Friday, August 5, 2011

Whisker Wars ~ How to Grow the Most Extreme Beard Ever

A new television show, Whisker Wars, follows the competitive world of beard competitions. So, if you're planning to grow a beard this fall, meet your match (with some tips, too).

By Nick Burns // Photographs by Elizabeth Griffin

Meet Alex LaRoche

Beard Team USA's freestyle wildcard, he curls and sculpts his whiskers into shapes employing a technique he calls "hairspray mayhem" (think beer cans, pink foam rollers, and a few cans of hairspray). "For the competition in Norway, I shaped it into a giant octopus," he says.

Alex's Grooming Regimen

"I shampoo and condition my beard everyday," he says. His choice of products? Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Daily Shampoo and Daily Rinse ($21, $23, followed by a leave-in conditioner before blow-drying it. From start to finish, his daily routine can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, he says, "depending on how hungover I am in the morning."

Meet Jack Passion

Jack Passion describes his wooly, ginger beard as "a waterfall of hot orange lava, pouring off my face, and splashing into my lap." After experimenting with sideburns and mustaches, he grew his first beard in 2002 but didn't join the competition circuit until the World Beard and Mustache Championships in Berlin in 2005.

Jack's Grooming Regimen

"facial skin is the second most sensitive skin on your body," he says. "You have to take care of that, so that the beard is like a flower in good soil." Passion takes cold showers, washes his hair with shampoo diluted with apple cider vinegar, conditions his beard, and sticks to all-natural products. His advice: "Don't put anything on your hair or skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth," he says.

Meet Miletus Callahan-Barile

He joined competitive facial hair growing when three of his friends at Misprint, a satirical magazine in Austin, Texas, launched a mustache and beard competition. Due to the lack of competitors, Miletus jumped in. After that, he joined the Austin Facial Hair Club, competing in contests in Trondhjem, Norway; Portland, Oregon; and Anchorage, Alaska. He sports a Donagle beard, which he describes as "the punk rock" of beards. "Think Abraham Lincoln," he says. "It's grown along the jaw line, through the chin and connects the sideburns but no mustache."

Miletus' Grooming Regimen

"You gotta shampoo it," he says, and his choice is Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo by Lush ($30, "As your facial hair gets bigger, food and all sorts of stuff gets into it." He follows a wash with a light conditioner to detangle and avoid the feared facial dreadlocks. "If you do choose a conditioner, choose one without heavy perfumes. You'll smell it all day and the smell can give you a headache." To keep his mustache in check, he shaves it away with Lush’s Razorantium ($24, shaving cream.

Meet Myk O'Connor

Myk O'Connor says he has always had facial hair since he could first grow it. Introduced to Beard Team USA by a friend, he attended his first championship in Alaska as a spectator but ended up competing with a classic Garibaldi style. Two years later, he's fighting for the title in the "all natural" category.

Myk's Grooming Regimen

A true competitor, O'Connor takes the "all natural" category seriously and avoids any styling. He washes and conditions his beard once a week with Bluebeards Original Beard Wash ($14, and Beard Saver ($24, "If I don't have that, I'll use something very gentle like Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo,” he says. Beyond that, he uses a boar-bristle brush to remove tangles and applies jojoba oil to moisturize the skin beneath his beard.


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