Onset Of Male Facial Hair: Unravelling The Genetics

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Onset Of Male Facial Hair: Unravelling The Genetics

Date of Content: March 15, 2024
Written by: Avanthika Nityanand
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


Puberty in males marks a significant physical and hormonal change period, typically between ages 9 and 14. The pituitary gland triggers the release of hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which are paramount in male development. 

Testosterone is responsible for the deepening of the voice, increase in muscle mass, and growth of body and facial hair. DHT, a derivative of testosterone, plays a crucial role in developing male characteristics, including facial hair growth. The sensitivity of hair follicles to these hormones varies among individuals, influencing the pattern and onset of facial hair growth.

Onset of male facial hair

Average Onset of Male Facial Hair

The emergence of facial hair generally begins at the corners of the upper lip, gradually spreading to cover the entire lip, cheeks, chin, and neck. The average onset of visible facial hair growth in males occurs around 15 to 18 years of age and is closely related to the broader timeline of puberty. 

However, it’s essential to recognize the vast variability among individuals influenced by genetic, environmental, and health-related factors. Some males may notice the first signs of facial hair as early as 11 or 12. Others may not experience significant growth until their late teens or early twenties.

Why Do Males Have Facial Hair?

The presence of facial hair in males is a trait that has evolved over millennia, with several theories suggesting its purposes. One popular theory posits that facial hair evolved through sexual selection, serving as a display of genetic fitness and maturity, potentially signaling to potential mates. 

Additionally, facial hair may have provided physical advantages, such as protection from UV radiation, cushioning blows to the face, or even aiding in thermal regulation. The role of facial hair in social signaling and hierarchy within groups has also been explored, suggesting its importance in non-verbal communication and establishing social status.

Genes and SNPs Influencing Onset of Male Facial Hair


The HERC2 gene is located on chromosome 15 and is essential for several cellular functions. It codes for a protein that helps in tagging old or faulty proteins for breakdown and recycling, assists in transmitting important signals within cells, and may also help organize DNA in the nucleus. Essentially, this gene acts like a cellular manager, ensuring that the cell’s internal processes run smoothly and efficiently, which is crucial for maintaining overall cell health and function. A specific genetic variation in this gene (rs7402990) was found to be associated with the onset of facial hair in males. 


The SOX2 gene plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of stem cells, ensuring they have the potential to transform into different types of cells required throughout the body. Located on chromosome 3, SOX2 is particularly important in developing the brain, eyes, and nervous system. It is a member of the SOX (SRY-related HMG-box) family of transcription factors, which are pivotal in regulating gene expression, cellular differentiation, and embryonic development. Alterations such as SNP rs1345417) and changes in the expression of the SOX2 gene can lead to developmental delays such as delayed male facial hair onset.


The OCA2 gene, primarily known for its role in determining eye color, also influences pigmentation in other areas, including hair. Located on chromosome 15, this gene helps regulate the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the color of skin, eyes, and hair. Variations in this gene (e.g., rs1129038) might not only lead to differences in beard color, but can also impact the age at which boys start to grow facial hair, contributing to the diversity seen in facial hair onset and characteristics among different individuals.

Due to the polygenic nature of this trait,   the LifeDNA Wellness report covers close to 100 genetic markers related to “Onset of Male Facial Hair, of which 15 top ones are featured.

Non-Genetic Factors Influencing Onset of Male Facial Hair

Aside from genetics, several non-genetic factors can influence the onset and characteristics of male facial hair. 

Nutritional status plays a role, with deficiencies in vitamins and minerals potentially delaying or reducing facial hair growth. Hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid disorders or conditions affecting testosterone levels, can also impact hair development. 

Lifestyle factors, including stress, sleep quality, and physical activity, have been shown to influence hormonal levels and, subsequently, hair growth patterns. Environmental factors, like exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, can interfere with normal hormonal functions, affecting facial hair growth.

Implications of Male Facial Hair

The onset of healthy facial hair in males is an important milestone for several reasons, both from a biological and psychosocial perspective:

  • Sign of Puberty and Maturity: The development of facial hair is one of the visible signs of puberty in males, indicating the body’s maturation and the increase in androgen levels, particularly testosterone. This hormonal change triggers facial hair growth, signaling reproductive maturity and transition from youth to adulthood.
  • Genetic Health Indicators: Healthy facial hair growth can be a sign of good genetic health, as it indicates the body is producing and responding appropriately to hormones. Disorders affecting hormone levels can lead to sparse or delayed facial hair growth, which might indicate underlying health issues.
  • Psychological and Social Impact: For many men, facial hair is closely tied to identity, confidence, and self-perception. It can play a significant role in how a man perceives himself and is perceived by others. The ability to grow facial hair can affect social interactions, attractiveness, and even professional opportunities in cultures where facial hair is seen positively.
  • Cultural and Social Significance: In many cultures, facial hair is associated with virility, wisdom, and masculinity. It can also be a rite of passage, marking the transition into manhood. The style and maintenance of facial hair might also serve as a form of self-expression and a way to align with some social or cultural groups.
  • Health Indications: Beyond its hormonal underpinnings, the condition of facial hair can also reflect overall physical health. Nutritional deficiencies, stress, and certain medical conditions can affect hair quality and growth. Thus, healthy facial hair growth can be an external reflection of good health.

While the importance of facial hair varies among individuals and cultures, its onset in males is a complex interplay of genetics, health, and social factors. 

It’s crucial to recognize that the ability or choice to grow facial hair does not define masculinity or health definitively; it’s one of many attributes contributing to the diverse expressions of identity and physical development.

You may also like: How Genes Influence Onset of Male Voice Breaking

About the LifeDNA Wellness Report

The Wellness Report from LifeDNA takes a holistic approach to well-being. It covers various aspects like stress response and the potential for substance abuse. Using your genetic data, the report offers comprehensive lifestyle advice, including mindfulness techniques and other wellness strategies tailored to your genetic makeup. The aim is to optimize your overall quality of life through actionable, genetically-informed insights.

The LifeDNA Wellness report covers more than 80 genetic markers related to “Onset of Male Facial Hair.” Get yours here.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/teens/facial-hair-faq
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10501953/
  3. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14451-5
  4. https://www.genecards.org/cgi-bin/carddisp.pl?gene=KDM4C
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/alx4/
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-grow-beard-faster

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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.