Behind the Beard with MJ Johnson

A beard champion talks life, competition, and the close relationship of beards and beers.

Presented by Remington®

MJ Johnson is a name you may not know right now, but this Remington® Beard Boss™ and family man has got a face you won’t soon forget. His gravity-defying beard has competed in world and national championships in the imperial partial beard category. (That’s hair grown only on the cheeks and upper lip, with the mustache integrated. And now you know.) We went behind the beard to find out more about MJ’s home life, the bearding community, and what he calls the “beard nod.”

How does your wife feel about that beard of yours?

Well, I use her expensive hair conditioner on it every week. She doesn’t complain, so I guess that means she likes it.

Really though, my wife and son are both a huge part of what I do in the bearding community. Every day they inspire me to be myself and to get out there and find fun things to work on. Knowing that they support all the stuff I’m doing is huge for me.

What inspired your unique look?

A rad beard—like mine—is a great icebreaker. Anywhere I go, people will come up to me and ask about the beard or want to touch it. On-point facial hair can really break down some barriers, and I’m glad to have a beard that people are interested in.

And it just fits well with my face. For anyone out there hoping to get into bearding, if you can find the right beard style that fits your face perfectly, it can change your life.

Take us through some of the bearding stuff you’re involved with.

It’s a long list. I’ve been a part of, probably, over 30 contests. Whether I’m organizing it, or judging it, or, of course, competing in it. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of them.

You’ve won a lot of them, too.

Yeah, that’s been fun. I’ve won a couple U.S. nationals titles, and then some regional competitions, too. In 2012, the band CAKE had a national contest for their song “Mustache Man” and I won that. Very proud moment for me.

What do you like most about the bearding community?

It’s full of great people. Guys come out to compete, but they also want to have a good time with good friends.

We also do a lot of charity work. My club (The Minneapolis Beard and Moustache Club) does charity events and community work year-round. I know a lot of beard groups around the country do the same. A lot of good comes from the bearding community.

It seems to grow every year.

 “Grow.” That’s funny! It’s really taking off right now and that’s awesome. For me, personally, I’ve seen my Instagram followers top 20,000 this year. That’s amazing. Beards can be an art form now and they’ve become a big part of culture and life. It’s great.

Is it some kind of brotherhood for all the guys with beards?

First off, there is this thing called the “beard nod”. Two complete strangers with awesome beards give each other a silent but powerful nod for what they’ve accomplished. Game recognize game, as they say.

What’s really cool is that bearding is about individuality at first. Like, “Everybody look at me and my beard.” But if you look past that, all of the competitions are full of fun, kind people who just want to have a good time. That’s what I love about it. The group aspect. It’s one big party.

Sounds fun. Can I come party if I don’t have a beard?

It’s seriously fun! With or without a beard. All the competitions I’ve been in and the Beard Boss™ tour with Remington®—they’re just so much fun. Plus, around the world, beards and beer go hand-in-hand. So, you’ve got that to look forward to.