Take no notice of reports in The Guardian newspaper that the moment of the hipster is over – and with it, subsequently, that beards be gone from mainstream culture – for we are in the midst of a facial hair epidemic. So bushy and luscious have they become that Sydney-based copywriter Jimmy Niggles is hoping to sell his for $1 million. Yes, that’s right, the same amount as your average two-bedroom inner-city apartment. But this beard, beyond is excellent length, is worth far more than its aesthetics.
“Just over five years ago my friend died from melanoma at the age of 26. He had a spot on his neck which he didn’t realise was deadly until it was too late,” explains Mr Niggles. “At his wake we decided to start something to encourage people to get a skin check, and because no one really had beards back then, and because the most people who die [from skin cancer] are aged 18-45, we thought we’d ditch our razors and see how many people our beards could convince to get a skin check.” This turned into Beard Season, a global movement that has subsequently seen thousands of people visit a skin clinic who normally wouldn’t do so, and potentially saved hundreds of lives in the process.
Mr Niggles began growing his beard in 2010 and has everyday since taken a photo of himself – aided by the invention of Instagram – alongside someone else with a beard, helping to spread the message, one beard at a time. “After meeting people who said my beard pretty much saved their life, I decided to keep it going,” he says. “It’s a constant motivation to keep the movement going.” And that million dollars? After running Beard Season as a side project for the past five years, the funds will help to set the organisation up as a properly-financed charity.
Mr Niggles’ message is simple: “After you book a #BeardSeasonSkincheck, grow on…”
Photography Liz Ham | Styling Jolyon Mason
Grooming Linda Jefferyes | Hair Sophie Roberts