How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

How To Grow A Handlebar Moustache

What you will need:

A child’s toothbrush, Fine toothed comb, or a moustache comb (recommended)

A tin of great smelling, organic moustache wax (one, stay away from the petrochemical varieties; you will be inhaling this gunk all day.  two, it will be absorbed to some degree into your skin)


Nothing says “gent” like a true show stopping Handlebar Moustache. Out of all the moustache styles that have come and gone the Handlebar remains …and not without reason. However, this will not be a history lesson on this rock star of a stache, but more of a good old fashioned “how-to” article. For more information on the grand history of this particular style we encourage you to check out some of our previous articles in our archives. Now let us delve into the “process.”

First off, a good handlebar moustache will not happen overnight…unless you just so happen to be taking off your winter beard. If such is the case, you will be playing the part of a sculptor and etching out the perfect stache. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Make sure your beard is dry first and have a photo of a Handlebar on hand as a guide. You may want to tape this image next to your shaving mirror. You may even feel so inclined to leave it taped there for its talisman-esque power. Whatever you choose to do stay focused, and work with steady hands, a beard trimmer, and whisker snipping scissors. For a more in-depth break down on trimming please view our article “Grooming Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making or A Guys Guide To Grooming“.

Now for those of us who do not have the luxury of sculpting an image out of fur we will wait. A Handlebar moustache will take most of us close to two months to achieve. In some ways this is better than working one out from a beard because it gives us time to train the hair to part and grow in the proper directions. This training is done with a moustache comb, twice a day is the minimum, and for the OCD among us, 128 times a day is about the average.

How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

How to grow a Handlebar Moustache



Around the six week mark you will see that you finally have something to really work with. The stache will need to have enough wispy growth to be able to part fully when combed and extend past the corners of the mouth half an inch. Think baby Fu Manchu style. Those feeler-like extensions are the beginning of much a wondrous and whimsical Handlebar. Now it is time to put on the training wheels…or rather moustache wax.


  Moustache wax, sometimes referred to as moustache trainer, comes in many varieties. Historically, it was a blend of wax and petroleum jelly. Now a days many moustache enthusiasts are pushing away from the petro infused brands of our furfathers due to all the new studies coming out about prolonged exposure to such poisons. Some have just noticed their own reaction to the products; rashes, acne, hives, etc. With this in mind we advise you to look for more natural products, preferably organic, and made with hair friendly conditioning natural oils. You are less likely to have a negative reaction, and they will also aid in the strengthening and conditioning of your hardworking Handlebars. A good indicator of a non-chemical wax is if it comes in a tin rather than a tube. An important consideration is companies don’t legally have to list the ingredients, so if they are not listed move on to the next tin. Always make sure to give the ingredient label a solid once over regardless.  Another benefit of going for the tin is it travels better in pocket without the risk of popping. Choose wisely.


How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

Before applying the wax be sure you are freshly showered, for the wax works best on clean whiskers due to the repelling nature of natural oils that build up on the follicles. Next, you need to soften the wax before application. Wax works best when heated slightly above room temperature. There are a few ways of doing this. One method is to use a hair dryer set to low heat; hit it with that for about a minute till you can rake the back of your nail down the wax scraping off a pea sized portion of it. Other methods include running the tin under warm water or leaving it above the pilot light on your stove top for an hour or so.

Whichever way you choose to soften the wax you will end up with a pinch of it on the back of your nail. Rub the wax back and forth between your index finger and your thumb, if you are missing your index finger opt for the middle, its more punk rock. Once the wax is warm and malleable apply it to the middle of your stache and with your comb or toothbrush rake wax through the hair to the ends of your budding handlebars. Now lightly pinch your moustache with both hands in the center and shape to the ends. With your thumb and forefinger twist the ends. You can also wrap the ends around a pen or pencil to create the shape of the handlebar. However, this is not really necessary if you have been combing your facial hair regularly up until this point, it will naturally want to curl with very little aid. Apply more wax if needed, but keep in mind, a little goes a long way.


 The moustache may appear greasy at first but once the wax begins to harden this will disappear and look quite natural. If you have followed these instructions you are well on your way to wearing a rather wicked little crumb catcher!


