Nothing says confidence like a well-groomed mustache.
This style of facial hair rises and falls in popularity through different eras and cultures, but right now we’re seeing mustaches everywhere we look (along with beards and tattoos). No longer just the purview of that one guy at the bar, mustaches have once again become a way to demonstrate personality and one’s own sense of style (not to mention virility). The best mustache styles even have their own categories in the ever-growing number of mustache and beard competitions, like the US National Beard Championships and the World Beard and Moustache Championships. (Technically, both “mustache” and “moustache” are correct, although the former is more common here in the U.S.)
Your writer has even gotten in on the trend because let’s face it: Some of the coolest, most awesome people in history have worn some version of the stache, and a mustache is just a great, simple way to change up your appearance when you’re sick of your babyface or fully grown beard.
Stemming from the long history and popularity of the mustache, a number of identifiable mustache styles have emerged (as well as a ton of great mustache products). Of course, there are only so many ways to tease out the differences among mustache styles, and it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between very similar styles like the Chevron or the Paintbrush (the Tom Selleck and the Ron Swanson, respectively). What some might call a Handlebar, others might call an Imperial. That’s because some mustache styles include multiple variations at once.
Of course, even the best mustache styles wax and wane in popularity as new generations and style icons come and go. However, to help guys choose the best mustache styles for their facial hair, we’ve focused on the best mustache styles of the late 2010s and early 2020s. From scouring social media and living near one of the world’s great mustache silos, Brooklyn, we’ve identified some of the most popular mustache styles for you to check out. If you’re trying to change up your facial hair game and stay on trend, then the trendiest mustache styles of 2020 will serve you well.
1. The Natural
The Natural mustache style is exactly what it sounds like: It’s just the plain, initial mustache you have before you grow it into something thicker or longer for styling purposes. For its natural look, minimal grooming and easy-to-grow status, the Natural is consistently popular among mustache styles.
For obvious reasons, every man’s first mustache is some version of the Natural because it’s literally the mustache you grow naturally. To groom it, all you have to do is trim the hairs as they start to grow past your lips and shave or trim the ends. This mustache goes with a variety of trendy men’s hairstyles, which makes it perfect for guys who don’t want to work too hard with daily grooming.
Not only do you see the Natural on the streets all the time, but it’s popular among celebrities, influencers and athletes, too. This style of facial hair gives a little extra personality to your look without making you “the mustache guy.”
You’ve seen it on the faces of Brad Pitt, Michael B. Jordan, Kit Harrington, Chris Evans, Pedro Pascal and even a young Prince.
2. The Beardstache
No guide to mustache styles could go without mentioning the Beardstache. Yup, it’s a mustache and beard combo. It’s basically a full mustache and some degree of beard, but with more emphasis on the stache than the beard. That typically means the beard may be full, but it’s not the focus of the look, so it’ll be grown out but perhaps not quite as grown out as the mustache. That ranges from light stubble to a fuller beard, but really any deliberate combination of full mustache and full beard qualifies.
This is a popular look for a lot of guys because it’s basically the result of just letting your facial hair grow out and then trimming your beard and mustache to the desirable lengths. It’s not too complicated or over-involved and just says, “I like a good mustache but I appreciate some beard, too.”
When celebrities go for a beard, they tend to go full-on David Letterman, so you don’t see this style too often on the famous-famous. But you’ll definitely see it around your neighborhood and some celebs have stuck with the look for a long time, including Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness. In fact, it’s hard to think of a modern man who has done more for the mustache than Van Ness, who looks handsome no matter which style of mustache he’s rocking in any given moment. (And, yes, you’ll see more of Van Ness throughout this piece).
3. The Handlebar and The Imperial Mustache Styles
Perhaps most well-known as the Handlebar mustache, this style of facial hair involves curling the ends of the mustache upward, usually with some kind of wax. The hair generally extends outward past the sides of the lips before curling up, though you can do a petite handlebar by creating the curl before the ends of the lips. Longer handlebars will inevitably curl inwards into circles and resemble handlebars on a bicycle, hence the name.
When the mustache is short and pointed more straight and upward, thus losing some of the Handlebar appearance, you might also see it described as an Imperial mustache, so named after the European royals who wore it once upon a time.
Among mustache professionals (meaning guys who participate in grooming and facial hair contests), you’ll see variations of the handlebar mustache the most often. The length of the handlebars can vary pretty widely from short and tight to long crescent moons.
Because handlebar mustaches are a bit more “out there” and require mustache wax, they’re not too popular among celebrities, but some well-known people who’ve opted for a take on the handlebar mustache include Van Ness, who often combines the Beardstache with his handlebars, baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers as well as a number of historical figures like President William Howard Taft. Even the mascot of the board game “Monopoly,” Rich Uncle Pennybags, sports a handlebar.
