We are about to embark on a detailed exploration of the moustache. We will discuss how to grow and look after a moustache. There’s also some history on the moustache as well as present the different styles that you can discover in full.
Keep scrolling to read more or jump straight to a section if you’re in a rush:
- The History Of The Moustache
- Different Moustache Styles
- How To Grow A Moustache
- How To Care For A Moustache
The History Of The Moustache
Evidence of large moustaches can be traced back to at least 300 BC in what is modern day Iran. A portrait was discovered and dated depicting a Scythian horseman sporting a large moustache that was curled at the tip. The presence of Handlebar moustaches has also been noted among Iron Age Celts. This trend would continue to influence Northmen such as the Vikings and the Gauls throughout the ages.
Merovingian kings considered the moustache section of their beards to be of great symbolic value, a legacy which would endure to include Charlemagne. Furthermore, the Saxons were depicted with Handlebar moustaches on the Bayaux Tapestry as opposed to the clean-shaven Normans.
Moustaches In The 19th Century
The British witnessed a renaissance for large moustaches during throughout the 19th Century that started during the Napoleonic Wars. British officers imitated their French foes who they described their moustaches as “appurtenances of terror”. Simultaneously, Britons in colonial India adopted the culture’s customs. Traditional Indian belief was that a moustache displayed a man’s virility. Clean-shaven British officers experienced difficulty in exercising authority over Indian soldiers as they interpreted their bare faces as a lack of masculinity.
In turn, the British rulers “went native”, an otherwise looked down upon practice, and cultivated whiskers to gain respect. Moustaches became enormously popular among the British and quickly spread to the civilian population. The fashion statement wasn’t without incident and the so-called moustache movement faced stark criticism during the 1830s from well-to-do peers. Handlebar moustaches were often slammed as “capillary decorations” and “vulgar clevers” that were reminiscent of their sworn enemies, the French.
Nevertheless, by 1854, moustaches even became compulsory for troops operating abroad such as the East India Company. Furthermore, Queen’s Regulations rendered the moustache a required component for officers and became the subjected to severe enforcement. It’s said that the status of the British Empire can be scaled by the moustache size that was in vogue at the time.
By the second half of the 19th Century, Handlebar moustaches had spread halfway across the globe. In the United States, the Handlebar overtook the Imperial beard as the choice facial hair. It was sported by many notable figures particularly in the West such as Wyatt Earp and his brothers. Similarly, many Wild West legends such as Doc Holiday and Buffalo Bill also wore large Handlebars. However, these were often paired with growth under the mouth that rendered them part of the Van Dyke moustache family.
A Brief History of 20th Century Moustaches
The turn of the 20th Century saw uniform moustaches emerge that reflected the industrial sentiment of the era. Social classes divided through their choices in facial hair. Aristocrats favoured their large Imperial styles whilst the working class chose more reserved moustaches due to working conditions and practicality.
The smaller moustaches took over mostly due to trench warfare. Handlebar moustaches prevented officers from creating an air-tight seal on their gas masks and were obliged to shave them down.
Although larger moustaches were still worn for those off the battlefield, fashion followed the masses. By the 1920s, most moustaches were small Pyramidal and Pencil styles and the fashioned endured until the end of the 1940s.
The second half of the 20th Century saw a variety of styles come and go. Big Chevron and Horseshoe moustaches were popular among musicians in gained momentum in the 1980s. However, the popularity of moustaches waned by the 1990s.
It hasn’t been until recently that moustaches have made a comeback partly thanks to Movember that began in 2004. The movement started with self-conscious baby steps. Men began wearing moustaches again using the guise of a (noble) charitable act to justify it.
However, with the beard craze in full swing, moustaches have managed to create a place for themselves free from judgement.
The Best Moustache Styles
Below is a selection of moustache families that we cover extensively as well as their variants. You will find detailed guides on how to grow, style and trim each type according to your face shape. Feel free to jump right in and click on one to read more. Alternatively, scroll down first to learn how to grow a moustache, trim it and properly care for it.
How Do You Grow A Moustache?
Much like beards and maybe even more so, moustaches require a combination of patience and determination.
