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Asians and beards. The uneasy relationship that many Asian men have with facial hair is well-documented. Online forums show Asian or Asian American men reaching out to their digital and bearded peers confessing their inability to grow a beard.
Reddit threads return to the same question, posed sometimes by Asian men themselves but more often by the uninformed and the curious: Can Asian men grow facial hair?
Of course, anyone who bothers to look deeper, or even does a quick Google search of images, will find the answer to that question is obvious. Yes, Asian men can grow facial hair. But then sometimes, they can’t, or sometimes it’s very sparse. So why is that?
- What Is an Asian Beard
- Beard: Nature’s First Face Warmer
- Empire of Beard Signs
- Asian Men vs Other Men Difference in Beard Growth
- Why Can’t Asian Men Grow a Beard
- Methods to Grow a Beard as an Asian Man
- How to Grow a Beard If You’re an Asian Man
- How to Maintain a Beard If You’re an Asian Man
- Do’s and Don’ts When Growing a Beard as an Asian Man
- Famous Asian Men with a Beard
- Beard Styles for Asian Men
- FAQ About Asian Men Beards
What Is an Asian Beard
Men of Asian origin, especially those from China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and the likes, tend to have less beard compared to men from other regions, and when they do grow a beard, it’s usually weak.
The common assumption is that Asian men have lower testosterone levels since beard growth has scientifically been tied to testosterone and DHT levels.
Over the years, more and more Asian men have voiced their concerns on several online platforms about feeling less masculine due to their lack of beards.
For most men, growing a beard is like a rite of passage, and it’s one way of crossing the threshold to a mature adult male. As such, the main subject of discussion has always been whether Asian men can grow a full beard.
Beard: Nature’s First Face Warmer
The most commonly accepted explanation for why some populations have more facial hair growth than others is related to human evolutionary development in response to the environment.
Once human migration across the world started, the climates of their new habitats determined the amount of facial and body hair that would be expressed in various groups of human beings.
Human groups who settled in colder climates, such as most of Europe, developed thicker facial and body hair, nature’s way of ensuring their survival.
Likewise, when human groups settled in warmer climates, such as much of eastern and south-eastern Asian, facial and body hair became less necessary, so their bodies did not evolve to express those genetic features as much.
A map of male androgenic (body) hair supports this theory, with populations of people with body hair being less dense in hotter climates as opposed to colder climates.
Empire of Beard Signs
Despite the environmental reasons that explain the differences in beard growth across the people of varying climates, the beard has come to represent more than a biological expression: the beard signifies power.
This widespread view of the beard as a sign of domination has resulted in the dissemination of certain myths, such as the beard being an indication of testosterone levels.
But those culturally prevalent beliefs about what beard hair signifies might also have an influence on human cycles of natural selection.
According to a study reported by the BBC, the social perception of beards as signs of masculine superiority allows men to flaunt their beards in acts of competition and intimidation while they are on the chase for a mating partner.
The social signification of the beard serves into its biological function so that the beard has evolved as a tool of natural selection.
If all is fair in love and war, then the beard as an act of flexing dominance can easily be seen not just as a tool of competition for mating rituals, but also in events of the war.
The full potential of the beard as a weapon of psychological warfare might be better understood if one recalls how Genghis Khan, ruler of the Mongol Empire, conquered most of Asia and parts of Europe, all while sporting a patchy goatee or Van Dyke, depending on the depiction you’re looking at.
Asian Men vs Other Men Difference in Beard Growth
Several studies have pointed to the fact that Asian men who have beards have high testosterone levels but the beard will still be thin or will not grow at all.
For a majority of men, having a beard is one way of depicting their masculinity, power, and dominance. Beards in Asian men are different mainly due to biological and environmental reasons.
Since testosterone is the main hormone that stimulates facial hair growth, most people assume that a lack of facial hair means that you have low testosterone. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The environment you are born into has a great influence on whether or not you grow a beard or not. Additionally, genetics, lifestyle choices, biological features as well as the skin maintaining solutions you are using determine whether you grow facial hair or not.
As such, the lack of facial hair in Asian men can be tied to different reasons and not just low testosterone levels.
Why Can’t Asian Men Grow a Beard
Genetically, Asians have genes that come with weak facial hair growth than Caucasians of average genetics. As such, most Asian men have always felt less masculine and will go to any length to have some form of facial hair.
