The Modern Guide to Mustache Styles

Kristian S
12 minute read

If spending nearly a year in social isolation has given us anything at all, it’s the opportunity to experiment with facial hair with zero social repercussions. The urge to sport manly upper lip hair is real, but most of us are so nervous about oncoming judgement from mustache haters that we don’t even start. 2020 changed all of that by giving us time alone to re-evaluate what’s important to us like never before. Without the pressure of measuring up to societal standards, we realized the men we truly are. A mustache is an extension of your personality - so go get one!

Whether you’ve got a yeard established and just need to know how to sculpt it into a facial hair masterpiece or whether you just set the razor down yesterday, this guide will help you achieve mustache styles you’ll actually wear. We’re about timeless, stylish, and modern styles here, so if you came here to see how to recreate Seneca’s beard from the Hunger Games, you’ve come to the wrong place. We’ll also give you a time frame of how long it will take to achieve the look, what tools you’ll need, and who the facial hair look is most suited to. 

young man with a handlebar mustache

The Handlebar Mustache

The Handlebar mustache has been favored for years by barbershop quartets, hipsters, old-timey presidents (Taft), and mustachioed TV/movie villains (Snidely Whiplash and Bill the Butcher) alike. This is usually a thick mustache style, with the ends grown long and curled upward over the cheeks and toward the middle of the face. The tips are waxed or mustache balm is applied to them to create stiff, fine points. If you want, you can keep the middle point (under the nose) trimmed too, although it’s just as common to leave that area thick and bushy. 

How to Grow One

Like most good things in life, this style takes time. It can take upwards of six months to get this right, and if you reach your terminal length before you get to that point (ie: if your facial hair gets to the point where it just stops growing), you may want to pass on this one and head over to the other options on this list. That said, give yourself plenty of time to see exactly what your facial hair can do before you get hasty, because if you can achieve this look, you’ll be the envy of all your friends. 

Style It

To style this bad boy, you’re going to need mustache wax or balm, a comb, and a slew of other products if you so choose. We think Greg Berzinsky’s handlebar is pretty cool, so these instructions are loosely based on his tutorial:

First, wash your ‘stache with some beard wash and rinse, While it’s still wet, run a round brush under the beard (out and downward from your nose to your lip) while pulling it in the direction of the curl. Use a blow dryer to get your hair moving the direction you want your mustache to go (outward from your mouth). After you’ve finished that, use the blow dryer again on the tips, this time using the round brush to curl the tips up by rolling the brush up as you simultaneously pull it outward. If you want, you can leave it as is (for a more natural handlebar look). If you want a light hold, try using our beard butter on your handlebar. If you’re the type who likes to “go big or go home,” though, grab some mustache wax, heat it up with the blow dryer, and apply it directly to the ends of your mustache while it’s still warm. Apply it liberally to the curl and the underside of the mustache, and just a little on the top of the mustache. Use a comb to train the mustache again in the direction you want it to go. 

Try it if...

This look is best for people who can achieve full and long mustache growth. This one will definitely take time, but as long as you can get the growth, it looks awesome on all face shapes.

man with the chevron mustache style
The Chevron Mustache

The Chevron is one of the most common mustache types around. It’s wider than the corners of the mouth, partially covers the upper lip, and has a slight upside-down “V” shape. In sharp contrast to our first mustache pick, this style is extremely low-maintenance, and requires minimal grooming. This style has been made famous by Freddie Mercury, Tom Selleck, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, and Jack Pearson from This is Us (you know, that show your lady has probably tried to get you to watch a million times). 

How to Grow One

For this one, all you really need to do is let your mustache grow. It’ll take two to three months to get the look. Like many of the other styles on our list, you can grow this along with a beard and then shave the beard when you reach the optimal length and thickness.

Style It

As we said, this is a piece of cake. Use beard trimming scissors to ensure you don’t end up with hair in your mouth. Trim the edges of the mustache with the scissors in your Arsenal so they don’t go past the lower corners of your mouth… that is, unless you feel like sporting a horseshoe mustache. Wash it often and apply beard oil and beard soft if you want it to be more appealing to the woman in your life. 

Try it if…

This mustache looks best with thick growth, although terminal length isn’t as much of an issue. Different versions of this look have been worn by so many guys, so it’s safe to say this is another versatile look if you can achieve it properly. 

man with a modern version of the pencil mustache style
The Pencil Mustache

In the 30s and 40s, the pencil mustache had the ability to make silver screen sirens swoon. Frenchmen and Americans alike wore this signature look that has class and mischief written all over it. This thin, short mustache is the same width as the mouth and rests just above the top lip. The look had fallen out of favor in recent decades, but it's making a resurgence in a more modern take that usually resembles a thinner form of the Van Dyke beard style.

