The nation has spoken: A 44-year-old Michigan man with a handlebar mustache and a beard that reaches to about his collarbone has the best facial hair in the country.Jason Heien — a software engineer who lives in Superior Township and works in Detroit — is winner of the annual Wahl Man of the Year contest for men with fabulous facial hair.Sponsored by Wahl, maker of hair clippers for men, the prize includes $1,500 and the opportunity to be featured in a national advertisement. Heien was declared the winner based on input from a judging panel and from a national vote conducted via Facebook.Heien, who entered the contest when a Wahl mobile barbershop pulled up to downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius over the summer, said he was “totally speechless” when he found out about the honor.Fortunately for us, he regained his composure and was able to chat about cheeseburgers, crumbs and the responsibility that comes with having a beard. His comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
How long have you had a beard? Just over a year. I’ve always had a goatee. So a year ago Halloween, I was Neptune for Halloween and Neptune has a beard. So I bought a beard and glued it on and I liked the look and I decided I would grow a beard.Was it easy to grow? It was a little difficult.
It wasn’t scratchy and it wasn’t itchy or anything. It was kind of an awkward phase where it was more fuzzy than groomed, it’s just like everything’s going in different directions. Once it got longer, then it starts to lay down and behave.Do you feel different with a beard? I do. I feel, I guess, maybe more mature. I feel like I look older, maybe more distinguished. Honestly not one day goes by that someone either doesn’t say something about my beard or my mustache.Something good? Yeah.
One guy … . said, “Man, I’ve gotta tell you. You’ve got a really awesome beard.” He said it was really intimidating. .
.. I guess a lot of people do recognize that I have a really nice beard. It’s weird for me, saying I have a really nice beard. I’m a pretty modest dude, you know.
How do you take care of your beard? I wash it with regular shampoo. Every day. And then I use a Paul Mitchell product in it so that it makes it just stay. I’m not the guy who is always stroking his beard. I want to set it and forget it.
Is it difficult to eat certain things with a beard? It’s even more hard to eat stuff when you have a mustache. I get to eat a hamburger by knife and fork. Mustard in your mustache, it’s just not a good look.What about gum: I chew gum pretty regularly. But blowing bubbles is a no-no.”Crumbs? Maybe once a month, there will be something like while my wife and I are sitting on the couch and munching popcorn or something. She’ll be like, “Come on now, go fix yourself.”How long do you want to go: I don’t think I see myself having the ZZ Top beard.
Anything else? Having great facial hair comes with great responsibility. If you really want a great beard, you have to maintain it. And you have to be able to handle the compliments that you get from it. You have to know that you’re like a role model.You must use your beard for good. You must always use your beard powers for good.