the importance of hanging in there

A site visitor wrote in with encouraging words that underscore the value of not abandoning all hope. His essay is quoted here, with permission, in its entirety:

I would like to offer encouragement to all fair-haired guys who have lost faith in their capabilities for beard growing when they compare themselves to their dark friends with steel wool whiskers who have a visible beard after 3 or 4 days of not shaving.

I have light brown hair but nature saw it fit to give me a white blond mustache and mouche and light brown sideburns with a slight reddish cast to them (Scottish ancestors I guess). I never tried to grow a beard for more than 3 or so weeks as it always looked like one of those attempts which one forces in high school — patchy, multicolored, and feeble, with bits missing between the goatee and the sideburns. It also seemed to grow extremely slowly (when compared to other people).

After not shaving on an extended vacation the year I turned 35, I was freed of the self-judgement and self-consciousness which usually put paid to my attempts in the past and I hung in there for more than a month. My beard underwent a dramatic transformation after 6 weeks, when all of a sudden it filled in and out and looked like ­ a Beard!

When I shaved it off after a couple of months (a mistake which I set about rectifying as soon as I had done it), my boss’ comment to me was: “why did you shave, the beard made you look ‘power’”!

Since I have grown it back, I have been getting nothing but good feedback from people (male and female) and it has done wonders for my confidence in my appearance.

So to all of you mouse-brown, blond, or ginger guys out there, give it at least 6 — 8 weeks. Hang in there and let it grow, you will be surprised with the results.

24 Responses to “the importance of hanging in there”

  1. Brandon Says:

    I think that I need to send this blog entry to a friend of mine. He has dirty blond hair and his beard comes in white (or so it seems). The longest he’s ever grown his beard is for two or so weeks. I think he needs to read this and I think it will help his beard confidence. I haven’t had any problems like these, seeing as I have dark brown to black hair with occaisional reddish hairs in my beard. I’m glad that he (whoever he was) decided to visit the site and leave you these words of light-beard wisdom.

  2. Paul Shepard Says:

    I have also had a problem with hanging in there. My trouble is quite different than what you describein this blog. When my beard starts to get some length and fullness to it I get concerned with my image at work, church and other social events. I just get self conscious about the way i look. I guess it stems from my time in the Marines, and the preasure to be “clean shaven”. I know that I should not be concerned with what others think; and I am not usualy moved by trends or outside preasure, but I still find myself shaving off my beard then regreting it later. I have had a beard on-and-off for the last ten years,but the longest I have had one is three months. I shaved my beard on Sept. 22nd, and now I will atempt my longest beard growth to date, six months. On Oct. 1st I am starting again and I hope that after the six months I will want to keep this one forever.

  3. Matthew Says:

    I have a red beard and I think it is the most wonderful thing to have since when I was younger I couldn’t grow one, and then a few years ago after not shaving for about a week, I decided to trim it up a little, you know, play around. It turned out I ended up with a goatee that looked halfway decent to me and that has since turned into the full beard style which I wear now. I am self concious also, but most of the feedback is positive, especially from my wife, so the way that I cope with the pressure of outsiders and people who don’t like it , or say it’s not “professional looking” is to think that it is completely natural for a man to have a beard. I like the way it looks and that’s how I’m going to wear it. Just don’t care what they think. It’s hard.

  4. Mike Says:

    It IS more tricky for those of us who are fair, a yellow/red beard only really looks good when it is a bit longer. When coloured beards have just started growing, they do look scruffy for a while. A black or dark brown beard by contrast looks good from week two. The hair on my face for example (esp. the front hair) is virtully colourless, so it has to grow long enough for it to lie over other hair for it to show up against my skin. The amazing thing is that as soon as it does, it takes on a golden colour quite unlike the cat-gut it started out as.

    I also have a HUGELY sensitive skin and I get quite a lot of bumps and red patches for a couple of weeks as my skin adapts to the new order (which it does, I used insect bite and burn antihistamine cream when it was bad and it got me over the itching).

    As for what people think and the criticisms, I chose to only keep the good! Fortunately, good is almost all of the time the case. In addition, the good comments are always much more meaningful and constructive than the bad. Who really has the problem here? It is always interesting to see that it is your self-assured friends who delight in you being you who are usually the ones who compliment you (just the same as they would support virtually anything you chose for yourself) and the insecure conformists who ‘dis’ it. Compare the tone of the comments “that is something new, I think I like it, it adds something to your look” rather than “eeeuw, what have you grown that fungus for?”. As with so many things in life, take it whence it comes (with a large pinch of salt). If a really good friend whose opinion you can honestly trust as being objective tells you that it REALLY doesn’t suit you, then you can think about getting rid of it.

    We all need to realise one thing, regardless of the vagaries of fashion and taste, evolution and history have deeply seated in all people, a respect for a man who wears a beard. Whether it be a female who is subconsciously attracted to the physical strength/good genes aspect or the other male who sees in a beard a more mature and figure commanding a higher degree of respect, beards have an effect on those who see them. Whether we like them or not, nature has seen to it that beards provide visual signals to the others of our species. Only the weak and jealous would feel threatened by this. Take heart and let it grow!

