Mustache Maintenance- How to Trim a Mustache
There was a time when no self-respecting man would be caught dead without a mustache or some other facial hair style, but for some reason mustaches began to get a bad name and were suddenly more associated with creepiness than sexiness. Luckily though, this is no longer the case, as mustaches have made a massive mainstream comeback, to the point where it’s hard to walk down the street without seeing various men sporting an Abracadabra, Handlebar/Trucker, Boxcar, Rock Star, Zorro, Artist, Pencil, Porn and other ‘stashes.
Whether you’re obsessed with the idea of sporting a manly mustache, just want to change things up a bit, or are one of the millions of men taking part in Movember by letting it grow out to help raise awareness about testicular cancer (Best Movember Mustaches)—the first thing you’ll need to learn is how to trim a mustache. There’s no doubt that mustaches exude manliness, but there’s also a fine line between looking like a champ and looking like a chump—and it all starts with knowing how to properly trim your furry upper lip to achieve your desired look.
Generally speaking, growing a mustache is no different that growing any other style of facial hair in that it takes time, patience and a bit of skill to pull the look off—not to mention to confidence to strut around with your superbly styled ‘stash, no matter what your friends and family may think. However, depending on how your mustache grows in, achieving the look you want can require some very precise trimming, as it’s incredibly easy to screw it up and have to shave the whole thing off.
Let It Grow
No matter what facial hair style you’re going for, the very first thing you need to do is actually let it grow in. There’s no point to start trying to style your facial hair until it’s begun getting full and thick, as you need to know what you’re dealing with before going for a particular style.
The amount of time you’ll need to wait before you can start trimming depends on how quickly your mustache grows in, but for most men, you’ll need at least two to four weeks of growth before you’ll be able to shape your ‘stash. This means that if you’re hoping to have your manly Magnum or awesome Abracadabra ready for Movember, you really need to avoid shaving your upper lip throughout the month of October.
It’s up to you whether to continue shaving the rest of your face while growing out your mustache, but if possible, you should really try not to shave anything for at least a week or so until your ‘stash starts to fill in—otherwise you run the risk of looking like a teen that hasn’t yet started shaving. After you’ve got some decent growth, you can then begin starting to outline the basic shape of the mustache by shaving your cheeks. The cleaner the rest of your facial hair is, the best your stache will look so be sure to shave with a quality safety razor and a first-rate shaving soap.
While the actual trimming process will vary from ‘stash to ‘stash, there are a few tips that will make it easier to get the look you want. The first thing is to always do your trimming somewhere where you have good lighting and a mirror. If your bathroom isn’t bright enough, either use an additional lamp or set up a mirror somewhere else with better lighting. Having adequate light should help reduce your risk of making a mistake, as shadows can easily cause you to accidentally trim too much and have to shave it all off.
Before you start trimming, it’s always a good idea to give your mustache a quick wash with either soap or shampoo, as this will help soften up the hairs and make them easier to cut. At the very least, you need to get your ‘stash thoroughly wet before trimming. You’ll also want to have a beard comb handy (recommended beard comb on Amazon), as it’s important to comb the hairs downwards so that everything is even when you start trimming.
As far as the actual trimming goes, you have two choices of tools to use. Some people recommend only ever trimming with scissors to allow for more close control (great beard and mustache scissors on Amazon), while others say you can do it all with a beard trimmer. It really comes down to what you’re most comfortable with, but if you’re a novice working on your first ‘stash, you may want to stick with scissors for the few first trims to lessen your chances of ruining your carefully crafted mustache. If your in the market for a beard trimmer, check out our list of tried and tested beard trimmers.
How to Shave a Mustache
Once you’re finally at the stage where you’ve progressed from a furry lip to something that can start to legitimately be called a mustache, you’re now ready to start trimming it. In truth, there is no right way or wrong way how to shave a mustache, as a lot of it depends on what shape you’re going for and how thickly your hair grows in.
While there’s no general rule of thumb on how to trim your mustache—as some men require almost no trimming to keep their ‘stash looking sexy, while those with fuller, thicker growth may require a bit more maintenance—there are a few things that pretty much all of us will have to trim from time to time, with one of the most important parts being where the mustache meets the lip.
In general, it never looks good to let your mustache get too long, to the point where it starts curling into your mouth. There’s no point trying to deny the fact that this looks disgusting. Period. End of story. A good rule is that the hairs should never stick out below your lip. So, whether you’re using scissors or clippers, you should carefully trim directly along the top of the lip. Be sure not to trim it too high though, as taking off too much can make you look ridiculous. It’s better to leave the hairs a little long that to trim them too short, and the hairs will actually shorten up a bit once your ‘stash dries, so be careful.
The other main thing you’ll want to trim is the thickness of your mustache, as there’s a fine line between full and overly bushy, and you don’t want to look like you’ve got a furry caterpillar crawling across your lip. Of course, the amount you’ll need to trim depends on how your hair grows and what style you’re going for, but generally speaking, you’ll want to make sure to trim any stray hairs or those that stick out in different directions. There’s no right or wrong thickness, so just make sure to trim everything to an even, uniform length.
Styling Your ‘Stash
While the minor trims listed above are things every mustachioed man will need to do periodically, the rest of the trimming and shaping process will depend on the style of ‘stash you’re shooting for. If you’re not sure which style is right for you, it’s a good idea to look at pictures of different shapes to see which you like the best. Of course, not all men can grow all styles, so how thick and full your mustache grows in will play a major role in the styles you’re able to pull off.
Once you’ve got your heart set of a shape, you’ll then want to read up on the shaping process for your desired ‘stash. Some styles require only very minimal trimming, while others like a Pencil or a Zorro, will require a bit more careful shaping. Some of these styles also necessitate using clippers to keep the ‘stash short, so be sure to put some time and thought into what style you want and how much continual work you’re willing to put in to get it.
One final note on mustache wax. While it’s definitely not a requirement, some styles of ‘stashes definitely can get a little help by using it. This is especially true if you’re going for something a bit more coiffed, such as curling or twisting up your ends, a la Captain Hook. If you require a wax, check out which are the best mustache waxes in this post.
Few things in life scream manliness more than a mustache, but it takes a special kind of man to be able to pull the look off. Still, with some basic knowledge on how to trim a mustache, almost any man can make the step up and join the exclusive mustachioed man club. So what are you waiting for? Stop shaving and start living the ‘stash life today.
Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert and body grooming aficionado. His work has been featured on many other prominent publications including Good Men Project, Addicted to Success, Steven Aitchison, and Sharpologist.