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No-Shave November vs. Movember: There’s a difference between these 2 causes

Which one is right for you?

Old man with a beard
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s November again, which means your social media is about to be inundated with friends, family, and celebrities throwing their razors, trimmers, and electric shavers in the drawer until December 1. While it may look like they’ve decided that grooming is no longer necessary, they very well may be making a statement of solidarity to a man in their life suffering from cancer.

Some men will say they are participating in No-Shave November, while others will claim it is Movember. Most men participating use the terms interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two. They have different origins and different purposes, and they’re focused on different people. Here’s a bit of background for you to peruse to figure out what they are and which one is right for you.

Even if you don’t know someone battling one of the ailments listed below, standing together as men to support each other in times of need is the paramount act of bonding in manhood.

Man brushing beard with comb while looking at mirror in living room
Ignacio Ferr√°ndiz Roig / Westend61 / Adobe Stock

No-Shave November

What is No-Shave November?

No-Shave November is more than an excuse to ditch shaving or trimming your facial hair; it has a deep meaning that comes from tragedy and mourning. In 2007, the Chicago-based patriarch of the Hill family, Matthew Hill, succumbed to colon cancer. His eight children then took to Facebook in 2009 to launch No-Shave November, a movement to raise awareness for cancer and create an opportunity to donate to research and treatment for others suffering the same way their father did. In doing so, they hoped to save as many people as they could from the grief they felt.

Every year for the last decade, the Matthew Hill Foundation has turned a few participants (called No-Shavers) who were willing to donate their time and money into $10 million raised for cancer prevention, education, and research.

How can you participate?

How much money do you spend on grooming your hair? How much do you spend on razors? How much on shaving cream or gel? What about aftershave? Trips to the salon or barber for a trim? The purpose of No-Shave November is to stop grooming your hair and reallocate all of those funds to charity for research, prevention, and education. Remember that anyone who participates doesn’t groom anything — facial hair, body hair, nothing. So when you begin the quest of going 30 days without touching your razor, it means no hair at all should leave your body unnaturally, even if that means you look like Bigfoot by Thanksgiving.

Now to the important part: Where do you send the money? If you sign up to participate, you can create a competition between you and your fellow No-Shavers to get your community involved. Each one of you collects donations from friends, family, and even the cop who pulls you over because your epic beard distracts other drivers. The point is that you want to collect as much as possible. You can also bypass all of this and simply donate the money. Whether you have a strict dress code at work, have a partner who doesn’t like the look or feel of facial hair, or hate the itch of growing hair, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to fight for the men in your life.

Viking beard
befree / Adobe Stock

Getting ready for No-Shave November

Now that you’ve decided to give up your razor for the cause, how can you get ready for No-Shave November? First of all, most people want to start the month with a clean slate, so to speak, so on Halloween night (after all the parties of course), give yourself a clean shave so you can start No-Shave November from scratch and see just what kind of epic beard you can grow in a month. Once the beard starts coming in, since you can’t shave it, grooming is key. Use a good beard wash and quality beard oil to help keep your beard soft and take care of any itching from the new growth on your face.

Close-up of a man with a handlebar mustache
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Movember meaning

What is Movember?

All the best ideas happen over a beer in a pub with all your best mates, right? Yeah, we don’t think so either, but we can’t deny that some really amazing things have come from innocent, hypothetical conversations. Movember is one of them. Australians Travis Garone and Luke Slattery sat in a pub in 2003, where they praised the manliness of the mustache and wondered if they could bring it back into style. Of course, in the early 2000s, only Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot were allowed to wear lip rugs without the ridicule of their friends. Undeterred, the two founders convinced 30 of their friends to join them in bringing the mustache back. Inspired by campaigns to raise money for breast cancer awareness, they decided to make their cause about prostate cancer and men’s health.

By 2004, the group (named Movember by combining the words “mustache” and “November”) had officially decided its focus was prostate cancer prevention. It began to work with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and grew its original 30 members to over 450 participants. It raised $54,000 for the PCFA. In 2006, the four co-founders established an official Australian charity, the Movember Foundation, and adopted the slogan “Give Prostate Cancer a Kick in the Arse.” Today, the group focuses on all men’s health, physical and mental, and has created the official tagline “Changing the face of men’s health.”

How can you participate?

Every movement has rules that must be followed or else chaos reigns. For Movember, the rules are to ensure that everyone is dedicated to being good sports by starting in the same place and conducting themselves admirably. Here are the official rules for every participant, called Mo Bros. 

  • Rule 1: Once registered at, each Mo Bro must begin the 1st of Movember with a clean-shaven face.
  • Rule 2: For the entire month of Movember, each Mo Bro must grow and groom a mustache.
  • Rule 3: Don’t fake it. No beards, no goatees, and no fake mustaches.
  • Rule 4: Use the power of the mustache to create conversation and raise funds for men’s health.
  • Rule 5: Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.

If you can’t grow a mustache for any reason, Movember understands and has developed other ways to support the men in your life. Here are a few different ways to participate with the organization: 

  1. Move for Movember. Approximately 60 men are lost worldwide every hour due to suicide. This option sets you up to walk or jog 60 miles throughout the month in an effort to raise money for suicide prevention. 
  2. Host a Mo-Ment. Do you have a flair for throwing parties? Bring everyone together to do something fun, meaningful, educational, or whatever you want, then use that event to raise funds to donate to one of over 100 different men’s health projects. 
  3. Mo your own way. Do something physical, anything that challenges you. Climb a mountain, do the hardest hikes in your state during the month, commit to 3,000 pushups — just do anything to move. Get people to support you and raise money with your sweat and hard work. 
Young happy man greeting with group of supporters at finish line after marathon race.
Getty Images

We came from men, and we raise men. The men in your life are some of the most influential people you will ever have around you. We all know someone suffering from physical or mental health problems. Many of us are fighting our own battles too. While caring for and supporting men in need should be a year-round effort, November is the month when we can focus on them and show our support through acts of solidarity.

If you or anyone you know has had prostate cancer, ditch the grooming and donate the money to No-Shave November while growing a wicked-awesome face mane. It’s also friendly to women; you may not be able to grow a beard, but you probably shave too! If you have men in your life who have struggled with other ailments, including mental health issues, grow the ‘stache or get out and push yourself to show them you care.

Men are essential. You are important, and we have 30 days to prove it to one another.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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