Why Can't Some Men Grow Facial Hair?

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By Zoe Fu, University of Texas at San Antonio

Facial hair is a symbol of virility and wisdom (not to mention a wonderful enhancement to a male body). But that doesn't mean a man who suffers from boy face—meaning, he can't cultivate a beard—isn't wise or manly. So why can't some men grow facial hair?

The diversity of facial hair growth depends on genetics. Men start to develop facial hair—which is regulated by testosterone—during their pubescent stage, and it doesn't fully mature until they reach their early twenties. The interaction between testosterone and the hair that already exists causes it to grow thicker and darker.

You might think men who can grow a beard have a higher testosterone level, but in reality, most men have about the same level of testosterone. And that's where genetics come in: How one's body responds to testosterone results in how one's facial hair grows. Being highly sensitive to testosterone means more facial hair. On the down side, it attributes to baldness. So for those who have boy face, don't fret! You're safe from baldness later in life! For the time being, a glue-on beard might just do the trick.

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