Donning facial hair is stereotypically reserved for the outdoorsy, macho-type man. Yet come November, thousands of men across the country do their best to maintain mustaches, beards and goatees galore for the 30-day period.
And while the tradition of No Shave November is well-known, many don’t know where the pseudo-holiday began or what it means.
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It all started in 2003 with a group of 30 friends in Melbourne, Australia who decided to bring back the mustache trend. About a year later, inspired by the mustache’s ability to generate conversation, the group decided to create Movember—a nonprofit dedicated to funding men’s health projects, with the first funds going toward the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Today, more than 6 million “Mo Bros and Mo Sisters” raise funds for about 1,250 men’s health projects around the world, surrounding gender stereotypes, the pressures of manhood, prostate cancer and more, mostly by growing and donating their hair throughout November. As of last year, the group has raised $18.4 million in the United States alone.
Movember isn’t the only group attached to the movement. No-Shave November, a nonprofit that began in 2009, has a similar concept, devoted to growing cancer awareness and raising funds in support of research.
No matter why you do it, the month-long challenge isn’t an easy task, and actually takes a lot of upkeep, according to owner of Fairfax-based The Standard Barbershop, Tommy Cheung. The 4-year-old eclectic shop celebrated its anniversary in the spring, and tends to have a waitlist up to two months in advance.
As we are just about a week into November, those trying to last the entire 30 days may be feeling a little discomfort or doubt about their facial hair. Here, Cheung shares his insight and best advice for maintaining your beard throughout the month.
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Throughout the month of November, do you typically see less business at the shop?
We actually see an increase in the shop during No-Shave November and Movember events. When talking to clients, they mention they want to participate; however, most of our clients are business professionals in the area, so they have to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
What are some of the challenges of maintaining facial hair?
There are many attributes that can cause challenges for an entire month. First, you have to ask if you even can grow facial hair. Many gentleman might not even have the follicles of hair to grow. If there aren’t seeds, there can be no weeds, homie! Other people might have other factors, such as dry skin, especially as the air is getting drier. Many clients think because their skin is covered with hair, they don’t have to take care of what’s underneath. But key factors to maintain include moisturizer, beard oil and beard wash.
In terms of best care practices, what do you recommend to those trying to last all 30 days?
As beards grow, they [clients] need to figure out if products are needed to make hair look neater, like styling hair on top of your head. Just like hair products, there are multiple levels of firmness in beard balms and mustache waxes. Some clients might want a more natural look and just want to keep loose hair down, while others may want a whole beard style that needs to defy gravity, which would require product with a very firm hold. Don’t assume every product has the same firmness—think super soft, melted chapstick in your pocket in the summertime as balm, and hard beeswax as firm to help picture the degrees of hold.
During the month, examine the pros and cons of your particular facial hair growth and see which styles works to enhance your appearance. For example, if you don’t grow hair on the side of your face and cheeks, maybe a full beard won’t work … just go with the stronger goatee, shaped to your facial structure. Please don’t ask barbers to make it look like you have a beard when you don’t have a beard. All I can do is cut hair off, not glue hair on.
Are there any specific products you recommend?
Bearded Bastard’s beard oil (we carry Morocco scent); Reuzel Beard Balm; Captain Fawcett’s mustache wax; Prospector’s beard oil (verbena and lime scent). // The Standard Barbershop: 10409 Main St. B, Fairfax