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Fewer personal expressions are so deeply and timelessly tied to masculinity than facial hair -- Charles Darwin himself believed that the beard survived due to female choice, as a potent expression of masculinity. Whether you agree with Darwin or not, there's little doubt that facial hair reveals a rugged, independent side of the wearer. If you're anxious to sport some scruff, genetics are your best friend or your worst enemy. While your genes play the most important role in facial hair growth, you can do a few things to help speed the process along.
Eat to Grow
Just like the hair on your head, the hair on your face is primarily composed of protein. As such, a diet rich in protein and hair-healthy vitamins helps accelerate hair growth and encourage healthy hair. Incorporate lean red meats, egg yolks, turkey and beans to bolster your protein and iron intake. In addition to eggs, avocados, salmon, almonds and peanuts pack plenty of the B-vitamin biotin, which promotes hair growth. To enrich your facial hair's thickness, turn to silica-rich bananas, oats and raisins. Taking in plenty of fruits and vegetables gives your body lots of vitamin C, which in turn promotes hair-building iron absorption. For optimal growth, drink plenty of water and reduce your intake of sugar and caffeine.
Pump Up Your Beard
Multiple World Beard and Moustache Championship winner Jack Passion encourages those with facial hair to work out to bolster growth. Incorporate exercises such as squats, running and lifting weights; combination of cardio and strength training can boost testosterone production while improving circulation, the latter of which helps your body make the most of a hair-building diet.
Protect for Success
If you're going for a lengthy beard or mustache, protecting your current facial hair from damage not only makes way for healthy new growth, but it also improves the appearance and texture of your current hair. Defend against wind, sea salt, smog and chlorine with the application of grape-seed or jojoba oil. Shampoo your facial hair regularly with a light shampoo, such as pine-tar soap or a low-residue beard wash, to nourish the hair you have while creating a healthy environment for new hair growth.
More to Consider
In addition to exercise, sleep is essential -- about 7 to 9 hours per night -- for healthy facial hair growth. Stress may inhibit hair growth; try meditation and yoga to ward off anxiety. Although no hard research exists to support them, beard-growth supplements rely on hair-friendly elements such as vitamin B, vitamin E, biotin and beta carotene to promote facial hair growth -- according to supplement manufacturers, some users may see results within a week.
- Oxford Journals: Behavioral Ecology -- Beards Augment Perceptions of Men's Age, Social Status and Aggressiveness, but Not Attractiveness
- Birchbox: Beard Champion Jack Passion on Growing a Healthy Beard Fast
- U.S. News and World Report: Health -- 10 Best Foods for Your Hair
- Hair Boutique: The Truth About Lightening Fast Hair Growth
- Esquire: How to Grow a Beard
- New York Daily News: Supplement Claims to Help Men Grow Beards Faster
- Eugenio Marongiu/iStock/Getty Images