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Face-off . . . Facing each other are competitors (clock-wise from left) Isaac Atley, Kirio Birks, Adam Rowe and Joel Cunningham. PHOTO: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

Growing a competition-winning beard or moustache is not just about length but also how you wear it.

That’s according to the organiser of tomorrow night’s Otago Beard and Moustache Competition, Adam Rowe, of Dunedin, who said judges would be looking for specimens which fitted the personality of a competitor.

“A lot of people assume it’s just going to be who has been growing their beard the longest and who has the longest beard, [but] it’s actually more about a person’s character, how they actually present their beard, how well it suits them,” Mr Rowe said.

He had attended national events where competitors donned costumes to accentuate their facial hair.

“The first one I went to, the winner dressed up as Zeus.”

Tomorrow night’s competition, to be held at Re:Fuel bar on campus from 7.30pm, will feature five categories – best beard, best moustache, freestyle, crowd favourite and “whiskerina”, the latter to give women the chance to get involved by creating a fake beard or moustache.

Prizes will include luxury beard care products.

Competitors can register on the night or via the Otago Beard and Moustache Competition Facebook page.

The entry fee is $15 for competitors and $10 for audience members.

There will be live music and proceeds raised will go to the Otago Mental Health Support Trust.

Mr Rowe, who sports eight months’ beard growth, said growing and taking care of a beard could be more complicated than being clean-shaven.

One common hurdle for prospective growers of facial hair was the notorious “itching stage”, which typically set in about two weeks to a month after getting started.

Many men ditched their whiskers at that time, Mr Rowe said.

To overcome this barrier, he suggested using beard balms or oils to moisturise the skin to reduce itching.

Once the itching stage passed, beards could become “quite comfortable, especially in the winter”, Mr Rowe said.

Another tip for prospective beard growers was to start growing it while on holiday.

“Then when you go back to work you’ve got a decent growth and it’s not going to look too messy and you’ll be past the horrible itching stage.”