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How to Trim and Shape a Mustache

Updated on July 3, 2017
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant and former hairdresser by profession, Jayne has been helping men and women improve their appearance for almost 20 years.

How to properly trim and shape your mustache to keep it looking groomed and stylish. Find out, too, how to get the perfect chevron, horseshoe or waxed handlebar.

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As a former hairdresser who always enjoyed a sizable male clientele, I've handled more mustaches than I could possibly count. One thing I discovered is that most guys can wear a full beard, goatee or balbo, but it's the stand alone mustache that separates the men from the boys. To pull it off, it takes a certain inbred maturity and confidence.

But, regardless of your qualities, a mustache can still make or break you. It's a question of finding a style and shape you feel comfortable with, and keeping it properly trimmed and well groomed.

How to Trim a Mustache

What You Need to Trim a Mustache

  • Mustache, hairdressing or straight nail scissors
  • Hair or beard clippers (optional)
  • A fine toothed comb (preferably a mustache comb)
  • An extra hand mirror
  • Good lighting

Trimming With Scissors and Clippers

Use scissors to reduce length, and clippers to tidy and reduce bulk.

Use clippers to tidy and reduce bulk.
Use clippers to tidy and reduce bulk. | Source
  1. Comb your mustache.
  2. Using your lip as a guideline, trim the lower mustache contour with scissors. You can wet your mustache to do this, but remember, it will appear shorter after it's dried.
  3. Run the clippers over your mustache downwardly. Use a longer size guard if you only want to clip hairs that don't lie flat, and a shorter one to thin your mustache. Until you've gained more experience, it's best to start with a longer guard to prevent cutting off too much hair.
  4. Comb your mustache again, and trim away any hairs that stick out at the sides with scissors.

Trimming Without Clippers

If you haven't got clippers, you can thin and tidy your mustache with a comb and scissors, as hairdressers and barbers do. The comb basically serves as a guard, but getting the mustache symmetrical is more difficult than with clippers, especially if you want to thin out more radically.

Tidying your mustache: Run the comb lightly over one half of your mustache. Hairs that don't lie flat will poke through its teeth.
Tidying your mustache: Run the comb lightly over one half of your mustache. Hairs that don't lie flat will poke through its teeth. | Source
Thinning your mustache: Hold the comb upside down and push it under your mustache.
Thinning your mustache: Hold the comb upside down and push it under your mustache. | Source
The philtrum: Cut a nick into the center of your mustache at the bow of the lip.
The philtrum: Cut a nick into the center of your mustache at the bow of the lip. | Source

Tidying Your Mustache

  1. Run the comb lightly over one half of your mustache. Hairs that don't lie flat will poke through its teeth.
  2. Snip away the offending hairs, working from the center to the sides.
  3. Do the same on the other half of your mustache.
  4. Comb your mustache, and trim away any hairs that stick out at the sides.

After you've finished, use an extra hand mirror to view the profile of your mustache and check that all hairs lie flat.

Thinning Your Mustache

Hold the comb upside down and push it under your mustache. Pull it slightly away from you until only the hair length you want to trim pokes through the teeth.

The Philtrum

Cut a nick into the center of your mustache at the bow of the lip. This suggests the philtrum (the groove that runs between the nose and mouth), which is considered one of the most attractive features of the human face. You may have noticed that James Franco shaves his philtrum completely when wearing a mustache.

How Often Should You Trim Your Mustache?

Trim your mustache about once a week. If you dye it to cover grays or even out color, do this before you trim. The color will then seem less saturated and more natural.

Mustache Styles

One of the most famous wearers of the chevron is Burt Reynolds.
One of the most famous wearers of the chevron is Burt Reynolds. | Source

The three most popular mustache styles today are the chevron, the horseshoe and the handlebar. Which you choose depends mostly on your personality.

The handlebar is certainly for the more extrovert, the horseshoe suits the free-spirited, and the chevron is for the man who feels very at ease with his masculinity.

The Chevron Mustache

The model featured above is sporting a chevron, but its most famous wearers are probably Taylor Rice, Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds (right).

Shaping Your Mustache to a Chevron

Keep the corners of your mustache more or less level with the corners of your mouth, and trim along the lip line or just below it. You can allow it to get bushy, but make sure it's always tidy.

If your face is very thin, it's recommended to shave the corners so that your mustache is no wider than your mouth. You might need to do this, too, if you're in the forces. Trimming above the lip line is often another stipulation.

If you grow out a chevron until it covers the top lip or even the whole mouth, it becomes what is known as a 'walrus' mustache. This looks super manly, but eating and drinking can become awkward.

The horseshoe mustache.
The horseshoe mustache. | Source

The Horseshoe Mustache

The horseshoe mustache is so called because it resembles an upside down horseshoe. It's also named after those who traditionally favor it: truckers and bikers.

The horseshoe, trucker or biker mustache is basically a chevron with extended corners, which are called 'pipes'.

