How to Pull Off a Mustache

Feb 15, 2012
Outside Magazine

"Learn from the master, Smokey."    Photo: Courtesy of Everett Collection


BONUS SKILL: Shave like a gent.

Phil Olsen, founder of BEARD TEAM USA, which competes in the biennial World Beard and Moustache Championships, says: "Don't shave at all for a few weeks. Allow the mustache to freely extend beyond the corners of your mouth. There will be a point when the hairs get in the way of food or drink—you'll have to deal with that." As it gets longer, Olsen says, choose a style and start experimenting with gels, waxes, and unscented hairspray. What works best depends on your facial structure; small facial features warrant smaller mustaches, a big nose can handle a real push broom, square faces should sport squared-off cuts, and round faces need to go round. The most important ingredient in a 'stache is ATTITUDE: Be proud of your mouth mane! "The majority of women don't like it," admits Olsen. "But the minority who do ... well, they really do."

BONUS SKILL: Shave Like a Gent
Scraping your face with some ten-dollar, six-blade landfill fodder and calling it shaving is like squirting ketchup into hot water and calling it tomato soup.

(1) Get a SAFETY RAZOR: One blade, two edges, genius. The best—vintage Gillette Adjustables with nine settings—are all over eBay for cheap.
Get some GLYCERIN SOAP: Colonel Conk's almond, with avocado oil and vitamin E, is tops (3.75 oz, $5.50; you can pick up some mustache wax while you're there).
Get a BADGER BRUSH: Sheared winter coat is best, and pricey, but drop $50 to $100 on any nice pure badger, like a Vulfix, and you won't be sorry. Get a stand and store your brush bristles down; treated right, it'll last decades.
(4) Get your SHAVE on: Take a shower or soak a washcloth in hot water, slap it on your acreage, and percolate a while to soften your beard. Run a couple of pints of hot water into the sink; wet your brush, give it a shake, and swirl it around on the soap cake to get some lather going; then paint your face up and down, lifting hairs and creating a barrier between blade and skin.
(5) Get the TECHNIQUE right: Using little strokes, and not pressing down, shave with the grain of your beard, as if sweeping; alternate edges and clean your razor by swirling it around in the water every few strokes. Rinse your face with cold water, to close up your pores, then pat dry. Simple witch hazel makes great aftershave.
(5) BID ADIEU to razor burn and ingrowns.