The Definitive Guide to Mustache Styles

The much-maligned mustache has found itself relevant again thanks in part to Movember and the cyclical nature of facial hair trends. 

Look, we love beards at Beardbrand, but the mustache is damn cool. There’s always been a spirit of rebellion behind it—the exception being its peak popularity in the 1980s when the mustache was as commonplace as iPhones are today. 

The mustache was dangerous and powerful. Pirates and swashbucklers wore them. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain wore a walrus mustache that was so long it flapped in the wind as he yelled, “bayonet!” and held the Union flank at Gettysburg. Teddy Roosevelt took a bullet while delivering a speech, dusted himself off, and finished the speech—while wearing one hell of a mustache!

Then your dad grew one, and suddenly the mustache was nothing more than Old Milwaukee and cheese curds. Add to that a couple of creeps and a few pornstars, and well, you know the rest. The truth is, the mustache’s fall from grace is a little deeper than that. It’s a long story, for another blog.   

But, time heals all wounds, and the roaring 2020s are bringing the mustache renaissance. Now, let’s get you squared away with finding a mustache style that works for you.

MUSTACHE STYLES

When it comes to identifying mustache styles, it’s pretty much the wild west out there—there’s no law, no order. There are a lot of mislabeled mustaches on the internet, and that doesn’t cut it for us. We believe the mustache deserves more than just lip service, so after countless hours of research, and a little help from Grooming Heroes, we’ve narrowed it down to what we believe are 17 unique mustache styles. 

We get it, there’s a lot of overlap between them. Hell, the other day, we spent thirty minutes at the Beardbrand office debating whether or not Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid has a chevron or a walrus mustache—he’s had both at one point or another. The point is, naming mustaches isn’t a science, but we think we’ve gotten pretty close.  

When it comes to ‘stache styles, we break it down into three categories—natural mustache styles, handlebar mustache styles, and hybrid mustache styles.

NATURAL MUSTACHE STYLES

Natural mustache styles are the easiest, and generally fastest to grow. They don’t require the use of Mustache Wax or other styling aids. 

CHEVRON MUSTACHE

The chevron mustache is the quintessential mustache style. It follows the shape of the upper lip, resulting in a natural mustache that has a slight upside-down V shape. We couldn’t find any evidence that this is where it gets its name, but if you took the Chevron Corporation logo and flipped it upside-down, that’s what a chevron mustache looks like. If you’ve never worn just a mustache, the chevron is a great place to start. It’s a natural style that requires minimal grooming. It’s timeless. 

Famous chevron mustaches

Henry Cavill, Tom Selleck, Freddie Mercury, Mike Ditka, young Sam Elliott, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Burt Reynolds, Marc Maron, Nick Offerman, and your dad—probably.  

How to grow a chevron mustache

Let your mustache grow naturally. It will take two to three months to get the thickness and length for a chevron mustache. Some men prefer to grow their chevron along with a beard and then shave the beard.

Grooming a chevron mustache 

Grooming is minimal for the chevron mustache. The mustache should partially cover the upper lip, but the hair should not be in your mouth. Use Beard Trimming Scissors to trim longer hairs. Trim the edges of the mustache, so they don’t extend lower than the corners of your mouth. Any lower than that, and you’ll be entering horseshoe mustache territory. 

SHOP BEARD TRIMMING SCISSORS

THE LAMPSHADE MUSTACHE

The lampshade gets its name from its trapezoid shape—it looks like a lampshade. This style is often labeled as a cop ‘stache due to the long-standing grooming regulations for servicemen—military included. For most servicemen, a mustache is the only facial hair permitted. However, it cannot extend wider than the edge of the top lip, higher than the bottom of the nose, and the hair cannot touch the upper lip. Mustaches also must not appear to be chopped off or bushy, so the length is kept shorter. It’s worth noting that many municipalities are loosening the grooming regulations for police officers allowing for beards, other styles of mustaches, and visible tattoos. 

Famous lampshade mustaches

Eddie Murphy, Sgt. Slaughter, police officers, and military personnel. 