  5. s Says:

    I wish light facial hair was my problem. I am cursed in a different way. I have very dark hair, and a very significant amount of body hair, but for some odd reason, very sparse facial hair on my cheeks. I can pull off a good Van Dyke, but not a full beard.

    My father had no such problem–his face was loaded with the stuff.

    It really pisses me off.

  6. Stu Brydon Says:

    I agree with Brandon, I too am glad the site visitor posted the words of wisdom about the imporatance of hanging in there. The early stages of beard growth were the most difficult, the beard isn’t quite fully grown in and filled out and the snide remarks and unfriendly beard comments seemed to be plentiful during that time. That being said, even when its fully grown in and filled out, and the longer and thicker it becomes, the snide comments turn to ‘needing a trim’ or ‘thats too much, you need to shave it down or trim it down’. For those that are workin on growin their beard in and feel self concious about it, or even if you’re fully bearded, and have grown tired of snide remarks and comments about your beard, a little something that has helped me and may help you – I simply suggest to the person making the snide comment or remark, (male or female it carries a much greater impact when said to a female though) that they would look much better without any hair on their head, and suggest they shave their head.

    Havin a beard is a natural part of being a man. Take pride in havin a beard, enjoy it, be patient and let it grow.

  7. Jens Says:

    What a great and encouraging story.
    Have that guy send in photos and feature him in the “succes stories”-menu.

  8. JOHN Says:

    Ive had a beard off and on since I was 15 , It started out as a chin ” Brillo Pad ” , My High School buddys used me Shaggy , Like the guy on Scooby Doo , I was tall and skinny then . In high school , I joined Naval ROTC and for the next 3 years shave every day , Boy , I hated that. I always felt ” Naked ” without my facial hair . After high school , I went to work on another beard , But it grew in heavy on the chin and light on the upper lip and sideburns . Then I got a fast food job and had to shave again this went on until 1986 when I got my present office job . For most of that time up until 2003 , I had a beard – Sometimes short – sometimes long – It got real long in 1994 when I went to see ZZ Top in concert . Man , You should have seen all the good looking beards there . 2003 after triming it too short and messing it up – I started on this present beard – Halloween 2006 I won a trophy for a Amish Man – But I had to trim off the upper lip and cheeks . I won 1st prize . But now Im growing back the upper lip and cheeks . My 3rd wife left me in April , Im sure my beard had something to do with it – But thats fine , She never liked anyhow .

  9. Scott Says:

    Nice stuff here.. I have had a goatee and mustache for about 5 years now, and I really enjoy it. I love having facial hair. I have now started to grow out a full beard, after years of shaving off my cheeks/sideburns. My wife asked me to trim it up for her christmas party. I told her that I was going to grow out a full beard, and she thought it was great.. I hope it grows in soon.. Im liking it so far.
    Scott

  10. Mike Dolphin Says:

    Man did I need this. I’m trying to grow a beard for the first time in my life (I’m almost 43). I’ve got light brown to blonde hair and after about 12 days, I woke this morning tempted to shave it. I’ve got a decent moustache, but I have a serious white wisker issue going on throughout my chin and neckline. After this submittal, I think I’m in it for at least 6 weeks to see what we come up with.

  11. Juha Says:

    I also have a light brown hair and for the past two weeks (13 days, to be precise) I have been seriously growing – not shaving – my facial hair.

    For the past hour or so I have been struggling with the urge to shave. It seems that for some reason that I got particularly self-conscious about my face this morning, even though I had actually been proud of my attempt for the first 12 days.

    The hair under my nose and on my chin seems to grow rather light, while the hair under my chin is very dark, as are my sideburns. This imbalance really started to bother me.

    I’m still struggling. Luckily, though, I have the option to “make” myself not to shave, since I’m traveling elsewhere for christmas. I could just leave the shaving equipment here.

    Anyhow… reading this (once again) might have helped me to hang in there for at least one more week. Still, I’m just 24 so maybe my facial hair will grow darker when I get older. I mean, it is now darker and thicker than it was two or three years ago. I could wait.. Hmm.

    But thanks anyway.

  12. Ken Says:

    I am soooo glad that I read this message. I’m 44 and I have light brown (turning gray now) hair and I have never tried to grow a FULL beard before. The sides always grew too slow, so I only had a mustache and goatee in the past. My wife wanted me to grow my beard back, so I decided to try for a full beard this time.

    I started growing it over the Thanksgiving holiday and it has been about 6 weeks now. Over the past several weeks I have struggled with the thoughts of shaving the sides (as I always did in the past)because of the slow and patchy growth on my cheeks! The one cheek has been slower than the other to grow and it has been very frustrating and embarrassing. I have a patch on one cheek that has just finally started to grow the lighter hair. But I knew if I shaved, then I would never try to grow a full beard again. I was just about ready to give up and shave…..

