Losing (and regaining) my facial hair during 2012

Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin was a rhyme repeated during the “Billy Goat’s Gruff” fairytale and one that actually applied to the state of my facial hair during 2012.

My Alopecia started on my chin in November 2011 – two tiny little dots which I thought were just that – wee dots where hair didn’t grow. Until they started to spread. Obviously like any other person who cared about their looks I was worried – in fact I was majorly freaked out if truth be told. Bordering on daily obsession!

As The ‘wee dots’ graduated into ‘big dots’ I tried to remain calm  – while simultaneously obsessively checking the reaction of people I bumped into and whether they thought I had some human form of mange!

“You can hardly notice” was the familiar war-cry from my pals – god bless them I thought and smiled, “you lying bastards” were the words dancing in my head behind my grin.

Here is an image of my chin taken in March 2012, when the wee spots got bigger – excuse the up nose shot!

Reece with alopecia barbae, missing patches of his beard

Losing hair of the chinny chin chin

As you can see I naturally have very dark hair and if I didn’t shave everyday then it was more obvious (as I later discovered when shaving my head). I chose to shave everyday to make it less obvious and stop me from getting as paranoid.

I never really sported facial hair anyway, but as soon as the choice to have a goatee or a full on beard were taken away  – I started looking at passing bearded guys with seething jealousy!  “Why you” I thought. And what a waste of facial hair some of them were. “If I was rocking a beard right now it would be much better than his”. For the time being I persevered and shaved daily.

I waited for it to get worse and it did – further spots appeared and started to bleed into each other, by June I was getting used to the weekly expanse of smooth skin appearing on my face. I still cared if a passing person made comment or a work colleague had a vacant, lingering stare.

It was also the first thing I told new people “Are you looking at my beard? Ah its a form of alopecia I think” I managed to mumble out in my strange yet sad paranoia. I must have been a joy to meet, I think most people assumed I was on the bus to Crazytown! It was what it was. But it was getting worse…

Updated loss of facial hair in June

starting to save on shaving gel..

The image above was taken in June 2012 and you can see from the dark rings under my eyes that I wasn’t sleeping and it was getting to me. It had become my obsession – I was rather like a patchy-chinned Gollum. Craving regrowth, an answer or a cure as he craved the mysterious ring. None of the things I craved came. As soon as I accepted it was going to continue, I started to realise I had to live with this the best way I could.

How I began to cope and cheer up!!

  • The best way I thought I could live with this – after all the tears and upset and obsessing was simply to let go. Let go of the stress, paranoia and endless discussion of my hair loss.
  • I tried anti-depressants – which really helped at that time. Not advising anyone else should follow this route, but speak to a doctor and see what they say.
  • At this time I also got referred to a dermatologist who simply said – “It may come back, it may not, all your hair may fall out – be prepared”. Words I thought harsh at the time but am glad I got a dose of tough love.

Once with a mixture of the above and the ongoing constant support from my partner (amazing and understanding), family and friends (ditto) – I started to get used to it and when the thoughts (less regular now) entered my head – I gave an imaginary 2 fingered salute to them! A huge F*ck You to the pain that had been a constant thorn in my side for the first 6 months of 2012.

By July it had got worse but I started to laugh at it – The wee section left of my moustache now resembled Hitler‘s to top everything else off! Instead of crying, worrying or hiding – I embraced that stupid little stretch of ‘tache and laughed at myself when I saw it. Take a gander for yourself..

July 2012

July 2012

On the plus side a wee thin sliver of beard under my bottom lip looked pretty cool and I let this one grow for a few days. Taking control back! Of sorts.

In July I noticed the first patch on my head and this lead me to eventually shaving my head (in September) and watching as that took the same course as my beard. I have posted my story and images of that parallel journey separate to this. Suffice to say I saw the head hair loss coming and dealt with it better as I had been through the gamut of emotions with this now ever decreasing beard o’ mine.

