Meet Wahl's 2015 Bearded Man of the Year
Pittsburgh's Conor Barrett's beard receives recognition from the grooming company.
PHOTO BY KRISTI JAN HOOVER
When Conor Barrett walked by a mobile barbershop at a food festival in Philadelphia last fall, people took notice. At the time, Wahl Clipper Corporation, a grooming-products manufacturer, was in the middle of a nationwide search for its “Man of the Year,” or the man with the best facial hair. Some of the barbershop’s employees suggested that Barrett, 25, of Point Breeze, enter the competition because of his beard.
“They just took my picture there, and I filled out a few [responses to] questions,” he says. “I just went on my way and didn’t really expect much from it . . . A few months later they called me and said I was a finalist.”
Wahl toured the 12 most “facial hair-friendly cities” in America, a list determined by surveys and market research, taking photos of men with facial hair to enter the competition. Though Pittsburgh did not make the top 12 cities deemed to be most friendly to facial hair — it came in at No. 20 — Barrett ended up taking the top prize. The youth volleyball coach earned the title, $1,500 in prize money and a spot in a national Wahl advertisement.
“The people who have known me the longest have always seen me with the beard,” he says. “Nothing really surprises them anymore in terms of facial hair.”
Barrett, who has his beard trimmed at Mister Grooming & Goods in Lawrenceville, says there’s a difference between someone who grows a beard because he doesn’t want to shave and someone who wants to make a statement.
“A well-groomed beard is a sign of taking care of yourself, and, you know, it gives the idea that you’re trying to give a certain type of image,” he says. “Beards are different and kind of set you apart.
“But at the same time, not everybody can grow one — I can’t hold it against someone. But there is a nice little camaraderie between people with beards, it seems. It’s a nice little thing to have.”
His grooming routine involves oiling and combing his beard a few times a week. The trick is not to overdo it because it can ruin the hair, he says.
“I’m still in the process of learning, but just washing it and taking care of it [is part of the process], or putting wax and balm in it before I go out if I want to keep it down — make it look a little less gnarly,” he says.
He says Facebook voting and word-of-mouth, especially through the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club, likely helped with his win.
“I’m still not entirely sure how I won, but I’ll take it,” he says. “I know it’s bizarre, but I’m loving it.”