It's that time again.
The turning back of the clocks, the onset of winter and, yes, thanks to Movember, a lot of comedy moustaches. Not everyone is a fan of Movember (in particular, those temporarily not-so-individual individuals who wear moustaches all year-round), but, let's be reasonable, the charitable event, which first came to the UK in 2007, raised £22m last year for men's charities including Prostate Cancer UK and the Institute of Cancer Research. Who can argue with that? In any case, as it looks like Movember is here to stay, the question remains of how to do it with dignity and style.
So, some guidelines. As a first rule (this is really just more of a personal plea), let's just agree to pretend that history pre-1950 did not happen, as far as moustaches are concerned. If it has to be retro, the 1960s and 1970s provide safer and far more appealing styles than the insectile, waxy twizzles of Salvador Dali or Lord Kitchener that seem to be so popular among a certain set of east London hipsters right now. If you've got dark hair and thick eyebrows, you can pull off a 1970s-style "copstash" (cf. Mark Ruffalo in In the Cut). Let that grow a bit wild and you can get a bit of a hippyish, revolutionary quality (James Franco, Milk). The more blessedly cheek-bony among us would do well to look at Johnny Depp channelling Kurt Cobain round about the time he was going out with Kate Moss. Those who don't want to look so prissy and groomed could go for something a bit more Gallic and stubbly (see Tahar Rahim picking up awards for A Prophet).
Lee Kynaston, the lifestyle and grooming editor at men's e-boutique Niven & Joshua, says the most important thing for first-time moustache-wearers is to keep it simple. "If you're a guy who's never grown a moustache, stick to something basic… Don't do anything too fancy initially." Also, he says, you need to see what kind of facial hair you have before making styling decisions, as "you never know what you're going to get when you start growing it".
What happens, then, if you have the misfortune to have a very sparse or much-too-thick growth? In the former instance, Alex Glover, a head barber at Murdock, suggests the use of tinted wax, such as that produced by Clubman (in black, brown or chestnut). On the other hand, if your tache is thick and unruly, he says: "It's more about shaping and growing enough length. If you want to do something intricate, the thicker the moustache, the longer you have to grow to get the hair to do what you want it to do."
What about hygiene? Kynaston recommends washing the face after every meal and using an oil-free moisturiser. "Men tend to forget that facial hair, because it's porous, tends to wick moisture away from the surface," he says. "The skin beneath the facial hair can become very dry. And you can end up with moustache dandruff, which isn't really a very good look."
Matt Raine, the moustachioed founder of grooming brand Mr Natty, recommends you stay away from "candyfloss, doughnuts and soup" while also getting "as many kisses as you can while you have it". Not so hygienic, perhaps, but you may as well enjoy the whole experience.
See mrnatty.com/blog for details of Matt Raine's travelling barbershop.
Read more of Lee Kynaston's grooming tips at nivenandjoshua.com and his own blog groomingguru.co.uk