Level 5 Alpha-Reductase Enzyme
Mustache and beard growth is largely dependent on levels of testosterone and DHT but this is not the whole story of why some men like Asians can’t seem to grow facial hair.
According to various studies, the difference in levels of testosterone between Asians and Caucasian men is not that big to justify the lack of beards in Asian men. Some Asian men actually have higher levels of testosterone than Caucasians.
Asian men have low 5-alpha-reductase enzyme levels. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into a more androgenic form (DHT) that is responsible for stimulating the growth of facial and body hair.
Human Androgen Receptors
The second reason why Asian men have thin beards or none is that they have more copies of androgen receptors in their faces and bodies. The more the copies of these receptors, the less sensitivity in them which explains the thin beards or lack of one at all.
Genetics play a role in determining androgen receptors present in the body. Androgens, mainly are a group of hormones that include testosterone whose role is to regulate sexual development as well as male secondary sex characteristics.
As such, testosterone alone can’t help with facial hair growth. Genetics determines how much testosterone we produce but the growth of facial hair is highly dependent on the number of androgen receptors in the hair follicles.
The more the androgen receptors, the more the testosterone that reaches the hair to stimulate growth. In the end, you may have high testosterone levels but if you don’t have a high number of androgen receptors, facial hair doesn’t develop.
Unfortunately, genetics plays a major role in the number of receptors that an individual has and it is because of this reason that most Asian men can’t grow facial hair.
The bottom line is that Asian men have less 5- alpha-reductase enzymes which lead to low levels of the beard stimulating hormone. At the same time, they have fewer androgen receptors in the face which are less sensitive which makes it hard for beard growing hormones to have any effect in the follicles.
Methods to Grow a Beard as an Asian Man
Like every other man out there who has been struggling to grow a beard, Asian men can grow facial hair through these little well-known secrets.
Minoxidil has been on the market for a while and has been the go-to drug for men who can’t grow facial hair.
Invented originally for ulcer treatment, over time, researchers realized that the drug improved circulation and it became a blood pressure drug but then there was another discovery.
Those who were on the drug to lower blood pressure experienced a significant increase in facial and body hair.
This potential to stimulate hair growth led to the formulation of a topical liquid meant for use by balding men.
Hundreds of studies later, minoxidil is widely used as an efficient way of stimulating new hair growth as well as preventing loss of hair.
Today, a huge number of adult males use the drug to stimulate facial hair growth and it has become the go-to drug for those who can’t grow any facial hair.
It’s unclear how minoxidil stimulates facial hair growth, but according to several research studies, the drug tends to activate hair follicles that are dominant by improving circulation and nutrient delivery to the roots.
Minoxidil has for a long time been the number one go-to beard growth accelerator but other methods like the use of a beard roller are still widely used.
Beard rollers make use of microneedles that puncture small painless tears into the skin surface.
When these tears occur, the body is tricked to send nutrients as well as hormone rich blood to the area in a bid to repair the tears and this ends up stimulating hair follicles forcing the hair to grow.
Different rollers come with different sizes of needles but if you want one for beard growth, the best range is that of 0.25-0.75mm.
Mucuna Pruriens is an herb that belongs to the bean family and is commonly used in Ayurveda, an Indian herbal medicine.
It is mainly used to increase levels of testosterone, boost sexual potency, and prevent infertility in men with the main ingredient being L-Dopa, a compound that works as a precursor to neurochemical dopamine.
According to some studies, Mucuna Pruriens can be used to increase sperm count and improve sperm quality in infertile men, reduce oxidative damage as well as stress hormone cortisol and finally boost libido and dopamine production.
While that is all good, the question is how Mucuna Pruriens stimulates facial hair growth. As mentioned earlier, androgen receptors in Asian males cause lower sensitivity towards hair growth hormones.
Mucuna Pruriens has been found to activate androgen receptors in men who can’t grow facial hair whereby L-Dopa acts as a coactivator protein.
How to Grow a Beard If You’re an Asian Man
Due to genetics, Asian men have a hard time growing facial hair and for those who can, it’s always weak and patchy.
There are however methods that can stimulate beard growth despite your genetic makeup as listed below.
However, it’s not just about growing a beard for the sake of it, there are steps you can follow to get a good looking full beard as an Asian man.
