How to Grow a Suave Handlebar Mustache (With Different Styles)
Let's get those facial hair a manly twist!
Among the most eccentric and distinguished facial hairstyles is the handlebar mustache. Even if you can’t place the look, you’ve likely seen these classic mustaches on old portraits of Prussian royalty or wild west outlaws. While there are several ways to customize a handlebar mustache, they all share two distinct characteristics: they are large, and they extend beyond the lips. Sometimes they curl upward into curlicues and other times they sweep out and down across the lower cheeks. Regardless, they’re a part of the handlebar family.
Handlebar mustaches have made a comeback in recent years, a throwback to their classy and regal status in times past. If you’re considering one for your personal look, we have some tips for you.
How to Grow a Handlebar Mustache
The first step to growing your new mustache is deciding on a goal. Growing a handlebar can be frustrating until you’ve achieved it, so prepare yourself beforehand not to look back. Be patient while you progress through the awkward stages. It may also take a while for you to get used to the way it tickles your nose or dips into your drinks. Rest assured, eventually you won’t think about it.
The length of your mustache-growing process depends on long you want it to be, your diet and vitamin intake, and your natural hair-growing rate. However, plan on it taking at least three months. If you are worried about how it will look as it progresses, consider growing a full beard alongside it that you can choose to shave or keep later.
Choosing and Maintaining a Style
Once your mustache starts getting close to your desired length, it’s time to think about how you want to customize it. While there are no exact barriers between them, there are five styles considered popular and distinct enough to get their own names.
The imperial-style mustache was popularized by royalty, most notably from the Prussian and Austro-Hungarian empires. These are characterized by being bushy with outward-curling tips. Think of the stereotypical villain twirling his mustache while the damsel-in-distress lies awaiting rescue on train tracks. Maintaining an imperial mustache requires massaging wax into the hair and gently combing outward into a twirl.
The Hungarian-style mustache is likely the oldest style on this list. Before old-school European monarchy began twirling the corners, they popularized this more compact version which stretches wider and outward. You may find that you need wax to maintain it, but with proper combing, it may maintain its state on its own.
For an easier variant that takes less time to grow, look to Chevron. This style isn’t the strictest version of the handlebar, but the fact that it tends to extend a little bit beyond the lip means it qualifies. Freddie Mercury and Tom Selleck both famously rocked this mustache that densely covers the entire upper lip and then some. As it requires little to no maintenance, many men look to the Chevron as a stopping point before moving to more grandiose styles.
This thin mustache is divided at the center and combed outward into straight points. While not the most popular type of handlebar, it is one of the most distinct. For maintenance, you will definitely need mustache wax, as it will quickly droop without it. Try it out on your next trip to a fancy country club.
The walrus mustache has also fallen out of style in modern times, but it’s due for a comeback. It’s characterized by its long, downward orientation that covers the upper, and sometimes lower, lips. As one of the longest styles, it will take patience to grow. Maintenance, however, is simple. Snip the bottom for a uniform edge and then comb downward.
Now that we have knowledge of the basics, let’s check out some variations of the same!
Walrus and Imperial Handlebar Mustache
Some serious biker vibes going on here with the mustache that is a blend of two styles. First, imperial due to its twirled ends and walrus due to its long strand. The mustache here almost covers the lower lip and that’s where it blends with the beard making it a whole trend in itself.
OG Handlebar Mustache
This is as vintage it gets with the handlebar mustache. This is the way men used to rock it back in the days with long hair, shaved cheeks, and then a thin-haired imperial handlebar mustache to go with it. The key reduces the volume and then uses hair wax to shape it well.
Quirky Blonde Handlebar Mustache
Blonde imperial handlebar mustache with clean shave is a clear statement of a retro look fan. The perfectly tames mustache tells it all about the person that he is the one for the detail. For one such style, you have to use some beard gel to keep the mustache in that shape all day long.
Walrussed Mustache with Chin Beard
Walrus mustache is for the men who love it casual. The key is to have patience as it needs to be grown longer than usual. once grown enough one can trim the edges a little to make it seem uniform or just leave it as it is because rugged is what we’re looking for!
Perfect Imperial Handlebar Mustache
If panache had a face, it would be this right here. The hair is burned on top with a mustache perfectly tamed to look imperial handlebar mustache. The beard is slightly thicker than stubble but that is what balances the face.
Rough Handlebar Mustache
Not everyone likes a pitch-perfect mustache and especially with the walrus handlebar mustache, it has to be let to grow in the wild. This one here is overgrown with no taming just has that rugged and informal look to it. If you want to have it a tad perfect then just comb it and there you go!
Thick Hungarian Handlebar Mustache
Mustache is synonymous with masculinity and so is its ruggedness. This one is the best of both worlds as the mustache and the beard is rugged. The Hungarian style of mustache means that the ends are not twirled instead they are kept flat. One for sure needs a comb to keep its in shape and beard gel to keep it in place.
Afro Mini Handlebar Mustache
Since we know afro hair might have the tendency to curl itself, this style is just perfectly suited for such texture. The mini-imperial style of handlebar mustache is very prominent and is subtly minimal. The ends are twirled with less radius so as to keep it simple yet trendy.
Twin Handlebar Mustache with Dye
We have to go a tad nuts otherwise how does one innovate a style right? The handlebar mustache has a twin here that is also twirled a bit and then dyed with poppy blue dye. Not to mention, the piercing completely complimented the whole look with the same color.
Curly Top with Imperial Handlebar
Hair to mustache is a complete contrast and that’s why this mustache shines the best. The imperial style of it makes the end twirled which again supports the curl in the hair. The best approach is to style both the elements in a way that they support each other, this one nails it.
Rugged Imperial Inspired Walrus Handlebar
Doesn’t this remind of old 80’s times when a mustache was a way to judge a man? Well, this still stands tall and sturdy to show that this is an old soul with a liking towards rugged looks. The tapered beard provides a very rugged outlook whereas the mustache is grown and then ends are tamed with beard gel.
Casual Handlebar Mustache
Let’s say you are in the mood for something casual which doesn’t make much noise but still doesn’t want a bland look. This is the mustache you should be going for. The subtle yet twirled ends speak for themselves with a slight beard makes everything very well balanced.
Royal Walrus Handlebar Mustache
Walrus mustache although is a tad out of fashion but that’s the point when it can bounce back out of nowhere. This one here covers the upper and the lower lip plus it has a slight curve at the edges. One for sure has to comb it for one but use some wax to keep it in shape.
Justin Bounds has been working as a barber in Florida for years and is the founder of The Barbr - a Men's Hair Care/Grooming blog dedicated to providing honest advice and useful tips about the topic. You can learn more about him through his Twitter' and his blog.