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Why Are Some Beard Hairs Thicker Than Others?

A variety of beard hairs of different thicknesses and lengths

A thick, full beard is a symbol of masculinity and virility – yet not all beards are created equal. As any bearded man knows, some hairs are thicker, coarser, and require more grooming than others. But why is this the case? In this article, we’ll dive into the science behind varying beard hair thickness and explore the common concerns that many beard enthusiasts face.

Understanding Hair Structure

To understand why beard hairs vary in thickness, we first need to comprehend the basics of hair structure. A single hair is composed of several layers, including the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. The medulla is the innermost layer, while the cuticle is the outer layer that protects the hair shaft. The cortex, sandwiched between the medulla and cuticle, is responsible for hair strength, texture, and color.

However, hair structure can vary depending on the individual. For example, some people may have thicker hair due to genetics or hormonal imbalances. Additionally, environmental factors such as exposure to the sun or harsh chemicals can also affect hair thickness and texture.

The Anatomy of a Hair Strand

Each hair strand is made up of a hair bulb, root sheath, and hair shaft. The hair bulb, located at the base of the hair follicle, contains cells that divide and grow to form the hair shaft. The root sheath surrounds the hair bulb and is responsible for anchoring the hair in the skin. The hair shaft, as mentioned earlier, is comprised of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle layers.

It’s important to note that hair growth occurs in cycles, with each cycle consisting of three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. During the anagen phase, hair grows actively. The catagen phase is a transitional phase where hair growth slows down, and the telogen phase is a resting phase where hair falls out and the cycle starts again.

Hair Types and Textures

Humans have three main hair types: straight, wavy, and curly. Beard hairs are usually curly or wavy, and this affects how thick they appear. Curly hair tends to appear thicker due to the way it grows in coiled strands, while straight hair may appear sparser and thinner due to its flat shape.

Furthermore, hair texture can also vary within each hair type. For example, wavy hair can range from loose waves to tight curls. This is due to differences in the shape and size of the hair follicle, as well as the amount of moisture and natural oils in the hair.

Overall, understanding hair structure and types is essential for proper hair care and maintenance. By knowing your hair type and texture, you can choose the right products and treatments to keep your hair looking and feeling healthy.

Factors Affecting Beard Hair Thickness

Now that we’ve covered the basics of hair structure, let’s explore the various factors that can influence beard hair thickness.

Genetics and Ethnicity

As with many physical characteristics, genetics play a significant role in determining how thick your beard hair will be. However, it’s not just about inheriting your dad’s beard genes. Your mother’s side of the family also plays a part in determining your beard hair thickness. This is because the genes responsible for beard hair thickness are located on both the X and Y chromosomes.

Ethnicity also plays a part, with some groups, such as Mediterranean and South Asian, tending to have thicker hair than others. This is due to the fact that people from these regions have evolved to have thicker hair as a result of living in hot and sunny climates, where thicker hair provides better protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Hormones and Testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for male development, including the growth of facial hair. Men with higher levels of testosterone tend to have thicker, coarser facial hair. However, it’s not just about testosterone levels. Other hormones, such as DHT (dihydrotestosterone), also play a role in determining beard hair thickness. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone and is responsible for the development of male secondary sexual characteristics, including facial hair.

It’s worth noting that testosterone levels can be influenced by a variety of factors, including stress, diet, and exercise. So, if you’re looking to grow a thicker beard, it’s important to take care of your overall health and well-being.

Age and Hair Growth Cycle

As we age, our hair growth cycle slows down, and hair follicles may shrink in size. This can lead to a thinning of the beard and individual hairs becoming less thick. However, it’s not just age that can affect the hair growth cycle. Other factors, such as illness, medication, and stress, can also disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to thinner beard hair.

It’s also worth noting that the hair growth cycle is divided into three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen phase is the active growth phase, during which the hair follicle is producing new hair. The catagen phase is a transitional phase, during which the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the dermal papilla. The telogen phase is the resting phase, during which the hair follicle is dormant and the hair is shed. The length of each phase can vary depending on a variety of factors, including genetics, age, and overall health.

