It's Movember, Baby
Words by Adam Philpott
Here we go: I’m freshly shaven, excited and apprehensive. While Movember, strictly interpreted, is for growing a moustache, I will attempt to grow a full beard. Aside from the great cause that is raising awareness for men’s health, I’m doing it because I want to see the potential of my beard (it possesses a quasi-bucket list status) and because my friends have been nagging me to do it.
Day 1. This is going to be the best I’ll look for a month. Soon enough, I’m going to look like I shave blindfolded. Thankfully, I don’t plan on going on any dates this month and today is my last day of lectures and tutorials. Knowing that my friends are joining me on this journey also helps; I won’t look ridiculous on my own. I am worried that after a month, I will have a different shade of skin in the sections designated for this experiment. But I’m probably being too optimistic of my tanning ability.
A dark shadow descends on the lower third of my face and I already have the urge to grab a razor and shave it all off.
I’m not even a week in yet and I already feel and look like a different person. The facial hair equivalent of the Eiffel Tower has formed underneath my lips. If I turn my lips inside my mouth, the stubble from my chin upwards looks like a tree the way it expands at the base like the roots of a tree, then narrows like a trunk, before expanding its width again and curling slightly downwards around and above my lips. A few more minutes in front of the mirror and I also conclude that it looks like a head of broccoli or a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb. I’m not sure which comparison I like best, but I am well aware that I have spent far too long in front of a mirror admiring this new phenomenon.
They say that the second week is the hardest, the one that you need to push through as your growth becomes itchy. They weren’t lying. I want to end this pain now.
Oh boy, so itchy. The past few days have been the hardest yet. As with every discomfort I get, I Google it. Apparently, it’s not good to put hair products on beards as they are chemical-ridden. Beard oil is too expensive, so I’ll just have to suffer and hope the itching subsides soon.
I had a tidy up shave today. This is not cheating; I merely shaped my beard. It was growing too high up my cheeks for my liking (another week and it’d be connecting to my eyebrows) so I cleared everything above halfway up my cheek (this process involved drawing lines on my face), and shaved my neck growth to the top of my Adam’s apple. Now I look slightly less like a caveman, and significantly better than my friend whose beard, if you can call it that, is disjointed and pubic hair-like.
I find it fascinating how facial hair could have grown anywhere: on my forehead, nose, eye lids, or indeed all over my face as I remember seeing in the Guinness World Book of Records I used to get without fail on Christmas Day; but instead, it has chosen to arrange itself rather neatly, and perhaps attractively, on the bottom third of my face.
It’s still damn itchy, though. Help.
FINALLY the itchiness has gone. I can no longer feel it on my face constantly. Instead, I find myself petting it whilst revising. It feels like the slightly prickly spines of a dried paint brush when stroked against the direction of growth but cushioning when stroked in the opposite direction.
At 23:59 on 30th November I expected to be poised with my razor in front of a mirror. With just one week left to go, however, I find myself with an urge to keep it for longer. How to solve this dispute? Compare a list of reasons to keep with a list of reasons to shave.
Keep: I actually look my age now; a lot of people say I suit a beard; I will need to shave less often; I’ve survived the worst stage of growth; it’s only going to look better with time; and a beard gives me a new chat-up line: growing a beard takes patience, so I’ll always have time for you. Don’t be surprised to hear that my love life is pretty much non-existent.
Shave: I’m more sceptical about its look; so too are my parents and friends back home; beard oil is expensive; I don’t have dense coverage; and I could have some fun shaving in stages.
Overall, I’m still undecided, but this process has been worthwhile – I can put a big hairy tick next to ‘grow a beard’ on my bucket list.