February 2013  beard update

As of right now (21 Feb) All I have left is the strip of hair directly under my bottom lip (Kind of cool) and a few hairs on each cheek (not so cool).

BUT when on holiday in Egypt in September 2012 I did notice some regrowth. Blonde, white thick hairs which are still growing and being shaved off. They have appeared on the place where I first lost hair. I see this as a good sign but nearly 6 months later and the ‘regrowth’ only remains in that area, and blonde.

Alopecia eh? What an unpredictable ba5tard it is!

Regrowth of hair

September 2012 in Egypt – wee white hairs – regrowth?

41 comments

  1. Wow Reece you are one hell of a brave guy and I admire you for telling the basket alopecia to sod off and let you get on with your life. xxxx celia

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  2. Was so sad seeing you go through it and whatever I said it was the genuine truth. No lies came out of my mouth just to make you feel better. You are a fighter and getting stronger every day. Brought tears to my eyes when I saw the pic of you with dark circles. I’m glad you are keeping a diary and sharing it. Not only to help yourself but also others! My Reece always finds a way to get the humour in which will also lighten sufferers and give them hope. Everyone around you is there for you and always will be. Love ya toots and keep your journey going. Xxxxx

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  3. Hang in there, it’s been two years for me, and I’ve regained 85% of my beard loss, and it was very similar to yours. I went to the dermatologist and had the cortisone shots, 75 of them to be exact. I also used a lotion called Calosol, and thought it made a difference. Mine started coming back with the white hairs too, and I think that excitement helped the rest come back too. Because I stopped freaking about it all the time, and believe me, it was on my mind EVERY single day. I think the euphoria of the regrowth zapped the stress away. While i can’t put my finger on any one thing I did, it seems to have started correcting, black hairs and all. It pretty much took a full two years if not more. I hope this inspires you. One thing to ponder, The body achieves, what the mind believes. Keep the faith bro.

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  4. Tonite I discovered that the tiny little bald spot by my chin has gotten really big! Looks like my 2013 will be your 2012. I think that tomorrow morning I will find out how you felt. I had had 2 hair removal laser treatments on my ears and the back of my neck and thought that perhaps a beam reached my chin. Oh no! I’m looking like your early pics!@ I better go to bed now and worry about it tomorrow. craps…!@

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    1. Hey – don’t beat yourself up. I had so many theories as to why I may have had mine “Had I leaned on my chin too heavily whilst staring at a computer screen”?! My hair-loss theories went from the sublime to the ridiculous. You may not have as much hair loss as me – it may just be a wee fluke and then disappear. Everyone I have researched, chatted to and heard about has had a different story and a different amount of loss – the one common thing I can seem to garner is that worrying (which is so natural) does not help in the slightest. That isn’t easy for me to say and does not mean to come across as glib. Its just that I know how you feel and it’s a horrible sinking feeling. feelings of acceptance and admitting what was happening helped me get a handle on this the best. We are all different though so just have a look around or a think and see who, what or how you can get through this with as little damage as possible 🙂

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  5. How did you manage to turn it around in your head? My husband is suferring and it makes me very anxious and sad that it is totally taking over his life, our life and our family life. He is not the same fun loving guy and I will always be there to support him yet this doesnt seem to help and sometimes I am at a total loss to what to say since this awful condition has taken over and with seemingly no treatment, or effective treatment!

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    1. Hey Christina,

      It just started for me. Ahhhh!! Thanks for your post. I don’t want this to get me down and bring down my wife with me. …. So thanks Reece for this blog! I am glad to know that I am not just the only one who is feeling the anxiety…

