The Return of the Moustache

Combed or waxed, groomed or bushy, the ’stashe is making a resurgence in the world of men’s grooming.

Historically, the mustache has been a symbol of masculinity. Cultures and subcultures have frequently adopted various styles of facial hair to promote individual expression. “From the classic handlebar to the Fu Manchu, from pencil-slim to full and thick, with or without the company of a goatee or beard, the mustache has evolved throughout our history as an ever-changing unique status symbol,” says Julius Arriola, Wahl education and artistic team member. As with any trend, the mustache has ebbed and flowed in popularity, although it has never disappeared entirely. Today, facial hair—and the mustache specifically—has become a symbol of the modern man, for both proper gentlemen and millennial hipsters alike.

Trend Alert: The Handlebar

From Frederich Nietzsche to Buffalo Bill, the handlebar mustache trend had its heyday in the 19th century, sported by European soldiers and the famous characters of the American Wild West. Today, the handlebar is making a huge comeback. “If [a man] has the patience and enough hair to grow one, walking around with a well-groomed handlebar mustache is sure to be a showstopper,” says Arriola.

Jimmy Fallon rocked the style all summer long, thanks to Brooklyn, New York-based master barber Russell Cordeiro, who splits his time between the upscale Art and Autonomy Salon in Manhattan’s SoHo district and the hip Persons of Interest Barbershop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. According to Cordeiro, “It can take up to six months to grow a handlebar mustache, depending on how far you want to take it.” However, with the proper care and nurturing from a professional, those do not have to be 180 days of facial hair doom. For Fallon’s ’stache-growing journey, 18.21 Man Made gifted him with a selection of products for his mustache maintenance. (For a selection of helpful products for care and wear, see “Quality Control” at right.)

Think your men are ready for a mustache makeover? Mike Taylor, senior barber and founder of Mike Taylor Education Barber College based in Poole, England, offers this quick styling tip to achieve a hip handlebar: “Warm some mustache wax between your fingers and apply it evenly to the ends of the mustache. Then, curl the ends into the desired shape. Once styled, do not touch it, as this will make the ends go fluffy.” 

Choosing the Right Style

Although the handlebar is perhaps the most popular, it’s not necessarily the right mustache for all clients. Helping them choose the right style can be challenging, as there are many factors to consider, including face shape, facial features and lifestyle. “When helping clients choose the right mustache, I start by showing them a chart that illustrates a variety of styles so they can visualize which shape might work best for them,” says Danny Amorim, master barber and Andis Company global educator. “Barbers and stylists can educate their clients on which mustache styles complement their features, just as we would advise a client for a haircut.”

Before the trimming begins, Trish Krumins, owner of The Men’s Room Barber Shop in Milwaukee, has a conversation with clients about their facial hair goals. “Length, shape and style are determined not only by the client’s desires, but also by the quality and quantity of whiskers,” she explains. After all, some men are lucky to have the type of hair to change their mustache style as often as they change their haircut, while others may need to commit to one style and focus on maintenance if their facial hair growth is more limited.

Mustaches also command a big commitment in terms of growing time, upkeep and proper care. “The client’s job, activities and even personality influence the decision,” says Krumin, especially if they’ll need to make weekly stops at the barbershop. “Ensure that your client has time for the upkeep,” Taylor advises. You may even want to ask your clients questions to make sure they have time for care and maintenance. Scott Serrata, Imperial Barber cofounder and master barber, agrees. “I make sure [a mustache] is something the client really wants to commit to,” he says. “And I strongly recommend that he [sees a professional barber] or someone he trusts with his life.” Because when someone who is known for having a rad mustache is suddenly clean shaven, the culprit, says Serrata, is often a trimming mistake!

Care and Feeding

Not only do mustaches need to be regularly trimmed, but they also require washing, combing and frequent feeding. There is nothing less attractive than an unruly, rough mustache filled with food and fluff. Keeping a mustache in top shape requires “investing in the right products to maintain the look,” says Amorim. Give your clients the advice they need to keep their mustache looking dapper. For example, “Keep that ’stache soft and supple with an oil or balm,” offers Krumin. “And use a daily beard shampoo to keep skin and whiskers moisturized and smelling like a gentleman.”

It’s also important to keep errant hairs at bay. Seeing a professional is the best way to keep a ’stache in check. Krumin recommends beard/mustache clients regularly visit their barber for a trim to keep things from getting unruly. Mustaches should be maintained with a weekly trim—preferably by a professional, says Arriola. But if the hair grows quite quick, men can trim their mustaches every other day at home. 

Mo Facts

Author and psychologist Allan Peterkin’s book One Thousand Mustaches: A Cultural History of the Mo is filled with the rich history and plenty of fun facts about the ’mo, including these:

- The average man with a ’mo touches it 760 times a day.

- In Eureka, Nevada, it’s illegal for men with mustaches to kiss women.

- Mustaches may help protect against skin cancer, blocking 90 percent to 95 percent of harmful UV rays. 

–by Alicia Liotta 

[Image: Getty Images]

Moustache Products

Mustaches demand many different products for styling. From trimmers and beard shampoos to beard oils and pomades, your mustache clients provide a strong retail opportunity. 

  • Imperial Barber Classic Pomade

    The water-based Classic Pomade is also water reactivatable, which allows for easy restyling depending upon the amount of water in the hair/mustache. 

  • Lucky Tiger Moustache Wax

    Formulated with pure lanolin, cocoa butter and beeswax, this super- hydrating wax conditions, grooms and controls facial hair.  

  • Gibs Man Wash BHB

    Fortified with copaiba balsam and tea tree oils, this beard, hair and body wash cleanses and conditions hair without stripping away moisture. 

  • Wahl Beret Trimmer

    The Wahl Beret Trimmer provides high-precision accuracy for a clean line thanks to the snap-on blades. The lithium ion-powered rotary motor can be used with or without a cord.  

  • Andis Slimline Pro Li T-Blade Trimmer

    “It’s lightweight, cordless and the perfect tool for use in-between facial hair maintenance,” says Danny Amorim.  

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