When you start growing your beard, you probably have a goal in mind for what you want it to look like. For some, that’s a nice well-kept beard that reaches the collar of their shirt. For others it’s a clean well-defined stubble that’ll drive the ladies wild. For some of us, the goal is to grow it down to your toes and never shave it again. Unfortunately for those men, this isn’t exactly possible and I’m here today to explain why.
Today we’re talking about Terminal Length and how it applies to beard growth.
What is Terminal Length?
Terminal length is simply the longest your hair will grow before seeming to “stop growing”. At a certain point in your hair’s life cycle, it will fall out and regrow at a speed that makes it seem like it’s no longer growing. Have you ever wondered why your arm and leg hair don’t grow past a particular length? This is the same explanation for that as well.
Your genes play a huge role in how long your beard will grow before reaching terminal length, just as they play a role in how long your beard will grow, how patchy it will be, and what color it will be. The key takeaway here is that you really don’t have much control over it and will need to learn to be happy with what you have if your goal is to reach terminal length.
Facial Hair's Terminal Length
The follicles on different areas of your face will have different terminal lengths. For example, your moustache should reach terminal length somewhere around 2-3 inches, whereas the hair under your chin can stretch down as long as 18 inches or more! The hair on your cheeks and front of your chin will be somewhere in between, but probably shorter than you’d imagine it to be.
The Scientific Stuff
The science behind hair growth and terminal length is actually fairly simple. Basically, there are 3 phases to hair growth. These are the Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen stages. These phases are responsible for the growth and shedding of your hair.
The Anagen Phase accounts for more than 95% of the hair’s lifecycle. This means that most of the hair on your body is currently in this cycle at any one time. In the Anagen Phase, your hair follicles anchor into the skin and begin to grow. This phase can last anywhere from 2 to 8 years, and the time that yours lasts determines your terminal length.
The Catagen Phase accounts for less than 1% of your hair’s life cycle. It lasts about 2-3 weeks and is basically the period when your hair completely stops growing and the follicle begins to shrink.
The Telogen Phase is the completion of your hair’s life cycle. In this phase, your hair is released. It falls out and the follicle becomes dormant for about 3 months before repeating the cycle and beginning new growth.
How to Beat Terminal Length
While you really can’t do anything about your genetic terminal length, it is possible that the terminal length you experience could be shorter than it’s meant to be. With unhealthy hair and a beard that is not well care for, you may be hindering your growth potential and shortening your terminal length. But don’t worry, there are a few ways you can be sure you’re letting your beard grow to its full potential.
Take care of your beard and skin
We talk about it all the time, but this is the simplest way to ensure your beard is growing as long as it can before falling out. Unhealthy hairs tend to split at the ends and those splits work their way up the strand until it becomes weak and thin and falls out or breaks. When you take care of your skin, you allow it to foster healthy follicles that will grow thicker and stronger hairs.
Make sure to follow a comprehensive beard care routine to care for your hairs and the skin beneath them. This will give you a fighting chance against a shortened terminal length.
Check your diet and exercise habits
Your diet and exercise habits have a major influence on the health of your beard. There’s a lot of science that goes into it, but basically testosterone levels are controlled by physical exertion and proper diet, and higher levels will allow you to grow a better beard. You’ll want to make sure you audit your health and make sure you’re really doing all you can to give your body the best chance of growing a huge beard.
Stress is a big determinant of our overall well-being. It’s important to curb your stress in any areas of your life as you can, not only for your physical health but for your emotional and mental health as well. Too much stress can cause sleep deprivation, depression, and even hair loss in some cases. All of these things are big problems when it comes being confident and growing the beard of your dreams. Try to practice meditation and exercise regularly to reduce stress levels and cut out anything in your life that is repeatedly causing you stress. It will be great for more than just your beard.
While many of us will not ever reach our terminal lengths, some of us will want to do everything we can to not only get there, but make sure that’s as long as it can be. A few quick changes to your health and grooming routines can make all the difference in caring for your beard and increasing its potential.