Step 1 – Use a moisturizer regularly
There are so many face moisturizers on the market that you can use and knowing your skin type is the first step to getting a moisturizer that fits you. Due to sun exposure and pollution during the day, your skin can become dry and flaky causing itching and irritation.
This becomes a problem if you are looking to grow a beard and even if you are on one of the methods meant to stimulate growth. A moisturizer works by hydrating the skin enough to stimulate hair growth and provide a good environment where the beard can grow.
Step 2 – Use a cleanser to clean your face
When cleaning the face, it matters what you use. It is recommended that you use cleaning products that are specific for the face.
While water does a good job of removing any dust you may have collected during the day, your pores are usually clogged with dirt which obstructs any kind of hair growth. A cleaner cleans the face and unclogs the pores to stimulate the growth of new hair.
Step 3 – Massage the face
Facial massage has many benefits when done right. For one it brightens the skin, reduces stress line, and improves complexion.
When it comes to facial hair growth, proper blood circulation is important which is what face massage does. A facial massage ensures that there is an increased supply of oxygen and blood to the area which is enough to stimulate hair growth in the long run.
How to Maintain a Beard If You’re an Asian Man
Growing a beard as an Asian man is always a struggle and when you manage to grow one, you need to know how to maintain it so that you are always looking good.
Step 1 – Be patient
It can be exciting when you start growing a beard especially if you have never grown one before. As such, most men tend to jump right into trimming and styling it the moment it starts cropping up.
Avoid doing this. The secret to having a great beard is allowing it to grow and the rule of thumb is to leave it untouched for about 4 to 6 weeks depending on how fast your hair grows.
Step 2 – Match the beard style to the shape of the face
When you begin trimming your beard, to look good, ensure that you choose a style that matches the shape of your face. At first, you can have a professional do it for you before you familiarize yourself with what suits your shape.
Step 3 – Master the art of beard trimming
If you want to have a good looking beard every time, then you need to learn the right way to trim a beard and when to trim it. You also need to learn the best tools that you need to trim your beard and you are good to go.
Step 4 – Clean it regularly
There is nothing manly about a dirty beard no matter how much masculinity you want to portray. A beard is as good as the care you put into it.
Washing your beard, therefore, is a chore that you cannot afford to skip especially during the initial stages of growth whereby trapped food and skin cells can cause itching.
Step 5 – Try some beard oil
Beard oils are always tricky mainly because some are too heavy while others tend to be too light or feel dry. When starting, you can try as many beard oils as you can until you find the one that fits you.
Step 6 – Learn to train the beard
A regular trim here and there is important in maintaining your chosen beard style but that is not the only thing you need to do to maintain an impeccable looking beard. Rubbing it down with a beard brush or a comb every day will help wrangle the stubborn hairs, training them in the process to grow downwards.
Step 7 – Watch what you eat
The key to a healthy beard is eating the right kind of food. Your beard is mainly made up of fats and proteins, but at the same time, it needs vitamins like B3, B5 as well as B9 to thrive.
This means incorporating lean meats, egg yolks, nuts, milk as well as leafy greens in your diet and you could also add supplements.
Do’s and Don’ts When Growing a Beard as an Asian Man
- Do brush your beard in the direction that you want it to grow to train the hair follicles.
- Do make use of a light cleansing conditioner and follow it up with a natural beard oil after a shower.
- Do avoid buying beard products that contain dyes, lanolin, and artificial fragrances since these can cause irritations.
- Do use cleaners that have salicylic acid or any fruit acids to exfoliate your beard to ensure that your pores don’t get clogged which can lead to ingrown hairs.
- Do give your beard time to grow before you start trimming it. As it grows, the natural shape of the beard becomes clear, and only then can you decide on a style that fits you.
- Don’t wait until the beard is fully grown to brush it. As it grows, keep brushing it to even train it in the way you want it to grow.
- Don’t use the same products that you use to clean your hair or body to clean your beard.
- Don’t give up on growing a beard if at first, it does not grow the way you want it to.
Famous Asian Men with a Beard
Aside from Genghis Khan, there are other famous Asian and Asian American males with beards or some form of facial hair. The most notorious Asian with facial hair is the fictional and racist archetype of the conniving Asian, Fu Manchu.
More impressively, contemporary Asians who know how to flaunt a beard include Ken Watanabe, internationally recognized Japanese actor, whom Western audiences might remember as Katsumoto in The Last Samurai, as Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, or as General Kuribayashi in Letters from Iwo Jima.
