5 Ways to Stop Beard Shrinkage
So you’ve been working hard at growing your beard. You’ve thought about everything — your grooming products, your nutrition, your lifestyle. Well...almost everything.
Today, let’s dive into beard shrinkage.
What is beard shrinkage?
Beard shrinkage is when your beard appears shorter than it actually is. If you can pull your beard and make it come down further than where it naturally falls, that’s shrinkage.
Know that it’s completely natural, especially for those of us with curly or kinky hair types. Nonetheless, it can be super annoying if we’re trying to show off length.
Let’s get a little scientific
By now, you’ve heard me say that oval-shaped follicles are to thank for curly/kinky hair. (Round follicles produce straight hair.) But something you might not know is that chemical bonds also play a big role in the different types of hair.
For a closer look at what’s happening when we get beard shrinkage, let’s zoom in on a specific type called hydrogen bonding.
Hydrogen bonds are like glue — they hold hair in its shape. Whether it’s curly or straight, hair stays that way due to hydrogen bonding.
You might have noticed that beard shrinkage occurs in the presence of water, and that’s because water breaks down hydrogen bonds, freeing your hair to spring back to its naturally curly state.
In a sense, water activates the hair’s natural curl pattern, causing it to coil up and shorten.
That’s enough for that science lesson. Now that you have some context, let’s talk about what you can actually do to avoid shrinkage!
Some proven methods to fight shrinkage
Blow dry your beard.
Like water, heat has the ability to break down hydrogen bonds, which is why many men use blow-dryers to lengthen their beards (a method called heat stretching).
Simply blow dry your beard while combing through your beard strands, extending the length. As your hair cools, new hydrogen bonds form to keep your beard in its new elongated state.
Word to the wise: Use your blow-dryer on a low setting in order to avoid heat damage to the cuticle.
Use a beard balm.
Balm is the product I tend to reach for whenever I want the ‘hold’ without the stickiness or crunchiness. Balm helps to lock your beard style in place, and since it’s a heavier product than, let’s say oil, that small difference helps to weigh the hair down and unwind the natural curl pattern, thus lengthening your hair.
For best results, be sure to apply your balm to a damp — not wet — beard. And don’t forget to use a comb or pick right after.
Avoid wetting your beard when you can.
Whenever you shower (assuming that you’re not washing your beard at the same time), cover up your beard with a plastic shower cap. You might feel a little silly at first, but if you’re serious about stopping beard shrinkage, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Stretch it out.
Gently pulling on your strands can train your beard to be more stretched out. Using your fingers, simply go through your beard section by section, making sure that you aren’t tugging too forcefully. Do this a few times a day. Over time, the hair will naturally settle at that length.
Note: Don’t try this method if your beard is damaged because it might lead to breakage.
Braiding applies tension to the hair strands, stretching them out and then locking them in place as they’re lengthened. If your beard is at a length that allows for braiding, definitely try this method out!
Shrinkage and curly/kinky hair are a package deal, but it doesn’t have to dictate your look 24/7. Lengthen your beard with one of these tried-and-true methods, and don’t forget to leave a comment below telling me how it worked out for you.