Who would have guessed that a decision made in June 2014, to grow a beard to complete his persona as a pirate for Halloween of that year, would have turned into such a wild adventure for Lance Wooton of Lily, KY?
That is exactly what happened four years ago this month for the 31-year-old who describes himself as “a low-key, simple guy who walks by faith and believes that every hair counts!”
After Halloween, Wooton’s friend, who owns Tonic Room Barbershop in London, invited Wooton to come by and try some beard products, manufactured by a company called Can You Handlebar. He said at the time he didn’t even know there were such things as beard products, but he tried the products and then posted about his experience on Instagram. Can You Handlebar, located in Michigan, saw his post and invited Wooton to an upcoming beard competition in Newport, KY. Although his “baby” beard didn’t place in that competition, he realized then that there was a huge underground beard community that he had no idea even existed. Can You Handlebar later asked him to work for them traveling around doing trade shows.
He was so intrigued and started learning all he could about beards. In doing so, he found a docu-comedy that ran on TV called “Whisker Wars”, set in the world of competitive facial hair growing. The show followed a group of men as they travelled the country in search of top honors. He said he decided then to let his facial hair grow longer and just see what he could do.
Four years later, Wooton’s whiskers now measure an impressive 25 inches long, and he travels around the world showing his massive beard and competing. He currently holds the title of 2nd in the nation, and 4th in the world.
He will go to England in August for the British Nationals, defend his title of 2nd in the Nation in September in America, and then next year he will travel to Belgium for the World Competition, which is only held every other year.
Wooton has joined forces with The MeanBeard brand who he is now contracted with and sponsored by. MeanBeard allows Wooton and his girlfriend, Karen Quinlan of London, to travel all over representing their brand, along with taking care of all his beard care needs which cost around $100.00 a month. MeanBeard, is actually owned by Barry Stock, the guitar player from a Canadian rock band called Three Days Grace. Wooton says the company MeanBeard has been tremendously good to him.
When asked about his girlfriend, Karen, he says she has been with him for about a year and a half now and is his biggest fan. “She is super supportive and really great with everything. Every time I get on the stage, she bursts everyone’s eardrums”, Wooton said.
Describing the success and adventure his beard has given him, he says, “I would have never dreamed in a million years that it would have turned into what it has. It’s been one crazy experience after another.”
The last competition he was in, he defeated one of the men who got him into growing his beard to begin with. “It was like a full circle kind of moment,” said Wooton.
His favorite competition to date was held some time ago in Mansfield, Ohio. The big beard competition called “Beards behind Bars” was filmed inside the Shawshank Redemption prison. Wooton explains that he likes history; so being able to tour the huge old prison from the late 1800s was a really cool experience for him.
Wooton also recently appeared in a movie that is based on a true-story and which was filmed in Harlan. The movie will be released later this year, and is an action, crime-thriller set in the Appalachian Mountains called “Above Suspicion”. Although Wooton didn’t have a speaking part in the movie, he worked approximately 60 hours on the set and will appear throughout the movie, which also stars Emelia Clark from “Game of Thrones” and Johnny Knoxville from “Jackass: The Movie”.
The setaceous guy said his beard gets in his way every single day, however he does not regret his decision to grow it and would do it all over again.
There is actually a lot of maintenance for having such an expanded beard. It has affected every aspect of his daily life, including how and what he eats, how he sleeps, takes a shower, etc. Chores such as vacuuming, working on cars, or even putting on his pants are an issue because of the beard’s length. When he is sitting down, the beard is in his lap.
He describes himself, and is known in the beard community, as being the OCD guy as he’s super picky about his beard and he doesn’t even like for the wind to blow it, people touching it or using hair spray on it.
Wooton said he wouldn’t braid his beard or put it up in a ponytail, like some of his bearded friends, for fear of damaging it. Beard hair is just like hair on your head. It can break if you don’t eat right, keep hydrated, and keep it conditioned.
“It’s a surreal experience. I would have never dreamed it would have turned into what it has,” says Wooton.
Wooton currently has a lot in the works, and just recently met with a contractor from Connecticut who works for Netflix. The contractor was drawn to Wooton because of his humbleness and patience and possibly wants to do a short documentary on the small town guy getting out and travelling the world.
Wooton says he’s just “walking the path that’s been laid and following his heart, going down that path with faith.”
His following on Instagram recently surpassed 5,000 followers. You, too, can follow him @lan_woo.com.
Possibly someday he says he might shave his beard, but for right now he is enjoying the era and where his beard is taking him … to see the world.