March 30, 2022

For most bearded guys, a mustache is an essential companion for their beard. It completes their look. Without that mo, things may not look quite… balanced.

Don’t get us wrong – if you rock the mustache-less beard look, more power to you! It’s just a simple fact that like 99 out of 100 beards include mustaches.

Sometimes a man's mustache makes an even more iconic statement than his beard - like when he develops a handlebar or a walrus mustache. And that takes some work.

Whether yours is a simple mo or you sport a more adventurous upper lip, you still need to tame and style that mustache hair. So here we go with how to train and curl your mustache to make it the envy of others.

Why does it need training? 

Mustache hair is coarser and follows different “patterns” than your head hair. If you let it grow without any intervention, the hairs will curl and poke out any which way and look a mess.

So training a mustache really refers to (1) coaxing its direction of growth, (2) trimming it, (3) styling it, and (4) caring for it with the right products.

While your whiskers are different from your scalp hairs, they still respond to washing, oiling, brushing, combing and styling.

Even if you’re planning to grow a simpler style like a Freddie Mercury or Nick Offerman chevron mustache… or a bushy Walrus like Sam Elliott or Chiefs coach Andy Reid, you still need to train it to grow how you want and keep it sculpted. 

The tools you’ll need to train your mustache

Step 1: Let it grow 

You may want to grow just a mustache by itself, or you may find it simpler to grow a beard and stache together. Either way, you want at least six weeks of growth before you ever reach for the scissors. Two months is about the time frame it takes for a mustache to truly fill out and for the hairs growing near the nose to become long enough to reach the upper lip. Then you can trim all of them along the top lip (if you want) so they match up. 

If you’re going for a handlebar style, you’ll need to let the side hairs (above and near the corners of the mouth) grow plenty more.

During the first couple months, it can be challenging as hairs seem wild and awkward, perhaps even itchy. To combat these issues, do the next two steps religiously.

Step 2: Wash every couple of days 

To train a mustache, first you clean it – right from when you start growing it. Clean hairs are manageable hairs.

Don’t use soap – it will dry out your skin and cause flaking, itching, even acne breakouts under the hairs. 

Wash every two to three days with a beard wash made without nasty chemical irritants. It will cleanse the hairs and skin without robbing them of essential moisture and sebum oil. On in-between days, rinse with water.

Don’t wait until the hairs are longer and unruly. Wash regularly from the beginning of growth.

Here's more info on why a dedicated beard/mustache wash is a great choice: Can You Use Regular Shampoo on Your Beard?

Step 3: Oil, balm and comb daily

Before the mustache hairs are long enough to comb or brush, apply a drop or two of beard oil after washing. It’s not just for a full beard. Beard oil is an important tool for growing healthy, moisturized, soft, pliable mustache hairs. It will keep those whiskers conditioned and keep your facial skin tip top.

Step 4: Train it with a comb and brush… and even your fingers

Now you really get down to business in how to train mustache hairs.

As the whiskers gain some length, break out the comb and the beard brush. With a brush, always ensure it’s made of natural fibers, like wild boar bristle, to massage skin while distributing oil evenly.

After applying beard oil:

  • Brush your mustache downwards. Yes, that seems counterintuitive if you’re growing a curly handlebar, but downward first to check uniformity and length.
  • Apply a tiny amount of beard balm for some light hold. 
  • Then create a part in the middle and comb/brush your mustache outwards to the sides. Keep at this until the part is central and looks natural.
  • When combing/brushing one side, use your hand to hold the other side still so it doesn’t get caught up.
  • This initial process is not about trying to curl your mustache – yet. It’s about getting it tamed and growing in the directions you want. The whiskers will steadily become easier to direct.

When the sides are ready to begin curling (even if they’re not as long as you ultimately want):

  • Start with a little more beard balm on your fingers and try twirling the ends to more of a point and then curling them upwards a little. Use a repeated sweeping motion to curl them.
  • With this training, your mustache will begin to adopt this shape more naturally.
  • As the ends lengthen, progress to using a tiny dab of wax. See step 7.

Step 5: Trim

As longer hairs become scraggly, you enter the next phase of training your mustache: trimming it into shape. This is where you must be certain what shape you want.

When in doubt, less trimming is the way to go. You can always trim a little more. But if you cut away too much, you’re back to growing things out again. 

  • For a "regular" style mustache – Trim along the natural curve of your upper lip to keep hairs out of your mouth. If you’re not planning a curly style or handlebar, be careful to trim the corners so they assume the shape you want – both above and below. It’s easy for the corners to creep downwards.
  • For a walrus style mustache – Trim as little as possible to allow this big bulky stache to keep developing. Trim minimally along the line of your mouth. Again pay attention to how you trim the corners.
  • For a handlebar style mustache – Do as above, except let the corners keep growing.

Step 6: Wax and style

To curl a mustache effectively, it’s time for some mustache wax. It’s essential if you want tight or more extravagant curls. It’s also helpful for keeping hairs out of your mouth and out of your food and drink.

Just be sure you wash, oil and brush before you apply wax.

Apply a tiny dab of mustache wax to two fingers and rub it between those and your thumb to warm and soften it. Only a tiny dab. Less is more!

Starting on one side near the center, gently massage it into your mustache evenly, working your way towards the corner. For a simple curl, turn the corner hairs up and hold for a few seconds. For a larger, tighter curl, wrap those hairs around your finger or a pencil and hold for 10-20 seconds. Then repeat the process on the other side.

What about a mustache curling iron? We’re not going to say yes or no, just… be careful. When in doubt, don’t. Heat damage to hair is awful. It requires trimming away and regrowing. Check with a professional barber who has mad skills in this area. If your mo gets super long, it may require an iron to shape and hold things effectively. Just don’t overdo it.

And that’s about it. The wax should hold your mustache all day. But be sure to wash it out before bed.

For more advice about how to train a mustache or curl mustache hair, send us your questions directly and we’ll be glad to help you out, bro.

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