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.
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.
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!
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
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: email@example.com