How to Trim a Handlebar Mustache

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Want to learn how to properly trim a handlebar mustache? Read on.

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Have you been having hit-or-miss success trying to figure out how to trim a handlebar mustache? You probably agree there’s nothing on the planet as smoking hot as a well-tended handlebar. But, if you’re like me, you’ve found it’s not easy to make it look the way you want.
I went through years of frustration trying to get my handlebar to look even moderately cool. Eventually, I got it all figured out and I now finally rock a very slick ‘stache. So, I thought it would be helpful if I posted this to help others get a handle on their handlebar.

Want to get your handlebar mustache looking totally cool?

I get it. You know the look you want, but maybe you’re having trouble transferring that look to your face, right? I hear you loud and clear. Like me, you’ve probably spent way too much time and effort trying to get that hip mental image to match up with the not-so-hip reality growing on your top lip.

Well, now you can take advantage of my epic journey through handlebar grooming. After spending years on trial-and-error attempts, I’ve finally got it down to a science. Read on to see what I learned the hard way. And more importantly, how my hard-earned knowledge can pay off for you.

how to trim a handlebar mustache

Here’s what you’ll need to get started

Mustache Comb
During the growing phase, the comb will help you keep it styled and shaped as it grows into the length you’ll need for the perfect handlebar. Combing your mustache helps train the hair, and will give you a good idea of how it will look after it’s fully grown. I prefer to use a comb rather than a brush on my mustache, but a brush will work in a pinch.

You will need to have a second comb for applying mustache wax. I prefer to use two combs, one for combing and training my mustache and the second to apply the wax. I use a separate comb for waxing because it’s impossible to clean it of all wax, and you’ll need a clean one anytime you don’t want to expose your mustache to wax.

Mustache Wax
A comb can help shape and style your handlebar mustache, but nothing does the trick like mustache wax. The amount you use depends on how long and thick your mustache is and how fast it grows.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different amounts. Use more wax in the tips and twist for the classic look. If you’re after a more casual look, try applying some wax to the entire mustache and then brush or comb into place. Try different styles for different looks to see what rings your bell.

Beard and Mustache Oil
A top quality oil will do a great job of conditioning your mustache hair. It will also help keep the skin under your mustache soft and moist. Apply as often as you think you need, but never go more than two or three days between applications.

Hair and Beard Scissors
A good pair of professional grade hair scissors costs anywhere from $10 into the stratosphere, but they’re worth the price (within reason). Don’t skimp on this part. Invest $20 to $30 for a decent pair, which you can buy online. Your face and mustache will thank you. Some people swear by the small, trimming scissors designed specifically for mustache and beard. I prefer a medium size hair scissors. Either will get the job done, so it’s just a matter of personal preference.

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5 steps for trimming and styling your handlebar mustache

This is where the rubber meets the road. Follow these steps for trimming and styling your handlebar to give it the sex appeal and totally cool look you’re after. Just remember that the secret to good trimming is restraint.

Step 1 – Combing Out and Lightly Trimming Your Mustache

Forget the naysayers. Don’t listen to people who say you should never trim your handlebar mustache. You do need to trim it, but only certain parts. When you first start growing your handlebar you need to leave the sides alone and untrimmed until they’ve grown out to the full length you’re after.

Trim infrequently. You don’t need to trim very often, maybe once a week or so, if that, depending on how quickly your mustache grows. You’ll know when it needs trimming because hairs will be getting into your mouth from the top and sides.

Only trim a clean mustache. Trim after you’ve showered and your mustache has been cleaned. You should absolutely NOT trim it when it’s oily, full of food, dingleberries, or otherwise not clean. Nothing will throw off a trim like crud in your mustache.

Comb it first. After you’ve showered, do a quick combing out of your mustache. Always comb in the direction you want your mustache to grow. This will get the hairs to lay in one direction and give you a good idea of what needs trimming.
Now it’s time for the trim. Here’s a great YouTube video created by epic handlebar mustache wearer Greg Brown. In the video, Greg demonstrates how to comb out and trim your handlebar:

Get the hair out of your mouth. You will want to keep the center of your mustache, the area just above your mouth, trimmed so it doesn’t grow down over your mouth. The video demonstrates a good technique for doing this. The worst thing in the world is trying to eat or drink when your mouth is covered with thick mustache hair.

Trim the undergrowth. You should also trim the hair that grows below the lip line on each side of the mouth. The lip line is where your top and bottom lips meet on each side of your mouth. Following is a link to “Epic Mustache,” a blogger who documents his entire handlebar mustache growing experience. In this blog he describes how to trim the ‘undergrowth’ hair on the sides of the mouth below the main body of the mustache:

This is the first bit of trimming you need to keep after, along with trimming above your mouth. Aside from this, just keep letting the hair on the sides grow until it has reached the full desired length.

Step 2 – Combing to Train Your Handlebar

In addition to the occasional light trimming noted in step one, you’ll want to train your mustache. This is something you will need to do every day.

Comb often. The first step in training your handlebar mustache is combing it out. Some guys prefer a comb and others a brush. I’ve used both and prefer a comb, but either will get the job done. The point is to do it every day without fail. Your goal is to encourage the mustache to grow in the precise pattern you want.

Stick to the pattern. Start by creating a part in the center, under the middle of your nose. On each side, comb the hair towards the outer edge of your mouth and beyond to the tips. This process of combing the hair towards the sides allows it to grow quite thick. Remember, you’re only trimming the hairs just above your top lip that grow into your mouth, and the undergrowth hair. The rest gets trained to grow horizontally towards the sides.
Here’s a YouTube video by “Hook Daddy” demonstrating how to comb a mustache:

Step 3 – Waxing Your Handlebar

Be sure to wax your mustache right after you’ve showered. Wax works best on a clean mustache because the natural oils in the unwashed hair will tend to repel the wax.

