Beard Growth & Light Therapy
“The benefit of having a beard is protection, as well as aesthetics,” says Dave Harvey, M.D. “It's good protection against wind, chafing, and traumatic injury. It’s also a trend, so we see a lot of men with some form of facial hair.”
The Health Benefits of Beards
- Protect skin from sun damage. Beards can help protect the skin from harmful UV rays, though the degree of protection may depend on hair density and thickness. “You’re going to have some protection because hair is a reflective medium,” says Dr. Harvey. “Even though some UV rays get through, there is some scattering of the light, and that’s how it helps protect against sun damage.”
- Keep you warm. Beards can add a layer of protection to your chin and neck, thus keeping you warm in colder weather. The longer and fuller the beard, the better it will insulate your face.
- Make you feel more attractive. A study conducted by the Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society found that men with a moderately full beard are most attractive. Men with full beards may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in their children. “Men with beards have a powerful look,” says Dr. Harvey. “And that’s an attractive thing.”
Common Problems for Beard Growers
Growing a beard is not always easy. And if your beard is not properly cared for, it can become a harbinger for bacteria.
“If you don’t clean your beard well, and you let it just do its own thing, sometimes you can accumulate yeast and get dandruff within the beard,” says Dr. Harvey. “With that, you’ll get a reactive scaling on the face and flaking like you would with dandruff. So those patients need to be put on antifungal shampoo.”
Beard growers also face the challenge of ingrown follicles that result in bumps known as acne keloidalis.
“Some men will get a raised scarring type of bump called an acne keloidalis of the neck,” he says. “So we offer them topical antibiotics or Retin A for those particular reasons.”
Low-Level Laser Therapy for Beards
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is an FDA-approved treatment using laser light energy to circulate blood flow to hair follicles. Laser therapy for hair growth can be used to stop hair loss in men and women. The non-invasive lasers stimulate hair follicles to induce regrowth, resulting in a thicker beard in several weeks of treatments.
Laser hair therapy is also called red light therapy. The process irradiates photons in skin tissue, resulting in photons being absorbed into weaker hair follicles and promoting hair growth.
How Successful Is Laser Hair Restoration?
Laser treatment for hair loss works because photons amp up circulation and stimulation, which brings back hair follicles that may have died off.
Laser hair restoration therapy is continuing to develop. Still, the National Institutes of Health has conducted multiple studies on laser hair growth therapy to see if it works for those with alopecia and male pattern baldness.
The NIH study used a controlled clinical trial that found laser hair therapy works for men and women, and it’s safe.
Another study from 2013 included male participants aged 18 to 48. The result of laser hair therapy treatment included a 39 percent increase in hair growth for participants over four months.
However, laser therapy is just one piece of the puzzle. Many factors contribute to repeated hair loss, including:
- Medical conditions like diabetes and lupus.
- Poor diet.
- Side effects of medications, such as chemotherapy.
How Long Does Laser Hair Therapy Take To Work?
From your first treatment, it can take several weeks to see a noticeable difference. This is because red light therapy for hair loss must be administered multiple times over 4 to 6 weeks to begin working.
If you don’t see any growth after 90 days, it’s probably unlikely you’ll regrow hair with this method. You should consult your doctor about the growth cycle and see how long it will take.