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    2. Hey Christina

      In my head I managed to turn it around by accepting what was happening. Obviously ‘accepting’ is a lot harder in real life and it can’t be summed up in a sentence. It took time, analysis of my self-image/worth and a great deal of support from friends, family and partner. I am guessing from the fact you have posted here that you are a supportive partner. Well hopefully he appreciates what you are doing for him. As I stated briefly in one of my posts – I went to doctors, dermo and took anti-depressants – all of the above worked for me in their own ways – but I would never advocate or try to ‘push drugs’ on someone. It is so easy to get fleeced by the many charlatans out there preying on desperate people (had a few of those too which I will detail in a blog update soon). If you or your husband have further questions – please just ask – and let me know how he is doing 🙂

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  6. I’ve had alopecia areata barbarae on and off (mostly on) for the past 5 years. Mine was never quite as extensive as yours and would usually be ovals under an inch in diameter under the chin or on the front part of the cheek closest to the chin. Untreated the areas would regrow after about a year. I have black hair and usually would attempt to grow a full beard. This worked out ok as long as the alopecia was under my chin since I could just shave that area off and it would mostly blend in with the shaved area as long as you shaved often.enough. When it’s on the side of my face it becomes painfully obvious and people will constantly ask questions which is irritating and a constant reminder of the condition you’re trying to forget about. Something that worked for me when the alopecia was on a noticeable area of the face was to dye the area black.. the whole thing including the skin and have about a 1/4″ long beard everywhere else. I noticed I usually had a few colorless fine hairs in the affected area and you can dye these. It doesn’t look perfect, but it definitely makes it less noticeable and I received far fewer comments as a result.

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  7. Great blog and super support to guys like us who are suffering from this. It’s a total pest, but I know we should try to take the good out of every situation. A lot of negative things happen which really end up pushing our lives in more positive directions. I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to focus on the good things lately. All said, none of us will be alive all that much longer anyway- so why obsess about this stupid sh1t and let it get us down!

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    1. Hey ‘Crabby’. I totally agree – I have tried to be positive and now have lots of regrowth. Unsure if it’s the ‘positivity’ that is helping or just the positive mood that I am creating is possibly helping me not give a sh1t!

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  8. Hi Reece. I am not going to lie. I am terrified. I have a patch of hair missing in my moustache. Very small, barely noticable.. However I think I know what is coming next. I am already freaking out and terrified. I have already cried. I admit it.

    I am not quite sure how I am going to deal with this.

    Ben – 33 male engaged to be married next summer 😦

    From England – English teacher in China.

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    1. Hi Ben

      How are things now? I cried loads at first – I call it my period of mourning! But honestly you do get over it. And I am sure your future wife will not care. Easy for me to say BUT I have been where you are and light IS at the end of the tunnel! Either in the form of regrowth or acceptance. Either way you will be fine. Are you still in China?

      Cheers

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      1. Thanks for replying Reece. I think you are great. They way you deal with it in a light hearted way. Do you really not care now? Or are you putting on a front? I have been told by three dermatologists here I don’t have alopecia. They say some areas just grow faster than others. Not sure I believe them! Discovered another patch of no hair today. Keep us up to date! I guess as long as you have love in your life right?

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      2. Hey Ben
        Thanks for your comments 🙂 I mostly don’t care – I do get the occasional blip and sometimes put on a bit of a front but in the most I am over the paranoia and depression! Do you have patches or just small bits of hair loss?

        Cheers

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  9. You’re a hero to many others “suffering” from the same condition, whether or not they choose to post comments. I have been going through the same thing since May of this year (7 months). I have olive skin with black hair so it’s super noticeable on my face. Positively, although the spots are spreading a little bit on my beard area, I am seeing regrowth from the corticosteroid injections I’ve been taking for about 8 weeks now. Did you ever try this approach?

    Please post your update soon! We are all very much looking forward to hearing from you!

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    1. Hi AK – I never tried corticosteroid injections as was scared off by some of the side effects. But I tried almost everything else. Thanks for your comments. Glad you are getting regrowth! I will aim to post an update this week before I go back to work 🙂

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  10. Reese, I admire you for posting your story and what’s more, pictures documenting your alopecia experience. I sincerely hope you recover entirely with no recurrence.

