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Photo credit: Maddy Van Orman

Ladies and gentlemen, ready your razors — for an extended vacation, that is.

Over the course of history, men with facial hair have been credited with attributes including wisdom, sexual virility, masculinity and technical proficiency in all things.

November marks the official start of Movember and its evolutionary spawn: No Shave November, and things are about to get hairy.

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct charitable organizations with two distinct but similar missions.

Movember originated in Melbourne, Australia, circa 2003 when a group of friends decided to revive an old-fashioned trend — the mustache.

They initiated a friendly challenge wherein they each entered $10 into a pool, the sum of which would be collected by the competitor who could grow and groom the finest “Mo” possible over the month of November.

Inspired by the mustache’s ability to generate a conversation, the crew decided to take things to the next level, and the Movember Foundation was developed.

The Movember Foundation is the only global charity solely focused on men’s health, with funds raised going toward men’s health programs, supporting the fight against prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, the statistics for which are alarming.

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men ages 15-35 years old, and 79 percent of all suicides in the U.S. are men.

Since 2003, the organization has raised $710 million and helped fund more than 1,200 breakthrough men’s health projects in 21 different countries, with more than five million people — referred to as Mo Bros and Mo Sistas — supporting Movember last year.

Movember is mustache-centric — meaning no beards, goatees or other facial hair permitted.

The official rules also state that entrants must begin the month with a clean, freshly-shaved face.

Why only the Mo?

The foundation believes the growth of a new mustache sparks conversations that lead to awareness and educate people on the health issues men face and that a beard or a goatee doesn’t have that type of power.

In the same vein is No Shave November, which traces its roots back to 2009. The primary difference between the two movements is the amount of hair involved. Where Movember focuses on the mustache, No Shave November extends to include beards, legs and arm pits, among other things.

The Hill family from Chicago, Illinois, leveraged the idea of skipping shaves in November as a means of raising money for charity in tribute to their late father, Matthew Hill.

Matthew Hill had recently passed from colon cancer, and his eight children used Facebook to solicit charitable donations from followers.

Rebecca Hill, eldest of the Hill children, started the web-based non-profit with a friend and asked their small community to contribute funds they might have otherwise used on razors, creams or salon visits to cancer charities instead.

The first year, members raised $2,000 for the fight against cancer. Last year, the organization raised more than $1 million.

No Shave November is unique in that it encourages both men and women to participate.

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