If facial hair makes a statement a handlebar mustache makes a loud one. If you’re ready to take your mug style to the next level, consider growing a handlebar ‘stache.
A handlebar mustache style is made up of thick, full upper lip hair that protrudes from the edges of the mouth. The ends of the mustache may curl slightly upwards or be styled in a loose curl. A handlebar mustache requires 3-6 months to grow and will need regular maintenance to maintain its shape and signature twirl.
Read on to learn tips and tricks to wear one well!
What is a handlebar mustache style?
Despite the name, handlebar mustaches aren’t just for the biker set. In fact, their popularity can be traced back to the 19th century and Wyatt Earp’s west.
The traditional handlebar mustache style is big, bushy, and wide. The ends of the mustache grow beyond the width of the lips and are styled into upward curves or loose curls. Handlebar mustaches can have either a soft or rigid part down the middle.
Many people throw the Hungarian and Imperial mustache styles into the handlebar pool; however, they tend to be more styled. Mustache competitions often list “handlebars” as a subset of the Imperial family. In 1947, English comedian Jimmy Edwards started the official Handlebar Club with nine other men. Jimmy served during WWII as a member of the Royal Air Force. His plane was shot down, and he experienced extensive burns on his face. To camouflage them, he grew a handlebar mustache.
Inclusion in Jimmy’s club, which still remains today, required members to wear a true handlebar style without an accompanying beard. Styles could vary in bushiness, but the ends were either curved, slightly curled, or horizontal. The ends should appear “graspable” so tightly wound curls didn’t fit the style.
Today, the petite handlebar and English mustache styles are variations of the handlebar style. The petite handlebar is a handlebar ‘mo that stops at the outward edge of the lips and has a clean part down the middle. The English style has long, almost straight, pointed ends that go past the corners of the mouth.
Celebrities with handlebar mustaches
We often look at celebrities as trendsetters, especially when they appear on the big screen with blockbuster facial hair.
Celebrities often sport handlebar mustaches for movie roles. Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow wore them in Mordecai. Daniel Day-Lewis rocked a handlebar in Gangs of New York, and so did Kurt Russell in Tombstone.
While handlebars are primarily seen in period pieces, they are a popular choice for hipsters and have been gaining popularity in recent years.
Why does your mustache look like a set of handlebars?
So, where did the handlebar mustache style originate?
This mustache looks like a set of handlebars because the long ends are curved resembling the design of push bike handlebars.
Push bikes became the rage in the 1890s. They revolutionized the way both men and women moved from place to place.
At the same time, upper lip hair was in its heyday. Royalty, statesmen, and soldiers alike embraced thick mustaches because they were an outward sign of virility and hard-core masculinity.
Push bike handlebars came in curved styles, so it didn’t take long for the comparison to be made and the moniker to stick.
How to grow out a handlebar mustache without it looking unkempt
The early days of mustache growth are always a bit challenging.
The fullness of a handlebar mustache requires length. The initial grow-out period may look unkempt and natural. Once the hair grows long enough, frequent use of a mustache comb and wax can tame wild hairs and coax them to grow in the right direction.
Good hair hygiene will keep your ‘mo looking its best even during the awkward phases.
How to get a handlebar mustache to look good
Handlebar mustaches are a piece of art. Keep your ‘mo looking worthy of all of the attention it will attract.
To get a handlebar mustache to look good, consider your face shape, let it grow, know how to trim it, and keep it styled and sculpted.
Fun Fact: Popular precursors of mustache wax were soap, mashed apples, bear fat, and petroleum jelly. Today, beeswax is the most common ingredient.
Best face shape for a handlebar mustache
Considering a handlebar? First, check your face shape!
The best face shapes for a handlebar mustache are triangle, diamond, and oval shapes. Handlebar mustaches help balance out a narrow jaw and pointed chin.
The fullness and width of a handlebar ‘stache work to balance out the narrow parts of your lower face. This is a great way to add interest and proportion.
In contrast, if you already have a wide jaw and a wide, round chin, a smaller, more subdued mustache style would fit your shape better.
Dos and don’ts of a handlebar mustache
Deciding whether to grow a handlebar mustache has a lot to do with how much time you can devote to growth and care. This style is not a “grow it and forget it” style.
Dos of the handlebar mustache style:
Don’ts of the handlebar beard style:
- Trim too early
- Give up too soon
- Let food and drinks cramp your style
How to grow a handlebar mustache
The handlebar mustache will take three to six months to grow depending on your desired length, fullness, and hair growth rate.
To grow a handlebar mustache, keep trimming to a minimum in the beginning. The goal is length. To reduce a scraggly look, keep other areas of your face clean of stray hairs and keep your hair hydrated and clean.
As the ends grow out, comb your hair to train hairs to grow out to the sides.
How to trim a handlebar mustache
Trimming a handlebar mustache can be a little tricky at first. You don’t want to trim too much, because length is crucial to its success.
Once your mustache has grown over your upper lip, starting at the middle, comb your hair out to each side. Lift up each curl, and trim or shave the hair underneath. This step is especially important if you have a beard too. Trim around your upper lip to make eating and drinking easier. Use scissors to lightly even out the ends.
The key to trimming a handlebar is a light hand. Use sharp mustache scissors or a mustache trimmer. When trimming around the lips, only take off a fraction of an inch to allow space to eat and drink. You should barely be able to see your upper lip if at all.
Your mustache ends may grow at different rates, so periodically give them a snip with scissors to make sure they are uniform.
How to shape or sculpt a handlebar mustache
Mastering the handlebar style requires time and the right tools.
To shape a handlebar mustache, dampen a mustache comb and brush hair down and out to each side. To style and sculpt, you can use a hair dryer and comb or just your fingers and a comb. Follow up with mustache wax to define curls and hold your style.
The handlebar mustache is more work than some other options, but it’s worth it for the distinct look!