Thousands of ochre-colored hairs hanging from his nose to his chest have been part of Shane Sheriff’s life for almost five years.
“I had a moustache when I was 10 years old. I’ve always had a moustache and always had a goatee. I just decided one day I’m tired of shaving this stuff. And my wife’s like, ‘OK, I’m tired of having razor burn,’” he said.
A friend registered him for a beard contest, introducing Sheriff to the realm of competitive facial hair. Sheriff’s fantastic follicles would land him on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville last year, where he took first place in “full beard natural” at the 2016 National Beard and Moustache Championships.
The contests have certain rules: no shaving, no trimming, no products when displaying yourself.
Keeping his mane of hair in fighting shape means quality shampoos and conditioners, beard butter and beard oil, all told about 25 to 30 minutes of his morning routine.
“My wife (Tracy) tells me I spend more time and more money on my beard than she does her hair, which I find really funny,” he said.
Sheriff shies away from soups, and everything he drinks is through a straw.
His days are spent as the manager at Airgas in Gainesville, though he grew up in Dawsonville and continues to live there. As his beard has grown, Sheriff said he, too, has come out of his shell.
“Before the beard came along, I was kind of a shy person, never did really go out of my way to speak to people or anything,” he said.
Now, his long locks are a conversation starter, as people everywhere stop and ask for a picture.
Sheriff took part in this year’s World Beard and Moustache Championships in Austin, Texas, where he competed again in the “full beard natural” of lengths greater than 45 centimeters. He ranked 13th in the competition of 30 competitors.
“The guy that beat me out in world competition — his beard was almost dragging the floor,” Sheriff said.
The judge’s criteria may differ with each competition, Sheriff said, looking at the color or integration of the moustache.
Three to four hours before a competition, Sheriff is prepping with a fresh shower, brushing out the beard and getting his black suit ready for the main event.
His wife Tracy has joined in the action as a Whiskerina, a woman who makes beards for competition.
“She usually does realistic, which she goes and buys hair at a hair salon and she glues it on her face and makes it look like a real beard and moustache,” he said.
The pursuit has brought the two closer together, as Sheriff lauded the friendly family atmosphere at competitions.
Outside of the competitive circuit, Sheriff has attempted to foray his beard onto the silver and small screens.
“I’ve actually tried to get on ‘Vikings,’ didn’t get a callback on that,” he said.
His next competition is Saturday in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for the “Whiskers of War.” All of the competitions are connected to a charity.