handlebar mustache anatomy

The iconic Handlebar mustache is the most well-known mustache style of all time and certainly one to turn heads and make you stand out from the pack.

But what is the definition of a Handlebar mustache, what exactly is it?

Handlebar mustache is a blanket term for various different mustache styles that feature a prominent curl upwards at the ends with a thicker bold growth in the middle. This makes the mustache as a whole look like handlebars of a bike or motorcycle, hence the name Handlebar mustache.

If you think about what a fake mustache looks like, it’s usually a twirly kind with thick growth in the middle, that’s a textbook Handlebar mustache!

lego figure with bushy handlebar mustache

But like said, the Handlebar mustache family comes with various different types of specific mustache styles.

Such as:

  • Classic Handlebar mustache (medium sized mustache with curly ends)
  • Petite handlebar mustache (small sized mustache with curly ends)
  • The imperial mustache (wide but not very bushy mustache with curly ends)
  • The Hungarian mustache (very wide and extremely bushy mustache with curly ends)
  • The English mustache (meticulously trimmed and thin mustache with pointy ends)

There’s also some debate whether the Chevron and Walrus mustaches would be part of the handlebar family, but since they both lack the defining twirly part at the ends, I’ve left them out as I think they don’t perfectly fall under the umbrella term.

How to Grow a Handlebar Mustache

handlebar mustache and beard

Growing a handlebar mustache is not that different from growing any kind of mustache, all it takes is time and then some proper trimming work.

Considering a normal facial hair growth rate of a man is 0.5″ per month, it’s safe to say that it will take roughly 3-4 months of growing out your mustache to have enough hairs so that you can groom it into a proper handlebar mustache.

Of course you also need to be genetically gifted to be able to grow a mustache, and it helps if it grows in fully in all areas of the top lip without patches or gaps (here’s a guide on how to fix a patchy mustache by the way).

How to Trim a Handlebar Mustache

moustache scissors and handlebar mustache

Before you start trimming your handlebar mustache, you should ensure that you have enough growth to trim from, and of course a good pair of beard and mustache scissors.

The top part of your mustache should easily cover the top lip without any styling, and the sides of your mustache should droop down well below the corners of your lips.

Now there are many different methods of trimming a Handlebar mustache, but what most experts recommend is that you first style the mustache into a handlebar shape with a strong mustache wax, and then only start trimming out the rogue hairs and crafting it into the shape you want to go for.

There really isn’t too much to say here, just make sure you trim the mustache evenly from both sides, and that the top lip remains somewhat covered but without trimming too high up.

The biggest mistake you can do when trimming any kind of big mustache style – like the Handlebar – is trimming the mustache to the top edge of your upper lip. This will make the stache too thin and impossible to be styled to the sides.

Here is an amazing Handlebar moustache trimming and styling video example from Live Bearded:

How to Style and Maintain a Handlebar Mustache

man using his fingers to apply mustache wax

  1. Start by taking out a tin of strong mustache wax (I recommend this brand).
  2. Warm the wax in your fingers and start applying it to your mustache.
  3. Go from the center part of your top lip and push your mustache to the side.
  4. Finish by twirling the corners of your mustache into a nice handlebar shape.
  5. If you find that the pointy extremities still droop down, you may need to use a blow drier to finish off the job.

Pairing Handlebar Mustache with a Beard

handlebar mustache with beard

When done well, handlebar mustache can compliment a full beard style exceptionally well.

In fact, there’s even a name for this beard style that has short full face beard and a handlebar mustache; it’s called the Verdi Beard, and it gets its name from the Italian Opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.

So if you fancy a beard to go with the Handlebar mustache, go for it! There’s nothing stopping you and definitely no style etiquette that would deny it from being a good idea.

Examples of Different Handlebar Mustache Styles

Handlebar Mustache with a Goatee

patchy hungarian handlebar mustache and beard
Pairing a goatee with the handlebar mustache is not an usual style, but it can work exceptionally well if you know what you’re doing. In the example above, the handlebar could be trimmed better and the chin hairs could definitely use some help.

Handlebar Mustache with a Thick Full Beard

thick handlebar mustache with boxed beard
Here’s an example of a brilliant looking thick Handlebar moustache with a strong beard. Hands down this “Verdi” beard style is one of my favorites and definitely will turn some heads.

Handlebar Mustache with a Short Beard

verdi beard style with strong handlebar mustache
Here’s an example of a thin handlebar mustache with short beard, almost akin to the English mustache but not quite thin enough.

Handlebar Mustache with a Stubble Beard

handlebar mustache with stubble
This is a handlebar mustache paired with a 10 day stubble beard. A style also known as The BeardStache.

Petite Handlebar Mustache

petite handlebar moustache of hercule poirot
You can’t talk about Petite handlebar mustache without also mentioning Hercule Poirot, undoubtedly the owner of one of the most famous handlebar mustaches out there.

The Imperial Handlebar Mustache

imperial mustache daniel day lewis
Daniel Day Lewis can often be seen with a thick mustache, and most commonly his choice of ‘Stache comes from the Handlebar mustache family. The style he sports here is the “imperial” with the ends curled all the way up in a very pointy manner.

English Mustache

english mustache
The English mustache is quite rare sight these days. It looks like the other Handlebar examples above, but is considerably thinner.

Classic Handlebar Mustache without Beard

handlebar mustache clean shaven
Here’s an example of a typical classic handlebar mustache, not too big, not too small.

Huge Handlebar Mustache with a Big Beard

huge handlebar mustache with bushy beard
If you want to make a bold statement with your style, you can go ahead and style your mustache into a wild Handlebar that blends in to a big bushy beard, like the fellow on this image did.

Conclusion

The handlebar mustache by definition is a mustache that looks like the handlebars of a bike.

It will take anywhere from three to four months to grow out, and when trimming it you should always remain careful not to cut off too much from the upper lip area.

Styling the Handlebar mustache requires strong mustache wax. You can try with beard oils or beard balms, but you will quickly find out that it’s beyond impossible to have your mustache keep its pointy upwards curled extremities without the help of a strong wax.

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Ali is a published author and a beard grooming expert. To this date, his articles have been read more than 15-million times on various sites, and he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and grow thicker. His work has been featured and cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.

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