a patchy mess and it wouldn’t even grow that long since a lot of the hairs were light vellus beard hairs and not that thick terminal growth you need to grow a proper beard.
I had done some beard growth tricks to reach the point in the middle (I practically started from a very weak mustache and few chin hairs five or so years ago) but to reach the great results I have on the right-most picture…
I utilized the following routine:
- Apply 2ml minoxidil (5%) to both cheeks morning and evening.
- Microneedle the face once per week with 0.75mm Derma Roller.
- Supplement with 2g/day of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate.
- Also sporadically supplement with mucuna pruriens.
- Take 1-2 capsules of Thorne’s Multivitamin daily.
- Ate a high-carb diet and lifted heavy weights regularly.
- Slept 8-10 hours per night (didn’t have a kid back then).
The biggest benefits came from the first three things, the minoxidil, Derma Rolling, and Carnitine.
And those would easily be my top recommendations for anyone who wants to improve their beards density, thickness, and coverage in order to eliminate sparse bald spots from their facial hair.
Dude, you just got older so your beard filled in naturally?
No. I was already well into my 20’s and my beard growth had been going on at the same exact rate for quite some time. Immediately when I started utilizing the methods above, my beard area started to fill day-by-day.
My brother and my father also don’t have the facial hair coverage even close to what I currently have, and I’m certain that if it wouldn’t be for utilizing these methods, I wouldn’t either, and I would still be stuck at what you can see in the left-most picture.
Best Patchy Beard Styles
Until your beard fills in, you may want to know what are the best styles for patchy facial hair to make beard appear less patchy.
A goatee beard is a classic one, and it’s often used by the men who can’t grow hair on their cheeks so well. “The Balbo” beard style is also a hit among men with patchier growth.
If you want to maintain a more fuller style and have some hair on the cheeks too, try trimming the hair to be the same length all-around the facial hair area and make defined lines.
Here are some examples of beard styles that work well if you have patchy facial hair:
- Stubble beard styles
- Faded beard styles
- Mustache with Stubble
- Short boxed beard
- The Hollywoodian beard style
One option is also to just roll with it, let the beard grow at its own phase despite the bald spots, much like Keanu Reeves does. This style might look odd at first, but it’s also rugged and perfectly acceptable.
NOTE: We also have a detailed guide on how to choose the right beard style to match with your face shape here.
The bottom line is that there are many beard styles to choose from, and depending the sizes and placements of your beard patches and bald spots; different styles will suit different people.
You can also just try to grow out the patchy beard to eventually fill it, depending on the degree of patchiness, it may be really effective.
You can fix a patchy beard naturally and there’s plenty of proof for that.
If you read this article, you know exactly how to do it, and what to expect.
I suggest you bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you need to check something out. It may take a few reads to completely understand all the points and work them into an actionable beard bald spot filling routine.
But once you do, the results are going to come.