Jeff Langum officially has the best beard in the world, and all other beards cower in its presence. The 39-year-old Voorhees, New Jersey native took home the top prize at the World Beard & Moustache Championships in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, over the weekend — following a Nationals victory last week — counting himself among nine Americans this year who took home hardware in 23 categories.
Competition this year was stiff, with Langum going up against the beard world’s prizefighters in the Full Beard Natural Category—the most contentious of all styles at virtually every beard competition. Despite still being relatively new to competition, Langum took the gold, and with it the glory that comes with having the World’s Greatest Beard.
Following his win, I spoke with our hero about how he’s feeling as the champ, what his win means for the Philly area, and what’s next for the man with the best beard in all the land. Through all that, one thing is abundantly clear: this is only the beginning for Jeff Langum.
First off, congratulations on your win! How’s it feel to be the 2013 World Full Beard Natural champ?
It feels amazing—but honestly it still hasn't sunk in fully yet. I'm still wrapping my mind (and beard) around the fact that I won both the National and World championships for full beard natural.
This was your first time competing overseas. What was competition in Germany like?
Competing in Germany was a real honor because this is the birthplace of bearding competitions. Getting to meet all the legends of this community was incredible. The rules and pre-judging process were definitely stricter and more formal than in the U.S. — many competitors had to change categories or even cut some of their beard off to make the length requirements. The Germans take facial hair seriously; every whisker has to be in place!
As a local guy, how do you think your win might affect the perception of facial hair in the Philly area?
Hopefully, this win will get everyone to be more accepting of facial hair and I hope more people will join our awesome Philly Beard and Mustache Club. We meet every third Sunday of the month (8 p.m.) at Tattooed Mom's on South Street. You do not need facial hair to come join us!
So what’s next for the man with the best beard in the world? Don’t say you’re going to shave it off.
I'm hoping my beard helps get me into the world of acting. That would be fun. I have a few sponsor deals and a couple of modeling gigs in the works. I'll be going to several regional competitions in the next several months, but won't be competing, just hanging out with friends.
It looks like you’ve been growing that beard for eons. How long have you actually had it?
My current beard is two years and one month old, but I have sported some form of facial hair most of my life. I ran across the IFC TV show Whisker Wars about three years ago and wondered what kind of beard I could grow. The rest is what you see!
Ah, so you’re a fan! Have you connected with anyone from the show since you started competing?
I wanted to get to know the great people I saw on the show, like Bryan Nelson, Myk O'Connor and Aarne Bielefeldt. I'm honored to call them good friends and have learned so much from them. The Austin Facial Hair Club has been a role model for [the Philly Beard and Mustache Club] and hopefully this will be a big step towards being as successful as they are.
Did you start off intending to grow the world’s greatest beard?
There was no goal originally; I was just curious about what kind of beard would emerge from my facial pores. It grew in fluffy and took a very unique shape — wide on the sides instead of just straight down. The more it grew and the more people I met, the bigger the dream became: to travel all over the world with my beard, connecting with others.
That dream naturally involves competitions. How did you first get on the beard competition circuit?
Competing came along with wanting to meet people, so my curiosity got the best of me and I went to my first competition in New York City, December 2011. From that point on, I was completely hooked. Not about winning, though, because I didn't place until my seventh competition. It really was about getting to know people in this awesome community.
How do you take care of such a luxurious beard? Your regimen must be pretty grueling.
My grooming regimen is actually pretty simple. I try to use only natural products — fruit-based without any chemicals. I recommend using Bluebeards Original beard wash and leave-in conditioner: It helps a ton with the itching and dryness. I brush it once a day, always gently. Competition days are no different, except that my wife spends time fluffing it out with her hands, also always gently.
Any advice for budding beardos looking to compete?
My advice to everyone, whether they are competitors or not, is to let it grow! You never know what you are capable of until you try. Don't be afraid of negative comments in the beginning, because there is an itchy and awkward stage through which you must persist.
You obviously have persisted through that awkward stage. What’s your favorite part about having the world’s greatest beard?
I've gotten to meet so many people I would have never known had I not grown this beard. This is what it's all about.