After officially receiving the ranking as the number one most facial hair friendly city across the nation, Philadelphia's beardly love is only continuing to grow: The Philadelphia Beard Festival takes over the piazza at The Schmidt's Commons on Sunday.
The festival features everything from a bearded speed-dating session to live music to grooming vendors galore. There's also an opportunity to upgrade your ticket and enjoy an all-day spirit sampling lounge that includes one cigar per person. However, the centerpiece of the festival is certainly the "Epic Beard Contest."
Whether growing a grizzly Gandalf or a touch of scruff Bradley Cooper beard, those of all facial-hair styles are invited to participate in the festival's annual competition. Categories fall under 12 areas, ranging from "business beard under 1 inch" to "natural 12-plus inches" to "best mustache" and "best fake lady beard."
Even if you just plan to join in the celebration as a spectator, we've gathered some tips for cultivating a striking, unshaven look. From a two-time beard festival winner to a celebrity stylist to state representative, bearded men from across the city weigh in.
Michael Lubuski, two-time winner of Philadelphia Beard Festival’s natural and longest beard categories
"You need to use a proper beard wash. I use a brand called Woody's, which has a nice beach smell to it. Every time you use it, it smells like you're on the beach. I also use their leave-in conditioner after I shower — it makes your beard so soft, and moisturizes your skin beneath. You also need to find the proper comb for you. Everyone's beard is different, so it'll depend on how coarse your hair is, but combing it keeps it nice and loose so that it doesn't break as you're growing it. I carry a pocket-sized comb with me, and I'll comb it throughout the day."
Lubuski has been maintaining his beard for the past three-and-a-half years, now totaling an impressive 21 inches in length.
Brian Sims, Pennsylvania state representative
"Condition your beard when you shower, and use a beard brush. Over the years that I've had the beard, I've had people give me all sorts of fun stuff to put into my beard, but it always just comes down to those two simple things. Also, BJ at Groom [Barbershop] is the only one I'll let touch my beard."
Formerly obliged to remain clean-shaven as a lawyer, Sims didn't grow a beard until after he got elected. "Now I barely trust clean-shave legislatures," he jokes.
Bobby Saritsoglou, chef at Will BYOB
"I do a sort of training — I train my mustache. It's kind of like when people play with their hair. Each morning, I pull it to each side, and then twist it. After a while, you can get your hair to stay that way without wax, but on weekends I'll use Clubman Moustache Wax for a more defined look."
Saritsoglou has had his signature sideburns since he was a teenager, and started pairing them with the mustache about 13 years ago.
Michael Wink, co-founder of Philadelphia Beard Festival
"Find a nice beard oil. It's really a game-changer when you first start growing a beard. The oil will keep it moisturized and manageable. Many products now have vitamins and all kinds of other good stuff to keep your beard healthy and looking good. The second thing is to find an experienced barber. The last thing you want is to put time into growing a nice beard just to have a barber mess it up. I know a few beards that fell victim to a cheap corner barber."
Wink has been running the Philadelphia Beard Festival for the past two years.
Anthony Henderson, celebrity wardrobe stylist and CEO and founder of Fashion Foundation For Our Future
"There is a product called S-Curl and I use their beard oil and beard wash. It makes your beard shiny. I also use a hot pick comb around once a week. It actually heats up, and it combs your beard out to be straight. I get a shape-up almost every week at my barber as well."
Henderson has grown a beard for 15 years, which at times is dyed into shades of bronze, gold, silver, red, and beyond.
Nick Macri, owner at La Divisa Meats at Reading Terminal Market
"I just let it grow pretty naturally. I feel like the super-grooming routines are anti-having the beard. I do go to a barber — Burke & Payne at Ninth and Fitzwater — and get it trimmed up every four to six weeks. Finding someone who will help you shape it correctly is wise."
Macri hasn't been clean-shaven in more than five years. For times when his beard gets out of control, Macri's wife has created the hashtag #ThingsIPutInNicksBeard.
Hip hop artist Sharif T. Lacey, aka, Reef the Lost Cauze
"I just wash it with coconut oil shampoo and comb it out after. Other than that, my barber trims it a little once a month. I've found it grows and flourishes the less you mess with it. Your beard has a brain and a soul, and you must allow it to grow and prosper as it sees fit."
Lacey's current beard has been growing for the past two years. He notes that he typically shaves it off every few summers, and then immediately regrets it, fearing that he looks like "a chubby-faced toddler."
Songwriter and producer Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks
"My wife is much more attuned to hair in general, so she has turned me on to different products. I thought it was weird at first, but when you condition your beard — I use Beard Balm made out of Detroit — it makes you feel a little more special. I don't even know if anyone else notices, but it adds something for yourself.
Tim has had some form of beard since his teenage years. Occasionally he'll wish that he could shave it off when he's playing shows in the summertime, but it's become part of his identity. "Superman has his cape, I have my beard," he says.
John Mansi, Philadelphia Beard Festival judge and co-founder of Sleight Of Hand Barbers:
"As your beard grows, so should the teeth of your comb. The length decreases the tension as the hair grows out. For maintenance, I shampoo twice a week, but I do a two-in-one conditioner everyday — conditioner and moisturizer. It conditions the beard, but moisturizes the skin underneath it, too. Then I oil once every two weeks, which puts moisture back in the beard that can get stripped out from shampooing."
Mansi's beard currently measures seven inches in length. For $20, visitors to his barbershop can get the "Beard Works," a service that includes a beard wash, a two-in-one-conditioner, hot towel services, a couple drops of oil, a low-heat blow dry, trimming, and a beard balm.
Philadelphia Beard Festival
Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Piazza at Schmidts, 1001 N. 2nd St., $20, www.philadelphiabeardfest.com