Patchy stubble. These two words are enough to send a chill down the spine of any man with serious facial hair aspirations.
It’s often just attributed to genetics, and for the most part, this is accurate. But can anything actually be done to fix it?
The appearance of patchy stubble can be made less obvious in a number of ways. These can involve adjusting the length of the hair, shaping the borders, modifying the style or the use of products, oils and dyes more to give it a thicker and fuller appearance.
What I’m about to give you is a list of 11 tips, tricks, and hacks you can go out and try today to flesh out that mug-rug in ways you never thought possible.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that not all of these will work for you. One man’s fix may not necessarily be another man’s fix.
But if you take one thing away from this article let it be this. Get to know your beard. The more you experiment, the more you’ll learn about the nature of your beard and how to make it work for you.
There’s no way to actually naturally increase or accelerate the number of hairs on your face without medical intervention. Anyone that tells you otherwise needs to sit back down. Don’t give them your time.
But once you have a firm, vice-like grip on how your beard behaves, knowing how to reduce the appearance of a patchy stubble beard will be a piece of cake.
By the way, here’s an article listing my favorite stubble trimming and grooming products of the year.
Now, let’s get to it.
1. Grow your patchy stubble out
It’s painful to see how many men rocking some solid stubble trim or shave prematurely. They see some sporadic bare patches and choose to take it all off before seeing where it’s really going.
Not all the hairs of the face grow at the same rate. It’s important to give those slacker hairs a bit of time to catch up.
This tactic is particularly effective for those men who just have one or two bald patches in their beard. They might be able to cover those patches up using the surrounding hairs if they were given a bit of time to grow a little longer.
Now, this article is specifically about stubble beards i.e a beard that’s less than 5mm long. If you’re reading this, there’s quite a good chance you don’t actually want to grow a full beard.
You’ve fallen in love with that stubble life and you’re not willing to say goodbye just yet. That’s completely understandable.
But let’s say you’ve been trying to maintain a 5 o’clock shadow length (around 2mm) and you’re disappointed by the results it’s yielding. You’ve got patchy stubble and you just can’t help but shave it off out of embarrassment.
Restrain yourself. Try growing it out to that 10-day stubble length (usually around 4-5mm) to see whether those patches look less obvious.
Let it grow. You may be in for a surprise. Plus if you’re willing to go just a couple of millimeters longer than 5mm – at this point dipping very much into “short beard” territory – there really is a sweet spot where patches look less noticeable.
2. Try dropping the cheekline
Before you try this one, make sure it’ll work for your specific distribution of patchy stubble. This hack if for those men who have very sporadic or thin beard hair in the upper part of their cheek.
In other words, just under their current cheekline.
Cheekline style is partially determined by face shape. People with rounder faces generally look better with a straight cheekline running from the tip of their sideburn to the corner of their mouth. In contrast, people with a more angular or well-defined jawline actually look better with a downwards curve to their cheekline.
If dipping into your cheekline a little would actually get rid of some thin patches of your beard, it may be worth trying out.
Be sure to define the border well using a straight razor, a safety razor or an electric shaver. Making the cheekline more pronounced will shape the beard nicely and even make it look denser from certain angles.
These simple cheekline tricks could work wonders for a patchy stubble beard if your distribution of patchiness is in the appropriate places.
3. Give it time
This is most likely the one you really didn’t want to hear. I can already hear the screams of “this isn’t a patchy stubble tip, trick or hack!”
But the reason I’m including it in here is because many people don’t realize that uneven hair distribution can often correct itself as you get older.
This tip is particularly relevant for people in their teens and twenties. It’s important not to get frustrated by the fact that you aren’t able to grow as thick or as luscious a beard as your older associates.
There’s a good chance that your patchy stubble beard (or any beard for that matter) will even itself out over time. Plus, you’ll almost certainly be more adept in styling and shaping your beard by this point so the results will be even more impressive.
While letting time do its thing, there’s no reason you can’t experiment with any of the other tips and tricks listed in this article.
This is included pretty high up the list because so many people let their impatience get the better of them and prematurely reach for the shaver.
Don’t let that frustration stop you from embracing a life of beardiness. Patience, as always, is a virtue. Whatever your hair distribution ends up becoming, there’s a style out there for you. It’s just a matter of finding it.