How to Grow One

As your mustache grows, keep the length short enough so that it doesn’t cover your top lip. Trim the bottom of your mustache to follow the shape of your mouth. Shave the top line of the mustache with a razor, following the curve of your mouth. The pencil mustache takes two to four weeks to grow depending on your hair color (the darker the hair, the quicker it comes in). How thin you go is up to you, although  if your hair is light you’ll probably want to keep it thicker.

Style It

This is another high-maintenance mustache. The upper line needs to be shaved often (daily or as little as a few times a week). Keep the overall length on the short side (trim it with some scissors) to keep the bottom line of the mustache visible. If you want to wear the pencil a bit higher, shave a small gap between the top lip and the mustache. (Keep your top lip taut as you do this, and use Shave Lube to protect your skin. Go slow, since the skin by the mouth is more sensitive.) An alternative version of this style is to shave your philtrum (that area between the middle of your nose and  your top lip.

Try it if...

We don’t want to hate on our lighter-haired brothers, but we personally feel this look is usually better suited to dark-haired men with longer faces. (The pencil mustache with shaved philtrum looks good on round faces though.) 

bald man with walrus mustache
The Walrus Mustache

The man who sports a walrus is loud and proud. He’s a regular blue-collar guy but he’s the MOST regular guy you’ll meet. This is a natural style that’s thick, big, bold, and easy to groom. Consider it a chevron on steroids. This look’s been made famous by Teddy Roosevelt, Sam Elliott, Wild West outlaws, and, well, walruses. 

How to Grow One

With zero trimming, this will take at least 6 months to grow. Like the handlebar, this requires a longer terminal length. If you see a halt in growth by six months’ time, you’ve probably reached your terminal length. 

Style It

To keep this beast from becoming completely unruly, you’re going to need a Beard Brush. You may be interested in a Beard Straightener too, to keep it growing the direction you want. Other than that, all you need is a pocket comb and some scissors. If you’d rather start with a slightly smaller version of this, there’s always the “baby walrus/cop stache.” 

Try it if…

You have a long terminal length and you don’t mind being the go-to guy for backyard BBQs and cookouts. Everyone will assume you know what you’re doing when it comes to manly stuff. Don’t let them down. 

young man with the beardstache facial hair style

The Beardstache

I bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Regardless how obvious it might be to include it on this list, the beardstache is a very popular style that women are far more likely to find sexy than most of the other styles on this list. Maybe it’s the five o’clock shadow, or the definition it brings to the jawline, but women go crazy for a beardstache. This style is also one of the more versatile ones, working well with almost all of the mustache styles listed above. (We don’t recommend it for use with a pencil mustache, since the pencil requires clean lines and the beardstache is pretty much the opposite.)

How to Grow One

To grow the beardstache, start out with growing a beard, and trim the beard as you go and leave the mustache alone. Over time the mustache will be more prominent and your beard will be more like a cool complement to the center-stage ‘stache. 

Style It

While you’re coaxing this chill masterpiece into existence, you’ll want to apply Hemp Oil all over your beard and mustache to reduce itchiness, moisturize, and ensure your skin is well hydrated. You’ll want a beard trimmer with an attachment to keep your beard the length you need it to be, along with scissors and a comb for when your mustache growth really starts to take off. For more shapely stubble, use our beard shaping tool.

Try it If..

This look works best on guys who have chiseled jawlines, although we think everyone should try this out at least once. Men with lighter hair may want to allow a bit more stubble and ‘stache than dark-haired guys, just to ensure that the style comes across. 

young man with the van dyke beard style of facial hair
The Van Dyke Style

Of the mustache and beard combos, this one is probably the most common. The Van Dyke is extremely versatile, working with pretty much any mustache style you want to throw at it (yes, including the pencil mustache). This style is named after Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck, and it’s been around for a while, which is probably why there are so many versions of it. Some guys choose to make their Van Dyke as close to that of its namesake as possible, and some put their own spin on it.

How to Grow It

Depending on the exact style you want, this can take anywhere from two to six months. If you’re going for the original curled mustache and pointy chin hair, it’ll be closer to six months, and will probably only be achieved if you’ve got a good terminal length. 

Style It

Again, this depends on the style you want, but at a basic level you’ll want a good beard oil, a comb and scissors. You’ll need a brush if you plan to grow out the chin hair and mustache, along with some beard butter for a light hold.

Try it If…

This beard style looks good on everyone, so go to town with it!

The Best Products for the Best Mustache

Here at Wild Willies, we have plenty of products for your mustache and beard maintenance needs, including products to promote facial hair growth (take that, terminal length!), skin and body products, and the essentials that every man needs to grow the coolest mustache looks around. We love helping you feel your best, so feel free to stop by our website if you have any questions!

best mustache styles 2020s

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