The first time you noticed a few facial hairs swirling down the drain during your morning shower, you probably taught it was nothing to worry about.
It happens to everyone. But it happened again. And again. And again.
After the last time you saw a few of your beard hairs fall in the sink and even more of them clinging to your beard brush, the worry and panic settled.
‘This can’t be normal’, you taught. Losing more beard hairs than normal is upsetting for everyone.
Especially since seeing a bunch of hairs falling out at once can signal an underlying health condition.
Even if that wasn’t the case, working hard to grow and maintain your mane just to see it fall our or get thinner is worrisome.
The good news is that losing facial hair is normal to some extent.
To ease your worries, in this article we’ll cover, in detail, how much beard hair loss is normal, what are the reasons, how to fix this and prevent it in the future.
Table Of Contents
- The Hair Circle of Life
- What if You ARE Losing More Beard Hairs Than Normal
- What Causes a Damaged Hair
- How to Avoid Damaging Your Beard Hairs
- Health Reasons
The Hair Circle of Life
Hair, whether on our head, face or body, has a natural life cycle of 2 to 7 years (surprising, right?!).
Each hair passes through three distinct phases:
- Anagen phase – the active growth phase lasting anywhere from 1-4 years
- Catagen phase – the transition phase lasting approximately 3 weeks
- Telogen phase – the resting phase lasting approximately 3 months
After the resting phase, the hair loosens and falls out, or may be easily pulled out with brushing or any kind of contact.
After the hair falls out, that hair’s follicle takes a short break and then begins the process again with a new hair.
The verdict, then, is that we all are shedding hairs every day at an average rate of 50-100 hairs or so.
So, the good news is that if you’re noticing even a couple of dozen beard hairs sprinkling your sink or floor throughout the day, you don’t need to fret – it is perfectly normal.
What if You ARE Losing More Beard Hairs Than Normal
Okay, so maybe you’re cool with the idea that some hair loss is normal, but of late you can swear that you’re seeing more beard hairs than normal cling to your brush or float down the drain.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that especially if you are starting to grow your beard out longer than it has been before, you are going to notice the hair more than when it was shorter.
So before you convince yourself something is out of whack, do a memory check about when you started noticing it and if it’s been since growing it out.
That said, there are the times when you may genuinely notice more than average beard hairs loss.
There are a number of potential causes, most of which are entirely preventable and non-threatening.
Especially if you’re just noticing just a little bit more hairs than usual as opposed to actual clumps of hair coming out at once or outright bald patches forming (which we will touch on in a bit).
So, here are some of the reasons why you may truly be seeing more beard hairs loss than “normal”.
What Causes a Damaged Hair
One of the most common reasons why you may be losing some extra beard hairs is from simple damage or wear and tear to the beard hairs themselves.
There are tons of ways you could be inadvertently damaging your beard hairs and causing the excess hair loss:
Over washing and aggressive washing
An easy way to inadvertently damage and wear out your beard hairs prematurely is by washing your beard too frequently and/or too aggressively.
The goal with washing your beard is to keep it clean and healthy. If you wash it every day, you’re most likely washing it too much (unless you get super sweaty or dirty on a daily basis).
Not only are you putting unnecessary wear on your beard hairs, but you are also washing away valuable and natural oils that help keep your hairs healthy and strong.
Additionally, when you do wash your beard, don’t be aggressive with it. Be gentle – get your finger tips to base of the hairs and gently massage your face, working the shampoo through the hair from base to tip.
If you tend to take your towel and rub the junk out of your beard to get it dry, you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’re seeing extra beard hair hit the floor.
You are damaging and loosening even the healthiest and strongest hairs when you do this and quite literally pulling some of them right out.
Again, gentleness is key. Pat your beard dry and let it be.
When deciding which product to use to wash your facial mane in the first place, know that there are some beard washes and conditioners that also work in enhancing beard growth and that’s exactly what you want at this point.
Over combing or brushing and/or bad technique
Another habit that can lead to the loss of excess beard hairs is combing or brushing your beard too much. There is no reason to comb/brush more than 3-4 times a day MAX.
If you find yourself in the habit of incessantly combing your beard, stop! You are knocking healthy hairs around and pulling them loose.
In addition to over combing/brushing, if you aren’t using proper technique, you could be seriously contributing to the problem.
When you comb through your beard, you should start at the ends and brush down, and gradually work your way up towards the face (opposite of how you shampoo it).
This is because if you start at the base and then find a tangle, you will end up yanking and pulling the tangle and a big clump of the hairs out.