4. Keratin Hair Fibers
These tiny little miracles work by clinging to the hair shafts of your beard, covering any patchy stubble spots and giving it an instantly denser appearance.
The fibers come in a wide range of colors and are usually of vegetal origin and vitamin-infused. The good ones are also pretty resistant to water, rain, wind, and movement. But just like any other hair styling product they do come off in heavy rain or when you shower.
What’s great about these fibers is that they’re pretty inexpensive and easy to apply. The exact quantity you’ll need is something you’ll have to experiment with.
But some people don’t like the fact that it’s essentially just camouflage and isn’t really doing anything to “progress the beard” in any way.
On the other hand, a lot of people are perfectly fine with this. Perhaps they’ve got a wedding to attend or a date to preen for and they need that beard on point. Thick and lustrous with impeccably defined borders and impossibly even distribution.
Sure it isn’t permanent, but it’s better than nothing right? It could be a secret weapon you could deploy on special occasions to really turn some heads.
It’s something definitely worth trying if you like the sound of it. There are a lot of brands that make them out there, but Toppik is one of the larger and more established ones.
Check them out on Amazon by clicking here.
5. Brush that beard
“But is there any point in brushing patchy stubble?”, I hear you ask. Particularly with longer stubble, this could be a revelation for you. Plus men who are well within the “short beard” range (<5mm length) have absolutely no excuse for not doing this.
Brushing the beard reduces patchiness in two ways:
- It makes the beard neater and more uniform. Hair follicles that may have clumped together are separated, and those that are facing the wrong direction are turned. This results in a much more even-looking distribution.
- It may allow those longer hair follicles to actually cover up some bare patches if your beard is long enough. Brushing allows you to manipulate the hairs in ways you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
When choosing a beard brush it’s important to consider certain features. Wooden brushes (usually bamboo) are usually higher quality but aren’t water-resistant. On the other hand, plastic brushes can actually be used in the shower.
Natural bristles (either boar hair or horse hair) are also generally preferable to synthetic bristles. They’re great for distributing oils throughout the hair and making the beard softer.
Moral of the story – brush your beards, gentleman. Even stubble beards and especially heavy stubble beards. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
6. Trim your patchy stubble down
This one might seem to contradict tip number 1 at first. But for certain people, trimming down their beard can actually greatly reduce the appearance of patchy stubble.
It’s particularly worth trying for men with multiple bare patches across their beard as opposed to just one or two which could be masked by growing it out instead.
Trimming your beard down to a nice, short, uniform length can give the illusion of a more even hair distribution.
Yes, stubble is already short. But through the use of a good stubble trimmer, you will most likely be able to go shorter. These trimmers have size settings that go as short as 0.4mm, with incremental increases as small as 0.2mm.
I’ve listed my favorite stubble trimmer in this article.
The best way to find a stubble length that suits you is by following a step-by-step routine allowing you to slowly and gradually determine what your optimal length is.
One thing to note is that if you do have a lot of bald patches, letting your beard grow long may be a way of shooting yourself in the foot.
Those hairs that are actually growing aren’t going to have enough structural support from those bald patches, leading to the appearance of an even thinner and patchier beard.
True story my friend. Try trimming it down.
7. Choose a style for patchy stubble
There’s no reason why patchy stubble can’t look smoking hot if styled or shaped in the right way.
Patchy beards have been effortlessly owned by legends such as Keanu Reeves. If it’s good enough for The One, I’d be inclined to say it should be good enough for anyone.
But it’s important to know that there are beard styles that either completely exclude those pesky bare patches or embrace them. Stubble and short beards are incredibly versatile and easy to make attractive.
Most styles that exclude the bare patches take advantage of the fact that people generally have the worst patchiness on their cheeks. Let’s talk through a few of these styles that may save a man with patchy stubble. Simple, slick, and stylish.
A very sleek beard style that consists only of a very thin strip of hair that travels from one sideburn, along the jawline, and to the other sideburn.
Yes, the most exciting part about it is that it most likely completely eliminates those patchy stubble areas you may be self-conscious about such as the cheeks and the neck.
The Circle Beard Goatee
Goatees are great for most men with patchy stubble because they’re defined by hair on the chin but not on the cheeks. That’s right gentlemen.
They accentuate the dense hair on the chin and completely remove the thin, wispy hair on the cheeks. There are, of course, men whose patchiest areas aren’t actually on the cheeks – in which case this may not be for them.
