Book Your Flight: Canada’s International Hair Freezing Competition Is Here

Takhini Hot Pools
Takhini Hot Pools

If you're looking to instantly transform your hairstyle, head to Takhini Hot Pools in Canada's Yukon Territory. The natural hot springs there make it possible to bathe outdoors in extreme freezing weather, resulting in some impressive 'dos when people get their hair wet and let it harden. As Smithsonian reports, the practice has become so popular that there's now an annual competition to see who can freeze their hair into the most impressive shapes.

The International Hair Freezing Contest started in February 2011 as a spin-off of the local Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. After competing in winter sporting events all day, athletes from the rendezvous would head to Takhini to take a mineral bath in one of the pools fed by the area's natural hot spring. The manager at the time turned the relaxation session into another competition when he asked bathers to sculpt their wet hair into frozen works of art. Whoever ended up with the best selfie won the contest.

What began as a fun activity among a small group of people has grown into a major event. Each winter, people from around the world visit the hot pools hoping to take part. The Hair Freezing Contest is unique in that it doesn't take place over a set stretch of dates. Rather, guests compete whenever it's cold enough outside to achieve the desired hair-styling effects, e.g. when -4°F or colder. Throughout winter, competitors can sign a form proving they were really there, and if it's cold enough to shape their hair in the pools, they can snap a selfie and submit their work to Takhini. Winners are announced in March, with Best Male Photo, Best Female Photo, Most Creative Photo, and Best Group Photo each receiving $750 and complimentary 30-soak memberships.

For those worried about their hair falling out, the business promises that hair freezing isn't harmful, and dipping your head into the pool quickly thaws it back to normal.

Check out some of the star competitors from years past below.

People with frozen hair in hot tub.
Takhini Hot Pools

Person in hot tub with frozen hair.
Takhini Hot Pools

People with frozen hair in hot tub.
Takhini Hot Pools

People with frozen hair in hot tub.
Takhini Hot Pools

[h/t Smithsonian]

20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins

iStock/fieldwork
iStock/fieldwork

Who is a penguin's favorite family member? Aunt Arctica! 

We kid! But seven of the 17 species of penguins can be found on the southernmost continent. Here are 20 more fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds. 

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

A group of penguins on an iceberg.
iStock/axily

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

Three emperor penguins
iStock/Fabiano_Teixeira

3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

A gentoo penguin swimming underwater
iStock/chameleonseye

4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

Penguins swimming in the ocean
iStock/USO

5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

Emperor penguins with chicks
iStock/vladsilver

6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

Penguin swimming in the ocean
iStock/Musat

7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

Gentoo penguin chick molting
iStock/ChristianWilkinson

8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to one thousand birds.

A colony of king penguins
iStock/DurkTalsma

9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

Two chinstrap penguins
iStock/Legacy-Images

10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

Magellanic penguin nesting in the ground
iStock/JeremyRichards

11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

Penguin eggs
iStock/Buenaventuramariano

12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

A group of emperor penguins and chick
iStock/vladsilver

13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguin chick and parent on a nest
iStock/golnyk

14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

Three emperor penguin chicks
iStock/AntAntarctic

15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

Gentoo penguins
iStock/Goddard_Photography

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

A group of magellanic penguins on the seacoast
iStock/encrier

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

A cape penguin in South Africa
iStock/ziggy_mars

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

Man videotaping a penguin in Antarctica
iStock/Bkamprath

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

Penguin swimming in the ocean
iStock/Musat

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

This story was first published in 2017.

Can You Spot the Official Scrabble Words?

iStock.com/Rena-Marie
iStock.com/Rena-Marie

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