    But after reading this story and the other comments, I realize that I am not the only one to suffer from this aggravation. So now I think I will give it until at least the end of this month. If I like the progress, then I may even go longer. I am pretty determind to grow a full beard and I am going to make sure I have given it my best shot before I give up and shave.

    Hopefully it will work out and I can come back to this web page and give my success story. But if it doesn’t, at least I can say that I tried and I now know that I am not the only person out there with this problem.

  13. Jacob Says:

    Hey guys,
    I am 29 with dark hair. My father, brother, uncles, all have full beards but it seems I can only grow a goatee. I recently tried to grow a beard and into the second week now but it is very patchy on the cheeks.

    Anyone have an idea how long it will take for these patches to fill in? I have to go to work next week and I look like a bum. I thought 2 weeks would be enough time since my goatee grows in so fast.

    Is it possible that I cannot grow hair on parts of my face (right next to goatee)?

  14. Steve Says:

    Jacob,

    It’s hard for us to judge, but I’d say to just keep growing for as long as you can before you go back to work. At that time, using your best judgement, based on careful observation of your growth, make the decision to continue with the full beard effort or return to the goatee. If it turns out that you feel you have to return to the goatee, maybe you can give the full beard a go at another time in the future. There’s a chance that it could come in better later on. Good luck.

  15. 4and2c Says:

    Can anybody tell me why Indians, all indians have no facial hair. Can anybody give me a logical explanation?

  16. Steve Says:

    I believe that you’re referring to Native Americans rather than people from India. An ethnologist should better be able to answer your question than me. Basically, different ethnic groups have different physical characteristics. Facial hair development is a physical characteristic and it’s determined genetically. Some ethnic groups have more incidence of facial hair than others.

  17. Wes Willie Says:

    This has really given me a new outlook on my beard growth. I am 25 and am about 3 weeks into my beard growth. I’m like you in the fact that I have lots of blonde in my beard. The only difference is that my light colors are in my mustache. Hopefully if I stick with it for 6 weeks like you recomend it will be the beard I’ve hoped for. Thanks a lot.

  18. Matt Says:

    Hey, just a tip.

    I have medium to dark brown hair and a blond beard – what I do is get some of that “Just for Men” brush in beard and mustache coloring, thats made to cover gray hairs. It works great, and my beard actually matches the hair on my head, which is a plus because I always thought it looked weird that they weren’t the same color.

    But anyone, it’s easy, you just brush it in, let is sit for five minutes, and brush it out. You will have to do it again in five days or so – you can usually get a couple weeks out of one box, at about $7.

    Anyway, just a thought.

  19. Steve Says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for sharing that tip. I’m glad that it works for you and you’re happy with the results. Don’t feel, however, that you HAVE to do this just because your beard is a different color than the hair on your scalp. Having them differ in color can be a striking effect that sets you apart. But if you prefer having them the same color, that’s fine, too!

  20. Jorn Says:

    I have a blonde beard too, and when I’m clean shaved, the first week of letting my beard grow, it is practically invisible. Because my beard is then still colourless.

    The next 2 weeks it starts to show a little big better.. But still only with bright lights it shows a little..

    At week 4 I have grown a full, complete beard with no gaps at all.. It show’s a little bit more this time, only from a distance you can’t really tell that I’m fully bearded. I still get comments from people about my beard and that they say that it shows good, but still it’s not as visible as a brown or black beard.

    The words above are encouraging and I made a commitment to grow my beard for 6 months to see how my beard turns out.

    By the changes my light blond beard makes every 2 weeks, I’m confident that when the hairs start overlapping each other, it will start to get more visible every 2 weeks..

    I’m going to hang on for the next 5 months..

    Thanks for the words of encouragement.

  21. Aldon Says:

    Jorn, When you get to six month, try to push it another six months. Before you know it you’re past a year. A years growth will show really nice, no mater what color it is.

    Aldon

  22. Steve Says:

    Jorn,

    Good job! Keep growing. Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep us updated on your progress.

  23. Luke Says:

    I’m 17 and desperately want to grow a beard… Whilst I know it’s probably a case of waiting for it to come through properly, as it stands my facial hair growth annoys me in how pitiful it is… Basically under my chin the hairs grow from one side of my jaw to the other, and are dark mostly, but only grow to about 7mm long! … They started out light though.. The hairs on my cheeks and below my nose are light and downy… And there are near to sod all hairs on my chin.. Is it likely I can’t grow a proper beard?

  24. Steve (not Beardguy) Says:

    Luke, it looks like your beard will take a few years to become symmetrical. It is developing, though. “Only” 7mm in the most-developed part?! I’d say it’s progressing well. My beard pattern was not symmetrical in my teens. I got the urge to grow one after the pattern became symmetrical. I believe yours will fill in eventually.

    As I understand things, the most accurate predictor of the developmental pace and eventual thickness of a man’s beard (but less accurate for its pattern, texture(s) and color(s)) is the faces of the men who share your direct female line of descent (if this information is available to you). This makes sense when I look at the adult sons of fathers and mothers from very different ethnic backgrounds.

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