But usually, the cheeks are the culprits.
Circle beard is simply a variant of the goatee that completely encircles the mouth. So you’ve got a classic goatee (hair on the chin) as well as a mustache, both connected by strips of hair. There may or may not be a lil’ soul patch in there too for good measure.
Try it out if you’re curious.
The Stubble Van Dyke
Another goatee variant. Spotting a trend, right?
So this is similar to the circle beard except for the fact that the chin hair is kept separate from the mustache as opposed to connected. Named after a famed Baroque artist and (some might say more importantly) bearded legend who wore his facial locks with style and grace.
The Van Dyke style can work great with a stubble beard (both light and heavy) and more relevantly, can completely wipe out the issue of patchy stubble.
8. Stop playing with it
Playing with stubble is to many men an incomparable joy that only bearded men can appreciate.
The feel of those bristles can enhance any experience and can facilitate zen-like concentration in even the most stressful and trying of times.
But it’s really best not to do it. Particularly with longer stubble or with short beards, playing with the follicles will cause them to clump together and face directions they shouldn’t.
In doing this, you’ll potentially be exposing bald patches in your beard which were previously well masked.
In addition, playing and tugging at the hairs can actually cause them to fall out and make larger and even newer bald patches you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
To be the one to tell you this and potentially deny you of what may have been years worth of tactile beard-playing euphoria, breaks my heart.
Just think of how thick and luscious that beard is going to look once these tips are implemented. You’ll be thanking yourself soon enough.
9. Try mascara
I know what you’re thinking. We’re running dry on tips and have resorted to incoherent nonsense. But please, read on.
But using appropriately colored mascara on your beard can actually nicely camouflage bare patches that you might have.
Please bear in mind however that this definitely won’t fix large patches. It’s for those small patches that just need a bit of touching up to make disappear.
Using the mascara brush just apply light streaks in the patchy areas to make it look denser and evener.
Sure, it’s artificial. But it’s one of those tricks you can use when you want to go that extra mile.
10. Try dyeing it
Facial hair is a different type of beast. It just can’t be compared to head or body hair because it just doesn’t play ball.
Here’s a complete article on how to dye stubble.
You may notice that the hairs of your beard are often of different thickness, different lengths, and different colors.
Particularly lighter-colored hairs can often make beards look thin and lifeless. This is especially the case when they sit alongside darker hairs, as this discrepancy can be quite obvious.
Applying an appropriately colored dye to make the facial hair a more uniform, darker color can really make a patchy stubble beard appear thicker and fuller.
But do remember to use a color that matches your skin tone and hair. If you don’t, the result just won’t look natural.
Men often think they’ll look great with really dark beard hair, without taking into account the other features. It’s best to trial a color tone one or two shades lighter than you think you’ll look good with. If after this you really believe there’s space to darken up some more, go for it.
Remember to use a dye specifically designed for use on beards, however. Beard hair is different to head hair in that it’s coarser and thicker. Plus it’s important to remember that facial skin is more sensitive than scalp skin, and the dye you choose should appreciate that.
11. Try beard oil
Rubbing a nutrient-rich, soothing beard oil into your beard isn’t just for soothing the skin and making your beard smell great.
They’re usually packed with conditioning ingredients such as jojoba oil and argan oil which give the beard a slick shine and a lot of volume.
This makes the beard look thicker, fuller and more uniform. It also gives the beard a very intentional look, as opposed to the “accidental beardsman” look.
There may be some of you that don’t feel a stubble beard or short beard warrants a dose of the beard oil. But this is wrong.
Beard oils improve the overall appearance of even shorter whiskers. They also nourish the follicles and make them less likely to break, as well as moisturize the underlying skin.
It’s something definitely worth trying for anyone with patchy stubble or a patchy short beard.
So there you have it.
11 simple and subtle tips, tricks and hacks to help you rid yourself of the patchy stubble look.
It would be very surprising if you didn’t notice an improvement after deploying these tactics.
You don’t have to try all of them. But after reading through this article you should have a better idea of which ones are more relevant to your particular beard.
Remember. No two beards are the same but they all work in mysterious ways. That’s why we love them so much.
Hope you found this valuable.
Have any of you got any other tips for people trying to fix their patchy stubble or patchy beard look?