Beauty: Winter bearding 101

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

Ever wonder whether men with beards nod at each other when they see each other on the street, a la motorcycle riders? They do, but their gesture is even more magical than facial hair virgins could imagine!

"It's just a magnetic eye contact thing. Both sort of recognize, smile and perk up," said Thomas Smith, lead organizer of Beard Team Ohio, a group that promotes beard awesomeness in the state.

If you are joining the ranks of bearded men in Columbus this winter, here are some tips from Smith for maintenance during your quest.

Oilon:To battle cold-weather's drying effects, regularly work olive or jojoba oil into the skin under your beard. Smith uses a hand and nail salve by Savannah Bee Company as a leave-in conditioner to give extra nutrients and shine to his beard. Plus, it smells delicious.

Brushup: Try using a brush made for wigs or hair extensions. The looped bristles won't break any members of your chin's precious hair army.

Be product conscious:Smith recalled the legend of Peanut, a Beard Team Ohio member who once, while chopping wood in the middle of winter (as bearded gentlemen are wont to do), lost one side of his curly-cued mustache because he used the wrong product. The lesson: Style with soft wax in the winter so it doesn't freeze and break like an icicle.

Trim like the pros: Dismiss disobedient strands with barber-grade scissors for a clean cut.

Do let the chicks see it: "I would not say that the ladies love the beard," Smith said. "I would say the good ladies love the beards. Women who love beards know how to have a good time - all the time."

Don't scare strangers: Beware the power your wondrous follicle fascination holds. If you're at the threshold of "scary beard" that comes right before "jolly beard" (a thin line as discernible as a stray hair), "smile as much as possible," Smith said.

Name: Scotty Lees

Age: 38

Hometown: Columbus

Neighborhood: Old North Columbus

Job: Artist, husband and father, award-winning self-styled beard wearer

What do you call your beard? The BigStyle, somewhat inspired by the art of Tim Burton.

Favorite famous beard? Ming the Merciless from "Flash Gordon."

Any advice for readers growing one out? "Be patient and give it time to fill in. It may itch, but that's part of earning the right to call yourself a man."

Get the BigStyle:"I planned out my original design with a Sharpie and shaved what needed shaving. I do all my shaving with a Gillette five-blade head, but I use the women's razor handle. It has a better design and makes the detailing easier. I use basic hand soap, nothing special. I trim with scissors by hand."