NASHVILLE – As master barber Steve Vilot trimmed a regular’s beard at his Lynchburg, Tennessee shop, a technician installing a modem overheard the customer getting tips about facial hair grooming.
“The tech was like, ‘You gotta help me out. I’m doing everything you said wrong,'” Vilot, 55, said on a recent cool late-October day.
An hour-and-a-half later, the tech returned to the city’s downtown Barber Authority, just 350 yards from the Jack Daniel Distillery, for a beard cut and some much-needed advice.
“Guys are starving for it,” the Nashville-based barber said, after giving his new customer tips on products including beard wash and sunscreen.
A more than 30-year veteran to the trade, Vilot not only cuts hair for locals but for stars including Eminem, Dave Matthews and musicians at festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Earlier this month he returned from the Austin City Limits Music Festival where he gave out 6,000 sunscreen samples to men – a health-conscious effort just days ahead of Movember.
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Also dubbed “No Shave November,” Movember is an annual event where people grow mustaches (and beards) for the entire month of November to raise awareness about men’s health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide.
The Movember Foundation runs the global Movember charity event, which kicks off each Nov. 1.
The campaign, started in 2003 by two Australians, now spans 22 countries, and encourages people to grow a mustache to initiate dialogue about men’s health.
The facial-hair frenzy kicks off Tuesday this year, so whether you plan on growing a Fu Manchu or a Hulk Hogan it’s time to decide what facial hairstyle you plan to sport during the month.
A Tom Selleck or a Hulk Hogan?
So just what are the most popular styles these days?
Vilot says it doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s all about the person’s face.
“It’s what looks best and what you can grow,” said Vilot, who also serves as personal coiffeur to stars including Aaron Lewis of Staind and Ray Luzier of Korn who live in greater Nashville.
Beards and mustaches are supposed to enhance your face so it’s more about the shape of your face and what you can grow, he said.
“If you can’t grow one – when it’s spotty, it’s better not to to have anything,” he said. “Some people can’t grow a thick mustache like a Tom Selleck or a beard like (Hulk Hogan).”
“One of my most favorite beards to trim is Dave Matthews’ but he really doesn’t have one – it’s more of like an 8 o’clock shadow with no edges … it’s short,” he said. “It’s like eyeshadow for your jaw line. Guys need to know they can create their own jaw line.”
How to start growing that mustache
Understanding your facial hair is the first step to manage your expectations and formulate a plan for growth.
At-home care begins with brushing your beard dry before you shower. That stimulates follicles, promotes growth and keeps it healthy, Vilot said.
Washing your beard is also important, but how you wash it and what you wash it with is crucial to the grow. he said. “People say they want to grow a nice beard but wash their face with Ivory soap every day with 150-degree water and they are never going to grow hair.”
Because heat breaks hair, Vilot said, people should use cooler water temperature and beard wash on their face, not shampoo and soap.
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“When it comes to products, people look at me like, ‘No.’ But they are important,” Vilot said. “Beard wash is a big deal because it’s low sulfate and paraben-free, like color-safe shampoo.”
Those properties in beard wash, he said, moisturize the hair and prevent itch and can be used on all facial hair including a mustache.
“It’s gentle, clean and helps promote the beard and keep it full.”
Next, Vilot recommends using beard oil to hydrate your face to stop flakes and beard balm to style your facial hair.
Then top your face and scalp off with sunscreen.
“An ounce is 40 bucks, but it’s designed to use it on your hair part and scalp that gets burnt which swells up and closes your hair follicle causing you to lose hair from the sunlight.”
“Movember is a great time to talk about prostate cancer and what it started with, but if you are going to grow a beard or mustache make sure you use sunscreen and that it is for your face,” he said. “There are some great spray-on facial sunscreens for hair and scalp and face.”
What to do when the month ends
When Movember comes to an end, Vilot recommends people don’t immediately shave their entire face.
“Before you do take it all off, try taking it down to a shadow,” Vilot said. “I think you’d be surprised how different your face can look with a little bit of scruff on it.”
A shadow, he said, often gives people more of a jawline and strengthens a person’s facial features.
“It’s an opportunity to look at it in different lengths. That whole scruff on your jawline is a great look for a lot of (people).”
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.