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9 Easy Ways To Deal With Patchy Stubble

August 12, 2023
9 Easy Ways To Deal With Patchy Stubble

Patchy stubble. These two words are enough to send a chill down the spine of any man with serious facial hair aspirations. 

The question is, 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 to give it a thicker and fuller appearance.

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 are shaving 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 on 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 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. 

From Shutterstock

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 here is that uneven hair distribution can often correct itself as you get older

There’s a 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. 

If you have concerns about uneven hair growth, it may also be a good idea to discuss them with a clinician, even if it was just for reassurance.

4. Keratin Hair Fibers

They 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

  1. It makes the beard neater and more uniform. Hair 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.  
  2. It may allow those longer hairs 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) is also generally preferable to synthetic bristles. They’re great for distributing oils throughout the hair and making the beard softer. 

This tip would be more relevant to people with heavy stubble.

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 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. 

7. Choose a style for patchy stubble

There’s no reason why patchy stubble can’t look great if styled or shaped in the right way. 

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. 

The Chinstrap

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. 

From 123RF

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. 

A circle beard is a perfect solution for a man with patchy stubble.

From Shutterstock

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 hair will cause it to clump together and face odd directions.

In doing this, you’ll potentially be exposing patches in your beard that 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. 

9. Consider Dyeing It 

Again, this would only be relevant for people with heavier stubble.

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.

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.