It is November, a.k.a., Movember, a month rife with facial fur. Guys grow out mustaches to raise money and attention for male cancer causes. It's also No Shave November, when kids on college campuses forsake shaving all month and compete for hirsute honors.
Most folks dabbling in the art of the upper lip this month are newbies, curious types just dangling a razor near the trash can. To help them fully commit, we wanted advice from someone with true mustache expertise, someone who grew his caterpillar solely for the charity of our eyes.
Meet our staff writer Alex Orlando, 22, known as much for his journalistic prowess as his face handlebars. Here he sheds light on his journey from baby-faced boy to mustached brah.
Describe your journey from baby-faced boy to moustached gentleman.
It started in spring of 2010. I was 19 at the time. To be honest, I don't remember what my initial motivation was to start growing this thing. It looked like dirt on my upper lip at first. There were haters, but I kept stubbornly rearing the stubble. At some point, I hit that threshold where the compliments became more frequent than the laughs. Now, it's a permanent, luxurious facial feature. Friends of mine will actually send me photos of mustache-related things they see because it reminds them of me. Even my mother wouldn't recognize me without it.
My dad had a mustache in the '80s. Are you worried about looking like a dad from the '80s?
Mine too! It's kind of the look I'm going for. I mean, who wouldn't want to look like a dad? Dads are great guys.
Have you ever gone full-beard? Just quit shaving for a month?
I actually started the full beard a few weeks ago. It's still young and a little patchy, but I hope to foster it into something respectable by the end of the month.
What does facial hair do for a guy? Is it a confidence-booster? A face-framer? A conversation starter?
I think you are dead-on with all of those. I trimmed my mustache once and felt like a shameful naked mole rat for about a week. Beards do wonders for the jaw line, too. It's like a silent indicator to everyone that you probably know how to start a fire from scratch and maybe enjoy bare-fisted boxing, but that you also appreciate fine literature. And it will definitely get people talking. I once had a gas station clerk in Atlanta stop me at the counter so she could snap a picture with her phone. I like to think there's a bunch of girls walking down Peachtree Street in the ATL with a photo of me in their pockets.
What is the secret to rocking a 'stache with confidence?
No matter what the size, own it. The mustache is probably the most direct, enduring expression of machismo I can think of. You've got guys like Ron Burgundy, Ron Swanson and Teddy Roosevelt who have imprinted the mustache right on the upper lip of public consciousness. Mustached men owe it to those follicular forefathers to wear it with swag.
Do you think some men are irresponsible with their facial hair? For instance, the soul patch.
Definitely. There's no reason for anyone to have a soul patch. Ever. I've never been particularly fond of goatees, either. Another thing: the pencil-thin beard. I see aging guidos with that all the time. Guys, don't be that guy.
Does your 'stache have a name?
Mine doesn't have a name. But if I were going to bestow one, it would be from an historical figure or a favored drink. i.e.: Howard Taft, Jim Beam, Mark Twain, Jameson.
Does it hurt your dating life? Or does it help you crash the front of the line at bars?
It definitely helps the dating life. That's the benefit of it being a conversation starter. To be frank, I think some women are curious as to what it feels like to kiss a guy with a mustache (awesome). And it takes a certain kind of gal to step to a mustached fella. Someone who's confident with a sense of humor. I can't say I'm offended when a girl starts the conversation with, "I like your mustache." The downside, though, is that those girls are upstaged by the sheer enthusiasm of frat bros. I have no idea why this is, but I haven't been in a bar in two years without a drunk guy in a sleeveless shirt yelling into my face, "Nice 'stache, brah!" I'm not a fan of it.
Any shaving tips? Product shout-outs? Help our male readers out.
My only shaving tip: Don't. Shape your facial hair (a.k.a., man badge) accordingly, but don't shave. I groom with a wax called Man's Face Stuff in a scent called "stiff breeze." It makes my mustache smell like cedar and wisdom. I'm not joking when I say people have asked to smell it.
Deal Diva Stephanie
Photo: Alex Orlando, Times files