How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

How to grow a Handlebar Moustache

Now this is where most moustache wax instruction ends, and it’s a crime. It’s much like teaching someone how to pilot an aircraft without teaching them how to land. And in much the same way we are taught how to wax on, but not how to wax off, an essential survival skill all too frequently overlooked.  We are here to address this deficit.  [You are welcome] 

Sadly, every night wax must be removed. A lot of guys simply use hot soapy water, and while this does work, it very detrimental to the stache. Most soap on the market is actually detergent based, and not really soap at all, so it will strip and dry out the whiskers. Even a great handmade soap, usually loaded with coconut oil, will have a negative effect on the bristles. We highly recommend an oil based moustache wax remover. Again, ideally go for something organic, made with natural ingredients, as this will be going on your skin.

Massage the remover (oils) into your moustache, and then begin combing out the wax, starting from the center to the end of the Handlebar, both sides. When all the wax is removed, rinse with warm water. If you choose to use soap and water be sure to rinse it out well with apple cider vinegar, rinse again with warm water, pat dry, and apply some leave in conditioner to keep your whiskers soft and workable. The advantage of using an oil based moustache wax remover is that it need not be washed out after the wax is gone, but left in for deep overnight conditioning. Now young Skywalker you‘ve got your wings…and a stylish pair of handlebars to boot!  


This article can be printed as a PDF for your convenience and for future bathroom reference. Now get out there and grow for it! Happy Moustache March, May, and Movember!


Further Reading on the Handlebar Moustache

Article by Douglas Smythe  


howtogrowamoustache.comABOUT DOUGLAS SMYTHE 

Creator of fine male grooming products and founding member, contributing writer & editor for “ How to Grow a Moustache”, an innovative, cutting edge blog dedicated to all things facial fur, wet shaving, style & travel [basically a Man Blog]-His mission: Create facial awareness and use his super powers [read: moustache] for good. Contact Douglas: 


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  1. Thanks for this little how to guide! It was very informative! I did as you said and printed it out! I am working on growing a handlebar right now and this was the best article I have yet found! Thank you HTGAM!

  2. GREAT! Just what the doctor ordered! What wax do you use?

  3. Hey Mr. Smythe, I love your site! Just put you App on my phone very impressed with it! I am a subscriber to your newsletter also and i would like to thank you for that last one…Great deal! Thank you again!

  4. Hello how to grow, I see in the photo that you are using a strange little “mustache” comb? What brand is it? thanks for sharing the knowledge!

    • I think it came with a WAHL electric shaver I bought about 15 years ago! I love it and couldn’t tell you where to find one these days! Check ebay maybe?!?! Cheers!

  5. Dandy candy wax is boss.

  6. Nice one, cheers

  7. Hello, Mr. Smythe!

    Such a British-sounding name: It’s regal, even!

    Please pardon any haste on my part if I’ve overlooked or not yet searched thoroughly enough for the pertinent information, but I was wondering if you had any ultra-specific instructions on the form-shaping of the ‘Handlebar’?

    In my tendency as a Virgo to over-think details and strive for ‘perfection’, I’ve always imagined the Handlebar to be the facial hair equivalent of fine European formal garden topiary. Am I odd? Am I a budding style maven?

    You’ve addressed the comb-out training, wax application, curling and maintenance, but I’ve always been curious about any special contouring that may be required to lend proper symmetry and overall dimensional aesthetics to a truly artful representation of the style. Think of the fastidious nature of the trademark work performed in urban, African-American barber shops.

    Does a gent trim regions of his follicular flourish to varying lengths in his efforts toward the goal of grooming excellence, or is seamless continuity the objective, with trimming reserved only for achieving overall length and taper? I’m certain that individual hirsuteness and lip acreage are significant factors.

    I’m in ‘stache transition. Once again mulling over the idea of a Handlebar, I’m ‘faced’ with the now very annoyingly lengthy remnants of a long-morphing style. As soon as I conclude this note, the scruff is going to be further abbreviated from it’s current, properly-termed ‘Horseshoe’ to an ‘English’, where it will remain until I receive further thoughts on the matter from you.

