A quintessential and debonair style, the handlebar mustache has experienced a significant renaissance in recent years thanks to the hipster movement. In this guide, you will learn about the different types of handlebar moustaches and how to grow them:
- What Is A Handlebar Moustache?
- How To Grow A Handlebar Moustache
- Imperial Moustaches
- English Moustaches
- Chevron Moustaches
- Hungarian Moustaches
- Will A Handlebar Moustache Suit My Face Shape?
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!
There is no moustache family more iconic than the so-called Handlebar moustache. The Handlebar is a large family that groups together a variety of moustaches with each having its own unique identity.
Nevertheless, they all share a common trait of being large moustaches that extend beyond above the lips.
This can be divided in terms of length or hair growth area. A suitable guideline for classification is from the World Beard and Moustache Championship.
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Although the above categories served as a foundation to this guide, the Handlebar moustache family has been broadened to accept more members.
Handlebar in itself is a loose term often used to describe a great many moustache styles. Therefore, it is only appropriate that it is employed to denote a broad classification. By definition, a Handlebar moustache is particularly lengthy with upwardly curved extremities as the name suggests.
You may notice that both the Chevron and Walrus lack the latter part of that description. However, they both feature considerable length and could be style thus. Furthermore, take a quick glimpse at the London Handlebar Club’s online gallery. You’ll realise that the umbrella term is used to define a plethora of styles.
How To Grow A Handlebar Moustache
Whilst growing a moustache is no small feat as detailed here, Handlebars are infuriating until they reach the desired length. They require months of growth and their appearance will regularly phase in and out of dignified states. Resisted any urges to trim despite the moustache regularly tickling.
The moustache will get covered in food and drink, poke and curl into the mouth and make affection an impossible endeavour. For your partner, early onset of a Handlebar may start off as a minor irritation then transition to kissing a wild badger.
Perhaps the simplest method to start growing a Handlebar is to begin by growing a Full Beard. It will initially blend into the beard and appear more socially acceptable than the initial onset of a lonely moustache. The overall appearance will stay dignified for longer until the moustache is ready and the rest is shaved away.
However, a Handlebar won’t reach maturity before three months. Therefore, should the wearer want to trim the beard on occasion, he should refrain from altering the moustache in any way. Patience is key.
Nevertheless, perseverance pays off. As the hairs get longer, regular combing or brushing will train them to grow in the desired direction. Drooping will be an expected setback and it is recommended to invest in moustache wax to improve the hold and keep it in place. Eventually, the moustache will retain its form even when unwaxed.
In its prime, a Handlebar moustache is a sight to behold. Although some may mock the style for its association with hipsters, a pedigree Handlebar is above criticism. It becomes admired by your peers if properly assumed. Just be sure to seek harmony by correctly combining hairstyle and wardrobe choices for a suitably complemented ensemble.
What Is An Imperial Moustache?
At the turn of the 20th Century, large moustaches were still very much in fashion and sported by a grand majority of statesmen around the world. In the USA, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft wore modest Handlebars.
In Europe, more flamboyant moustaches were popular among monarchs including Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Lavish moustaches were synonymous with growing nationalism, colonial expansion and a naval arms race, which ignited the First World War.
With their association to this opulent period, magnificent, well-groomed moustaches styled with curls earned their Imperial namesake. The World Beard and Moustache Championships defines the Imperial variant as a bushy moustache with the tips curled upward.
Hair growth beyond the corners of the mouth are shaved whilst the length above the lip is brushed to the sides. The moustache can be held into place with styling aids or left naturally to curl for a bushy look.
The newfound popularity for Imperial moustaches has made them easier to incorporate into modern and street styles. It’s also not uncommon to pair one with a beard such as a Verdi or Balbo. This allows the wearer to enjoy the benefits of an Imperial moustache without focusing all attention towards it. Not only does it reduce the overall extravagance of an Imperial itself but diverts focus away from solely the moustache.
How To Trim An Imperial Moustache
An Imperial is grown like any moustache but trimming is considered by some as a stoning offence. They will argue that trimming is unnecessary and only hinders growth. It is insisted that wearers only comb and wax their moustaches to the side.
However, there are some who may want to maintain its length and shape. This requires very careful trimming, which is best undertaken by a professional.
