Deep breath, confession time: I’ve never participated in Movember. The annual charity event when guys grow out their moustaches in November to help raise funds and awareness for men’s health—specifically, mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer—has been around for 17 years. So why haven’t I taken the dive?
I’ve always been what you might call “follicaly challenged.” When I try to let the peach fuzz grow, I end up looking like a child cosplaying as an adult. Poorly. But this year, I’m swallowing my pride and going all in on Movember. Something is different, and I think you can guess what. We’re all stuck apart, and many of us are alone. It sucks. A lot. And for many people—a lot of men—it sucks more than you might realize.
“Men’s health in general is a challenge,” says Mark Hedstrom, US Executive Director for Movember, “but when you look at something like suicide rates amongst men, it’s an even more unique challenge.”
According to the CDC, Hedstrom says, roughly 48,000 Americans take their lives each year—with 75 percent of them being men.
“Quite frankly, it’s going to be exacerbated in this year,” Hedstrom says. “You’re starting to see some numbers move in the wrong direction.”
Movember has the ambitious goal of reducing the suicide rate among men 25 percent by 2030, and they need help from guys like you (and me) to make that happen. How? You can donate or you can sign up to grow a Mo and raise funds. There are also virtual trivia nights, workplace competitions, opportunities to host meet-ups, and more. You can learn about all the ways you can get involved at movember.com. One additional way you can participate is Move for Movember, a challenge to commit to walking or running 60 miles over 30 days—one for each of the 60 men lost each day globally to suicide.
With the money raised by its global community, Movember funds groundbreaking medical research, innovative cancer tests and treatments, and game-changing mental health interventions—more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world, and counting. Along the way, millions have joined the movement.
Just to be sure I’m doing everything I can to live up to that standard—and finally grow a proper moustache—I tapped Movember’s resident expert Chadwick Wilson for a few tips. I’ll heed his wisdom, and I hope you will, too. Especially if it’s your (gulp) first time.
Start with a baby face
The true first step is to make your support official and sign up on movember.com. Only officially registered moustaches can change the face of men’s health.
Now, you might be tempted to just start letting that upper lip fuzz grow right now—but hold off. Movember is all about how much you can grow in November, and you want to start off completely even.
“The first thing you should do is you should shave,” says Wilson. “We like to start off Movember 1st completely clean-shaven, nothing on the face, whether that’s you using a razor at your home or going to the barbershop and getting a straight razor shave.”
Decide what you want to grow
Not all Mo’s are created (more like cultivated) equal. “On the website, we have a little list of moustaches, such as The Trucker, The Regent, and The Connoisseur,” Wilson says. “I enjoy The Trucker, which is pretty much The Handlebar Moustache. That’s the most important: grow what looks good on you and what’s going to get people talking to you and complimenting your moustache.”
After all, Movember is all about sparking conversation about men’s health by getting your Mo noticed. Which brings us to…
Power through that first week or two
“If you’ve never done it before, you’ve just got to let it happen,” says Wilson. Great. “The first week’s a little rough—you don’t know if it’s going to come in quite like you want it, but just put the work in, and keep it neat by shaving around it. They’re great conversation starters. It gets people asking, ‘Oh, why’d you do that to your face?’ And that opens up the conversation to talk about men’s health awareness.”
Maintain, maintain, maintain
“You just have to push through and once the two weeks get there, you really have some hair to play with and to mess with,” Wilson says. He recommends making sure to trim the Mo so that it doesn’t cover your upper lip—and use scissors as well as a trimmer to help you maintain.
“The scissors are going to be used to cut out the long, out of control hairs,” he says. “And the trimmers are really important to actually shape the moustache. I’m growing The Trucker, so I’ll be using the trimmer to keep it in that shape. We’re not big on other parts of hair touching your moustache, because then it becomes a goatee or some weird hybrid beard. We’re going for that pure Movember moustache.”
Well, we’ll have to see about “pure.” See you all November 1.
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