    My Uncle Dave had a classic Handlebar for as long as I can recall — decades. If he was ever without it, it was a rarity. I would like to entertain my Dad’s side of the family with a suitably dapper homage to Uncle Dave. ; ]

    Thank you for entertaining my query, Mr. Douglas Smythe. It’s December 20th, so Merry Christmas, too!

    Bill Holt

    • Why good day Bill!
      I do address this somewhere, damned if I know where at this time though. You could use a pencil to wrap your whiskers around while the wax hardens…however, I find no need for this. I just twist them up and bend them forward for about 30 seconds and then viola…perfection! *wink
      Trimming is a “no,no” when going for a proper Handlebar. You especially want to grow it out from the center, otherwise you will just be curling the ends with the result of looking like an insect…you will find this a lot. So grow for girth! If you do feel the need to trim, you could do the tips of the bars every now and again for symmetry. Please email me if you need anymore assistance sir and bravo!!!!

      • Thank you for your prompt reply, my moustaschioed mentor!

        I had a general feeling that uniform length was going to be the key. It seems that this would simply be neater in appearance. Uncle Dave’s been gone for quite a few years now, so his expertise is sadly absent as well.

        As Fall began this year I opted to lop off a several-inch chin braid. It was, in all honesty, pretty badass. I was likened to Johnny Depp more than once, and tempted to masquerade as his Disney character for a couple of Halloweens. I liked him better in ’21 Jump Street’.

        At this time I’m experiencing the adverse effects of the regular trimming I did to maintain the ‘stache component of my pseudo-swashbuckler’s goatee. However, even as a very tolerant individual, short of waxing, trimming was essential for the preservation of my sanity and the equilibrium of my temper: I absolutely loathe constant whisker-wiping to avoid spraying, splattering, dripping and unwittingly wearing food or beverages as a sartorial accent or projecting them onto someone who was previously enjoying my company. ‘Handlebar’ — coolness factor. ‘Soup Strainer’ — highly undignified and slap-worthy. ; ]

        I truly appreciate the insect simile. I once used a photo of a fully-tasked dung beetle as a facebook profile picture. I think that my Handlebar should serve as a better ambassador for me than a scat-scavenging scarab did. Luxurious length it is, sans scraggly-looking snipping!

        Thanks again for your time and attention, Mr. Smythe. Peace!

        ‘Handlebar’ Bill

  8. GreatWhiteBuffalo says:

    Instead of mustache wax you guys should try a glue stick. Google it for more info but these should work fine and they are much cheaper than wax!

    • I run a moustache blog, of course I know about gents who use glue. lol! I can’t really get behind that whole insectoid look that glue creates or the possible damage it does to my precious stache. I personally prefer and recommend natural moustache waxes that don’t contain petrochemicals or sketchy ingredients. A wax with quality ingredients will condition your moustache as you wear it. More bang for your buck beside just a antennae quality hold. That said, these type of waxes are worth the money…or just make your own! Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the comment!

  9. Mr. Smythe, I have need for some direction in styling my existing mustache. I am a professional Santa and have a natural beard and mustache. For the past 10 years I have grown and tried to style my mustache to be that of a handlebar as similar to the Coke Cola Santa as possible. At this current time the stache has gotten fairly wild on the ends and creates a problem when styling. I work a 11 hour day during the season so I want my beard and stache to stay as I have styled them. Do you have recommendations as to a good wax that would stay in place for the period I would need and like many of my colleagues in the past I have used the styling gels that once blow dried will freeze in place. I can only assume this is not the best thing for the hair. As you can see I am in need of some professional advice. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Rick,
      Yes some haircare products can be harsh on the whiskers but you can combat that by oiling the beard and stache at night before bed. I myself use my own all natural wax. A lot of the stuff out there is made w/ vaseline, a petrochemical…so i am weary of them. I have been making my own for the last 5 years sooooo i’m not familiar w/ what’s currently floating around. Etsy might be a good place to explore or you can pick some of mine, dapper Doc’s or Dandy Candy. Happy Holidays Santa!

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