“Your mustache must be getting longer,” my girlfriend said to me the other day. “I like kissing you again.”
She clarified that she hadn’t ever disliked kissing me; it’s just that with my mustache always inserting itself into ever lip-lock, it was often annoying. Even frustrating.
At first, I took it as a sort of compliment, same as any one noticing that my beard has gotten longer. Men are known to appreciate compliments on length, after all. But reflecting on it afterward, I realized what had happened.
Long ago, I would trim my mustache with an electric trimmer. Not wanting to bother with wax or any kind of styling, I would just trim it up over my lip the way a lot of guys do. Out of the way, nice and neat, everyone’s happy. But as my beard grew longer, and I decided to let it grow past the couple of inches I had generally allowed in the past, it started to look awkward; a short, trimmed mustache on top of a thick and wild mane just looked wrong. So I began to let the mustache grow out as well to compliment the look.
And for the last two years, I have done everything I can to wax it, style it, comb it, curl it, just make it do something that isn’t terrible. With a firm enough wax (like Beard Monster’s Transylvanian Mustache Pomade) I can keep it stiff and shaped through most of the way, but I don’t always want to do that. It takes time, and gives a polished look that a lot of guys like, but that I’m not always in the mood for. But even then I’ve had trouble. Keeping all those hairs together with wax is a constant fight that has me running my fingers along my mustache all day, constantly trying to keep things in place. For some reason, I concluded, I had a bad mustache. Or a regular one that just fucking hated me for some reason.
But when my girlfriend told me she liked kissing me again, I realized where I had gone wrong. I should never have trimmed the damn thing in the first place.
The problem with trimming your mustache is that you generally do it for the simple, basic purpose of keeping it off your mouth. And why not? It’s like, my least favorite thing to eat with a sandwich, yet it loves to insinuate itself into that situation. And no girl wants to kiss a guy if it means choking on mustache hair. But your lips are an odd shape, and your mustache doesn’t even follow that odd shape as linearly as you might think. This means that when you trim it away from the lip, you’re leaving your mustache hair at a staggered length. Hardly noticeable while you’re trimming it, but once you stop, and those hairs begin to grow, that difference becomes quite stark indeed.
I had this problem forever where the hairs directly under my nose – the shortest part – would separate from the rest when waxing, and almost form their own little handlebar in the center. They would not stay attached to the primary mass of whiskers. Then at the ends, the hairs would get long and wispy and make curling it almost impossible. I started trimming the ends off with scissors to make curling easier, just giving it a trim every week or two. And after two years of that, those short hairs had finally caught up, leaving me with a ‘stache that was much more uniform in length, and could thus be waxed, shaped, and curled (if desired) as a single unit.
The cautionary tale can be simplified as such: if you ever want to have a cool, styled mustache – a handlebar, old school curls, whatever – don’t ever trim it. At least not by yourself. If you see a barber regularly, tell them what you’re wanting to do and have them help you with trimming. You can probably even get your barber to show you what they are doing, so you can handle some basic maintenance on your own. But the point to remember is that mustache trimming, without a bit of planning involved, can lead to years of regret. So before you trim, be damn sure about what you’re doing.
Mustache hair grows differently from beard hair; it’s got its own set of rules, and it’s not as forgiving as beards can be (not that beards can’t be bastards in their own way, too). Learn the rules, and learn how to work with the whiskers, or you may regret it.