Let’s stop moaning about Mos – and get on with the job of helping men beat cancer

merch(1)It’s strange, but criticising Movember now seems to be a national sport in my industry. Every year at least one of my colleagues breaks ranks and has a pop at the fact that Movember has become too commercialised, has too many official partners, or that success has ruined it and that – like an indie band who come up with a multi-platinum album –  it has somehow ‘sold out’. Others complain it has become a joke (wasn’t it always meant to be fun?) whilst some funsters suggest that it would simply be better to forgo the whole moustache growing part and just hand over some money charity.

It is, of course, easy to criticise a cause for not being perfect. It makes good copy and it has the allure of being controversial. It’s also fantastically mean-spittited and rather symptomatic of an industry that sees anything to do with women’s charities as worthy of praise and anything to do with men’s as either daft or cynical.

MOVEMBERWAXThe male grooming industry has a quite pitiful record when it comes to giving anything back to the men who buy its products. Come to think of it men have a pretty pitiful track record when it comes to giving anything back to men. And this is why I’m an ardent defender of Movember. Sure, it’s not perfect – and there are brands that rub up against it for a little of its feel-good sparkle –  but at the end of the day it’s one time of year when men actually get of their sorry asses and do something that helps other men. For this alone it should be celebrated rather than knocked.

So what if companies like Penhaligons, Gillette* and Kent get on board with their products? Who cares if Byron are getting bums on seats with their (rather tasty) Mo’Shroom burgers? Yes, they’re getting publicity. They may be even making a profit for themselves whilst raising funds for others (to be shocked by this is to not fully understand the mechanics of modern charity) but, hey, they’re supporting a great cause and their contribution generates a huge amount of press and publicity – and we all know that charities rely on the oxygen of publicity. On a more basic level, for me, our industry is proactively helping men, in a way that the beauty industry has been helping women for years. Whether the companies involved are doing it selflessly or selfishly, who cares? They’re doing it.

ELC 2013 BCA Campaign PR Visual with RibbonsThe cynicism about Movember comes into sharpest focus when compared with the industry’s attitude to Breast Cancer Awareness. Whilst sitting in the lobby of Estee Lauder’s London HQ a few weeks ago I was struck, not just by the effort that they go to in supporting that particular cause (even re-painting their front doors pink) but by their “We’re stronger together” call to arms. One of the beauty industry’s real successes is how it has united to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities (and by industry I mean cosmetic houses, beauty journalists, magazines etc working together to shine a light on the cause). Certainly, my industry could take a leaf out of the beauty world’s book and get behind men’s charities but it won’t if, every time it tries, scorn is instantly poured over its efforts. Just as women are ‘stronger together’ when united to combat cancer so are men. But we’re also weaker when we’re torn apart.

For more information on Movember click here.

*Last year Gillette donated over £100,000 to Movember via on pack promotions.

Mossentials – three must-have pieces of kit for moustache maintenance

A Moustache is a beautiful thing, especially if you’re growing one for charity as part of this year’s Movember, but they do need a little TLC if they’re to look their best. Which is where these three useful pieces of grooming kit come in…

Kent Movember Moustache Comb, £4.50 from kentbrushes.com

With £2 from every sale going directly to Movember this dinky comb is the perfect way to keep your ‘tache neat and tidy and free of food. It makes trimming easier too. But apart from all that combing a moustache is fun and therapeutic. Fact.

KENT

Penhaligons Moustache Wax, £5 from penhaligons.com

Lightly scented with Penhaligon’s Satorial fragrance this moustache wax is the perfect way to keep your Mo looking and smelling great and is great for creating definition and taming unruly hairs. What’s more, Penhaligons will give £2 to Movember for each one you buy.

MOVEMBERWAXGillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, £20. For stockists call 0800 44 55 38 83  

A razor and a facial hair trimmer combined this cool tool is great for mo maintenance and features three detachable combs to help you trim hair to just the right length and a precision edging blade to ensure your ‘tache always looks tip top.

Fusion_ProGlide_Styler_2For more information about Movember click here.

Everything you always wanted to know about facial hair but were too afraid to ask

With Movember finally upon us I thought it’d be a good time to pull together a trio of columns I wrote for the Men’s Health website on the subject of facial hair. So if you’re giving a Mo a go, then check out this sound advice…

How to look after a moustache. Click here.

How do I look after my beard? Click here.

How to prevent beard dandruff. Click here.

PS. If you think Mo’s can’t look cool take a quick look at this post.