By starting at the tips and working your way back, if you find a knot, you can work it out at the edge, where it will be the easiest to come undone.
Poor quality comb/brush
Related to the above issue, if you have a cheap comb or brush, they could be the culprits.
If it is made of metal or is not carefully crafted, small splits and fractures in the material could be snagging your hairs and ripping them out.
Therefore, choose the brush that’s made of high-grade ingredients, which is usually a brush made of boar bristles and a wooden handle.
Combs, on the other hand, should have smooth teeth or it will pull your beard and cause breakage.
Over application of a product
Very similar to over shampooing and over combing – if you are applying too many products or applying them constantly, you could be wearing out your hairs prematurely.
Certain products, especially if they are cheaper and more chemically based instead of naturally based, can strip the hairs and leave them unhealthy, dried out and weak.
Even if you have quality products, applying the product incorrectly or too frequently is still putting a lot of added stress on your beard and making your hairs more likely to fall out prematurely.
Playing with it
This habit may be hard to prevent – so many of us stroke or tug on our beards absentmindedly. It is, after all, a big appeal to the beard.
Admit it – most of us love to give our beards a good stroke when we’re pondering.
But, if we tug, pull, stroke, or run our fingers through it too frequently, this will add extra stress and wear on the hair, causing it to loosen up and fall out prematurely.
Long, dried out beard hairs
It is important to remember that the longer your beard, the harder it is for your natural oils to keep the hairs strong and healthy.
So, it’s critical that you use products, like beard oils, to prevent your beard from drying out and the hairs from growing weak, as this could result in more hairs falling out.
So, as you can see, a lot of the above comes down to proper grooming habits and not overdoing it.
How to Avoid Damaging Your Beard Hairs
Really, to avoid this basic cause of excess beard hair loss, do the opposite of the bad habits above.
- Wash your beard 1-3 times a week, not daily, and be gentle when you dry it
- Purchase a quality beard comb or beard brush and use a good technique
- Use a proper and correct technique
- When combing, start at the ends and work your way back so you don’t get snagged on a knot and yank a chunk of hair out.
- Apply beard oil that strengthens hair and encourages growth
Quality beard oil helps keep your beard hairs healthy and strong, which will encourage growth, help increase their life, and decrease the likelihood that they’ll get too easily knocked loose. You can choose beard balm over oil if that’s what you prefer though.
So, for the average case of a bit of excessive hair loss, the above is likely the cause.
However, if after you have the above habits in check, you still seem to be losing more than an average amount of hair, if you are losing large clumps of hair at a time, start noticing balding or significant thinning, there are potentially a couple of health issues at the source.
Whether you think it sounds wonky or not, it is true. Stress can cause hairs to fall out, both from your head and your beard.
So, if you are still having issues with excessive hair loss, do a self-assessment of your stress levels lately.
If you think that may be the cause, it’s time to make a little time to give yourself a break or find a healthy outlet (like exercise) to destress.
Telogen Effluvium is a hair loss condition that can affect scalp and beard alike, and it is the second biggest reason for hair loss.
Sometimes it can be triggered by illnesses, such as fevers or infections, by chronic illnesses like thyroid disease or by deficiencies in iron or protein.
The good news is that this type of hair loss while possibly a sign of another problem for which you may need to see a doctor, is completely reversible and non-permanent.
And of course, if you have been receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer treatment, you should be prepared to experience hair loss both on your scalp as well as your beard.
At this point, you can look forward to your hair growing back, though it may take some months after treatment has ended.
Finally, there is also an auto-immune disorder known as Alopecia that causes hair loss, sometimes from a very specific area (just the head or even just the beard) or can cause hair loss from the entire body.
Something to keep in mind if you are concerned that your beard hair loss is a bit more sinister than damaged hair due to bad habits – if you are experiencing hair loss due to a health condition such as one of the above, you will almost always have:
- Actual clumps of hair fall out at once, not just extra strands.
- You will most likely notice thinning areas or bald patches not just on your beard but also on your scalp.
If you are experiencing the above or if you definitely have your bad habits in check and are still dealing with worrying amounts of beard hair loss, don’t hesitate to call your doctor to make sure there are no underlying causes.
Anthony Giannotti is a senior writer and editor for Beardoholic and a licensed barber for more than 13 years. He owns 3 barbershops and has his own hair care product line that is sold in barbershops worldwide. Known for his impeccable technique and skills, Anthony is an expert in hair and beard care and he knows the best products and tools to get rid of all beard problems and have an amazing beard.