Men's Facial Hair: Mustache Designs
Men's Facial Hair: Mustache Designs
Karen Marie Shelton
Date: 12/15/2003

Introduction

Men have been sporting mustaches since prehistoric times.  They have waxed and waned in popularity in every social class and in every culture. Many famous men wore mustaches from the very wise and referred Confucius and Buddha to Jesus Christ.

(Image of Noah Wyle with full mustache and beard as Dr. John Carter on TV's ER, Warner Bros. photo - all rights reserved).

Some men who appreciate the appeal of a mustache believe that they should be worn "neat" without a beard to hamper the image. Like everything in life, not everyone agrees with the concept of wearing just a mustache or wearing a mustache with a beard.

Therefore some men wear mustaches without beards, other men wear a full mustache in addition to a full beard.  I always say, do what works best for you and your lifestyle.

While growing a mustache is mostly easy for most men baring the initial unshaven look that comes with an itchiness, once they have the appropriate hair, new issues pop up. 

(Image of Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter on TV's ER in first stages of new mustache and beard growth -  Warner Bros. photo - all rights reserved).

How long should the mustache be?  Should it be colored or not?  Should the mustache be groomed by the wearer or it is better to have a professional barber or hairstylist shape and groom the mustache?

Even more importantly, should every man consider sporting a mustache? Believe it or not, just like selecting a complimentary hairstyle, men need to consider several things before growing and wearing a mustache.  

MTV's Newlyweds star Nick Lachey (shown above at the 2003 AMA Awards with an attractive light fringe of mustache and beard hair)

The actual size and fullness of the mustache should work with the size of the man's facial features.  The general rule of thumb is that men with smaller facial structures should wear smaller mustaches.  Men with more prominent features should go with a larger or more prominent design.

Although current mustache trends for 2003 have been to wear a "barely there" soft mustache that has the appearance of "just growing in" this trend shows signs of changing.  Look for mustaches to get heavier and more pronounced in 2004. 

Appropriate Mustache Designs

Mustaches of other facial hair can also punch up the overall face shape by adding good balance and definition.  A well maintained mustache and/or beard will camouflage a soft or ageing jawline. 

(Image of Eddie Murphy with full mustache as Sherman Klump in Nutty Professor 2:  The Klumps - 2003 Fox Broadcasting - all rights reserved - courtesy of Fox).

A mustache will shorten an overly rectangular or oblong shape or help to balance a large or round face.  

The addition of a carefully trimmed goatee can also infuse an element of squareness to a soft chin.

When deciding upon the proper design for your mustache consider the following:

  • Overall length of the mouth
  • Size of the nose
  • Size and fullness of the upper lip area
  • Overall width of the cheeks
  • Shape and width of the jaws and chin area
  • Density of hair growth
  • Facial hair color and texture
  • Current mustache fashions and trends

These same experts recommend the following mustache designs based on the various facial shape, features and nose and mouth configurations: 

  1. Large facial features in general - heavy mustache will work with a larger face.
  2. Prominent nose - medium to larger mustache will balance a prominent or hooked nose.
  3. Long, narrow face - medium to narrow mustache works best.
  4. Extra-large mouth or prominent teeth - triangular or pyramid shaped mustache.
  5. Extra-small mouth - medium, short mustache.
  6. Small facial features - small triangular mustache.
  7. Wide mouth with very prominent upper lip - heavy mustache or large handlebar mustache or a large, divided mustache.
  8. Round face with regular features - semi-square mustache.
  9. Square face with prominent features - heavy, linear mustache with ends curving slightly downward.
  10. A full beard that is trimmed into a rounded or square shape and worn with a mustache will disguise a pointy or very prominent chin.

Even more importantly, before undertaking the growth and ultimate design of mustache consider the opinions and general feelings of spouses, significant others, friends and family that will also have to live with your new facial hair, the appropriateness of having a mustache for your job and career and any other outside factors that would play a part in how well your mustache if received.

Appropriate Mustache Trimming

Whether you decide to shape and maintain your mustache at home over the privacy of your bathroom sink, or have your stylist or barber do the honors, it is always important to keep any facial hair clean, neat and well groomed.

If you decide to keep your mustache groomed and trimmed at home, there are many excellent tools on the marketplace that offer you the ability to do an excellent job on your facial hair. Many of the commercial trimming tools will trim all types of facial hair from moustaches and beards to facial hair like sideburns and goatees.

Generally speaking, stylists that specialize in working with men are usually more knowledgeable about trimming and styling facial hair.  However, ask your favorite stylist if they can work with you to trim and maintain your mustache. 

Procedures For Trimming A Mustache

Remember that if you trim your own mustache that it can leave a trail of pesky little hairs.  Plan your trimming in advance, allow yourself plenty of time and perform the trimming in an area that can be easily cleaned. 

(Image of Chi McBride as Steven Harper. T
2003 FOX - Credit: Kharen Hill/FOX).

There are two basic parts to trimming a mustache.  One is to define and adjust the overall length of your mustache hair.  The other one is the shape of the mustache.

Some men prefer to use a comb and sharp mustache scissors to trim their mustache.  Others prefer the commercial trimmers made by companies like Conair, Remington, Braun and similar.

  1. Cover your clothing with a towel or plastic drape or cap like used in a salon or barber shop.
  2. Stand back and look at your mustache in a mirror with a good light source to determine the areas that need to be trimmed and/or shaped.
  3. Comb your mustache so that all the hairs are laying in the same direction.
  4. Trim the mustache length first. 

    When you are trimming length, keep in mind that just as the hair grows in different directions, you must trim in multiple directions. You will basically have to trim both with and against the grain to catch the hairs that are bent over.

    If trimming with a comb and a scissors, comb against the grain of the mustache hair, to get it to stand up against the normal grain.  Then use the scissors and cut against the base of the comb to achieve a uniform length. Remember to take your time and work carefully.  Once you chop hair, you can't glue it back on.

    If you use a trimmer, set the trimmer height to the desired closeness and then use the trimmers with its built-in guide to achieve a uniform length. Even though you go mainly against the grain you will also have to trim from the sides because not all hair will grow uniformly.
  5. Work from side to side until you have trimmed the mustache hairs to the desired length. 

  6. Be sure to check the length or the mustache for evenness at both corners of the mouth.

  7. Once you are completely happy with the length of the mustache, shape the mustache with your scissors and comb or your trimmer.  

Shaping, Tapering, & Blending

If you use a commercial moustache trimmer you can experiment with the settings to get a closer or fuller shape.

Use the appropriate trimmer attachment and starting at the middle of your mustache, follow the lip lines and shape and taper out the mustache until a gentle shape is created on the bottom and top portions of your mustache.  Carefully cut the desired outline until you have the desired shape and definition. 

If you prefer a more distinctive shape, make a definitive line at the bottom of your mustache to create a stronger less gentle line.

Blend the mustache hairs by taking the blender attachment and starting again at the middle of the mustache, lightly trim ad direct angles away from the middle.  For a shorter length, use the short-cut attachment.

If desired you may use wax to either the ends or the overall mustache.  Some men also use color pencils to darken the area. Color pencils can be purchased at beauty supply houses.

Summary

When in doubt about the best moustache shape and style for your own facial type and shape, consult with your favorite hair care professional.  Be willing to consider all the options and keep your eye on current trends so you can have a look that not only works with your facial features and lifestyle but current fashions.

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