Shaping Your Mustache to a Horseshoe

The easiest way to get the horseshoe shape is by first growing a goatee. When length and thickness are substantial, simply shave off the chin, leaving the 'pipes' intact.

Avoid this style if you've got a longish face.

The Waxed Handlebar Mustache

The handlebar mustache is so called because it resembles the handlebars of a bicycle. It can make you seem slightly eccentric, as it does the British humorist Michael Attree (below); or make you look extremely attractive, as it does the models Greg T. Brown, Nathan McCallum and François Verkerk.

A handlebar mustache can make you seem slightly eccentric, as it does the British humorist Michael Attree.
A handlebar mustache can make you seem slightly eccentric, as it does the British humorist Michael Attree. | Source

Shaping Your Mustache to a Handlebar

Some men part their mustache at the philtrum and brush it towards each end where they curl it up, either with or without wax. The trouble is, this tends to look scruffy.

For a groomed appearance, trim the main body of your mustache as you would a chevron so that you can comb it downwardly, but let the ends grow. After a couple of weeks, you should be able to start curling with wax.

Which Mustache Wax?

Which mustache wax you use depends on the type of curl you want. For a natural looking curl, use a soft-setting product like Taylor's of Old Bond Street. For a more defined curl, go for something that sets stiffly and holds firmly like Brother's Love Bavarian Moustache Styling Pomade—this one is available in clear and hazelnut brown. Most men find that a stiff-setting wax works better during the early stages of growth.

If the main body of your mustache is unruly, use a soft-setting wax to 'train' it and keep it under control.

How to Apply Mustache Wax

Your mustache should be completely dry before applying wax.

  1. Rub a tiny portion of wax between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Spread the wax through the length of one mustache end only, then shape to an upturned curl. Work quickly if using a stiff-setting product to prevent it balling up.
  3. Do the same again on the other mustache end.
  4. Inspect your mustache for perfect symmetry and tweak if necessary.

If applying wax to the main body of your mustache, use a mustache brush or a soft toothbrush, working from the philtrum outwardly.

A Poll for Mustachioed Readers

Which mustache style do you wear?

See results

© 2015 Jayne Lancer

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    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and beautiful article. You have explained everything so clearly with good supporting images. I used to keep the chevron moustache till I reached 45. After that I removed it due to maintenance reasons and other reasons and keep clean face now since then.

      Thanks for giving guidance to those who need it. Voted up.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      This made me smile as it reminded me of watching my Daddy trim his when I was a wee bit of a girl

      Now my eldest grandson has a mustache and a goatee...and he takes great pains to keep them looking just so!!!

      No doubt this hub will be of benefit to those in need of such instruction.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you for the kind words, Venkatachari M! Most men I know who have had to shave it off end up missing it very much.

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, pstraubie48! Your grandson sounds like a very smart young man.

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 2 years ago

      Growing and maintaining a well-groomed mustache can enhance the attractiveness of men. As a former hairdresser, you have shared some interesting tips on its proper care for the different styles and shapes. I love your example of Burt Reynolds', one of my favorites. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 2 years ago from Australia

      I have had my 'mo' for about 50 years in one form or another, sometimes coupled to a beard!

      Nowadays it is mainly a chevron and modified to a Zapata at times, when I get lazy! Then back to the chevron lol

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Congrats on HOTD, Jayne. This was an interesting hub on how to trim and shape a mustache. Very useful for men! Voted up!

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, MySuccess8! As far as the photos are concerned, it was a choice of Tom Selleck or Burt Reynolds. I decided on Burt. :)

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, Agvulpes! I love the way Emiliano Zapata looked with his mustache, at least in the photos I've seen. But the chevron is tidier and less conspicuous.

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, Kristen! I've noticed an increase in wearers over here, which was my inspiration. Let's hope it continues. :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You've very wlecome Jayne. I hope you're right. It could be attractive on some men who man-scaped their facial hair.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great instructions! Seems like a lot of work, but if a guy likes wearing a mustache he certainly should keep it neatly trimmed, whichever style he prefers. Congratulations on your Hub of the Day!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I have three daughters who are barbers! I enjoyed reading this, but I have to tell you I prefer a clean shaven man.

      Great HOTD. Voted Up, etc.

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
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      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Oh yes, Kirsten. I'd love to see a few more of them about. :)

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, Susan! It's actually much easier than it may seem. The only difficult part is getting it absolutely symmetrical.

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
      Author

      Jayne Lancer 2 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, Mary615! I can imagine you never need to visit the hairdresser, unless your daughters live far away. At least they could take it in turns - I'm the only one in my family, so I end up having to do practically everybody's hair. :)

      I'm quite the opposite of you where facial hair is concerned. I'd never let my husband get away with shaving completely!

    • profile image

      fish 11 months ago

      i have a chevron/horseshore with extended side going down to my bottom lip. My mustache is like the horseshore butt shorter sides. mustaches rule thank . fish

    • Jayne Lancer profile image
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      Jayne Lancer 10 months ago from West London, UK

      Thank you, Fish.

      It sounds like a sort of Mexican mustache.

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