It’s that time of year again. The time when young men from around the country decide to put down the razor and take pride in their follicular (holy shit, that’s an actual word?) prowess. The time when dudes who don’t go more than a week without shaving 11 months out of the year decide to let their face be free and enjoy the natural carpeting that we’re all in some shape, way or form capable of.

For some, that means participating in the world wide Movember movement and using your upper lip as an advertisement for the advancement of cancer research and men’s health awareness. As a two-time Movemeber participant, I can say full-heartily that I believe in their cause and will most certainly make a donation this year, but I will not be, for a lack of better words, “mo’ing on” with the rest of the mo’ bros this year.

Instead, I’ll simply be carrying on with my normal growing regiment and not shaving my face during the next four plus weeks and, since I already have a solid 3-4 weeks of growth on display, I should be looking rather Patinkin-esque by the end of this. For many, No Shave November is a brand new experience and, much like landing your first adult job or going through puberty, certain awkward moments are bound to occur. Lucky for you young padawans, almost every month for me can be filed under the “No Shave” category and so I shall bestow my wisdom upon you in the only way the internet knows how: a short list featuring fun anecdotes and pictures!

With that in mind, here are my five tips for growing, maintaining, and appreciating one’s beard during No Shave November.

Respect The Beard

Just as Uncle Ben (of Spiderman, not instant rice, fame) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” A lot of the great ones from yesteryear made their mark on society while keeping much of their face out of the public spotlight. Lincoln, Ginsberg, Papa Smurf, each of these figures went against the grain and made the world a better place, all while looking epic with some serious face shag. You will be treated differently once you’ve passed the first week. Appreciate it, treasure it, and use that newfound confidence to do something good for the world. Or at least chop some wood or something.

Keep It Clean

Just like hair anywhere else on your body, beards get gnarly. Think about everything that passes in and around your mouth: food, beverages, saliva, sweat, all of that will in some way find it’s way to your face. I like to wash mine in the shower and then use some nifty beard conditioner to keep it feeling and smelling nice. You’d be amazed at how many beard-related products are popping up all over the place (with most of the high end options coming from Brooklyn, of course) and although you probably won’t need to worry too much about such things unless you decide to go for a follow-up No Shave December, just remember that this is an extension of your face and people will end up looking at it more than you’d think.

Keep It Maintained

Depending on how hardily your face sprouts shag, you will undoubtedly need to trim that shit up. Everyone has their own preference for keeping their beard looking the way they want, but there are a few universals that I’ve come to live by over time. Anything within an inch or so of your adam’s apple has gotta go. Depending on how skinny you are or how defined of a jaw line you have, how high up on your face you go is completely up to you. Under NO circumstances though should you go for the chin strap. It’s a bad life choice, regardless of what WAY too many pro athletes argue. If you feel like it’s getting out of control or you need to trim it down, go for it. This beard is for you first and the rest of the world second.

Accept People Touching It

Unless you have incredibly tempting dimples or have the ability to grow scales on your face, you most likely haven’t had people on the street touch your face since you were possibly a newborn. Prepare yourself. If you’re new to beard growing, people will somehow realize (much like how cats always know who the people with allergies are and shower them with affection) and they will pet, grab, and rub your face. You can either relish in it or ask them politely to stop, the choice is yours and yours alone.

Read Something By A Famous Bearded Guy

Many of the great writers from the past 200 years were bearded and since reading great shit from the past is an important part of growing as a human being, consider this the PERFECT time to pick up that copy of The Sun Also Rises that you’re been meaning to finish since college. Here’s a good list of authors to consider: Dubois, Freud, Marx, Chaucer, Lawrence, Verne, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Melville, and George R. R. Martin (maybe not quite ready to be considered one of the “greats,” but homeboy has created more bearded literary characters than maybe anyone in history. Also, see: “The Red Wedding.”).

Let’s get beard.