The handlebar mustache. A look so unique yet so elegant, men across the globe see it as the ultimate stache. There are several trendy ways of styling your facial hair, but the one that takes the cake is the full handlebar.
If you are a fan of this timeless look, you may take an interest in some of the facts and history surrounding this facial hairstyle. And, if you are considering cultivating a handlebar mustache of your own, you may want to find out precisely how to go about it.
This gentlemanly and refined look requires a fair amount of maintenance. So if you’re going to grow one for yourself, keep in mind that it will need some commitment on your end.
The handlebar mustache is not a look you see every day. The unique style and sheer undertaking it is to grow one make them few and far between, but if done right, it will leave you feeling and looking more majestic than you could have imagined.
What is a Handlebar Mustache?
The handlebar mustache is a styling of the hair on your upper lip. Generally worn without a beard, the handlebar mustache is so sophisticated it requires the spotlight all to itself.
Easily recognized, the style is defined by the ends of the mustache, which are often grown relatively long. These ends are then prepped with mustache wax before being rolled between the fingers and twisted at the ends to resemble the handlebars of a motorcycle.
The ends of the mustache require frequent grooming to prevent them from becoming droopy and looking like dried-out hay. Remember, the key to growing this look is that the longer the ends, the more impressive the stache.
The History of the Handlebar Mustache
The handlebar mustache is also known as the spaghetti mustache as it was so loved and often sported by Italian men. The style first came into popularity with the Iron Age Celts, statues of whom are depicted with the men wearing this style of facial hair.
Men of the Victorian and Edwardian eras found the look pleasing and would often request their barbers to stiffen up the ends of their mustaches with wax or beard oil.
In the US, the rise of the cowboy saw the look turn fashionable again, with characters such as Wyatt Earp and other figures from the Wild Wild West donning the look.
The look wasn’t lost on European men either. During the early 19th century, men widely wore the handlebar mustache right up to the era of World War I.
Skip a beat to more current times, and you will find individuals such as Oakland A’s pitcher Rollie Fingers sporting the look. In addition, boardgame icon Mr. Monopoly also is depicted as wearing a handlebar mustache.
In current times the look is favored by the Hipster culture. But it is not exclusive to this genre of style. For example, in London, there is a club dedicated to the mustache and its wearers called the Handlebar Club. Here beards are forbidden, and the only requirement for entry is the elegant handlebar mustache that sits on your upper lip.
Famed American actor Nick Offerman is also known for his exemplary handlebar mustache. The actor has released numerous books and videos on how to grow and style multiple mustache styles and has even used his own facial hair to raise awareness for cancer during November.
Handlebar Mustache Styles
While it would be easy to assume that a mustache of this caliber only has one look to it, you may be interested to know that there are multiple variations of the style.
Each type has its own look and takes on the original handlebar mustache. Here are some of the different styles you can expect to find.
This style of mustache sits midway between your nose and top lip.
The mustache is usually thicker towards the center of your lips and thins out to a few whiskers at the ends. These whiskers are then styled using wax and curled upwards but only slightly. A parting is also created where the hair meets just above your cupid’s bow.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the novelist, famed for the Sherlock Holmes novels, was known to sport this mustache style.
The Chevron mustache offers a unique take on the handlebar mustache. Instead of growing the ends of your mustache hair to be styled or curled, they are cut at a downwards angle. The final look is similar to if someone were to paste a large chevron in your upper lip.
The ends usually extend to at least 1.5cm past the end of your lip, and of all the handlebar styles is the easiest to grow and maintain. It also requires very little grooming and is quick to trim into shape. Men growing a handlebar mustache for the first time may want to start off with this style.
Tom Selleck of Pink Panther fame and Freddie Mercury of Queen are two men who favored this style.
If you love a big and bushy, then this form of Handlebar mustache is for you. The Hungarian mustache is thick, full, and covers most of your top lip.
Parted in the middle above your cupid’s bow, your mustache hair is then swept to the sides, culminating in a slight upwards curl. In essence, it is the Handlebar mustache with volume.
The mustache, also known as the Magyar (named for the founding peoples of Hungary), is deeply rooted in Hungarian culture. It is recognized as a symbol of class and military inclusion.
This mustache requires some grooming and maintenance and can either be styled or left natural.
The Walrus Mustache
The Walrus mustache is named for its similarity to the top lip hair found on the aquatic animal.
It is a broad and thick mustache, and the whiskers are brushed downwards over the upper lip. Men often will use a toothbrush or beard comb to brush the hair downwards. The ends of the mustache curl downwards and around the edges of the mouth.
The Gauls and Celts were known for this look, and it is the same style of mustache sported by Asterix of the Asterix and Obelix comics.
European statesmen such as Georges Clemenceau, the French president, and UK prime minister David Lloyd George, are both known for styling their mustaches with the Walrus look.
This look takes some time to grow and is the extended version of the Chevron mustache. While it looks great, it can be impossible to wear, as it makes eating, kissing, and drinking a challenge.
How Long Does a Handlebar Mustache Take to Grow?
If you are inspired by this look and are considering growing a Handlebar mustache of your own, you may be wondering how long one of these bad boys takes to grow.
While the growth rate of every man’s facial hair differs, the average time it takes to grow a Handlebar mustache is three months.
This may seem like an eternity when all you want is to achieve this level of awesome, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t all that bad.
Using wax to style your mustache during the growth period can create some pretty unique looks. So, you don’t have to worry about your mustache looking shoddy though out the process.
Cultivating your Handlebar mustache for these three months allows you to train the hairs to fall naturally into place and lets the longer and shorter hairs gain the same length for a fuller, thicker tache.