4. The Stubble Mustache
If the Beardstache involves a full mustache and full beard, the Stubble Mustache is the lighter, well, stubbly version of it. You’ve got hair for a mustache and hair for a beard but neither is fully grown out, leaving you with an unimposing, cool bit of facial hair.
This is a super popular look for men everywhere because all it takes is a little grooming around the edges and a trim every few days to keep it short. While some of these mustache styles say, “I take facial hair really seriously,” this mustache says, “I don’t care what you think,” lending it a laid-back, care-free appeal. Of course, it also looks rugged and handsome as hell for minimal effort.
We can’t even cite every famous person who’s worn some version of the stubble mustache because everybody goes for the stubble look at one time or another. But actors like Chris Hemsworth and Adam Driver have been relatively regular wearers of the Stubble Mustache over the past few years.
5. The Pencil Mustache
Who could forget the Pencil Mustache? If you were an actor in the golden age of Hollywood in the ‘30s and ‘40s, then you were wearing the Pencil Stache. More recently, Brad Pitt famously sported it in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds.
The Pencil Mustache style looks exactly like it sounds. It’s immediately recognizable for its distinctive shortness and thinness, with the hair just above the top lip. Though people do still wear it today, it’s a bit less popular for a couple of reasons. One, it requires a bit of maintenance. If you let it grow, it will lose its thin appearance quickly. The second reason is the self-fulfilling prophecy of the mustache losing popularity. When people stop wearing a particular style, that style is seen less, which means it gets worn less, and soon nobody wears it anymore. Lastly, because of its association with golden age Hollywood, the pencil mustache can be associated with a stuffy formality, which doesn’t really jive with more casual, modern culture.
But that all being said, you still see the pencil mustache on some celebrities today, including Robert Downey Jr., who wears his with some stubble, Michael B. Jordan, Anthony Mackie and Brad Pitt when he feels like it. As Prince’s look evolved, he frequently adopted the pencil mustache style too. But for the absolutely best examples, actors Clark Gable and Errol Flynn really wore the pencil mustache to perfection in the 1930s and 1940s.
6. The Chevron and the Painter’s Brush
You already know what the Chevron is, you just don’t know that you know it. Two words: Tom. Selleck. We couldn’t really figure out why this style is called the Chevron, but somewhere along the way the name stuck. If it helps you remember what it looks like, just think of Tom Selleck.
A classic Chevron has a bit of a V shape, and it’s fairly bushy, covers the top of the upper lip and runs past the sides of your mouth. It’s been worn by so many people from Brooklyn to Hollywood because it’s relatively easy to groom and is just an all-around iconic mustache style. The look really peaked in the 1970s with actors like Selleck wearing it, but because of its timeless style, you’re as likely to see it today as you were several decades ago. Famous Chevron mustaches include those of Freddie Mercury, Nick Offerman and Burt Reynolds.
The Chevron is quite similar to another style known as the Painter’s Brush mustache. Like the Chevron, you know what it is, but you don’t know that you know it. Picture Sam Elliott’s glorious mustache, and you’re basically there. While Elliott’s specific style has changed over time, like most famous mustachioed men, he has always worn some kind of Chevron, Painter’s Brush or Walrus mustache, which we’ll get into just below. The key difference between the Chevron and the Painter’s Brush is the lack of the V shape. The Painter’s Brush runs much straighter across the lip, as though it was painted on with a paintbrush. While Elliott’s runs past the corners of his mouth, it’s common to groom the hair so it does not.
Ultimately, the line between a Chevron, Painter’s Brush and Walrus mustache can be as thin as a razor blade. At the end of the day, it takes a certain confidence and virility to pull off these bold mustache styles.
7. The Walrus and the Hungarian
The Walrus is the bushier cousin of the Chevron mustache. Rather than keeping the facial hair trim and under control, a full walrus mustache is thick from the nose to the ends of the stache past the lips, much like the hairs of a walrus. Sometimes the hair is so long that the hairs on the end can curl naturally. Once those ends develop a sufficient natural curl, you may see this style referred to as a Hungarian mustache, which by appearance is closer to a Handlebar mustache, albeit a super thick one.
One of the most well-known purveyors of the Walrus mustache is Beardbrand founder Eric Bandholz. While he’s kept things more tame recently, presumably while in quarantine, in years past he’s rocked a sizable Walrus mustache. For a mammoth Hungarian stache, with full-on natural Handlebar curl, you can also check out Colin Geitzler, aka Snidely Wildstache.