However, the challenge of growing a moustache is entirely subject to the style desired. If a man merely wants a Lampshade of Chevron, results can emerge pretty early on with little work required. If the goal is a small, pencil thin moustache, this can be achieved quickly but requires frequent maintenance.
However, if a man longs for a big, curled Imperial moustache, then the affair becomes a true test of his character. The traditional Handlebar moustache is renowned for being an infuriating moustache to grow.
A Challenging Process
To avoid disappointment, a sound strategy is to set targets with different styles to adopt at different lengths. However, unlike beards, it is difficult to appreciate them during intermediate stages.
Styling can be problematic between different style lengths and the result is not consistently dignified. A man can wear one as a Chevron for a short time. However, he soon enters a period where the hair crawls over the top lip yet doesn’t quite have the stature of a Walrus.
There will be many urges to trim as the moustache regularly tickles the nose. The moustache will be a magnet to food and drink. Stray hairs poke and curl into the mouth. Affection may be a complicated endeavour for a while. For your partner, early onset of a Handlebar may start off as a minor irritation. However, it then transitions into feeling like kissing a wild badger.
The above serves not to dissuade someone from growing a moustache but just as a warning. Don’t underestimate the time it requires to grow one.
Growing any style of moustache is a commitment. Try to remember this when fed up with its slow progress. There will be periods of frustration and dissatisfaction but the perseverance will pay off eventually.
Using A Bearded Surrogate
The most stress-free and easy way of growing out a moustache is to start by simply growing a beard. Although beards have their patchy phases as well, they’re easier to cope with than a moustache on its own. You’ll feel less self-conscious as it develops and more easygoing with its progress.
When the time is right, the beard can be shaved off. A primed moustache will emerge into the world like a butterfly from a cocoon.
If this is the direction you want to take, feel free to follow our full guide on growing a beard here. Just keep in mind that although you can trip the beard, you must let the moustache grow out. Patience is key.
As the moustache’s hairs grow longer, toy will need to train them to grow in the right direction with regular brushing. The moustache will droop at first. It’s an annoying and expected setback.
Investing in moustache wax is compulsory for any self-respecting moustached gentleman. Eventually, the moustache may even retain its form when unwaxed.
How Long Does It Take To Grow A Moustache?
Beard growth varies according to the individual but is usually within the realms of half an inch (1.25 cm) per month.
Hair growth as well as its stages of development and natural cycles are covered extensively in the beard guide. Click here to discover more around the subject.
How To Care For Your Moustache
Any self-respecting gentleman needs to ensure that his moustache is always kept healthy. Moustaches should be treated like beards or indeed any other hair with a combination of cleaning and hydration.
As explained in detail in the beard guide, shampooing doesn’t have to be daily but should always be accompanied by conditioner. A dehydrated moustache becomes wiry and brittle, which renders it hard to manage and unkempt. Remember, stray hairs will become more frequent and irritate the nose!
A moustache also greatly benefits from beard-orientated products. For example, beard shampoo, oils, balms and creams are very effective as a moustache is essentially part of a beard.
Out of all of the above, beard oil is the one compulsory item. It replenishes the moustache’s follicles and nourishes the skin with much needed hydration. Furthermore, it makes the moustache easier to manage by providing a light, natural hold.
As previously mentioned, specialist moustache wax is an essential product to own. Normal hair wax or gel doesn’t provide the same hold and serves little purpose. However, moustache wax is thicker and will stick the hairs together. Furthermore, coloured moustache waxes can be purchased to darken the more fair haired bristles.
Moustache Trimming Essentials
Finally, whilst brushes and clippers aren’t particularly suited for a moustache, a small comb and scissors are invaluable. If you want a well-trimmed moustache, by all means, clippers are the most convenient choice. However, scissors offer much greater precision and a comb will keep the hairs in place. By opting for a straight razor, it becomes a far easier task to touch up the moustache’s contours.
Now that you’re familiar with looking after your moustache, you can read more about the individual moustache families. With regards to the act of trimming, every moustache style requires a different treatment. You can find all the information you require on the subject in each moustache family’s respective guide via the images above.