By Nick BeJeaux
The month of November is a time of observance for many things, like the plight of homeless youth, the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, and pancreatic cancer, pomegranates, sweet potatoes and novel writing.
But there is one observance that everyone is aware of, especially men, and that is the observance of facial hair. No Shave November is used by guys in their twenties everywhere as an excuse to not shave for a month, but the Movember movement – which raises awareness of men’s health issues like prostate cancer and depression – has been slowly eclipsing NSN since 2004. This year the Louisiana Beard and Facial Hair Association will be holding its second annual Facial Hair Competition on Nov. 15 during their Steampunk and Makers Fair in Lafayette.
“Yep, we exist!” said Jason P. Leonard, the group’s founder. “Like many beard clubs from around the country, we hold competitions in our chapter locations and give all of the proceeds back to charity. We are based in Lafayette, but we hope to have a Shreveport chapter open in early 2015, and soon after that we have plans to open a chapter in Baton Rouge.”
Membership in the LBFHA is not just for men, but also for women (who most definitely can grow beards) and children who support their friends and family growing a marvelous beard or moustache. The association hosts a myriad of social events to attract the bearded and baby-faced alike, but the big draw is their facial hair competitions.
“I think ever since Whisker Wars came out, people have started to look at facial hair differently – as a way to express yourself,” said Leonard. “I call it the steam engine. It just keeps going.”
Besides giving back to charity, the LBFHA also provides tips on growing a healthy, stylish crop of facial hair. But not everyone is cut out to grow muttonchops, la souvarov, a Shenandoah, or the famed Van Dyke. It’s ok, involuntary neckbeards – you tried.
“It’s all about patience in the end; you need to give yourself a good six months before you ought to have enough to do anything with,” said Leonard, who is three years into growing his beard. “However – and this is a big however – no one can beat genetics. Taking in protein helps, but not every guy can grow a full beard if it’s not in his genes.”
For those that can cultivate a magnificent muzzle of hair, taking care of it is key.
“Many guys don’t know that the products they often use can actually damage their facial hair, like most shampoos, but there are some good ones out there. But most conditioners are good,” said Leonard. “We actually make our own beard oil and mustache wax that we sell all over the country. But no matter what you use, you need to brush it.”
If you interested in following the LBFHA, they maintain a Facebook page and sell their products at www.louisianabeard.storenvy.com. If you have a fantastic beard, share it with us on Instagram @digbatonrouge or just #iDigBR. No filters, and please brush.