Mo better trim – Penhaligon’s joins Movember cause with free Pop-Up Barbers

Joining Movember’s charity initiative to raise vital money for awareness into prostate cancer? Then why not treat yourself to a complementary ‘tache trim, courtesy of Penhaligon’s Pop-Up Barbershop at their flagship boutique store in Covent Garden?

Available throughout November (sorry Movember) you can simply pop into the Covent Garden boutique in Wellington St (availability permitting), ring for an appointment on 0203 040 6120 or book online here. Throughout November Penhaligons will also be donating a whopping 20% from sales of their shaving products to the cause too.

Remember fellas, a tidy ‘tache is a tip-top ‘tache!

For more information about Movember and for details how you can get involved click here.

Growing a Mo? These are the ‘taches that inspired me!

Throughout Movember I’ll be posting regularly with ‘tache-themed musings and practical advice but I thought I’d kick things off with a little trip down memory lane and a few of the memorable Mos that impressed me as a kid and as a teenager. So here are few of my top ‘taches. If you have a favourite let me know!

From top to bottom: Freddie Mercury (how great is this pic?), Clark Gable, Frankie‘s Paul Rutherford (in what you might call ‘Haute Clone’ mode!), Ming The Merciless, 70s swimmer David Wilkie, Pope of Trash John Waters, Nicholas Courtney aka ‘The Brig’ from Doctor Who and, of course, Magnum PI himself!

Wilkinson Sword back this year’s Movember

I rarely get angry about the industry I work in (let’s face it, if you’re going to get angry, get angry about the state of the NHS or fat cat bankers not the cupcakes at a fragrance launch or a moisturiser) but there is one thing that really annoys me about it – and that’s its woeful response to male charities.

In October you simply cannot move for beauty and cosmetic company breast cancer initiatives. Big brands fall over themselves to get involved. Bizarrely, even some of the leading men’s brands have got in on the act in the past by donating money from their own sales to…breast cancer charities.

I’m not knocking this. I think the industry’s response to breast cancer is amazing. But its enthisiasm for the cause only makes its apathy towards prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men, affecting 250,000 men in the UK) or testicular cancer (where there are 2,000 new diagnoses a year) all the more evident. And shameful. And let’s not forget that many of the companies that so admirably support female cancer charities also own male grooming brands that could support men’s charities just as vociferously. But they don’t.

Why? Well, clearly, economics plays a part. The beauty industry is still much bigger than the men’s in terms of sales. And there’s a perception that women are much more touchy-feely than men and so a brand can gain much kudos (and additional sales) in supporting the right charities and campaigning in the right way. Again, I’m not knocking this – charity is a business thesedays –  I’m just stating an obvious, if uncomfortable, truth.

The other sad fact, of course, is that men’s cancers rarely make headlines in quite the same way diseases like breast cancer do. Breast cancer has high profile ambassadors like Kylie: prostate cancer has Rudi Giuliani. Breast cancer can affect women who are young, vibrant and have their whole lives ahead of them: prostate cancer tends to affect men who are much older. Yet, both are killers and both destroy lives.

The cruel irony is that women are far better educated (perhaps in part to companies’ charitable campaigning) in terms of looking out for symptoms, getting checked and knowing what resources are available for them than men. The fact is, it’s men who could do with the help. In my opinion, a little concerted effort by the male grooming industry into raising funds for all the men out there who buy their products really wouldn’t go amiss and I’m sure it would get the full support of the men’s press.  After all, men do put money into the pockets of the major skin and haircare companies too.

But enough of my ranting. The actual reason for this post was to mention that Wilkinson Sword are supporting Movember this year as official grooming partner. Movember, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is one of the few initiatives across the year that focusses on raising funds for a male cancer charity – in this case The Prostate Cancer Charity. An increasingly popular event, all you have to do is register as a ‘Mo Bros’ at the start of November and get growing a moustache (be as outlandish as you like, in fact I positively demand it). As you do this, of course, you need to get as many sponsors as possible and raise as much money as you can.

Wilkinson Sword will be on had to provide support, advice, inspiration and the tools for the job (their Quattro Titanium Precision razor is the ultimate piece of kit for shaving and trimming your ‘tache) so why not get involved? After all, you won’t just be helping other blokes you may well be helping yourself somewhere down the line too.

For more information go to www.facebook.com/WilkinsonSwordMenUK

Thanks to Chris James for the illustration. For more information click here.