Grow Big Or Grow Home Nov. 1 marks the start of Ulman Cancer Fund's "Beard Off."

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For many people, Nov. 1 marks the official beginning of the holiday season. But for those participating in the Ulman Cancer Fund’s annual Beard Off, the first of November means only one thing: time to grow.

Though it began three years ago as a simple bet among friends to see who could grow the best beard in a month, the Beard Off has grown  to represent a massive fundraising (or, as they all it, “fund-razing”)  effort for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a Baltimore-based non-profit committed to creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, who are impacted by cancer. Since its inception, the Beard Off has raised over $70,000 in donations for Ulman, as well as non-quantifiable but equally important awareness.

So how exactly does growing a beard help raise money and awareness?

“We always say that with a great beard comes great responsibility,” says Brock Yetso, President and CEO of UCF. “Beards are a great conversation starter, and we encourage guys to take the opportunity to raise awareness of the young adult cancer fight. Whether you’re a teacher at a local high school or a high-profile banker, cancer doesn’t discriminate and it’s amazing to hear the stories behind the beards.”

Beard growers are also responsible for personal fundraising, which is incentivized with giveaways, free shaves at The QG and more.

“Hair loss is a natural side effect for cancer patients undergoing treatment,” says Brad Myers, founder of the Beard Off Challenge. “For those of us with the ability to grow our beards, we grow them wild and free to raise awareness and funds for those who can’t.”

But growing one’s beard “wild and free” doesn’t demand an unruly appearance—at least according to Brendan Klekner, grooming manager at The QG.

For those participating in no-shave challenges like the Ulman Cancer Fund Beard Off, it’s important to keep your beard looking clean and professional,” says Klekner.

Ahead, his top tips for keeping Beard Off beards in tip-top shape.

  • Find a look that fits your face: Stubble, scruff, goatees, and mutton chops… everyone has their own style. Consider what works best with the shape of your face. “For rounder faces, you’ll want to grow your hair shorter on the sides and longer on the bottom,” says Klekner. “If you have a more rectangular face, keep your beard fuller on the sides and short at the chin.”
  • Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate: As your beard hairs begin to grow, your face might begin to itch. Keep scratchy, dry skin at bay with a gentle exfoliator like Brickell Renewing Face Scrub. Once you’re sporting a full beard, you can scrub away dead skin by dipping a toothbrush into a gentle cleanser and working around your beard hair.
  • Shave inside the lines: Once your beard starts to fill in (be patient, it will happen), there will be some crucial pruning needed before it reaches peak. Trimming your neckline, upper cheeks, and mustache lip will keep your boss from kicking you out of your next sales meeting. “One of the biggest differences between a well-kept beard and a shaggy beard is well-defined lines,” he says.
  • Tame that hair: Think of your beard the same way you would think of the hair on top of your head—you want it to look styled, healthy and clean. Beard shampoo can be applied in the shower and used just like your regular shampoo. “It’s important to wash your beard every day. Trust me, your significant other will thank you.” Keep flyaway hairs at bay with a beard balm. This will help soften and shape the beard, and give your beard a slight shine.
  • Don’t forget the ‘stache: Training your mustache will take time and a little TLC. Move this process along by investing in a good comb and some wax. Gain control over your ‘stache by regularly trimming with a pair of scissors.

 

Ready to grow? Get started by heading to the QG for a pre-Beard Off shave like Jonathon Chiodo (pictured below), Vice President and Relationship Manager for the Middle Market at M&T Bank—presenting sponsor of the Beard Off Challenge.

Join the challenge at beardoff.org!

Photography by Chelsea Clough.

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