How to grow a lampshade mustache

Let your mustache grow naturally, but groom along the way. It will take one to two months to grow a lampshade mustache. 

Grooming a lampshade mustache

Imagine a vertical line extending upwards from the edge of your mouth, and a horizontal line extending from the bottom of your nose. Use a razor or electric trimmer to remove any hair outside of the lines. Additionally, trim the hair so that it doesn’t touch the upper lip. 

THE WALRUS MUSTACHE 

The walrus gets its name because, well, it resembles a walrus’s whiskers. It engulfs the top lip and may also cover the bottom lip. It’s a natural style that is combed straight down and not curled into handlebars. It’s not the most practical ‘stache but it is an impressive feat. Not every man can grow a walrus mustache. You need a long terminal length on your mustache hair, and this is something that is controlled by your DNA.

Famous walrus mustaches

Friedrich Nietzsche, Teddy Roosevelt, David Crosby, Andy Reid, Jamie Hyneman, older Sam Elliott, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, and Beardbrand’s own Eric Bandholz. 

How to grow a walrus mustache 

Let your mustache grow naturally and don’t trim it… at all. At a minimum, a solid walrus will take 6 months to a year to grow. If your goal is a walrus mustache and you find that your ‘stache isn’t getting longer, you have likely reached your terminal length. 

Grooming a walrus mustache 

You’ll want to invest in a quality Beard Comb to keep the mustache free of tangles and growing in the right direction. When left uncombed, the walrus will run wild. You’ll also need the comb for keeping hair out of your mouth when eating and drinking. We recommend keeping a Pocket Comb with you on the go. Use Beard Trimming Scissors to keep the mustache at your preferred length. 

THE PENCIL MUSTACHE

The pencil mustache was the lip garnish of choice for legends of the silver screen. It was devilish, dastardly, and dreamy. If you wore a mustache in the 1930s or 40s, it was most likely a pencil. A pencil mustache in 2020 will probably still get you called a perv. Though, Brad Pitt did make it look badass in Inglorious Bastards. The trouble with the pencil mustache is that it tends to look best dressed up. It's a hell of a lot more at home in a tux than in jeans and a flannel. It’s not really practical in the 21st century. The pencil works best for black or dark brown hair because it’s worn at a shorter length. 

Famous pencil mustaches

Errol Flynn, John Waters, Clark Gable, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Little Richard, and Eddie Murphy.

How to grow a pencil mustache

Allow your mustache to grow naturally. Keep the length short enough so that it doesn’t cover your top lip and trim the bottom of the mustache to follow the shape of your mouth. Use a razor to shave the top line of the mustache following the curve of your mouth. The pencil mustache will take two to four weeks to grow depending on the color of your hair—the darker the hair, the quicker it shows up. How thin you go is up to you. Generally, the lighter the hair, the thicker you’ll want to keep it. 

Grooming a pencil mustache 

The pencil mustache requires a high amount of grooming. You may need to shave the upper line a few times per week, if not daily. Keeping the overall length on the shorter side will help with maintaining a tight bottom line. You can also opt to wear the pencil a little higher by shaving a small gap between the lip and the ‘stache. The skin near the mouth is delicate, so take it slow when shaving. You can also bite your top lip to help pull the skin taught. 

THE PARTED PENCIL MUSTACHE

The parted pencil mustache is grown and groomed in the same way as the pencil, with the difference being adding a hard line at the philtrum (the indent above your upper lip). Use an electric trimmer to add the part to your mustache. How wide you go is up to you, though we recommend keeping it on the thinner side. 

THE PAINTER’S BRUSH MUSTACHE

The painter’s brush mustache has the thickness of the chevron but without the downward angle. Similar to the lampshade, the painter’s brush is groomed not to extend wider than the mouth. Imagine a painter took a quick horizontal swipe with their brush under your nose—that’s your painter’s brush mustache. Groucho Marx actually painted on his absurd painter’s brush mustache early in his career. You don’t really see too many actual painter’s brush mustaches as they seem to be purely ironic. 

