For teenage boys around the world, those first few stubbly hairs on the chin or upper lip are a reason to rejoice and consider oneself suitably grown-up. Grow a sufficient beard and you might even be able to get into a bar without being carded, and don’t forget that ladies love a nice scruffy beard (at least, some ladies do). But not every man can grow facial hair, and some men will go their whole lives without ever needing to worry about five o’clock shadow. Why are some men able to grow beards long enough to braid while others are left smooth-jawed well into adulthood?
Facial hair growth generally begins in prepubescence, when testosterone levels start to emerge in full swing, and doesn’t quite level out or stabilize until the early 20’s. Testosterone levels can affect the thickness and shade of facial hair, but it’s not the only factor in facial hair growth.
It might seem logical to say that the more testosterone a boy or man has, the more facial hair he can grow, but in fact testosterone levels across the board are pretty stable, and most men have the same amount of testosterone regardless of their facial hair situation. Your genetics play a huge part in how much facial hair, and what sort of facial hair, you can grow. See, it’s not just about the testosterone: it’s also about how your body responds to the testosterone. Some people are genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to testosterone, leading to increased amounts of facial hair. However, being sensitive to testosterone is also known to contribute to male pattern baldness. So all you fresh-faced men who are dying for something to shave, cool your heels. You may not have a manly, rugged beard, but you’ll probably have a nice head of hair well into your old age, and then you’ll be the one other men are looking at with envy!