In each of these roles, Watanabe sported some style of facial hair, whether it was a patchy goatee or a neat mustache.
Anthony Thornburg is another Asian who in fact has become famous because of his facial hair. Of Norwegian, Swedish and Japanese descent, Thornburg broke out onto the modeling scene and quickly rose to stardom as people gazed in awe upon his long hair and becoming a full beard.
Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize Steven Yeun as another famous Asian American with equally famous facial hair.
The show depicts Glenn, Yeun’s character, transitioning from a freaked-out kid with no facial hair at the beginning of the series, to a man hardened by loss and the zombie apocalypse, a transformation that is signified by the growth of his facial hair. Yeun keeps his look sharp and clean, choosing to go with a thinned-out Van Dyke most of the time.
Beard Styles for Asian Men
Whether you’re thinking of growing out your facial hair or looking for new beard style inspirations, just remember, it’s all about making the most out of the hair you have.
But in the end, the facial hair should always be there to accentuate your face, and the different styles you choose should be the ones that best suit your hair and personality type.
This sophisticated look is about a clean cut with refined edges, whether that’s a trimmed mustache or a thin goatee.
The neatness and sharp lines of this style make it suitable for professional situations, especially in business dealings with Asian businessmen.
If you go to many parts of Asia, especially eastern Asia, you’ll notice a lot of men don’t grow out their facial hair, so if you choose to go bearded, make sure it’s well-trimmed and groomed.
Stubble, So Sexy for the Ladies
This look is a classic 5 o’clock shadow style that women especially love to run their hands over. Use a stubble trimmer to maintain this style. With well-styled hair, this look manages to be both professional and slightly unkempt.
This one is also neat like the Professional, but paired with slightly tousled hair, the combo can also look casual and cool.
Keeping the mustache a little longer than stubble will make the hair on the upper lip softer for the ladies, and the slight stubble on the chin balances out the mustache and accentuates the jawline.
Full Goatee and Fade
The full goatee adds some gravity to the jawline, making it more prominent and distinguished.
You can make this style more youthful or contemporary by adding a beard fade, which makes for a subtle transition in the sideburns.
Slightly Wispy Beard
If you’re able to grow a full beard, go for it, man! Sometimes, though, Asian men will grow wispier beard hair, and if that’s the case, then it’s good to use beard shampoo regularly.
The moisture will give the beard hair increased volume. With thinner beard hair, it’s also a good idea to comb regularly, so the beard doesn’t look tangled and scraggly.
This subtle look combines the robust masculinity of a filled-in beard while also keeping the beard length trimmed close, giving the wearer a more mysterious and seductive appeal.
A reliable beard hair clipper is necessary for this style to keep it consistently trimmed.
Asian Van Dyke
This combines the classic clean mustache-and-goatee pairing of the Van Dyke style with bold sideburns.
The Van Dyke traditionally does not have sideburns, but with the sideburns, it looks more contemporary and edgy. For this style, it’s good to keep some DIY mustache wax handy.
The full beard is a-Rockin’ style but despite the casual look, a long beard does require some routine maintenance.
Free as a Fisherman
If the rough look of a beard gone wild appeals to you and your carefree spirit, then there’s nothing wrong with letting it go.
With the right face, the carefree approach to beard growth manages to look rugged and makes the wearer seem adventurous. Just remember that if you’re out there in that salt air, you’ll want to give your beard a good scrubbing with some beard soap.
Trimmed Full Beard
This is a distinguished look for men of any age. The full beard, when trimmed, manages to exude both strength and refinement.
FAQ About Asian Men Beards
How can Asian men grow full beards?
There are several steps that Asian men can take to grow full beards and they include the use of minoxidil, Mucuna Pruriens, and beard rollers.
Why do Asian men rarely grow beards?
The main reason why most Asian men don’t grow a beard lies in the androgen receptors which are tied to their genetic makeup. When androgen receptors are low, very little testosterone reaches the hair follicles to stimulate growth.
Most men take pride in the ability to grow a beard since it is considered a sign of masculinity, power, and dominance. Asian men, however, have always struggled in this area mainly due to their genetic make-up. As such, most of them tend to feel less masculine especially when they live in countries where men can grow full beards. There are several methods as seen above that can stimulate facial hair growth even if your genetic makeup is a hindrance that is worth trying.
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