    Ive been doing some research on the subject as Ive been dealing with alopecia barbae for the last six months and counting. Ive noticed a return of very fine white hairs within the last month or two but they have not colored in yet nor am I sure they ever will. Today I tugged on the fine hairs using a tweezer and they seem to be holding in place. I know its said that if its barbae its usually limited to just the beard but in the last month its spread to my right sideburn and up to my left temple so now I’m officially on edge. There is however, a difference in the way the hair on my temple/sideburn has been affected and the hair on my beard. My temple/sideburn hair merely thinned out but not completely bald versus the bald spots on my beard area which are smooth (with the exception of the fine white hairs). I wonder why this is? Is it common for alopecia barbae to inch its way upward?
    It appears my temple/sideburn hairs are clinging for dear life, they have not been completed annihaled. When I tugged on the unaffected temple/sideburn hair they held in place. Anyone else with this experience?

    I hope its not wishful for me to think the disease won’t progress any further north to the crown of my head.

    For the record I’m 29, have a 1-year old demon-child son and am currently in school. This has been, by far, the most stressful year of my life. Though I’m not convinced that stress has anything to do with alopecia, except maybe the perpetuation of it, nor do I have a family history of baldness/alopecia, The only thing I have done differently this year was taking GNC supersport and this transpired one month later. I have a strong hunch this might be what caused my alopecia. Others have reported similiar findings with other types of multivitamins but theres no definitive proof. Upon reading the box, it states may cause hair loss or thinning, and DHEA is an ingredient in the multi, which has been linked to hairloss…But then again, so has everything else. I feel if alopecia sufferers put our heads together, the majority of us can find a common cause for our alopecia before the scientists/doctors do.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Good luck on your journey!

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    1. Hi Danny,
      Thanks very much for your comment and positivity!

      In answer to your question – my barbae stayed on my face for months then I thought I was dealing with it and my hairdresser noticed a spot a few months later at the back of my head and things spread from then. I am unsure I can answer any question as to how it progresses as I think randomness is this nature of Alopecia and doubt anyone has the same occurence. What I will say is that shaving my head helped me immensely. It’s not for everyone but it got me to the stage of acceptance pretty quick.

      I also agree with you that stress may not be the only factor. My dermatologist told me “fifty percent of his patients have had stress at some point and fifty percent havent”. Think it’s just an unlucky lottery!

      I was also taking vitamins when mine started and have now stopped! Unsure if this again is a trigger. I agree that it would be great if everyone got their (balding/thinning/regrown) heads together and helped find a common cause! Hope you had a happy christmas with the demon child and Happy NEw Year.

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  11. I am in the same boat you’re in. Mine started in January 13. I’ve been to the dermatologist for three treatments of cortisone shots. It didn’t really do much. However, all the hair on my face that went bald is now small thin white hairs. Random parts of my neck are still bald. I didn’t shave for a month and it actually grew in white. I used just for men and it didn’t look too bad.

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  12. Thanks Reece!
    I’m off to a new years get together, clean shaved and fully self-conscious of my missing beard/eaten side burn. I don’t know how you did / are doing it Reece. I dread looking in the mirror when I was once quite the narcissist. Or maybe that’s just it? Maybe I’ve somehow managed to jinx myself by excessive self-admiration.

    You actually look good without head or facial hair, I sure as hell couldn’t pull that off. You know what irks me is you’ve got these gluttonous guys who smoke and drink all day and manage to boast a full head of hair and here I am at 29 in perfect health with this sh**ty condition. And if I hear another “stress triggers it” theory Im taking hostages. If that were the case both my parents would have had alopecia universalis ages ago. Sorry for the rant, felt good though.

