The Blog

The Art Of A Good Beard

And like the lines of an aesthetically-pleasing car, or the swooping curves of carved furniture, crafting the perfect beard also takes real artistry.

Twenty years ago, they were the preserve of the elderly, academic, or the middle-aged.

But now beards are ubiquitous among twenty-somethings in the UK, following an explosion in popularity that has been quite staggering.

And like the lines of an aesthetically-pleasing car, or the swooping curves of carved furniture, crafting the perfect beard also takes real artistry.

If you're a fuzz-free male with facial hair envy, unable to grow a decent set of bristles, rest assured you're not alone.

Hair transplant surgeons, like myself, are seeing a growing demand for cosmetic beard enhancements.

In 2015, beard transplants represented around three per cent of the work I carried out. Now, it's more like 10 per cent, a threefold increase, and rising fast.

Done well, the results are impressive and can offer a real psychological boost to the man underneath the whiskers.

But done wrong....well, the results can be jarring to the eye, creating something that looks fake, or almost painted on.

Facial hair transplants offer unique challenges.

The skin around the face is soft, squidgy and pliable - it moves around much more than the scalp while you're trying to work on it, which creates certain difficulties.

It takes great skill to get right.

And facial hair transplants are also more time consuming. With the hair on your head, you can typically achieve around 4,000 'grafts', which is the placing of an individual hair follicle in its new home, in a day.

For a beard, you're looking at around 1,500 to 2,000 grafts per day.

It requires a steady hand and lots of patience.

And then there's the actual aesthetics at play. It might sound bizarre, but I actually think there's great flair and finesse in creating a good beard.

There needs to be subtle irregularities in the outline and pattern in order to make it look natural.

Like a painter, you need to stand back, get new perspectives, and make sure it's coming together as a whole.

As for the surgery itself, it can be performed in two ways, and each involves the process of transferring healthy hair follicles from the patient's own permanent donor areas to the areas lacking in hair.

Follicular Unit Transplant technique, aka 'FUT' or 'strip' surgery, sees a thin strip of hair-bearing skin removed from a 'donor' area - typically from the scalp - under local anaesthetic before it is divided into the individual healthy follicles under microscopes and transplanted into the face.

Follicular Unit Extraction, aka 'FUE', avoids having to remove a thin strip of skin by extracting individual follicular units directly from the donor area using a 'punch' around 0.9mm in width.

The surgeon next makes microscopic slits in the receiving area of the patient's face, and the individual grafts will be placed into these recipient sites.

The procedure, which costs anything from around £4,000, takes around eight hours per session.

Once implanted into the face, the beard takes root.

And while some hair is expected to shed, the root stays and, after a few months, will begin to grow new hair.

Within six months, most men will see their beard starting to take shape and can shave and watch it grow back like normal.

Is growing your own beard a sign of a man's virility? Absolutely not.

It's purely down to your genes, underlying medical conditions or trauma to that region.

But if you, like many others, yearn for designer stubble, rest assured you have options at your disposal.

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