Snipping the ends yourself can be disastrous with constant attempts for symmetry resulting in narrowing the moustache altogether. Furthermore, trimming the line above the lip is also a treacherous endeavour, which can leave you with an uneven finish.
Although barbers that specialise in moustaches are hard to come by, they are on the rise and definitely worth the investment. Even with an expert hand and sharp eyes, you will only ever be able to trim from one point of view.
A barber will be able to get in close and scrutinise your moustache from every angle. A professional will ensure that your moustache is properly trimmed and shorten to your taste as well as provide advice for between visits.
Styling an Imperial Moustache
The best results are achieved following a hot shower. Like head hair, the moustache will have softened and untangled itself from any previous styling. This is especially important after a night’s sleep if the moustache is bedraggled.
- Ensure the moustache is only slightly damp.
- Comb the moustache down to identify the centre and create a parting.
- Gently comb the moustache into shape towards the sides.
- Starting from the centre, massage wax into the moustache outwards with two fingers.
- Carefully comb into shape using a blow-dryer to help set if necessary
- Twist and twirl the ends into shape.
Don’t wind long moustaches too tight or the ends might break off. You can use a finger or cotton swab to curl the moustache into the desired shape.
Usually, it’s expected that regular is required around an Imperial moustache. However, men can opt for the Daniel Day-Lewis approach and let themselves go every now and then. This brings out the dirty rotten scoundrel in even the most gentrified of men.
The English Moustache
Reminiscent of a day on the bowling green or a spot of croquet, the English moustache is a niche style. Like the Imperial, it’s divided at the centre and hair beyond the corners of the mouth is shaved clean. However, instead of curling up, the ends are carefully combed out to form straight points.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wore an English moustache but it’s otherwise rare to find real examples outside of enthusiast clubs. Sometimes the centre is neatly trimmed short with the goal being growing the ends to be as long as physically possible.
To avoid drooping, the ends must be heavily styled with hard and professional moustache wax. The points are crafted at mid-length of the moustache with the hair on the base wrapped around for extra support. Sometimes the tips are raised to bring the centre of leverage closer the base.
The Chevron Moustache
Tom Selleck, Nick Offerman and Freddie Mercury. They are but a few of the notable men who have defined the Chevron as a fundamental moustache. Although not a strict Handlebar moustache per se, the Chevron shares the trait of wide growth above the lip.
This extends up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) beyond the lip but varies. Its main feature is a simple mass of volume that grows naturally and is trimmed relatively short.
The Chevron is the youngest of the Handlebar family. It was particularly popular during the 1970s and 1980s but waned until Movember was born in 2007. Since then, it has been the default choice for many men and an ideal stepping stone to more extreme styles.
Unlike its relatives, the Chevron is natural, easy to grow and requires little grooming. The hair is brushed down and scissors are used to clip along the top lip. Otherwise, the only work required is to neaten the hairline or emphasise the slope from the nose towards the corners of the mouth.
The Hungarian Moustache
Arguably, the Hungarian moustache is a forefather to its Imperial relative. Also known as the Magyar, the founding natives of Hungary, it’s a moustache with a history deeply rooted in nationalist symbolism.
With the collapse of the Hapsburg monarchy during the mid-19th Century, Hungary experienced a strongly pluralistic and cultural phenomenon. A strong nationalist sentiment rose from the ashes with the resulting need to unite its diverse ethnography.
Virile moustaches represented symbolic class inclusiveness and military manliness, which chimed with the anti-monarchist liberalism that swept across the country. The movement was a show of male privilege with strong non-violent values that embraced national masculinity.
With the constitutional union between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in 1867, it became a prevalent hallmark of Central European leaders. It’s no surprise that some years later, the style was adopted by their close allies, the Germans. Wearers included Kaiser Wilhelm II who is often credited as the Imperial moustache’s patron.
Whilst the resulting resemblance with the Imperial is striking, the differences are equally so. The Imperial is a more compact moustache, that falls back on itself through twirling. However, the Hungarian is an unrestrained symbol of manliness that stands proud across the upper lip.
It’s often big and bushy with the hair extending outwards from the centre. Hair growth is kept as much as 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) beyond the lip rather than shaved. Although it can be styled, the growth and grooming already invested allow it to be left naturally and simply brushed into shape.
Hungarian moustaches require considerable time to grow. However, an Imperial can be grown out into one. This allows the Hungarian to be obtained relatively early and simply improved over time like a fine wine.