Famous painter’s brush mustaches

Ron Burgundy, maybe Ron Swanson at times? Fictional characters named Ron seem to be the biggest supporters of the painter’s brush. 

How to grow a painter’s brush mustache

Let your mustache grow naturally. Keep it trimmed along the top lip, so it forms a horizontal line. Trim to a rounded end at the edges of the mouth. 

THE TOOTHBRUSH MUSTACHE

Ah, the toothbrush mustache. A stubby mustache shaved on both sides so that the ‘stache is the approximate width of the nose. There are two notable toothbrush mustaches in history—Charlie Chaplin and well, you know who else. Will it ever be acceptable to wear a toothbrush mustache again? Most likely not. Turns out some wounds don’t heal with time. Michael Jordan kind of had one in an old Hanes commercial. It didn’t go over well. 

Famous toothbrush mustaches

Charlie Chaplin and, oh, forget it. 

How to grow a toothbrush mustache 

Just... don’t. 

HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE STYLES

Handlebar mustaches require the use of Mustache Wax to achieve a style that resembles bicycle handles. They burst back onto the scene in the early 2010s led by hipsters who wore them ironically. When done well, they can look really badass. Our favorite is the Hungarian, if you can pull it off. 

THE HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE

There are few things as impressive as a handlebar mustache. The standard handlebar is thick with the handles, or ends of the mustache, grown long. The mustache is waxed with the ends shaped into fine points. The handles curl out over the cheeks and back towards the middle of the face. 

Famous handlebar mustaches

Greg Berzinsky, Rollie Fingers, William Howard Taft, and Daniel Day Lewis.

How to grow a handlebar mustache 

A full handlebar mustache requires significant length and can take six months or longer. The handles are grown from the hair at the edges of the mustache. Similar to the walrus, some men may not be able to grow a full set of handlebars if the terminal length of their mustache hair is on the shorter side. 

Grooming a handlebar mustache 

The handlebar mustache requires a good deal of grooming. Keeping the center of the mustache neat is essential to giving a clean look. You’ll frequently need to shave the hair beneath the handles at the outer corners of your mouth. To do so, lift the mustache and shave any hair that isn’t a part of the handlebar. 

Styling a handlebar mustache 

Long before Greg Berzinsky had the beard of a Greek God, he had as close to a perfect handlebar mustache as one can get. Well, technically, he still has it. In this video, Greg gives a masterclass on styling a handlebar mustache.

THE PETITE HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE

The petite handlebar is a smaller version of the standard handlebar. The petite handlebar mustache is kept shorter in length, and the handles don’t extend past the corners of the mouth. It’s a good option for men whose terminal length doesn’t allow them to grow a full handlebar. 

Famous petite handlebar mustaches

We couldn’t find any. 

How to grow a petite handlebar mustache 

The petite handlebar mustache is grown the same way as a regular handlebar, but everything is kept shorter and more compact. 

Grooming a petite handlebar mustache 

The petite handlebar mustache requires a high amount of grooming. Keeping the mustache short and the center of the mustache trimmed above the top lip is essential to giving a clean look. You’ll frequently need to shave the hair beneath the handles at the outer edge of your mouth—more so than with the standard version. You may also opt to shave a hard part at the philtrum. 

THE ENGLISH MUSTACHE

The English mustache—well, since it’s English, we suppose it would be the English moustache—is distinguished and aristocratic. It is mostly the same as the handlebar mustache, with the only difference being that the handles are not curled. Instead, they are waxed horizontally and shaped to a point. 

Famous English mustaches

We didn’t find many famous versions of this style, but English comedian Jimmy Edwards wore an English on occasion.  

How to grow an English mustache

The English mustache is grown like a standard handlebar. The handles are grown from the edges of the mustache while the center is trimmed to look neat. You want to avoid hair covering the lips. For an even more distinguished look, you may opt to create a hard part at the philtrum.

