If you’re choosing to wear a beard, you’re part of a fast-growing group who wants that undeniably distinguished look. Maybe you chose the look to add some depth, maturity, and gravitas to your appearance. Or perhaps you want to convey a look of authority at work. Maybe you have a cosmetic reason to grow out your facial hair, such as covering uneven skin or masking signs of aging.
Regardless of your reason for growing a beard, creating a look that’s even, well-groomed, and styled for your face shape is critical. Whether growing out your beard just for yourself or to win over those you meet, maintenance is key to making sure your scruff looks its best. But what do you do if, like many, you have difficulty growing the consistent facial hair you want?
If the beard of your dreams isn’t coming naturally, there’s no need to worry, as non-medical solutions are readily available to help address patchy growth. These include beard fillers, pens, and pencils, as well as products that work to plump up and add volume to hair. Some argue that follicular stimulation using microneedling in combination with topical hair growth solutions like minoxidil can help, although the science behind that approach is still under review by dermatologists.
With so many options available, the next step is discovering the techniques and products that work best for you. Ahead, grooming experts cut through the clutter and share their advice on using beard fillers, along with other helpful tips to make your beard look fuller and more consistent
What Is Beard Filler?
Beard filler is a product, such as a pencil, powder, or airbrush device, that helps facial hair to appear fuller and more voluminous. Similar to eyebrow filler and root filler, it’s typically temporary and applied to certain areas as part of your daily grooming routine. With the right products and technique, this can be transformative in enhancing one’s natural beard and overall look.
How to Apply Beard Filler
Eric Becker tells Byrdie that he recommends men use a filler pencil or pen to fill in spots that lack adequate coverage. “The key is choosing a product that also comes with a brush to distribute and blend the filler into your beard,” he says. “They usually come in a few different colors or tones, so choose what matches the area the most naturally.” Note: You may have different shades of hair color on different parts of your face. Once you find the right color for the area you’re trying to fill in, start by trimming and detailing your beard to your desired length and lines. Next, Becker recommends washing your face to remove trimmed hair and debris, ensuring that it’s completely dry before applying the filler.
Once your beard is trimmed to the right length, Becker says you should brush your beard with the grain (in the direction of growth) into your desired shape. He then says to apply filler in short strokes, also in the direction of growth. “Once you’re satisfied that your beard now has a consistent appearance, use the dry brush to gently blend product into your existing facial hair,” he says. “Look for any inconsistencies and add more filler if necessary.”
Does Beard Filler Work?
While beard filler does indeed work with good products and technique, Becker also shares a word of caution: “The biggest thing to remember is that this is indeed filler, meaning you should only be relying on this to even out the density of your facial hair. If you have large patches of skin between the spaces of your beard, or a super fine beard, this probably isn’t the product for you.” He suggests taking a selfie if you are unsure if the beard looks right: “The camera probably will tell you what everyone else who sees you is thinking.”
Additionally, at-home application can only take you so far. Becker recommends that if you’re going for a “super crisp, lined-up look,” you should work with a professional: “They may use a different product, like a spray or fiber kit. Watch how they apply it to your specific style beard and ask questions. It can easily look like a bad filter and not a filler if applied incorrectly.”
Following the above tips will help you to create a refined, natural finish, but it’s important to be realistic with your expectations of what beard filler can do for you. “Remember this isn’t permanent,” Becker reminds us. “This is a process you’ll have to repeat all the time to keep the same look. For better or for worse, filler is basically just makeup. It can smudge, wash off, [or] smear during a workout. Not everyone has the facial hair for a beard. Find a length and style that works for you naturally and then use your filler to enhance, not create.”
The Best Beard Filler Products
Whether you’re using filler or just styling your natural facial hair, shaping and conditioning your beard is key to a polished result. Beard balms are a great way to do this, and this one from Blind Barber nourishes each strand with shea butter, argan oil, and avocado oil.
Henry de la Paz shares that he has used several techniques for filling in patches and that it’s quite normal to need to do so. “Not everyone has the [thick, seamless] beards of Drake and DJ Khaled,” he says. “Sometimes it takes a bit of work.” De la Paz explains that he has used numerous products and techniques to address unevenness in beards, including fibers, pencils, airbrushing, and even a simple eyebrow powder brush. “When looking for beard fillers, opt for one that is waterproof, sweat-proof, and long-lasting,” he says, recommending the above Moonbeeki pencil kit for its several tools, color range, and precise design: “This has a Micro-Fork Tip for replicating hairs.”
De la Paz also keeps this pencil brush in his arsenal, which he says “is great for filling in grays and patchy areas.” The product looks like a small, chisel-tipped marker that dispenses a powder in the target area. It’s an ideal option for touch-ups and quick fixes.
De la Paz describes this airbrush device by Temptu as “what I can’t live without.” An alternative to a pencil, this product is a handheld, portable airbrush machine that the grooming expert says can provide consistent coverage in a shade that matches your beard “at the touch of a button.”
If the idea of an airbrush machine seems too fancy for your taste, don’t fret. De la Paz tells us that “for a quick, inexpensive, low-key beard filler that fits in your pocket, you can grab an eyebrow powder brush to fill in those patchy areas.” This one from MAC has 12 shade options, so you’re sure to find one that works with your natural color. De la Paz advises brushing downwards using a dot motion and blending with your fingers, and he also recommends using a pomade and comb or brush to shape your beard.
Another product worth your consideration is the Toppik Hair Building Fibers. While the brand originally developed the product for use along the scalp, it also works to fill in thinning or under-grown areas of your beard. Just apply one of the nine shades, style, and head out the door with confidence.
The Final Takeaway
Beard filler is a great way to make your facial hair appear thicker and more voluminous in just a few minutes, and adding it to your grooming routine can transform your look in a subtle yet notable way. While you should remember that it’s essentially a makeup product for your beard and you can only do so much without working with a professional, a good beard filler is easy to use with a little practice and can provide a major confidence boost when applied to areas that may be thin or sparse. It’s a common experience for your ideal beard to take a bit of work to achieve, so don’t be afraid to experiment as you discover the products and technique that create a distinguished look you love.