The Walrus Mustache
The behemoth of moustaches, the so-called Walrus is modelled after the marine mammal of the same name. Heralded by the Celts and the Gauls, it was famous through late 19th Century figures such as Mark Twain and Otto von Bismarck.
During the First World War, it was a celebrated characteristic of European statesmen. French President Georges Clemenceau and UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George were famous for their Walruses.
It was also considered something of a throwback to the Wild West. Sam Elliott (The Stranger in the Big Labowksi) became a Hollywood legend thanks to his moustache. Today, Beret-toting Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters pairs his trademark Walrus moustache with a Circle beard.
This bold and unflinching moustache for men who don’t like cuss words is a close relative of the Chevron. However, although the hair is simply brushed down, it is grown so long that it eclipses the mouth. Occasionally, the hair extends downward on each corner but this is less in line with the style’s pedigree.
Like the other moustaches in the family, it requires considerable patience to grow properly. Although the resemblance is vague, they would require but a mere manipulation to become one by brushing the hair down.
When the wearer is satisfied with the length, it simply needs combing and snipping to shape. This can be finished as either a straight line or a slight curve, which emphasises the resolute facade it creates.
However, the drawbacks of the Walrus are self-evident and reflect the determination of the wearer. The moustache is a literal soup-strainer causing simple acts like eating, kissing, and drinking a good Sarsaparilla perilous endeavours.
Will a Handlebar Moustache Suit My Face Shape?
The Handlebar moustache is a large family with 5 basic styles that can be customised to the wearer’s taste. In that light, there’s likely a style to suit the majority of face shapes.
Nevertheless, with its broad and bushy appearance, men opting for the style should note that it dominates the face. Although this may be a desired trait, some men might find the way the attention a moustache draws unwelcome.
The following face shapes will have few issues if they wish to style a handlebar moustache.
Men with Oblong face shapes probably benefit the most for full Handlebar moustache styles. With a large face surface area, big moustaches help in reducing the proportions to the wearer’s body.
Furthermore, a wide moustache will draw attention away from the face’s length and add width to the cheekbones.
If the wearer is reluctant to go for the more extravagant styles, he can opt for a Chevron moustache. The style works wonders for Oblong faces and allows you to channel your inner Magnum PI.
The solid proportions of Square face shapes gain the advantage in providing a large margin of error. Men with square faces can enjoy experimenting with a variety of styles.
They can simultaneously fall back on their distinctive features to be able to pull the majority of eccentric moustache styles.
In a similar fashion, Triangle face shapes can use broad moustaches to improve cheekbone width. However, the objective is not to offset face length but to restore balance with their broad jawlines.
To avoid over-emphasis of their hard features, Triangle face shapes can edge towards softer finishes. The authoritative confidence exuded by their hard jawline means that can easily pull of the flamboyance of an Imperial-styled moustache.
The following face shapes should be mindful of certain pitfalls if they wish to grow a handlebar moustache.
Men with Diamond face shapes should always keep their angular features and cheekbones in mind. Therefore, keeping the moustache’s finish soft rather would avoid over-emphasising their features.
Furthermore, given their pronounced cheek width, it is better to keep moustaches narrow to maintain balance with the chin. This can be difficult with a Handlebar moustache as they usually go past the corners of the mouth.
Oval Face Shapes
Oval face shapes should be mindful that extravagant moustache styles can throw off their harmonious proportions at any time.
However, Oval faces are one of the most adapted shapes for well-trimmed traditional Handlebar moustaches. The only thing to be mindful of is the breadth of the upper-lip. The broader the lip, the thicker the moustache. A modest in volume and sharply styled Imperial moustache is right at home on an Oval face.
Incompatible Face Shapes
The following face shapes may struggle to style a handlebar-style moustache.
Round Face Shapes
As Handlebar moustaches create width, this can have disastrous consequences for both Round shaped faces. Big moustaches also reduce chin height. Therefore, Round face shapes may suffer from the illusion of the chin sinking into the mouth. If you are adamant about having a Handlebar moustache, consider a Van Dyke, which may counteract the moustache’s adverse effects.
Like Round faces, Heart face shapes may notice that their chin, which can be already somewhat delicate, is made smaller by a handlebar moustache. Therefore, we would suggest opting for a different style that flatters its features instead.