Grooming an English mustache 

The English mustache requires a good deal of grooming. Keeping the center of the mustache trimmed above the top lip is essential to giving a clean look. You’ll frequently need to shave the hair beneath the handles at the outer corners of your mouth. To do so, lift the mustache and shave any hair that isn’t a part of the handlebar. 

Styling an English mustache

It’s essential to keep the hair off the top lip with the English mustache. You can trim the mustache hair, or you can use a blowdryer to help push the hair horizontally from the philtrum, and up off of the lip. Check out Greg Berzinsky's video showing you how to style an English mustache.

THE HUNGARIAN MUSTACHE

The Hungarian Mustache is the stuff of legends. Part walrus, part handlebar, and 100% badass. It’s a big, swooping handlebar that, due to its size, sits lower on the cheeks. All your old legends of the Wild West, including Wyatt Earp and Seth Bullock, wore Hungarian Mustaches. They probably weren't known as Hungarian mustaches at the time, though. Val Kilmer’s depiction of Doc Holliday has more of the standard handlebar, but photos of Holliday generally show him with a Hungarian. We aren’t quite sure where it gets its name. It may be tied to Franz Ferdinand—the Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not the band—or it could be because the mustache is so big it eats your face… because it was Hungary. What, you thought you were going to read a blog about mustaches and not come across one dad joke? 

Famous Hungarian mustaches

Franz Ferdinand, Eric Bandholz, Greg Berzinsky, Jeffrey Buoncristiano, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Seth Bullock, and Rich Uncle Pennybags (the Monopoly guy). 

How to grow a Hungarian mustache 

The Hungarian mustache is grown like the walrus and then shaped to have long, swooping handles. It may take up to a year to get the length needed, and not everyone will have it in their DNA to do it. 

Grooming a Hungarian mustache 

The Hungarian mustache requires a little less grooming than the standard handlebar. Most of your grooming with the style will be combing or brushing the hair to keep it clean, and training the hair to curl naturally. You will need to frequently shave the hair beneath the handles at the outer corners of your mouth. 

Training the hair

Because the Hungarian is more of a natural curling handlebar, you’ll need to train the hair to curl the way you want it to. Using your thumb and index finger, use a sweeping motion to curl the handles and train your mustache to keep its shape. You want to avoid twisting. Once the 'stache curls how you like, you can use a high-hold product like hairspray to keep it in place.

SHOP NATURAL MUSTACHE WAX

THE DALÍ MUSTACHE

Made famous by the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, the Dalí is an elaborate take on the traditional handlebar mustache. The Dalí is a pencil mustache with long handles. The handlebars are waxed thin and form a sharp point. They’re most often seen styled straight up towards the outer edges of the eyes resulting in a ‘stache that resembles the horns of a Texas Longhorn. Dalí often styled his handlebars eccentrically, sometimes into an infinity symbol. 

Famous Dalí mustaches 

Salvadore Dalí.

How to grow a Dalí mustache 

Due to the length required for the handlebars, the Dalí can take six months or longer to grow. The easiest way would be to grow out a full handlebar mustache or Hungarian. Once you have the required length for the handlebars, shave the mustache gap between the top of the mustache and bottom of the nose, and trim any hairs that hang over the top lip giving you a pencil mustache with handlebars. Apply a heavy-hold wax and style however you want. 

Grooming a Dalí mustache 

The Dalí style requires daily shaving and grooming to get rid of any stray hairs, while also keeping the pencil tidy.  

THE FU MANCHU

Ready to have your mind blown? The Fu Manchu is a Dalí Mustache with two slight differences—a wide gap is shaved at the philtrum, and the handles are styled to hang straight down instead of being pointed upwards. Horseshoe mustaches are often mislabeled as a Fu Manchu, but the Fu Manchu differs from the horseshoe in that the Fu Manchu is only connected to the face at the top corners of the mouth. If you can’t lift your handles away from your face and style them in another direction, you’ve got a horseshoe, not a Fu Manchu. 

Famous Fu Manchu mustaches 

The fictional character Dr. Fu Manchu. 

