No Shave November—alternately known as MovemberOpens a New Window.—has become the ultimate test of a man’s ability to develop facial hair within a narrow chronological window. Originally created as a way to spread awareness of men’s cancers, it is simultaneously a challenge to see which of your friends can become the scruffiest and scraggliest, all in the name of a good cause.
But if you can afford to stall your shaver for a month, why not see what you’re really made of and grow out a beard for real?
If anyone’s happy to help, it’s the guys of popular New York City barbershop Frank’s Chop ShopOpens a New Window.. Since opening in 2006, they’ve become very aware of when No Shave November gives way to December. “All of a sudden, we have back-to-back appointments all day where guys are coming in and shaving off their beards!” owner Mike Malbon exclaims.
His guys are hardly just barbers, though—they’re groomers of some of the best-looking celebrities (everyone from Drake to Jake Gyllenhaal)—and regular guys, too. Below, Chop Shop barber Kevin Kellett gives five crucial rules for starting and maintaining the perfect beard.
And remember, gents: Even if things get hairy this November, that doesn’t mean you can’t stay sharp.
Let your hair go wild
Obtaining a solid beard takes at least a month, so shaving in mid-October should give you a full-figured fuzz to be proud of come November’s close. While we want you to look your best always, it’s highly recommended that you hold off any heavy-duty shaping or trimming for at least the first month. This way, you can understand how your hair naturally grows and get an idea of what kind of shapes your beard can take.
Man to man: It’s okay to admit that you’ve never done this before. And while your follicles will become the star of the show, the base player—the skin underneath—has just as important a role. If you aren’t aware of your skin type (whether dry, oily or sensitive), Kellett suggests heading to your barber, who should be able to point you in the right direction.
Understanding your facial hair and having a barber who knows his stuff are two major keys to unlocking your beard’s potential. Moisturizing daily with the right stuff is key. There are millions of products out there, but Kellett has a favorite: “In my opinion, you can’t go better than coconut oil. It’s natural, it smells good, washes out, adds all the nutrients that you would need.” Any chump can be lazy enough to grow a beard, but maintaining a healthy face while you’re growing one will ensure that, if you decide to ditch the hirsuite covering, you won’t expose a follicular disaster area.