One Giant Problem with Gabe Kapler's Mustache May Take

Mustaches are controversial—they pretty much always have been and will most likely always be a point of contention.

And once again, the old under-nose push broom is sweeping up a new debate: if someone has a full beard, can you say that they have a mustache?

As facial hair experts, we figured we would weigh in.

It all started on May 11, 2022, when San Francisco Giants Manager Gabe Kapler fielded questions related to his participation in Mustache May.

The Giants have participated in Mustache May—the spring equivalent of Movember—since 2019. However, this year, the Giants have teamed up with BreakingT to create San Fransisco Giants Mustache May shirts. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit helping end the stigma surrounding men’s mental health issues.

Anyway, back to Kapler.

Kapler was asked in a press conference whether or not a player who sports a full beard can be considered a participant in Mustache May.

Kapler—who wears a well-groomed full beard—came out to support those wearing a full beard as having a mustache.

“So this is sort of like a, is the hamburger a sandwich question,” Kapler joked before clarifying his stance. “If you go to the barbershop and you have a full beard, the barber may say, ‘Would you like me to leave your mustache a little bit longer?’ Doesn’t that mean that you have a mustache? Do you have a full beard? We have a lot of players who wear full beards. In my opinion, they are participating in Mustache May."

Kapler’s argument does have some validity to it. A full beard consists of five different areas of facial hair:

  • The goatee - the hair on the front of the chin, above the jawline, and expanding to the cheeks.
  • The side-burns or mutton-chops - the hair on the cheeks above the jawline.
  • The neck - everything that grows below the jawline.
  • The soul patch, flavor savor, or jazz dot - the strip of hair directly underneath the bottom lip.
  • The mustache - the hair above the upper lip.

It’s worth noting that facial hair grows differently and has unique terminal lengths in each of these areas. Growth patterns differ from person to person and are highly subjective to a person’s age and genetics, which is why some men can grow long handlebar mustaches while others can’t, or why some men have soul patches that are the entire width of the bottom lip, and some don’t.

So, in this sense (and only in this sense), Kapler is correct—if you have a full beard, then you do, in fact, have a mustache.

But here's the thing. When we talk about the mustache as a distinctive style, the mustache has to be the star of the show. It can’t just blend in with the rest of the beard. To wear a full beard and claim it as a mustache isn’t fair to the mustache—or to all of those who are actually rocking a solo 'stache.

Why does it matter?

For starters, mustaches are divisive. People have strong opinions about them. There is no middle ground—you are either on team mustache or are vehemently opposed to them. Even Freddie Mercury—arguably the most famous stache ever—had to endure fans throwing razors on stage at Queen concerts protesting his chevron.

To wear a mustache means subjecting yourself to the occasional ridicule. It means being called pornstache or Magnum P.I. by total strangers (yes, this happens). Wearing just a mustache takes a kind of confidence and swagger only outdone by the mutton chops.

There aren’t many rules to wearing a mustache. There’s only one rule (and we made it up right now). One shall not claim the glory of the mustache without enduring the mustache's struggle.

Fortunately, mustache popularity has been on the rise for several years. The solo 'stache is nearly as commonplace as in the 1980s when mustaches ruled. And we’re glad to see teams like the Giants embracing the mustache for a great cause.

So, if you’re going to grow a mustache for Movember or Mustache May—be a homer and wear that stache on it’s own like a badge of honor.

And if you need help recognizing what a mustache is and what isn’t or just need some mo’ inspiration, check out our Definitive Guide to Mustache Styles.

Keep on Growing.


Need some help with your beard or mustache? Text "STYLE" to 512-879-3297. Our resident beard and style expert will text you back with personalized advice—for free.

Keep on Growing.


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Do you know what type of beardsman you are? Take the quiz to find out if you’re the rarest type, and get ongoing beard advice sent to your inbox weekly.