How to grow a Fu Manchu mustache 

Follow the steps for the Dalí mustache. Add a wide gap at the philtrum, so the handles are separated. Use a medium-hold wax to shape the handles into fine points but don’t style them upwards—allow them to hang. You want a natural-looking mustache, so using too heavy a wax will leave you with a mustache that resembles two hanging toothpicks. 

Grooming a Fu Manchu mustache 

The Fu Manchu requires daily shaving and grooming to get rid of any stray hairs and maintain the philtrum gap.  

HYBRID MUSTACHE STYLES

Hybrid mustaches are part mustache, part beard, and part weird. So far, all the styles we’ve covered have been solely above the lip. Hybrid mustache styles utilize some beard hair as well. 

THE HORSESHOE MUSTACHE

The horseshoe is the American muscle car of mustaches. It’s big, loud, and popular in the south. Perhaps no mustache is mislabeled more than the horseshoe—it’s not a Fu Manchu. The horseshoe is a thick, full mustache that connects to two vertical strips of cheek hair grown parallel to the mouth and extending to the jawline. Take a circle beard and shave just the chin—that’s a horseshoe. Longer walrus mustaches are often mislabeled as horseshoes as well. The difference? The walrus is all mustache that has grown long enough and hangs low enough next to the mouth to resemble a horseshoe. But a pure horseshoe? That requires cheek hair. You can’t lift a horseshoe away from your face. The horseshoe has had a resurgence amongst athletes, especially NFL quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers, Jared Allen, and Joe Flacco have all worn them. The original NFL horseshoe? Broadway Joe Namath. 

Famous horseshoe mustaches

Hulk Hogan, Jared Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Joe Namath, Danny Espinosa, Sam Elliott, and John Lennon. 

How to grow a horseshoe mustache 

The easiest way to grow a horseshoe mustache is to grow a full beard or a circle beard. It will take a solid three to six months to get the required thickness in the mustache and cheeks. Once the desired length is reached, shave away the goatee, soul patch, and mutton chops. Keep two vertical lines of cheek hair, approximately the same width as the mustache, perpendicular to the mouth. 

Grooming a horseshoe mustache 

Use Beard Trimming Scissors to keep mustache hair out of the mouth, or let the hair grow longer for a bushier horseshoe—like Sam Elliott’s. 

THE ZAPPA

Made famous by Frank Zappa, The Zappa is a shortened version of the Horseshoe Mustache with the addition of a soul patch. 

THE IMPERIAL MUSTACHE

Often confused for a standard handlebar or Hungarian, the imperial differs in that it incorporates upper cheek hair to create a thicker handle. The mustache hair connects with the cheek hair at the edges of the mouth and then curls straight up. The imperial also differs from the handlebar and Hungarian in that the ends are not shaped to a point—they are left more natural, creating a fuller shape all the way through. A real imperial mustache kind of resembles the top half of the Wu-Tang logo. The imperial mustache gets its name from Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia until the end of World War I. 

Famous imperial mustaches

Kaiser Wilhelm II

How to grow an imperial mustache 

Since you’ll need some cheek hair for the imperial style, it’s easiest to start by growing out your mustache and beard simultaneously. Once you have enough length for the handles, completely shave the beard with an exception for a small amount of cheek hair at the edges of the mouth—just enough to incorporate it into the base of the handlebars. Train the handlebars to curve upward by daily combing and brushing. Apply wax to give hold, but don’t shape the handlebars into points. Leave the ends more full. 

Grooming an imperial mustache 

Similar to other handlebar styles, you’ll need daily trimming to keep the mustache clean and free of stray hairs. You’ll also need to do maintenance on the small amount of cheek hair i.e., keeping it at the same length and shape. 

THE BEARDSTACHE

The Beardstache itself isn’t a particular mustache style, and it can be worn with many of the styles mentioned above. The Beardstache is simply the combination of a full mustache and a bit of stubble—anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. We’re big fans of the beardstache and think that it’s one of the coolest ways to wear a mustache in 2020. The stubble gives your jawline and cheek lines a little more definition, and the contrast between the full mustache and the stubble looks badass. 