How to Grow a Handlebar Mustache
Perhaps you have decided this look is the one for you, but you’re not quite sure how to go about growing and styling one. Here are a few tips for cultivating a Handlebar mustache of your own:
Step One: Shape and Grow:
This step is crucial in creating the look you’re wanting. All you need to do here is let it grow!
Allow your mustache to grow as much as possible, and do not, under any circumstances, give it a trim!
Instead, train the hairs to grow to the sides by brushing them in that direction. Waxing the hairs will help keep them in place and off your lip.
Step Two: Patience is Key:
To grow a mustache of this length and volume takes patience and commitment.
We understand that those annoying little pieces at the corners of your mouth may drive you to distraction or that the urge to give it a little trim here and there is real, but seriously, don’t do it.
The shorter hairs need a chance to catch up with the longer ones to achieve the full, bushy look of an authentic Handlebar mustache.
Step Three: Combing and Training:
As much as you may want to head to your nearest barbershop or set to your mustache with a set of trimmers, don’t! By the time the hairs are long enough to sit on your top lip and cause irritation, you’re getting somewhere.
Now it is time to get combing. Using a beard comb (you can find some exceptional ones on Amazon), brush through the hairs and train them to sit in a sideways direction.
Doing this will help them grow so that they begin to sit naturally in this shape, which means you will need less product to keep them there. A fine-tooth comb or even a toothbrush should do the trick.
Step Four: Apply Mustache Wax
To help train the mustache hair and keep them looking neat, use a little wax to hold them in place. Wax is best applied to slightly damp hair after you have just had a shower. Scoop a small dab from your tin and rub it between your fingers to warm it up and make it more pliable.
Begin in the middle of your mustache, directly under your nose, and dab small amounts along the length of your mustache. Then, use your comb to work the product into your mustache hair and train it in the direction you want it to fall.
If you feel you have too much product in your mustache, comb out the excess.
Step Five: Getting into Shape:
By now, your facial hair should be long enough to twist into shape. By waxing your mustache, you can twirl and curl the ends of your mustache into the shape you best prefer.
Experiment with a pencil for a tighter curl at the end, or use your fingers or a small roller brush for a looser, more gradual shape.
Step Six: Time to Trim:
At last, your mustache is at the desired length, and now you can set about giving it a light trim to neaten up those hairs that give it a slight roguish look.
If you’re going for a Chevron look, now is the time to shape the ends; however, if you are going for a Hungarian look, put the trimmers down and leave the ends alone!
Another important tip to remember is never to trim the bottom edge that sits against the top lip, this will ruin your Handlebar mustache, and you will find yourself having to start from scratch.
Maintaining Your Handlebar Mustache
So, now you’ve grown out an epic Handlebar mustache and shaped it to your liking, but the work doesn’t end there. Maintaining your mustache is just as important as growing one, especially if you want to keep it looking on point.
Here are a few simple ways you can keep your Handlebar mustache looking sleek:
- Keep it Clean!
It is essential that you wash your mustache daily.
Brush your mustache with a dedicated toothbrush or bristle brush often used to comb different beard styles, including a short beard, goatee, or full beard. Combing your mustache helps to remove any wax, product residue, and dead skin cells.
Next, wash it with beard shampoo or another shampoo that is not drying to the skin to remove excess oils and waxy residue.
- Eat Right!
Eating a proper diet will help your facial hair grow faster, fuller, and stronger.
A protein-rich diet and foods that have a high level of keratin, such as carrots, are suggested by dieticians. Some foods to consider adding to your diet include egg yolk, salmon, avocado, and sweet potatoes.
- Watch How You Eat!
Beards and especially mustaches are an excellent place for crumbs, soup, drinks, and pasta sauce to end up.
When eating, always brush your mustache hairs to the side to prevent biting on them and from having them continuously get stuck in your mouth.
Clean your mustache after each meal, too, for fresher smelling facial hair.
Can You Pull Off a Handlebar Mustache?
While you may have no problem growing a Handlebar mustache, it doesn’t mean that you should. Maintenance and grooming aside, not everyone has a face shape suited to this look.
The face shapes below are those that will rock the look with no problem and those who should stick to a long beard and no mustache at all:
- Oblong Face Shape:
Men with an oblong face shape have a lot more open space between their features. A Handlebar mustache is a great way to give proportion to your face and draw attention to your eyes and lips.
It will also help guide attention away from the length of your face and place focus on the width instead.
- Square Face Shape:
The advantage of having a square-shaped face is that you have a strong jawline and more balanced features, making it easy to pull off any number of styles and looks, including the Handlebar mustache.
- Triangle Face Shape:
A triangular face shape sees a wider forehead and a narrowing at the chin. Wearing a broad mustache helps to expand the look of the jaw and cheeks by creating the appearance of a wider jawline.
However, it is important not to go too heavy on the style; a softer approach with a traditional Handlebar mustache is your best bet.
- Diamond Face Shape:
Men with this face shape should opt for a softer look and a more narrow mustache to avoid adding a harsh edge to their already angular features.
- Oval Face Shape:
Men with oval-shaped faces tend to have almost perfect proportions and spacing of their features. Wearing a mustache that is too heavy or broad will throw this off. Men with an oval face should go for a traditional Handlebar mustache and steer clear of the heavier Walrus mustache.
- Heart or Round Face Shape:
Men with a heart or round-shaped face should stick away from the Handlebar mustache. The reasoning behind this is because a mustache emphasizes the width of the face of the wearer. Men with rounded or heart-shaped faces already have significant width to their structure, and this form of hair growth will only serve to make you look fuller in the face.
A Handlebar mustache is not just another way to style your facial hair. It is the epitome of style and masculine elegance. This look not only takes months in the making and careful grooming, but a certain touch that can take time to perfect.
While rarely seen today, the sophistication and style the look offers will leave any man at the envy of others.