There is perhaps not a more classic and universally appreciated form of facial hair in the world than the mustache. Worn by artists, rock stars and statesmen alike, the mustache immediately adds an extra bit of panache and distinction to the average guy’s face, but only if it has been properly maintained.
There is a fine line between a mustache that adds to a man’s look versus one that serves as an unruly, hairy distraction. In order to ensure that your under-the-nose facial hair stays on point, you’re going to have to learn some proper shaping techniques.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on mustache styles that are worn by the vast majority of guys out there, i.e. ones that are generally more neat and trimmed, and stay above the lip line.
Below are 10 helpful tips on how to trim and shape your mustache like a pro
1. Style of mustache
The first thing you’re going to have to settle is what kind type of mustache look you’re going after. If you’re looking for a neat or well-groomed look, it is generally not advised to adopt a style such as the “walrus” look, where your mustache hairs are hanging well below your lip line, and basically curving over into your upper lip. While every man is free to do what he pleases, be warned that the walrus will make eating ice cream or soup much more laborious.
2. Consider mustache proportions
Conventional wisdom from most styling experts states that the outer edges of your mustache should be in line with your pupils. As far as thickness goes, your natural hair growth capabilities will largely determine how thick your mustache will be.
3. Tools to start off
Make sure you have the following tools handy:
- A mirror with adequate light
- A fine-toothed comb (e.g. a mustache and beard comb)
- A good pair of quality barber scissors (a.k.a. cutting shears)
- An electric mustache trimmer
4. Start by washing your mustache
Make sure that it has been cleansed of all particles, odds and ends. Pat it dry with a towel as best as you can, and strongly resist the urge to trim while your mustache is still wet. At the very most, your mustache can be slightly damp when you begin to shape it, but make sure that it’s not soaking wet.
Mustache hairs have a way of contracting when they’re dry, so if you try to do a whole lot of trimming while your mustache is still wet, you’ll find that those hairs may surprise you with their powers of elevation once they’re all dry.
5. Comb through your mustache
This ensures that your hairs are all pointing in the same general direction. You should brush straight down to ensure uniformity, as this is the direction that mustache hairs generally grow.
6. Start trimming your mustache
Using barber scissors or your electric trimmer, try to trim for the purpose of establishing the overall mustache shape first. Remember, when it comes to shaping your mustache, you want to move from the general to the specific. Nailing the overall shape first ensures that the small adjustments you make later will be accurate.
Trim along the bottom of your mustache (i.e. your lip line), and then work on the outer edges. Start from the middle and then work your way out to one side, then do the same for the other side. Return to the middle when you’re done.
Make sure that you’re looking straight ahead into the mirror, so that you can maintain a good sense of symmetry. Aim for a nice even line.
7. Now work on the thickness of the stache.
Use the comb to pull up hairs that you want to trim; they should be protruding from the area between the teeth of the comb. Use the scissors to cut those hairs, but trim very carefully at first; you don’t want to go too far too fast. If you’re using an electric trimmer, select longer guards to begin with, and then gradually transition to shorter guards as needed. Remember, you can always trim more hair off, but you can’t put the hair back on once it’s been trimmed.
8. The final shape and trim
Once you have satisfactorily trimmed your mustache into the desired shape, comb back through it really well in order to get rid of all loose hairs. Snip off any hairs you may have missed the first time around.
9. Check mustache evenness
Give everything a good once-over, and make sure that your symmetry, thickness and proportion is on point. If you have your smartphone or a digital camera handy, snap a quick selfie to make sure that everything looks proportionally correct; after all, mirrors can hide your biases sometimes.
10. The final word
Comb through your mustache one last time, and call it a day. You have now officially shaped your mustache!