Comb it first. You can apply mustache wax either during or after you’ve combed it out. A lot of guys combine the process and apply wax as they comb. I prefer to comb my mustache out first so I can see what I’m dealing with. Many men don’t realize that their mustache has a mind of its own, and can behave differently every day, or even from hour to hour. I want to see how my mustache is behaving first before I apply wax. Be prepared, I always say.

Different kinds of wax. After you’ve done a quick combing it’s time to apply the wax. Waxing is essential in controlling the growth pattern of your handlebar, as well as making it look smoking hot. There are a lot of different kinds of mustache wax on the market, but I tend to stay away from those that come in a tube, like toothpaste. I prefer those that come in a tin. You can also buy them in small jars. I like the tin because it allows me to heat the wax before I apply.

Heating your wax. This is an important step and should be done before every application. To heat your mustache wax, simply hold it under a blow dryer on low heat for about 60 to 90 seconds. The goal is to get it soft and pliable.

Here’s another good YouTube handlebar video by our buddy Greg Brown. In this one, Greg demonstrates how to heat up and apply the wax.

Apply with your fingers or a comb. Once it’s been softened up, it’s time to apply. You start by applying a dab to either side of the mustache just below your nose.

Work the wax into the hair as you draw it out towards the edges. Start off with a small amount until you get used to how much you need. Then use more or less wax as desired to give it the look you want.

You can use a comb to shape the mustache as you apply, or simply go with your fingers, like our buddy Greg. I do both and get about the same results. The advantage of using a small mustache comb (which you can find online or get with the wax) is that you’re training the mustache.

Here’s a great article from howtogrowamustache.com that touches on many aspects of growing and grooming a handlebar mustache, including waxing.

Step 4 – Twisting the Ends and Shaping for the Epic Handlebar Look

Continuing from the step above, as you bring the wax towards the ends of your handlebar, give the tips a twirl between your thumb and forefinger. This draws the hairs together and makes them more manageable.

Keep on twisting. Between waxes, you can still apply a tiny amount of wax to the tips, even if you don’t have time to do a full wax as outlined above. If you don’t have any wax handy, don’t worry because you can still twist and twirl the ends anytime the mood hits you. The goal is to keep on twisting to continually train the ends of your mustache.

The Three T’s. The hallmark of a cool handlebar mustache are the distinctive upswings or loops at each end. But this doesn’t happen unless you regularly practice the Three T’s – twisting, twirling, and training. The more you twist and twirl the ends, with or without a dab of wax, the faster you’ll get that cool-guy handlebar. After I finish waxing my handlebar I make it a habit to continually twist and twirl the ends. This trains the hair and forces it into the shape you want.

Blow drying the ends. Some guys swear by blow drying the ends of their mustache. There are even those who use a curling iron. I’ve tried blow drying the ends right after a shower when they’re still wet, with good results. It’s also a quick way to get the ends to behave if you’re having trouble shaping.

To do this, simply form the damp tips around your forefinger or a pencil and blow dry on a low setting. It shouldn’t take more than about 30 seconds for each tip. Be sure to apply a small amount of wax to the tips afterward.

Eric at Handlebar Moustache Life covers a lot of ground in this article about handlebar training and shaping.

Step 5 – Oiling Your Handlebar

Using a high-quality beard oil is essential for the health and good looks of your handlebar. The oil acts as a conditioner for the mustache, keeping it looking thick and shiny. Because the handlebar mustache is so large and thick, it has a tendency to dry out quickly. This can cause uneven hair growth and skin irritation. A good oil will contain all the important nutrients your mustache needs to look and feel healthy.

Essential oils. Most beard oils contain jojoba oil, along with some or all of the following: grapeseed oil, almond oil, vitamin E oil, and others. These oils work to soothe, nourish, and moisturize your mustache hair and the skin underneath.

Start from scratch. It’s especially important to use oil when you first start growing out your handlebar. The oil will soften the hairs and help prevent that itchy, rough, scratchy feel we all get when first growing facial hair.

Oil and wax don’t mix. I apply beard oil after I shower, provided I’m not planning on applying wax. Why? Because the wax will repel the oil and vice versa. I usually wax my handlebar if I’m going out into the world and want it to look just right. I apply oil whenever I shower and I’m not hitting it with wax. Simple as that.

Here’s a great post from Rugged Fellows Guide that covers oils, waxes, and balms.

Balm is optional. I don’t use a balm on my mustache because I feel it’s overkill, but feel free to experiment and use it if it helps give you the look you want. Having said that, if you also have a beard you will definitely want to use a good balm.

The Perfect Handlebar Mustache

So there you have it my mustachioed friend, how to trim a handlebar mustache. And, hopefully, a whole lot more. I hope you’ve enjoyed my humble tutorial. But I especially hope you’ve discovered some pointers to help you get a handle on your handlebar.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I suffered for years trying to get my handlebar mustache to look the way I’d always wanted. I slowly sifted through the different techniques and kept only the essentials that worked for me, discarding the rest.

What I finally ended up with was what you’ve just finished reading. I sincerely hope I’ve saved you a lot of time and aggravation. If you apply what you’ve read, I’m convinced you’ll have a much easier time getting your handlebar mustache to look the way you want.

Please let me know what you think of this post in the comments section. If you leave me a question I’ll try to answer it. And, please share this article with others if you found it useful. Good luck with your handlebar mustache, you cool dude!

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Mr. Wood has been growing a beard since he could first sprout facial hair. He lives with his wife, two boys and a mentally unstable dog. He loves to be outdoors and thinks that the best stories start with "Here, hold my beer..."