Mustache styles that work best with the beardstache

  • Chevron
  • Lampshade
  • Walrus
  • Horseshoe
  • English
  • Handlebar
  • Hungarian

COMMON MUSTACHE MISTAKES

Just like with beards, there are some essential things to avoid when growing your mustache. These are some of the most common mustache mistakes we see guys making. 

Unrealistic expectations 

On average, facial hair grows a half-inch per month. Your mustache isn’t going to be Tom Selleck’s right off the bat. It takes about 2 to 3 months for a mustache to grow into prominence. It’s going to be awkward for a bit, but you can always grow your mustache with a beard, then lose the beard. 

Trimming it wrong

A full mustache is comprised of different length hairs. In the early stages of growth, you’re going to be cutting the hair closest to the lip line while letting the hair closest to the nose grow in length. The best way to do this is with Beard Trimming Scissors. It’s more challenging to get into tight spaces with an electric trimmer, and you risk accidentally cutting too much bulk out of your mustache. 

Not using products

Just like your beard, your mustache needs hydration and nourishment. Beard Oil and Utility Balm are essential to keeping your mustache healthy and smelling awesome. Utility Balm is our recommendation for longer, natural mustache styles since the balm helps control flyaways.

BEST PRODUCTS FOR STYLING YOUR MUSTACHE

Awesome mustaches don’t happen by accident—they’re a work of art. Having the right tools in your arsenal is essential to getting the style you want, even if you’re planning on going full walrus. These are our recommended products.

Utility Balm

Beardbrand Utility Balm is our pick for a moisturizing product for your mustache. Because it also doubles as a hydrating lotion for your skin—an amazing smelling one at that—you can use it from day one. The balm helps control flyaways while still leaving your mustache looking natural. 

Beard Trimming Scissors

Trimming mustache hairs is more straightforward with scissors. Sometimes you just need to get one or two hairs and that’s difficult to do with electric clippers. A good, high-quality pair of Beard Trimming Scissors will make your life easier.

Boar’s Hair Travel Brush

Stiff boar’s hair bristles exfoliate the skin and evenly distribute essential oil on the mustache hairs. Boar’s hair is also instrumental in training hairs to grow in the direction you want them to. Whether you’re growing a chevron or a Hungarian, boar’s hair will make it easier to get there. The Beardbrand Travel Brush is smaller in size, making it great for mustaches and easy to take with you on the go. 

Pocket Comb

Combing your mustache is vital to keep it neat, clean, and free of dirt—and food. The Beardbrand Pocket Comb is perfectly sized for keeping your ‘stache in check throughout the day—and throughout dinner. 

Mustache Wax

If you’re growing any type of handlebar mustache, you’re going to need Mustache Wax. Mustache Wax comes in different strengths, with some providing more hold than others. It will take some experimenting to find what works best for your mustache style. Beardbrand Mustache Wax provides a medium hold. It’s perfect for more natural-looking styles such as the Hungarian, or comb a little bit into your chevron to keep flyaways tamed. If you’re growing a handlebar, petite handlebar, English, or Dalí, you’ll need a wax with a stronger hold—though Elmer’s Glue also works wonders. Just don’t use it every day. 

MUSTACHE VS MOUSTACHE

Is there a difference between a mustache and moustache? No, there isn’t. Similar to color vs. colour, the word mustache is an Americanized spelling, whereas moustache is spelled in the more traditional Queen’s English. 

Want to talk mustaches, have questions, or need some grooming and style advice? Use the live chat feature on our website or shoot us a message at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help you out. 

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TL;DR

Mustaches are back, and while they are unlikely to surpass beards as the most popular facial hair style, they are cool again.

When it comes to identifying mustache styles, there is a lot of inconsistent information out there. We created the definitive mustache styles breakdown and growing guide to help you find the best mustache for you.

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Eric Bandholz, Founder