Ever heard of a mouche? Or a jazz dot? Or jazz dab?
They’re all nicknames for the soul patch, which is that little nest of facial hair that grows between the lower lip and the chin.
Some people love the soul patch, while others have sadly tried to make it the most maligned facial hair style in history. We firmly support the views of the first group, because our mission is to celebrate facial hair in all its glory and to support our fellow bros throughout their bearding lives.
So if you’re thinking of sporting a soul patch like Howie Mandel or Johnny Depp, we say go for it!
The beauty of the soul patch is that it can be worn all by itself, or can be part of a combo with other facial hair. It can be a pencil-thin strip, a small dot, or it can be a prominent and luxuriously thick feature.
We’ll show you some of its history and what you can do with one…
Jazz musicians in the 1940s and 1950s helped to popularize soul patches. Some jazz flute players didn’t like the feeling of their bare skin beneath the lower lip touching and rubbing against their flute mouthpieces. So they grew tufts of facial hair there to provide comfort. (By contrast, some jazz trumpeters felt more comfy with their mouthpieces by growing goatees.)
The legendary Dizzy Gillespie had the most famous and recognizable soul patch at the time. Some people called it the Dizzy Gillespie beard. Gillespie himself called it his jazz dab.
The style caught on with hipsters and beatniks of the time and became associated with the cool jazz scene.
It’s not easy to trace, but the earliest written mentions of “soul patch” are from the late 1970s in National Lampoon and in Rolling Stone magazine. At that time, when John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were developing their Blues Brothers characters on Saturday Night Live, they upped their game by bringing in high-level musicians to play with them. The music included elements of R&B and soul. Belushi borrowed some style trademarks of blues legend John Lee Hooker, especially the Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and… the soul patch.
Tom Waits was another prominent musician at the time with a soul patch. The style was gradually shifting away from its jazz roots.
The new name stuck from then on – even though Belushi ultimately ditched the mouche for The Blues Brothers movie.
The soul patch began popping up everywhere in the ‘90s. Luke Perry wore one in his role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Baseball catcher Mike Piazza and speed skater Apolo Ohno became famous faces with one. Even Garth Brooks got involved, taking the image well away from jazz music. It became common to see patches everywhere, even though it wasn’t always regarded with respect in the ‘90s, perhaps in part due to how people looked down on the Mall Goth and Nu Metal scenes that embraced the soul patch.
But it had branched out from its roots and took hold in multiple circles.
The soul patch is still popular. People who are confident style icons or prominent figures really make them work – like Howie Mandel during his long stint as a judge on America’s Got Talent.
But anybody can wear one. Some people still haven’t gotten over their sneering since the 1990s, but if we’d listened to them, we likely wouldn’t have The Rugged Bros and the beard renaissance we love today.
Some purists will insist that a true soul patch stands alone – no sideburns, no mustache, no mutton chops, no goatee, no other facial hair of any kind. We say ignore them and do what you like. Today’s beard culture is all about self-expression, and that includes soul patches in any configuration.
A soul patch alone can look very sleek, but when other facial hair enters the arena to partner it, the elegance and ruggedness factors go way up.
There’s a soul patch style that can work for any guy.
Almost like it isn’t there at all. Grow the tiniest little triangle or strip below your lower lip, cultivate it immaculately, and remain clean shaven otherwise. Or maybe include a tiny, equally sculpted horizontal patch at the bottom of your chin to compliment it.
Who says a soul patch has to avoid the chin? Why not let yours grow in one strip or patch from your lower lip to the front of your chin?
There are so many choices, especially in mustache styles and sizes of soul patches. But we have to say David Beckham once rocked that sculpted mustache with the classic anchor-shaped chin beard and soul patch.
A classic goatee look but trim the outer parts down a bit to feature the soul patch as thicker and darker in the middle.
Johnny Depp has had this look going on for some time. The simple mustache and soul patch but with a disconnected beard running along his jawline and lower chin.
Brad Pitt sure looked suave and sexy with this. (Well, when doesn’t he?) Every part was sculpted to perfection – like him, really.
Getting the look just right takes practice, so if you’re new to this sort of thing, we recommend you let your full beard grow and then go to a professional barber with a picture of the style you want. Then listen to his/her expertise about how to keep it looking great.
If you’re going to do it yourself, still grow all your facial hair first. Then use electric beard trimmers and a razor with a lot of patience to work slowly at it. Remember to trim gently and slowly. If you trim off too much, you have to start growing all over again. Take your time and do it over a few days so you can get used to each look and get advice as you progress.
The great news is a soul patch requires almost no styling work. BUT… you can’t leave aside the regular routine of using Beard Wash, Beard Oil and a Beard Brush. Facial hair is still facial hair – even the tiniest amount – and it must be kept healthy and soft with regular beard grooming.
It’s soul time, brother! Mouche it up!
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