A common problem when growing a beard is patchy growth on the cheeks. Many men have thicker hair around their upper lip and mouth.

If your goal is to grow a full beard, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to fill in the sides where your hair may be sparser.

Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to stimulate the growth of new facial hair. Your genetics is the primary factor that determines how thick your beard will grow. However, there are ways you can make your beard appear fuller and maximize your genetic potential.

In this article, we’re going to look at the science behind beard growth. We’ll also take a look at the best ways to overcome patchy hair on your cheeks.

Your ability to grow facial hair is largely determined by genetic factors. Many people believe that if you have more testosterone, your beard will grow thicker. However, unless you have clinically low levels of testosterone, your hormone levels probably aren’t the cause of your patchy growth.

Your body uses an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase to convert testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds with receptors on your facial hair follicles to stimulate hair growth.

However, growing a thicker beard isn’t as easy as increasing your testosterone or DHT levels. The amount your beard grows is determined by your hair’s DHT sensitivity. This sensitivity is largely determined by your genetics.

Counterintuitively, DHT has the opposite effect on your scalp and inhibits the growth of new hairs.

There’s little you can do to boost the thickness or the rate your beard grows. However, the following strategies may help you achieve a fuller looking beard.

  • Grow out your beard. Letting your beard grow out can hide spots where your facial hair grows sparsely.
  • Use Rogaine. Rogaine is the brand name of minoxidil, a cream used to restore hair loss on your scalp. Even though some people insist that it helps them maintain a fuller looking beard, the only study examining its effect on facial hair only found a 3 percent improvement compared to a placebo.
  • Change beard styles. If you’re struggling to grow a full beard, you may want to try a different facial hairstyle such as a goatee or mustache.
  • Try microneedling. Microneedling is a method of pricking your face with a series of tiny needles to increase blood flow. Research has found it may be effective for stimulating hair growth for male pattern baldness, but it’s not clear if it also helps beard growth.
  • Take care of your health. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol, and exercising regularly all have the potential to improve your skin and hair health.

The rate that your beard grows at is largely determined by your genetics. The rate of growth can vary widely between people.

There haven’t been any studies looking at the average rate of beard growth. However, anecdotally, many people report their beard growing around ½ an inch per month. To grow a short beard, it will likely take you at least a month.

For most men, genetics is the limiting factor for their beard growth. The following may also play a role in the appearance of your facial hair.

  • Alopecia areata. This autoimmune disorder causes your body to attack hair follicles and leads to patchy hair loss on your head or in your beard. There’s no cure, but there are treatment options, such as minoxidil (Rogaine), dithranol (Dritho-Scalp), or corticosteroid creams.
  • Clinically low testosterone. Clinically low levels of testosterone may inhibit your beard growth. If your testosterone levels are low, you’ll likely have other symptoms such as irritability, low sex drive, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Age. Most men find their beard continues to get thicker into their 30s. If you’re still in your 20s or younger, you may notice that your beard continues to get fuller as you age.
  • Nutrient deficiencies. A deficiency in an essential mineral or vitamin has the potential to limit your bead growth. Extremely low levels of protein may inhibit your body’s production of testosterone and interfere with beard growth.
  • Race. Your race is a genetic factor that may affect your beard growth. Research has found that Chinese men generally have sparser hair growth on their cheeks and necks than Caucasian men.

There are a lot of myths on the internet about growing facial hair. Many of this misinformation comes from people selling products touted to give you a thicker beard.

The overwhelming majority of these products don’t have any research to back them. If you come across a product that sounds too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.

Here are some common myths you may hear.

Shaving makes your beard thicker

You may have heard that shaving your facial hair makes it grow back thicker. However, shaving your beard has no effect on beard growth.

When you shave your beard, you blunt the tips of your hairs, which may make them more noticeable because they’re coarser. Hair grows from a root beneath your skin, and cutting the ends of your hairs doesn’t affect their growth.

More testosterone leads to a thicker beard

Testosterone is the primary “male” hormone. Extremely low levels of testosterone may inhibit beard growth, according to an in vitro study. However, unless your testosterone levels are clinically low, they probably aren’t affecting your beard growth.

The sensitivity of your hair follicles to DHT is more likely to affect the growth of your facial hair.

Beard oils can make your beard thicker

Many mistakenly believe that beard oil can make their beard thicker. Beard oils don’t alter your hair growth. Beard oils are designed to moisturize your hair and the skin beneath your beard to help you avoid dryness. However, a glossy coat on your beard may make it appear thicker.

Supplements increase beard growth

Many supplement companies market their products specifically for beard growth. It’s possible that having a vitamin or mineral deficiency can inhibit your hair growth.

However, there’s nothing special about beard growing supplements. If you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet, you should already be getting a full spectrum of micronutrients.

Your facial hair growth is largely determined by your genetics. There’s a good chance that your beard growing potential will be similar to that of your dad and grandfather.

Even though many men like the way beards look, not being able to grow a beard doesn’t put you at risk for developing any health problems if you’re otherwise healthy.

Even if you can’t grow hair on your cheeks, there are many other facial hairstyles that you may be able to maintain, such as a goatee, mustache, or soul patch.