One of the many common dreams young men have is to grow a decent beard. That and own their own horsey. What? Just me. Well, jog on then.
However, back in the day, decent facial topiary was the sort of thing sported by Russian '80s athletes or Hollywood action heroes killing henchmen by the dozen with utter disregard for the Geneva Convention or the wives and families (and pension payments) of those lost.
Nowadays, though, every one has a beard. It's become 'normal'. It's impossible to turn a corner without encountering a barista, digital marketing professional, or aspiring taxidermist boasting a chin decoration. However, the biggest gripe is with LADs who clearly cannot grow a proper beard. They look like they smeared Vaseline on their cheeks before face-planting on a barbershop floor.
People are often of the opinion that if you're dealt the patchy beard card, it's best to remain clean-shaven. The question is, why can't you grow it properly? Why do you only get sideburns, a stringy mustache and a wisp of chin fluff?
Well, sorry, but your egos are about to take a hit - your hormones are playing up. That's right, your body is letting you down BIG TIME.
A male chemical that develops sexual characteristics called dihydrotestosterone is responsible for your pathetic face patches. It's synthesised from testosterone and has a profound effect on the way your beard grows. The more sensitive you are to testosterone, the thicker your beard grows.
And your sensitivity to testosterone is down to genetics. So if your dad is middle-aged and still struggles to get past the stage of a pre-pubescent goat, then you can thank him for your troubles.
Despite your shortcomings, there are a few things you can do. Not a lot, though. Forget what you've been told, shaving often and against the grain doesn't work. If you want your beard to reach its full potential, you'll have to let it grow out a while before shaving it, and then repeat. After doing this a few times, it will begin to grow into the Grizzly Adams monster you crave (maybe).
The key to this technique is patience. Just wait it out. And while you do, make sure you take care of your skin: Exfoliate, moisturise, stick cucumbers on your eyes, whatever. When it comes to shaving, avoid sculpting what you have into any sort of style. You're not a Just For Men model, you're Patch Adams and you can't afford to jeopardise your good work with an inconsistent chinstrap.
And if all else fails, there are medical alternatives, including surgical transplants. Speaking to LADbible, Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, Hair Loss Specialist and Transplant Surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, said: "The best advice I can give is to seek the advice of a specialist and to not take medication that has not been prescribed. Depending on the case, the doctor may recommend supplements for low DHT (a hormone related to hair growth) or to follow hormone therapy.
"Of note here is that there are no commercially available preparations of pure DHT, so hormone therapy consists of giving testosterone to raise DHT levels. In addition, some lifestyle measures are very effective at restoring hormone balance, such as getting enough exercise, weight loss, reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption and eat more healthy fats - i.e., nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oil...
"Capacity to grow a beard has nothing to do with manliness, virility or testosterone levels, it is a matter of genetics."
So, basically, if you're unhappy with your facial hair, don't blame yourself. Blame your parents.