Some people dedicate years to their studies; others to training for sports; but one man has spent the last five years of his life growing his beard.
Admittedly, growing a beard isn’t like gearing up for a marathon – you don’t really have to do anything. As long as you don’t shave your chin it will transform into a haven of hair, as 32-year-old Lance Wooton knows all too well.
In June 2014, the IT supervisor planned ahead for his halloween costume, and decided to grow out his beard so he could dress up as a pirate.
Take a look at how far he’s come since then:
When October rolled around he shared a picture of himself with his flourishing facial hair, and the photo caught the attention of a company which was hosting a beard competition.
I have to admit, I had no idea beard competitions were a thing, but apparently they are, and Lance soon got immersed in the scene.
Speaking about his unusual journey, the beard enthusiast said:
I started growing my beard because I wanted to be a pirate for Halloween – I know it’s not that cool, but it’s true. It was June and I always host the family and friends’ Halloween party and just figured I’d try dressing as a pirate.
Around October a buddy of mine who owns a barber shop here locally in London, KY, invited me to check out some beard products.
I had no clue such a thing even existed, I bought some and posted a few pictures on Instagram. A company called CanYouHandleBar reached out and invited me to a beard competition in Newport, KY.
When I arrived, I was shocked to see the friendships and the big beards. I thought to myself I bet I can grow a big beard and here we are five years in the making and I am fourth in the world and second in the nation.
In the past five years, the 32-year-old has taken part in over 30 beard competitions, some of which have taken him far and wide. He was awarded second place for the Full Beard Natural in the United States, and came fourth place for the Full Beard Natural internationally.
Lance’s beard receives a lot of attention on his Instagram, but people aren’t always complimentary.
Some people stare at me, some say ‘wow’, ‘nice beard’, but the most common one I get is, ‘how long you been growing?’
I have had some folks thinks it’s crazy or ridiculous, but I pay no mind. It hasn’t changed my love life at all really that I can tell. If a beard got in the way of love, then is it really love?
Now his beard is approximately the same length as a small child the IT supervisor admitted it takes a lot of maintenance, but he said it has its positives as well as its negatives.
Speaking about his chin hair-care routine, Lance explained:
I just take care of it; I use oil, balm, I don’t over wash or abuse it. I make sure to stay hydrated. Some inconveniences of the beard crop up when I’m swimming, eating, in the wind or working on anything.
It can be a total hassle but on the flip side I have gotten sponsors and been able to travel all over the world. Just like anything it’s got pros and cons.
Pros; the community and the friendships I have made along the way. The charities and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the trophies and free products. The adventure of everything has made it well worth the while.
Cons; the hassle of everyday life. Having to watch it, protect it, I dislike the wind. It does get old answering the same questions over and over. When random people try to grab it.
It takes patience and time to grow a beard. You need hydration and oil, mostly genes and be prepared for hassles.
Lance must really be committed to his facial hair – I don’t think just anyone could handle the stresses which accompany a two-and-a-half foot long beard!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.