With working from home becoming the norm for many guys, you may have gotten used to not shaving—even if you were used to that baby-faced look in the past. If you’ve found yourself wanting to keep some of that facial hair but don’t want to go all out with a full beard, it might be time to try out a mustache. While always popular among men no matter the decade, mustaches are nearly as popular for men now as they were in the ‘70s, when seemingly every famous man sported one.
To help make your decision a little easier, we’ll guide you through the most popular styles along with some help from a couple of top barbers—George Amino of Clever Barber in Brooklyn and Jose Montano of DTLA Cuts in Los Angeles. They’ll share how to style and maintain each look, and what they think of each one.
Meet the Expert
- George Amino is a barber at Clever Barber in Brooklyn, NY.
- Jose Montano is a barber at DTLA Cuts in Los Angeles.
This is perhaps the manliest mustache style on our list, favored by tough guys like Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. or Jim Hopper on Stranger Things. Even Freddie Mercury was rocking a chevron in the ’80s. This is also a great option if you’re a man whose hair grows in thick. Amino says that lately the men he sees coming in with a Chevron mustache are the same guys who come in for a buzz cut.
This is also one of the easier styles to grow and maintain—let your facial hair grow naturally for around two or three months to get the right thickness and length, shaving the rest of your beard off as necessary. Afterward, you can use a pair of trimming scissors to take care of long hairs and maintain the mustache’s edges. You don’t want the sides going down past the corners of your mouth, unless you’re interested in the next mustache on the list.
The Horseshoe is considered a Chevron on steroids, which is perhaps an appropriate description, as an iconic example of this type of mustache can be found on pro wrestler Hulk Hogan—an upside-down “U” shape that extends down past the corners of the mouth. Indeed, this is a style favored by athletes, with NFL stars like Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, and Joe Namath famously rocking one at some point in their careers.
As far as growing a Horseshoe in, the best way would be to let your full beard grow out for around three or four months, or whatever your desired thickness is. From there, shave off everything on the cheeks and chin until you have the mustache and two perpendicular lines. Similar to the Chevron, the maintenance isn’t too bad, but Montano suggests a sharp tool for the job. “This requires a good razor to keep the sides clean and a scissor to trim during n the process of growing,” he explains. Amino warns that he doesn’t see many Horseshoes often, so it may be best to leave it to the pros.
If you’re looking for something a bit more refined, the fanciful Handlebar could be for you. Much like the English below, the Handlebar is cleaner than bushier Chevron and Horseshoe styles.
You’ll want to grow the handlebar quite long on both sides, which could take anywhere from four to six months. Some men may find it challenging to grow a full handlebar mustache due to the length required for the curly bits on the end since the handles are grown from the hair at the edges of the mustache.
You’ll need a decent amount of upkeep to maintain the Handlebar. In particular, you’ll need to ensure that the center of the mustache is nice and neat for a flawless look. Daily shaving of the hair beneath the handles at the corners of your mouth is recommended. To do this, lift away the mustache from your face and get rid of all of the stray hairs that aren’t a part of the handlebar. “This is one of the most easily recognized facial hairstyles on the planet,” Montano says. “The ends of the mustache are twisted and styled far past the outer edges of the lips, resembling the handlebars of a motorcycle or bicycle.” As for getting your hair to grow into this familiar shape, he recommends using enough product and time. “A lot of wax or oil is required, as well as repetitive upward movements to train the beard,” says Montano.
Done right, the Handlebar mustache can be a very dramatic look. From Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York to Colman Domingo above, it has been spotted on several actors.
Another classic option long seen on legends like Little Richard, Vincent Price, and John Waters, the Pencil-style mustache is still going strong, thanks to men like Jamie Foxx and Brad Pitt.
To get a Pencil, you’ll want to allow your mustache to grow in as natural, keeping the length short enough so that it doesn’t entirely cover your top lip and the bottom of the mustache trimmed to follow the shape of your mouth. Do the same with the top portion, shaving off enough for the desired height of the Pencil. The Pencil mustache will take two to four weeks to grow, depending on how dark your hair is.
The Pencil will need a fair amount of grooming to keep looking good. Daily maintenance on the upper part of the lip is probably going to be necessary. You may want to keep the overall length of the mustache on the shorter side to help keep everything tidy. You may also try wearing the Pencil a bit higher by maintaining a gap between the top of the lip and the hair.
Perhaps this look is the most complicated style to pull off because one wrong move and it will look like you just forgot to shave for a few days.
For the scruff to look good, it’s best to shave the unruly areas that aren’t part of your mustache before bed so that they only slightly regrow into a fine stubble before you go back out into the world the next day.
The best part of the style is that you won’t need any products to help you style it besides your razor. Just choose the amount of scruff you’re comfortable with and go from there. Unlike some of the others on this list, you can get the scruffy look in as little as a week, depending on how fast your hair grows.
Guys that always look like they couldn’t care less, like Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr., have always made this style look effortless and cool. However, it may help if your friends think of you as the type who is too busy living the rock star life to bother shaving.