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It’s a big year for Movember. The annual month-long fundraiser, in which guys raise money for prostate cancer (among other diseases) by growing mustaches, is celebrating its eleventh anniversary in the United States. Since 2007, more than five million guys have defied cultural expectations—and sometimes the protests of their loved ones—and declined to shave their upper lips, all in the name of helping men living longer.
By now you might think you know everything about facial hair’s favorite holiday—you may have even participated in a few yourself—but there’s a wealth of fascinating information about this charitable celebration you’ve probably missed. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 20 amazing facts you never knew about Movember, from its altruistic origins to how women can get involved in the fight, too. And when you’re ready to get a jump on Movember this year, make sure you know these 23 Top Tricks from Barbers on Shaving Properly.
You can’t get a head start.
It’s part of the official rules: You can’t begin Movember with even a hint of facial hair. On November 1st, you’re required to be entirely clean-shaven. And when you want to get a standout shave, discover The 12 Best Barbershops in America.
It’s mustaches only!
No beards or goatees. It’s mustaches only. If you’re desperate to grow a beard, you’ll have your chance—just wait until “Decembeard.” (No, seriously, it’s a real thing, raising awareness for bowel cancer.)
Movember is observed in 20 different countries.
No kidding. Throughout November, you’ll find mustaches on guys from Australia to Hong Kong, Denmark to Ireland, Norway to the Czech Republic.
Not by growing staches, necessarily, but by becoming “Mo Sisters.” What’s that? According to the Movember Foundation, these women are committed to “rallying the men in their lives to join the movement, grow moustaches, and have important conversations about men’s health.”
Movember didn’t start in America.
Movember has only been stateside for 11 years, when folks stateside joined the cause in 2007. However, the charitable effort originated in Australia in 2003.
The first Movember had nothing to do with men’s health.
It all started with a pair of Australian blokes in a pub, who wondered why men don’t grow mustaches anymore. They created Movember as a holiday to celebrate their favorite form of facial hair, and to encourage other guys to grow a mustache for a month. And for more amazing things thought up in your favorite bar, discover The Best Craft Beer in Every U.S. State.
The first Movember wasn’t well-received.
Movember co-founder Adam Garone says that growing a mustache in 2003, years before hipster mustaches were all the rage, was asking for trouble. “My boss wouldn’t let me go and see clients,” he says. “My girlfriend at the time, who is no longer my girlfriend, hated it. Parents would shuffle kids away from us.” And when you want to adopt a style that’s sure to be met with a more positive response, check out these 50 Genius Ways to Be Instantly More Attractive.
Movember has raised some serious money for prostate cancer research.
Canada is beating the U.S. in terms of fundraising.
Canadians really love their mustaches—and with those cold winters, who can blame them? In fact, Canadians have raised $85.8 million (t0 date) for Movember, despite the U.S. being home to approximately 133 million more men than our northern neighbor.
It’s raised even more internationally.
All those mustaches, from France to Norway, Austria to the U.K., have raised a staggering $769 million dollars combined to date.
You could win prizes.
While Movember may be charitable in nature, that doesn’t mean you can’r reap some personal rewards when raising cash for the cause. Raise enough money in Movember and you could win some fabulous prizes, like a trip to Aspen or Jackson Hole, or even a romantic river cruise along the Seine in Paris. And when you want to plan a once-in-a-lifetime holiday of your own, check out The 20 Best Cities to Visit Before You Die.
Movember staches have caused controversy.
A 13-year-old boy in the U.K., who tried to join Movember in 2012 to honor his grandfather who had beaten cancer, was forbidden to do so by school officials, who claimed that other students not yet old enough to grow facial hair would feel excluded.
Growing a mustache can help protect you from skin cancer.
You might be growing a Movember stache to help others, but you might also be helping yourself in the process. According to a study by Australian researchers, published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry, facial hair actually provides about 90 to 95 percent protection against harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer. And for more ways to keep yourself safe, discover these 20 Skin Cancer Symptoms Everyone Needs to Know.
Movember once had its own condom sponsor.
Seriously. They donated fifty cents from each condom sale to cancer research. They also managed to come up with what might be the best advertising slogan of all time: “Cover your lip, cover your tip.”
Coffee helps grow mustaches.
Worried about growing a not-embarrassing stache for Movember? You may need more caffeine. According to research from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Lübeck, caffeine can “counteract the suppression of hair shaft production.” So, if you want to be competitive this Movember, say yes to that third cup of coffee. And for more reasons not to ditch your caffeine habit just yet, check out these 75 Amazing Benefits of Coffee.
Nick Offerman created the best Movember PSA you will ever watch.
Who knew growing the perfect Movember mustache involved eating a raw onion, gaining the trust of a dog, and smelling wood? Watch and learn from the mustache master himself.
Movember actually has made a difference.
Thanks to the money raised during Movember, there have been some major cancer research breakthroughs. Like this one from Canada, a genetic test that helps predict the risk of recurrence among prostate cancer survivors.
Movember isn’t just about prostate cancer.
Mo Bros have raised money for testicular cancer, mental health, and 1,200 different men’s health issues since 2003.
Movember’s real goal: To end early death among men.
Yes, the mustaches are great. But the Movember Foundation hopes that by 2030, the funds raised by Movember will have reduced the number of early deaths in men by 25 percent. That should be reason enough to put down the razor. And for more ways to improve your health today, start implementing these 100 Ways to Live to 100!