Dive down the rabbit hole that is #NoShaveNovember and you will be rewarded with a truly candid look at humans doing something good — or should we say not doing something — to help their fellow earthlings in the ongoing battle against cancer. You’ll see prize-worthy beards that would turn Spanish moss green with envy. You’ll see gentlemen who can’t grow a beard worth a damn doing their damndest, retired military officers who couldn’t grow facial hair due to regs, regulating their first growth.
No Shave November, an annual event akin to Movember, asks good-willed participants to skip shaving for the month, keeping those otherwise ill-fated hairs intact in order to raise awareness about cancer, especially since so many cancer patients end up losing their hair due to chemotherapy. Participants are then encouraged to donate the money they’d normally spend on hair care in a month to organizations that educate about and fund cancer research and treatment. This year the movement specifically aids the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
If you are trying this out for the first time, your beard and skin may require a little help to get over the first few days and weeks of hirsuteness. (Full disclosure: this writer started growing on November 1st, and made it to November 10 before a stiff beard and sensitive skin drove me to the razor…looks like I should have waited a few days and taken my own advice.) You may also find that to keep your job or maintain peace at the family table during the holiday season, a little upkeep is required.
Here are some sage pieces of advice and a few product suggestions to take you from clean-cut to boldly bushy.
Rule No. 1: Don’t Over Cleanse
If possible avoid washing your beard every day. Use a natural soap if you feel like you have to wash, which will at least be less harsh on your skin, and always follow up with a conditioner. To get an idea of what to look for in a product, check out The Manual’s guide to winter grooming, and don’t forget to read up on beard balms. (We know, we know — the idea was to donate money to charity,so add the cost of your supplementary product to your donation or fund-raising goal, if that makes you feel more benevolent.)
Consider this beard wash, crafted with natural materials from the Mediterranean Sea. Key ingredients include argan, cedarwood, and mandarin orange oils to moisturize hair and skin, as well as reduce dryness and itching. Pair it with the brand’s Beard Softener for a luxuriantly soft beard.
Rule No. 2: Use Lube
…on your beard, that is. Depending on where you live, as the weather gets colder and drier, beard oil becomes a necessity. Apply it daily to a damp beard after your shower, while the skin is still relaxed from the warm water. You can explore our picks for best beard oils, but we also like this offering:
Lots of guys swear by using coconut oil to condition their beards. We like this mix, where Fresh Heritage adds argan, jojoba, and olive oils, to make thin and patchy spots fuller, coarse hair soft and manageable while rendering your beard irresistible to touch.
Rule No. 3: Keep It Neat
Trim split ends. We recommend using scissors to prevent dramatic trimming accidents. It may take a little longer, but allows for more precision than an electric trimmer.
While we heard that one Adirondack Trail hiker used the scissors on his miniature Victorinox Swiss Army knife for six months of beard trims and haircuts, we prefer something a little more specialized for daily beard maintenance. These nicely weighted, ergonomically shaped blades provide excellent control, while the Japanese steel material provides hardness to maintain a sharp edge. They’re technically TSA-approved but check first, since regulations change frequently. The gold accents make them a proud addition to your bathroom countertop or medicine cabinet.
Rule No. 4: Tame Your ‘Stache
Use mustache wax to train the mustache to part evenly to both sides of your face. This will keep the hair out of your mouth and prevent you from chomping down on it as you eat (even if those little snacks you find later help you get through long afternoon meetings.) Find our recommended waxes, or try:
This handy tin allows simple, one-hand operation, and makes it easy to warm up the lightly scented wax before use. Reviewers recommend it for light styling rather than full bristle dramatics. Beeswax, tea tree, jojoba, coconut oil, and petroleum jelly are all combined for a conditioning hold. The half-ounce tin means you can easily tuck it into a pocket or bag for quick touch-ups on the go.
Rule #5: Make It SFW
If you need to keep a more “corporate” beard so you can keep that more corporate job, keep the length spare and be sure to trim along the neck and cheek line. A good rule of thumb is to make sure neck hair is cleanly shaved from the Adam’s apple to your shirt collar, and from the cheek line up, not going any higher than the bottom of the nose — keep sideburn width at a good proportion too. Check out this guide to how to shape a beard for what it takes to get your preferred look.
This 15-piece kit satisfies all your styling needs, including a beard brush and styling comb, as well as length-adjusting combs for the Powercut blade system.
For more information on Movember, the mustache-focused benefit this month, check out our explanation here.