Day 11 of Movember: I've just passed that awkward early-growth phase and have serious beard withdrawal symptoms. The last time I clean-shaved was seven or so years ago - a fact my barber smugly pointed out, several times over, whilst getting my not-so-usual trim. Losing my beard was a decision I had been toying with for the entirety of October, (I have one of those faces that are really defined by facial hair). Starting November 1st baby-faced was a dreaded thought but I took the plunge with the intention of getting more people talking about the ever-elusive topic of mental health.
Since 2012, I've been part of CALM’s team of ambassadors raising awareness of mental health, depression and suicide in the United Kingdom; the latter of which is the biggest killer of men in the UK (2013's figures being the highest in the past fifteen years). 5,140 suicides were reported in 2013 and alarmingly, 78% of those were committed by men: that's 4,020 suicides, meaning there were 4 male suicides for every 1 female. It's widely acknowledged that men don't really open up so these statistics being a consistent trend come as no real surprise. What is surprising is the recent spike last year. It had me thinking about possible triggers (of depression) and the list is endless: money, relationships, jobs and careers, family, bereavement and illness are just the beginning of a downwards spiral to not wanting to wake up in the morning.
Movember is an annual campaign where men across the world grow a moustache for 30 days in November, raising money for men's health and specifically mental health, prostate and testicular cancer. To date, the Movember community has raised £346 million and funded over 800 programmes in 21 countries. The current total for this year stands at just over £11 million. Having spoken about depression and mental health actively, I decided to take it to the next step and officially participate for Movember 2014. Howay the Mo Bros!
Getting the perfect 'tache.
Moustache grooming is all about working with what you have. Some guys grow fluff whilst others grow monsters. In the end though, it's your technique that ultimately defines you. The tool kit essentials are such: trimmer, razor and/or clippers, shaving gel, beard oil, twizzle wax and balls.
If you're starting with a full face of hair be sure to TRIM it down, otherwise you may kill your face.
Once your beard is of sizeable length, lather it up with a good shaving gel (I've starting using Dove) and go with the grain. You're technically supposed to start with a clean face but as we're midway through Movember, we'll keep the mo.
Wash your face down and break out the clippers. This is where you can get creative! It's good to have an idea of how you want to shape it beforehand, mind. If you go Gung Ho and make a mistake the only thing you can do is get rid of it - entirely. Anyone who's done this before is probably aware of the distress it'll cause.
Now that you're comfortable with the end product, maintenance is the single most important thing you can do with your life from here on in. Clippers are essential as well as a moustache comb and beard oil. I tend to use Mr. Natty's Famous Beard Elixir (or Argan Oil if I've run out). A couple drops onto your palms and apply accordingly into the mo. Keep this going (ideally once every one to two days) until you've reached a length where TWIZZLING is a possibility!
To Twizzle or Not to Twizzle - that's the million dollar question. As the oil is quite heavy it's not recommended for the anti-gravity horns you're trying to achieve. At this stage I switch to twizzle wax. Twizzle wax has the same health properties as the oil but an added starchiness to maintain the desired anti-gravity twizzle. And, well, it's wax not oil. Style the tips however you wish, and head out into the open world with a head-turning, jaw-dropping, eyes-widening mo'!
If you wish to track my Mo' progress and donate to support mental health, head to mobro.co/RKZUK - donations little or large are massively appreciated, and everyone who does gets a shout out on my website!
I'm also on Twitter: @RKZUK.