Among the many foods, drinks, and remedies that have been considered for promoting beard growth, alcohol (strangely) has been touted quite a bit. Beer or methylated spirit, or simply alcohol, has been considered by many as a viable option. But, does it actually work?
The answer, in a nutshell, is that beer consumption and beard growth have no demonstrable connection. Reports of hair growth benefits from drinking are purely anecdotal, mostly based on cultural connections between beer and masculinity, or debunked theories about testosterone level changes in regular drinkers. Meanwhile, the negative impact of beer consumption is well-documented by the CDC, NIH, and other major health organizations.
Depending on an individual’s physique and body makeup, the consumption of alcohol may have positive effects, but only to an extent. Excessive consumption of alcohol is bad for everyone. So, why is it that some people report positive benefits of drinking alcoholic beverages like beer?
Let’s look at the science behind this.
Understanding the Science
If you are a male and have significant amounts of testosterone, 5-alpha reductase, and dihydrotestosterone in your body, beer might have some positive impacts on your beard growth. The short answer to this is that when you consume alcohol, the testosterone in your body rises ever so slightly. This has been proven according to a study by Taisto Sarkola and C J Peter Eriksson.
They concluded that alcohol intake has an impact on the androgen balance in men, caused due to an effect by the alcohol-induced change in the redox state of a person’s liver.
Another study published in 2006 showed that alcohol administration resulted in an increase in testosterone concentrations by up to 5%. However, this study was solely conducted on Wistar rates
Testosterone, for those who don’t know, is perhaps the most important hormone that promotes beard growth. As a result, it is said that a regular increase in the levels of testosterone could eventually stimulate beard growth.
However, you need to understand that this is highly subjective. There is conclusive research which shows that excessive consumption of alcohol can significantly reduce the levels of testosterone in a person, so it’s actually going to have a negative impact on your beard-growing plans.
Here are some specific ways by which alcohol damages the human body, and consequently impacts the testosterone levels:
- Alcohol directly damages the Leydig cells which are responsible for the production and secretion of testosterone.
- The consumption of alcohol often releases a bunch of endorphins in the mind. Even though these endorphins make a person feel relaxed and calm, they can actually have a dire impact on testosterone synthesis.
- Alcohol consumption also increases the production of a stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is proven to reduce testosterone synthesis, and even blocks the effects of testosterone in your body. Effectively, this means that the testosterone present in your body is not able to perform its tasks!
- There are also a few studies which show that alcohol can increase the conversion of testosterone into estrogen in the body.
So, there’s conclusive proof that excessive drinking can have a major impact on testosterone production. But, what about moderate alcohol consumption? In general, consuming a drink or two on occasion is unlikely to have a major impact on your testosterone levels, as shown by a study.
If you were thinking of getting wasted every other night and hoping to wake up with a magical beard and of course, a hangover in the morning, you might have to think again. The hangover will remain, but don’t expect to see any magical facial hair appearing on your face.
What Stimulates Beard Growth?
You might have seen that some people sprout a beard before they graduate high school. Others are unable to grow a full crop until they turn 30, and even then, it’s not a full, dense beard. It’s just so easy to tell. But, what is it that stimulates beard growth?
First, you need to understand that beard growth usually begins in the puberty stage. For some people, it starts early. For others, it can get a bit late. There are two key factors that affect the growth of facial hair: testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
Testosterone actually primes the follicles of facial hair, whereas the dihydrotestosterone promotes linear beard growth. Unfortunately, many people get the impression that because alcohol increases the testosterone levels by a slight margin for a brief period of time, consistent intake will increase their facial hair.
Obviously, that’s not true, and excessive consumption will have a negative impact.
Many conscious men are also quite particular about the kind of facial hair products that they use. If you are wary about what you apply on your face and go through all of the details, you will notice that there are certain products which contain alcohol.
Topical application of alcohol is unlikely to result in any major difference in beard growth. Topical application simply results in alcohol penetrating in the skin. Many natural oils and essential oils also contain an infusion of alcohol, so it’s a wise idea to take a look at the back of the bottle.
If you go to a decent grooming professional, they will simply advise you to mix a bit of ethanol with castor oil. Castor oil is a suitable natural product that can promote beard growth. When you mix it with alcohol, it will work even faster. That’s because the alcohol will be able to deliver the castor oil much faster to the roots of the facial hair follicles.
But you need to remember that hydration is critical after applying alcohol to your face. Alcohol is going to dehydrate the facial hair strands, so do apply a moisturizer afterwards. This also begs the question: will rubbing alcohol on my face stimulate beard growth?
Absolutely not. Not only will you be left with a burning sensation afterwards (think aftershave x 20!), but it’s not going to have any impact. If you are going to apply alcohol, it is imperative that you mix it with an essential oil such as peppermint or castor oil. This will promote hair growth on your face.
The fact of the matter is that excessive use of alcohol is going to affect every part of your body, your health, and your life. Of course, your hair’s going to be affected too. There’s actually a much stronger link between alcohol and hair loss as compared to alcohol and beard growth!
Alcohol and Hair Loss
While the relationship between hair loss and alcohol is a bit complicated, you should know that there are two key reasons why most heavy drinkers lose hair:
- Poor eating habits and nutritional intake
- Inability to absorb the consumed nutrients due to excessive alcohol
When you drink a lot, you are essentially consuming empty calories. They provide no nutritional benefit, especially if you are a beer guy or like to consume liquor. Because most of your calories are coming in the form of an alcoholic beverage, it is unlikely that you will be able to maintain a healthy diet alongside it.
In fact, most people usually find themselves feeling full midway during a drinking session. That’s just because they consume too, and this can eventually cause malnutrition. Some side effects of malnutrition include brain damage due to a lack of thiamine, and, you guessed it, loss of hair.
To maintain hair on your head and your face, you need an appropriate amount of minerals, fats, carbs, and vitamins. If your body doesn’t get that, you will start losing hair left right and center. Furthermore, you should know that alcohol consumption doesn’t just relate to hair loss by malnutrition.
Alcohol also causes loss of hair since it affects the absorption of essential nutrients and vitamins. So, even if you eat healthy, nutritious foods, the excessive alcohol consumption will interfere with the absorption of these nutrients. You’ll never see the effects of what you ate!
Excessive alcohol consumption destroys the stomach lining, and as a result, your digestive system starts producing more acids. Ultimately, this prevents your body from properly absorbing nutrients. On top of that, excessive alcohol consumption also leads to a diuretic effect.
Levels of potassium and magnesium are going to fall drastically in your body, and this impacts the body’s ability to maintain healthy functions like hair growth. The damaging effects of alcohol on a person’s body are hard to overstate. Alcoholism is a serious problem, it affects millions.
Globally, 107 million people are estimated to suffer from an alcoholic disorder, according to stats from 2017. It is simply not a figure that can be taken lightly. This figure has also probably increased in the past few years.
There is very little evidence which shows that drinking beer is good for you. When you compare this with the mountains of evidence that effectively confirms just how bad alcoholic drinks are, it’s simply not a viable decision. Even if you think it works, drinking beer to increase your hair or beard growth is a questionable idea with no scientific support, and could set you down on a slippery path of self-destruction.