Though there isn’t any recent, formal data on the popularity of facial hair, it doesn’t take a study to notice that beards seem to be everywhere. Growing them seems to have very little to do with keeping faces warm, and a whole lot to do with appearance and style.

But what about those of us who have trouble growing facial hair? While there are some tricks for encouraging overall hair growth, at the end of the day it all boils down to genetics.

Is it testosterone?

It’s a knee-jerk response to think that testosterone, the male sex hormone, is responsible for beard growth. But most men actually have similar levels of testosterone.

Low testosterone is characterized by a host of other symptoms, such as:

If you’re not experiencing these symptoms, testosterone therapy from your doctor or a supplement isn’t likely to help.

Is it a skin condition?

In rare cases, a skin condition is to blame for a lack of hair growth. Certain skin conditions like alopecia cause balding or hair loss. If you have symptoms of a skin condition, which likely affects your head as well as your hair, visiting a dermatologist could help.

In some cases, thin or slow-growing hair is the result of hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid. However, this condition is more common among women over 50. Thin hair or hair loss can also be a symptom of an iron deficiency, or anemia.

Generally, it’s genetics

For most men who struggle to grow facial hair, genetics are to blame. If your father or grandfather had difficulty with facial hair growth, it’s possible you will too. And for those men, there really aren’t too many solutions.

While beard implants recently hit the market, they’re an extreme option for a relatively minor problem.

Do beard-boosting supplements work?

With the growing popularity of beards and facial hair, some supplement makers are capitalizing on men who have trouble growing stubble. These companies offer supplements and creams that promise thicker and fuller beards. However, most of them lack scientific credibility.

There’s some evidence that vitamin D can activate hair follicles that have become dormant. B vitamins like B-12, biotin, and niacin can strengthen and help condition hair. Read more about vitamins and hair.

One such supplement — Beardalizer — promises to boost beard growth by providing nutrients like vitamin C, biotin, and vitamin A. Like hair supplements marketed toward women, these vitamins and minerals are said to produce thicker, healthier hair.

But if your body wasn’t meant to grow a beard — due to genetics — the supplement may not work. A typical daily vitamin contains similar ingredients and is probably cheaper.

Little tips that could pay off

If you’re finding it hard to grow a beard, there’s a small chance it’s because you simply aren’t taking care of yourself. Like a good head of hair, facial hair requires a healthy diet and regular sleep. Your first steps toward reaching your facial hair goal should include the following:

  • Reduce stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, while there’s not a simple yes or no answer, some hair loss could be related to stress.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A balanced diet will give your body all the nutrients it needs.
  • Get plenty of rest. The better sleep you get, the better your health.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can also lead to hair loss, as one older study points out.
  • Take care of your skin. Figure out your skin type and stick to a skin care routine.

You can’t grow a beard if the genetics for it simply aren’t there. But, if you provide the healthiest environment for hair growth, it should help even out patchy spots or thicken existing hair.

If nothing seems to work, then take comfort in the fact that fashions change every few years. Soon enough, a smooth face will be back in fashion, and beards will be passé.