    On another note I did find it interesting what the nutritionist stated in one of the above posts about how much of what goes on outside starts from the inside, or the gut. I remember reading a similar story on one of the women’s alopecia forums of a woman who was experiencing rapid regrowth, possibly as a result of her changing her diet back to “hearty and rich foods” stating it had been her limited diet that likely caused her AA. I’ve hopped on the high protein, low carb bandwagon myself and wonder if this may have caused or contributed to my AB. Maybe a regress to wholesome foods could provide the answer? Its said that many alopecia sufferers are actually in optimal physical health so it begs me to ask, What do you eat? Rather, what did you change in your diet prior to the onset?

    By the way, Have a very happy new year and may the new year bring you regrowth! We’re not going down without a fight! 🙂

    Enjoy Reece!

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  13. Hey Guys, Going through the same thing.

    I’ve got two patches on my chin. One the size of a dime and the other one more oblong on the other side as well. Also I have some general diffuse thinning of the beard. I’m 36…this started on a trip to Asia August 2013. I’ve got a full head of hair and no spots on the scalp yet (getting my wife to do the weekly checks) :)).

    I remember about 7 years ago my boss at the time got it. 4-5 mange looking patches on his head. He took a razor to it…..sported the look well. I ran into him a few months ago and it’s all grown back. If I remember correctly he would have been 40 at the time when he got it. Interestingly enough my Dad got it as well…started on a trip to Asia. He isn’t really a drinker and the Chinese took him and his business partner out on the town and everyone kept doing shots (sort of a test of manhood over there). The poor guy (Dad) ended up in emergency with alcohol poisoning at 55….obviously this puts physical stress on the body. Shortly after that he got a spot on his chin that wouldn’t stop spreading. He is 63 now and only has some diffuse white hairs on his head. Lost every other hair on his body including eyelashes/eyebrows/pubes etc. Apparently this disease only attacks follicles where they hair is colored….not greys. So if you can keep it at bay and get some more grey hairs you are likely to keep those ones….. 🙂

    Anyway weird autoimmunity crap runs in our family. I’ve gone through times when I would get reccurent canker sores from stress….had allergies as a kid….got shingles once. Besides that I’ve never had a health concern…rarely get sick. Physically active….etc.

    Anyway I’m trying to take control and defeat this thing through diet changes. I have no idea if it will work. But the premise behind it makes sense….your body is attacking something it should not so generally your homeostasis is off. This can be caused by a leaky gut/food allergens etc. Went to a party last night and fell off the wagon on my new approach. Ate a lot of gluten and dairy and drank loads of beer. Prior to this I had given such things up for about a month. I am getting colored hairs back in the oblong patch. I was basically following the Paleo diet with some supplements like Vit D. Everyone is saying I look the best I’ve looked in a decade but besides a few sparse mature hairs in one spot it hasn’t done much for the AA. Maybe I need to give it more time.

    If you really want to go hardcore this guy claims to have reversed his AA twice by starting with healing the gut and deflaming the body. It takes 6 weeks on a liquid based diet. I haven’t gone there yet but it’s my next bullet in the shotgun if I see further recession. Always hard to tell what these guys are selling but obviously dietary changes are free.

    http://globalalopeciamission.org/reverse-chronic-inflammatory-diseases-naturally/

    It’s a bunch of rambled thoughts but it’s the first time I’ve got my feet wet with a public discussion. Hope to hear more from you guys soon.

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    1. Hey Jeff

      My dad also has a few patches on his chin which have never amounted to much. Genetics may be a factor as I also have had shingles, chicken pox and horrendous ulcers and skin rashes when stressed. In regard to food allergies/intolerances etc – I do believe there may be a link. I once cut out all crap from my diet, like you I also felt better for doing this and got positive feedback. However it was during this period of hardcore healthy eating that I first ever noticed the diffuse hairs around my scalp. I think due to this fact I am always wary of making massive changes that could have an impact on my body (and hair).

      Although I totally believe most people could heal a lot of illness through diet change – I think I am slowly coming around to the ‘everything in moderation’ slogan as my personal mantra. I am eating healthy (ish) at the moment – with a blow out every weekend – and my hair is growing back. I don’t know what I am doing differently (aside from obsessing less) but it’s working.
      My theory is that – this instance of alopecia is running its course! Fingers crossed.