So, if you’re looking to grow a thicker beard, it’s important to take care of your overall health and well-being, as well as to be patient and understand that the hair growth cycle is a complex process that can be influenced by a variety of factors.

The Science Behind Hair Thickness Variations

Beard hair thickness variation can be attributed to two main factors: hair follicle size and shape, and hair shaft diameter. However, there are several other factors that can influence the thickness of beard hair.

Hair Follicle Size and Shape

The size and shape of a hair follicle can directly impact the thickness of a beard hair. A larger, rounder hair follicle will produce a thicker hair shaft, while a smaller, flatter follicle will produce a thinner shaft. The shape of the hair follicle can also affect the direction of hair growth. A curved follicle can cause hair to grow in a spiral, while a straight follicle will produce hair that grows straight.

Hair Shaft Diameter

The diameter of a hair shaft also plays a key role in hair thickness. The thicker the hair, the wider the hair shaft will be. However, hair thickness can also be influenced by the shape of the hair shaft. A hair shaft that is not perfectly round can appear thinner than a perfectly round shaft of the same diameter.

Hair Density and Distribution

The overall density and distribution of beard hair can also impact its thickness. Areas of the face that contain a higher number of hair follicles will produce a denser, fuller beard. However, the distribution of hair follicles can also play a role. If hair follicles are spaced too far apart, the beard may appear thinner and patchy.


Hormones also play a role in determining beard hair thickness. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for the development of male secondary sexual characteristics, including facial hair. Higher levels of testosterone can lead to thicker, coarser beard hair.


The health of your hair is also influenced by your diet. A diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, vitamin C, and iron, can promote healthy hair growth. On the other hand, a diet that is lacking in these nutrients can lead to thin, brittle hair.


As men age, their beard hair may become thinner and less dense. This is due to a decrease in testosterone levels, as well as changes in the hair follicles themselves. The hair follicles may shrink and produce thinner hair shafts.

Overall, beard hair thickness is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormones, nutrition, and age. Understanding these factors can help you take steps to promote healthy beard growth and maintain a thick, full beard.

Common Beard Hair Concerns

Beard enthusiasts know that growing and maintaining a beard is no easy feat. Apart from the regular trimming and grooming, there are several other issues that can arise when it comes to beard hair thickness. Let’s explore a few common concerns that men face:

Ingrown Hairs and Coarse Beard Hair

Ingrown hairs are a common problem that many men face. They occur when a hair curls back into the skin, causing irritation and inflammation. This can be particularly uncomfortable and painful when it comes to beard hair. Coarse beard hair can also be difficult to manage and style, especially if it’s thick and unruly. To prevent ingrown hairs, it’s important to exfoliate regularly and use a good quality beard oil to keep the hair soft and manageable.

Patchy Beard Growth

One of the most frustrating issues that many men face when it comes to growing a beard is patchy growth. Despite their best efforts, some areas of the beard may refuse to fill in, leaving unsightly bald spots. It’s important to remember that beard hair density is largely determined by genetics, and some men may simply not have as many hair follicles in certain areas of their face. However, there are a few things you can do to encourage hair growth, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking supplements that promote hair growth.

Beard Itch and Dryness

Dry, itchy skin and beard hair can be a major problem for many men. This can occur due to overwashing or using harsh grooming products that strip the natural oils from the skin and hair. To prevent dryness and irritation, it’s important to use a good quality moisturizing balm or oil on your beard regularly. You can also use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to cleanse your beard without stripping it of its natural oils.

By taking care of your beard and addressing these common concerns, you can ensure that your beard looks and feels its best.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, beard hair thickness is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormones, and hair structure. While some men may have thicker beards due to their genetics, proper grooming and maintenance can help enhance the appearance of any beard. Remember to use gentle, nourishing products and keep your beard well-moisturized for optimal health and thickness.


Caffeinated Beard Enthusiast, Family Man & Dog Lover. Hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Salt Lake City, Utah, Todd Harris is a devoted husband, loving father, and proud dog owner with a passion for all things coffee and facial hair. His dynamic personality and unmistakable love for life are evident in each of his engaging blog posts.