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culture

How to Not Look Like a Complete Jerk for the Rest of Movember

Your moustache is for charity, but that doesn't mean you need to look like a charity case.

We first published this November 10, 2011. But now Movember has returned, so here’s a timely rerun. Take care of your facial hair, guys.

We’re about two weeks into Movember, meaning some of Toronto’s manly men are well into the month-long process of growing out their moustaches as part of a global effort to raise money for men’s health. (In Canada, the proceeds go to prostate cancer research.)

But just because your facial hair is for charity doesn’t mean it has to look cut-rate. Here’s Torontoist‘s guide to growing a ‘stache that doesn’t make you look like a wanted criminal in a police sketch.

Tip the First: Use What Nature Gave You

We can’t all be Burt Reynolds, with full, lustrous bumper crops of upper-lip hair. But most guys can muster at least some form of ‘stache.

Alan Brown is master barber at Garrison’s, a nine-month-old barber shop [Ed. note: The shop was nine months old when this article was originally published. It's a year older now.] located above White Squirrel Coffee, south of Trinity Bellwoods Park, where customers can drink complimentary bottles of beer in bright, airy surroundings while they sit for old-style hot-towel shaves (and decidedly more of-the-moment haircuts). He has a few recommendations.

“A lot is to do with the width between nose and lip. If you’ve got a pretty wide upper lip, I would grow a thicker moustache to fill it out,” he said. Thin upper lips, meanwhile, can benefit from thinner moustaches.

Moustaches can also grow or shrink to coexist with more unusual faces. “If it’s an upturned lip, you might not want to accentuate that too much,” said Brown. “Try and cover it up with the moustache.”

For a few more styling ideas, this handy chart from The American Mustache Institute (during a brief phone call its chairman, Aaron Perlut, insisted that the organization was totally real) provides styles for men of all moustache-cultivation skill levels. Even the tiniest patch of hair can be pruned into a pleasing shape.

Tip the Second: Keep It Trimmed

You’re going to need to manage the growth of your ‘stache somehow, otherwise it’ll quickly grow beyond your control. (In some jurisdictions, that’s grounds for divorce.)

Any good barber shop will help you keep your facial hair under control for a price, but if you want to try doing it yourself, the easiest way is to invest in a power tool. That is, an electric clipper.

For easy maneuverability, Brown recommends The Peanut, a smaller clipper, available for $49.99 at Toronto Barber and Beauty Supply, at Bay and Dundas streets. (It can also be had online, for less money.) Cheaper models are available at big-box stores. Try Wal-Mart.

Scissors can also be a good solution for basic maintenance—and they’re cheaper. Look for small ones.

Brown recommends that novices clip from the bottom of the ‘stache. “Just follow the shape of the lip,” he said. “Don’t go too high into the moustache and take it too far off the lip.”

For neatening the edge of the moustache nearest the nose, Brown recommends seeking professional help. Fumbling the clipper could leave you desperately trying to even things out, and if that happens, it won’t be long before “pencil thin” is your last remaining styling option. (Yes, you’ll be a living Jimmy Buffet song. Just think of it.) A barber should have the expertise to do the job correctly.

However you trim, make sure the hair is far enough away from your lips that it doesn’t trap crumbs while you’re eating. That’s how ironic facial hair turns into a no-joke public health crisis.

Tip the Third: Keep It Clean

Hair on your face is still hair. You need to wash it. If it’s long, you may even need to shampoo and comb it.

Tip the Fourth: Use the Right Product

If your Movember ambition is to emulate those guys who compete in the World Beard and Moustache Championships then you’re probably going to need to get into some more arcane grooming practices, and there will probably be some chemistry involved.

Toronto Barber and Beauty Supply sells tubes of Clubman mustache wax for $6.50 each, less a 10 per cent Movember discount.

For perfect handlebars, Brown recommends growing out the ends of the ‘stache, then curling them outward from where the crease of the nose meets the upper lip. (The crease is that little triangular depression that separates lip from cheek. Go look in the mirror; you’ll see what we’re talking about.)

You may need to trim some excess whiskers to make the curl look neat.

A Parting Thought

“At the end of the day,” said Brown, “the moustache is more about the man underneath.”

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