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Meet Michael Wallage!

The Grooming Emporium would like to thank our friend Michael Wallage for participating in the Chops Facial Hair Face Off in 05/2021. He is the reigning champion of Chops! After the competition was over, The Grooming Emporium reached out to Mr. Wallage to get to know him better. Read on to learn all about the GE's Chops Champion:
1. Where are you from?  From a small town called Ripley which is midway between Nottingham and Derby in the middle of the country (England).
2. Club or affiliation?  Beard club.... I’m very very proud to be a small part of Mad Viking Beard Club and member of the Mad Viking Official Beard Team.
3. How long have you been competing in beard competitions and what got you interested? been competing in competitions since 2012. Are there any competitors that were a role model for you when you first started? My introduction to competitive bearding came about due to rather unfortunate circumstances. I was involved in a rather serious accident that put me in a wheelchair for many many months. During the course of my recovery I watched a program on the TV called Whisker Wars, that kind of planted the seed and as I wasn’t sure at that time if I’d hang on to a full compliment of legs bearding was something I could do even from my wheelchair. 
Who were my role models? I’m not sure that I’d lumber anyone with that to be honest, I’m very much ‘me’ but the two people who inspired me initially were Aarne Bielefeldt and Jack Passion but as far as Chops are concerned I aspired to achieve the success that Nate Johnson had had.
4. What is your beard care routine like? (Do you oil, balm, blow dryer, combing, etc...)   Beard care regime.... ask Mrs. Chops about that, she’s always complaining how long it takes me to get ready if we’re going out and it ain’t because I’m choosing which outfit I’m gonna wear cos 90% of the time it’s joggers and a T-shirt or shorts n a T-shirt. Where do I start....  I don’t use any shampoo or soap that contains Parabans or Sulfate because they dry the hair out making it brittle and liable to snap. If it’s breaking off faster than it’s growing that’s never gonna help you win anything is it. I don’t wash my beard more than once a week, I rinse it every day when I shower but I don’t see the point in stripping out the natural oils every other day and then replacing them with beard oils. When I do wash my beard I’ll use a beard wash or soap, one that’s free from the ingredients I’ve already mentioned and I’ll use a conditioner right away after washing. One mistake some guys make is not to leave it on for long enough. We have a seat in our wet room, I’ll take a seat and wait at least five minutes before rinsing out the conditioner. When I’m done in the shower I’ll blow dry on a low temperature setting and apply my beard oil.
When it comes to combs and brushes I’m really fussy too..... I’ll comb out my beard first with a wide toothed comb (Chicago Comb Company No8 carbon fibre) I start at the bottom of the beard working upwards. I’ll then comb it out in the other direction using a finer toothed comb, apply a heat protection spray and gently blow dry. When I’m happy that ‘the twins’ are all in place I’ll apply my oil (Mad Viking Beard Co oil of course) and finally I’ll brush that through with a soft bristle brush to help distribute the oil evenly.
5. What do you look for when choosing a beard product?   When it comes to choosing which products it can be very difficult, there are so many companies out there. One rule of thumb is that you usually get what you pay for, if it’s so much cheaper than the others it’s usually because it contains cheap ingredients. Saying that some at the top end of the market can appear to be overly expensive, they may smell absolutely beautiful but only nourish and hydrate your beard as well as others you can buy that are priced much more competitively. 
Look at the ingredients, do some research, find out what is good for your beard and which products suit you best. We’re all different and what suits one person’s beard may not suit yours.
6. Proudest bearding moment (competitions won, money raised, etc.. moments.... I’ve had several, I’ve been very  lucky (it’s funny though, the more effort that you put into something the luckier you seem to become) I suppose my first competition will always stick in my mind. I was a nervous as hell, I had some serious body issues ( I got REALLY fat after my accident, two reasons..... I’m a greedy c**t and I have mobility issues, I’m very inactive)
I was up against the reigning British Chops champion so I was expecting at best to get a second place but instead I won. Taking the world title in Austin is next on my list of proudest moments. I think it is in the Guinness record book as the largest beard and moustache competition ever held. Taking your first world title there is gonna take some beating. Two years later in Antwerp I successfully defended that title, I’d got used to the idea that someone was going to beat me in the weeks running up to the event and that that someone was gonna be Patrick Quinn but it wasn’t to be..... better luck at the next one Pat. 
I am  very proud to be a small part of the Mad Viking money raising machine.... I call them that because the amount of charity work they do, much of which is out of the public eye is phenomenal, not to mention the huge totals they raise each year at Monsters Ball. We try to emulate that ethos here both the bearding community here in the U.K. as a whole and at a local level. Our small group here in Derbyshire, aided by donations from far afield raised in excess of £20,000 over 2 years for the Beating Bowel Cancer campaign. In fact we were the top fund raising team in the Decembeard campaign two years running. As proud as I am I can’t count that as a personal achievement because without the support of the community we couldn’t have done it.
7. What upcoming bearding events do you plan on attending? far as upcoming events are concerned, here in the U.K. we are still somewhat restricted by the COVID pandemic, travel to the USA is very difficult as we have to quarantine for two weeks on our return. That makes it difficult in terms of cost and would use up all holiday entitlement for a one week trip.
8. COVID forced a lot of the competitions to go online. What are your thoughts on the online competitions and how do you think it will impact future beard competitions? As far as online competitions are concerned I’m not a big fan if I’m brutally honest. 
I know I was lucky enough to win your competition but I think that online events can be somewhat of a lottery or a popularity contest. I’d hope that people voted on the quality of the beard but I know that that isn’t always the case.
9. Outside of beard competitions what other hobbies do you enjoy?   Outside of bearding my hobbies are somewhat limited due to my mobility issues. I love fishing and for many years I was a keen Carp angler, I know they’re classed as a nuisance fish across the pond but here in the U.K. and Europe they’re a highly sought after species. I’m also a keen gardener but again I’m limited in the thing’s I can and can not do. Most of my gardening is confined to propagation and planting lots of the containers we have out on the decking each year. I also like to cook, my specialty being the #fatladpies. Many years ago I made them professionally, I only started making them at home because I was fed up of buying poor quality ones from the shops. 
10. You are known for your amazing chops but you are also known for your um...charming sense of humor 😂. You are always making people laugh but what makes you laugh?  Do you have a favorite comedian, or a certain type of comedy that you particularly enjoy?
Regarding my sense of humour..... I’m crude, rude and bad to know !!! In all honesty a lot of my humour is ironic and many people don’t see it like that. What I say on social media to raise a laugh isn’t always what I think or believe. 
Sometimes it is mind you but I like to keep people guessing...... did he just call me a c**t for real or is he just having a giggle? 😂😂😂 I suppose I’ve got a dark side to my humour as well but that comes from some of the things I’ve had to deal with during my life, things haven’t always gone the way I’d like but you’ve just got to smile and carry on. I’ll very often poke fun at myself, I’m very self deprecating, I know I’m fat, I know I’m not the young Adonis I once was (there I go again) I know I’m not the cleverest person and I’m quite happy to poke fun at that. I just try and be a little better today than I was yesterday. The kind of things that make me laugh..... slapstick, things like Benny Hill, certainly not the new sanitised politically correct brand of comedian. I’m 60 in a few months, I’m allowed to be old fashioned and have outdated ideas.... but that’s me and I don’t intend to change.
Thank you again to Michael Wallage! It was great having him in the Face Off, and it was really fun getting to know him. The Grooming Emporium hosts a Facial Hair Face-Off at the beginning of every month. Check out our Facebook page for details!

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