Why Do Beards Grow in a Pattern? (Genetics, Hair Follicles, & More!)

If you’ve ever shaved your face (or head), you probably already have a pretty good idea of whether or not there are places where your hair grows differently than the rest or in a weird pattern. Why does this happen?

Similar to head hair, facial hair has a growth pattern. While there are no studies into which genes affect this pattern, genetics is the biggest factor. Men often have the same facial hair pattern as their fathers; however, you can affect the appearance of your growth pattern by brushing/combing, blow-drying, and styling your hair to tame it.

Keep reading to learn more about all the factors that affect growth patterns. We’ll also touch on swirls and cowlicks and how to help lessen their appearance to create a better-looking beard.

What determines your facial hair’s pattern?

We know when a man’s body converts the hormone testosterone into a more powerful hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), beard hair growth gets stimulated; however, this doesn’t explain what causes the growth pattern.

While there has been some research done into the genes and hormones that affect the thickness of facial hair, there has not been too much research into the specific markers that affect growth patterns.

The major factor in the direction beard hairs will grow is your genetics. There’s a high chance you have a very similar growth pattern to your father and grandfather. Some types of clothing or practices can slightly change the direction of your hair growth but that plays a much smaller role.

In the same way that a high collared shirt can start to make the hair at the back of the neck grow upwards, wearing a tight scarf every day can force beard hair to grow upwards as well.

Facial hair patterns and ethnicity

There is a lot of debate about ethnic phenotypes in the scientific community. While persons of the same ethnicity usually have a lot of commonalities in thickness patterns, the growth pattern can vary greatly.

While persons who share ethnicities may have common thickness patterns, this doesn’t play a major role in the growth pattern of facial hair.

Regardless of ethnic background, most facial hair on the cheeks and face grow in a downward direction.

It is also very common for the lowest part of the neck hair to grow slightly sideways or upwards. Some men have very strong and chaotic patterns while others are fairly uniform.

Beard patterns and genetics

As mentioned above, genetics are the largest part of what will determine your hair growth. Because of this, most men’s hair pattern is fairly similar to their father’s.

Those with curly-haired genes can have a bit more chaotic of a growth pattern with lots of directional changes and can end up with strong swirls or cowlicks.

This does not mean that men with straight facial hair are exempt from these strong patterns, it’s just a little less common.

Can you train your beard to grow a certain way?

You can style your beard and use products to help encourage your beard to grow in a certain manner; however, this will only going to cause a minor temporary change.

While you can try to train your beard hair to grow a certain way, you will not completely change the direction of the hair follicle.

If you have a strong swirl or cowlick, doing both will lessen the appearance and help your beard look more attractive and kept. I’ll touch on styling tips below.

Why does my beard grow in a spiral?

If you have a spiral or swirl in your beard, it’s most likely not your fault.

Spirals and swirls are caused by your genetics. It’s common for men with cowlicks on their heads to have a swirl somewhere in their facial growth pattern as well.

How do you get rid of a cowlick in your beard?

While you are most likely not going to completely rid yourself of a cowlick, there are a few steps you can take to minimize its appearance and ‘tame’ it a bit, this applies to swirls as well.

Comb/brush the entire afflicted area in one direction then the opposite while blowdrying your facial hair makes the root more flexible. This will help soften the strong pattern.

If you have a vertical split, you’ll comb from left to right; for a horizontal split, up and down.

If you have a swirl, do all four directions until dry. Using a product with a strong hold will keep the style in place longer.