These Guys Take Their Facial Hair Very Seriously

Facial hair enthusiasts at the World Beard And Moustache Championships in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Participants of the World Beard and Mustache Championships line up for the opening ceremony. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)

Hundreds of facial hair enthusiasts converged on Leogang, Austria earlier this month to strut their extravagant whiskers and manes as part of the World Beard and Mustache Championships. The question on everyone's mind: Who has the greatest follicles of them all?

First held in 1990, this offbeat event is more than a competition — it also serves as a massive social event and de facto convention for this quirky subculture. After all, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to maintain a finely coiffed beard or mustache, so it's nice to have a network of friends (and rivals!) who are also interested in a finely tended mane.

But the World Beard and Mustache Championships is no joke — competitors pull out all the stops, and you see something new and creative every year.

A contestant of the World Beard And Mustache Championships poses for a picture during the Championships 2015 on October 3, 2015 in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)

Judges base their evaluations on three main categories — mustache, partial beard and full beard — that are further split up into 16 subcategories, ranging from the iconic Dali mustache to the Garibaldi full beard.

One of the major hallmarks of the event is the freestyle subcategories, which are meant for facial hairdos that don't conform to any traditional category. Unlike the other categories, freestyle participants are permitted to use styling aids, so the sky (and the amount of hair spray) is the limit when it comes to creating one of these over-the-top beards or mustaches.

Continue below to see a small selection of the eccentric freestyle masterpieces that made an appearance at this year's championships.

A contestant of the World Beard And Mustache Championships walks during the opening ceremony of the Championships 2015 on October 3, 2015 in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
A contestant with a funky beard is seen at the World Beard And Mustache Championships in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Men with white and grey beards at the World Beard And Mustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
A man with a really long beard at the World Beard And Mustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Man with curly white beard at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
A man with a thick beard at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Man with circular beard at the World Beard And Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Hipstery looking guys with beards at the World Beard And Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Man with gravity-defying beard at the World Beard And Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Man with impressive beard at the World Beard And Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
Man with pointy beard at the World Beard And Moustache Championships. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)
A man with an eccentric beard is framed by another bearded man. (Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)