      I will check out that guys blog.

      Thanks for posting and let me know how you are getting on.

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      1. Reece congrats on the fresh hair growing in. Take some pics when you get a chance.

        Update on my alopecia is that it’s either stopped or paused after The last sideburn outbreak. Been two months no new patches when normally, at the rate it was going, I would’ve developed two more patches at this point. The fine white hairs have made their way out but haven’t progressed much beyond that. I freaked out in November when I saw my left temple develop a patch. Though it wasn’t characteristic of my other patches, it was still AA and still sucked.
        Well.. No news is good news and perhaps it’s run its course?
        For what it’s worth my stress has been the same, still functioning on little to no sleep and still eating more or less the same. I don’t know, I’m beginning to think this is a natural hormonal response triggered only by time.

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  14. Hey Reece!

    I’m not 100% certain I have alopecia, but my dermatologist said he thought I might have it two years ago due to some patches in my beard. However, I’ve never enjoyed a full beard so it may just be patchy! Anyways, I did notice a new patch on my moustache with no hair about the size of a pencil eraser…so it’s small.

    One thing I noticed on your blog is that you mention having a girlfriend or partner that stood by you throughout this, but you didn’t say how she reacted or coped with your hair loss and changing appearance. Also, what role did she play in boosting your self esteem once she adjusted. I’m sure a lot of people reading your blog that are in new or old relationships and struggling with alopecia could use your viewpoint about that.

    Thanks,

    Andrew

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    1. Hey Andy – that is a great idea for a blog post. And I will ask my partner a series of questions and post his answers on here for you to have a read.

      In my mind – you love who you love – if your partner gains or loses weight you still love them. However – all that being said – Part of being in a relationship, is finding the person you are with attractive – and for whatever reason (alopecia being one) sometimes, you might not! I suppose there are two points here:
      1. Does your partner still find you attractive during your alopecia experience?
      2. Do you still think your attractive?

      1. In the answer to my scenario – yes my partner found me attractive – in a different way. Maybe not as attractive – they would never have said – though one of their friends actually did!!!

      2. At first I was repulsed by myself (and lack of self confidence isn’t a great turn on for your partner either). Once I started – owning it, ignoring my alopecia or celebrating it – I felt more confident and with that more attractive.

      My partner boosted my self esteem by telling me I looked good and in actual fact – just by being there and helping me through – listening to me moan – but also knowing when to tell me to shut up!

      Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. hey sorry to hear about your alopecia. my chin looks similar to yours. i have a couple quarter sized patchy spots of bare skin on my chin and like you my skin is light and my facial hair is coarse/dense and dark. I’ve tried to shave everyday but my skin gets irritated and i get whiteheads. i cleanse/exfoliate and use all the propers tools but still don’t get good results. how were you able to shave everyday? what products did you use? any

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    1. Hey there

      I didn’t have much hair on my face and before I shaved I always made sure I washed my face (and head) and it was usually after I had steamed it in the shower (to open my pores) I used shaving gel and let it sat on my skin for a minute before shaving. Once I rinsed off with warm water I then immediately splashed with cold (to close the pores) and then used a post shaving lotion and then a moisturiser.

      In terms of products – I used the Loreal ones – or whatever I could get my hands on. And I made sure I had LOADS of time to shave and rinse and dry and mositurise.

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  16. Dude, have you had any regrow the yet? I’m going through the same thing. It’s horrible and I would never want anyone to experience it. It’s getting to the point where old friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while almost immediately ask me about it… I’m thinking about getting the rest lasered off… I have to shave twice a day because what’s left of my beard grows super fast and thick. I’ve had some regrowth, but all blonde and nearly invisible. I don’t miss having a beard, but the patchy stubble and shadows really show, and I used to be an attractive guy. This shit is killing my social life.

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