‘I’m what’s called a whiskerina in the bearding world,’ said Natali Johnston.
Natali, 42, and her husband Aaron, travel the world together, both competing in bearding contests.
But while you would typically expect Aaron to be more adept at bringing home first place in these bearding competitions, it’s actually his wife who is taking the gold.
But Natali hasn’t actually got a full naturally grown beard. No, she recently took home first place in the ‘realistic freestyle category’ – for fake beards, and she won best in show.
On the other hand, Aaron placed second in the Goatee category of the 2023 world championships in Burghausen, Germany on June 11.
He initially began competing in beard competitions in 2014 after watching a TV show called Whisker Wars.
The South Carolina couple then competed in the same competition just one year after – with Natali creating her own beards from scratch.
They now compete in different categories, but attend the same competitions worldwide, with 170 competitions under their belt since 2015.
Natali spoke about the beard categories she enters, saying: ‘You can either compete in the realistic full beard or the creative full beards.
‘They can be made of absolutely anything. For a realistic beard I use synthetic or real hair.
‘But you can make them from absolutely anything like cutlery or bacon – anything you can imagine so long as it’s in a beard shape!’
Natali said she knows it’s not an ‘obvious hobby’ for a woman to have but she loves it – and she wants other women to enjoy it as well.
She added: ‘I see so many women come to competitions with their husband but don’t want to go on stage.
‘I personally help other women get on stage to see how much fun it is and next time I see them competing themselves and they’re loving it.
‘What I love about it is when you put a beard on your face your a whole different person.
‘You can just go on stage and have fun. You get to spend the weekend hanging our with the people you love too. It’s just a good time.’
They now compete full time as Aaron began working with the beard grooming company Honest Amish after winning the 2017 world championships.
Ironically, Aaron didn’t have a beard before he began competing, but now his grooming routine for his 27 inch beard means he takes longer to get ready than his wife.
Aaron said: ‘I’ve always liked facial hair but before 2010 I had to be clean shaven for my previous job.
‘It really is a lot harder to maintain the beard than you’d think. Some people are just luckier than others.
‘I’ve never hit terminal length whereas some people do quite quickly. Everyday I have to think about protecting it.
‘If I eat I have to think about my beard, if I work on my car I have to think about my beard.’
Aaron ties his beard up when he sleeps and uses oil and balm on it post-shower, however in 2017 he shaved it into a goatee.
The bearding couple met in 2001 and were neighbours for seven years before their friendship blossomed into romance.
However, things then began to move very quickly and after dating for just six weeks, they decided to wed in 2008.
Neither of them expected facial hair to become their common interest – but they both admit the hobby has ‘brought them closer as a couple’.
Aaron said: ‘The whole adventure has helped us grow so much. It’s given us so much to bond over.
‘Who’d have ever thought we’d have a common hobby based around facial hair – it’s like we’ve won the lottery.’
Natali added: ‘The bearding community is fantastic. We’re supportive of each other no matter what.
‘All the competitions are for charity – so when we pay our entrance fee it goes to a good cause.
‘Beard clubs don’t just do competitions either. Some go and clean roads or help out the homeless – it’s just a great community.
‘I’d definitely recommend individuals, women or couples to take up bearding as a hobby.’
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