The mustache with stubble look is taking men’s grooming by storm in the most ferocious of ways. High-profile ambassadors including British actor Tom Hardy have pulled it out of obscurity into mainstream culture.
Its commonly known as the “stubble and stache”, and learning how to craft it may be the best decision of your entire life.
You’re about to learn how to do it in detail. But in a nutshell, how do you get the mustache with stubble look?
Appreciating that the mustache and the stubble as two distinct entities is the first step. Trim everything other than the mustache down to the desired stubble length, being sure to define the neckline and cheek line. Then, trim the lower and upper borders of the mustache ideally with a pair of scissors. Reduce the bulk of the mustache being careful not to thin it out too much. Then, moisturize, oil it up, and style.
Some may call it retrospective, longing for a bygone era of 70s talk show hosts and film actors. But this is wrong.
What we’re seeing on the streets is a modern update of this recognizable 70s aesthetic.
The unkempt cheek lines and “neckbeards” are no longer acceptable. We now combine the laid-back ruggedness of this former fad with the careful grooming habits of the modern beardsman.
This beautifully balanced example of “metro-masculinity” is what we’re trying to achieve.
If you’re interested in taking your stubble to the next level, click here to check out my most recommended stubble trimming and grooming products of the year.
Let’s get to it.
How To Get The Mustache With Stubble Look
Before we start, it’s important to have a clear idea of what this look consists of.
A good way of grasping it is to think of it as two distinct facial hair styles combined. This is no deep secret. As the name would suggest, the two styles are:
The Mustache – Yes. The facial hair that perches gracefully above the upper lip. Consider the mustache to be the star of the show. The king, the focus, the piece de resistance.
The Stubble – A favorite topic of this blog, stubble simply refers to facial hair in it’s shortest form. It’s the interim period before it is considered a “short beard”. For people that like numbers, it typically refers to facial hair between 0.4mm and 5mm. Although long beards are having quite the renaissance, stubble is an evergreen style we champion on this blog. Simple, versatile and irresistible.
Yes, most stubble beards do contain both a mustache as well as stubble. But with this particular style, the mustache is considerably longer and more prominent than the stubble.
What you’ll need:
A Mirror – apologies for pointing out the obvious. But a man with no mirror should have his trimmer confiscated as fast as humanly possible. Having a handheld mirror is excellent for getting a better view of the neckline as well.
An Electric Beard Trimmer. The choice depends on multiple factors, including whether you want it to be corded or cordless, as well as waterproof or not. The Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70 is a phenomenal cordless and waterproof beard trimmer with premium dual-sided blade and contouring head. It would sculpt the mustache and stubble look (or any stubbled look for that matter) with no problems whatsoever.
Click here to check it out on Amazon.
An Electric Shaver or Manual Razor. To get the best results, you want to ensure that the borders of this beard are well defined. To achieve this, any hair outside the neckline and cheek line must be shaved. Whether you prefer to use a foil or rotary shaver, or a manual safety or cartridge razor is completely up to you.
Mustache Comb. It’s important for getting the mustache hairs neat and uniform before the trim, and also after it’s all done.
Scissors. It’s the most effective and precise way to trim a mustache. It might seem a little daunting or time-consuming at first but trust me, it’s fine.
Moisturizing Shaving Gel. Another obvious one. Don’t shave without it. You want as frictionless a shave as possible for minimal risk of skin irritation.
Face Scrub. Less obvious. Exfoliating with a simple face scrub before the shave can give you the smoothest, closest shave you can imagine.
Post-Shave Moisturizer. The quickest and most effective way to soothe irritation and prevent razor burn. Please don’t skip this.
Beard Oil. A must-have for any serious facial hair-ist. Soothing, softening, and nourishing.
Step 1 – Grow it all out
The mustache hairs will be the longest on your face. Before you trim it, you want to grow your beard out to the length you want your mustache to end up.
If once this is all done, you’d like your mustache a little shorter – not a problem. We’ll come to mustache trimming a bit later on.
A problem for some may be growing out a full beard before getting started. Considering you’re just looking for stubble this may not be acceptable.
It’s advisable to grow out a full beard first (to your optimal mustache length) and then trim down to your desired stubble length leaving the mustache intact.
Another benefit of doing this is you give those slacker hairs that take a little longer to sprout, time to grow and mature. This leads to a fuller and less patchy appearance when you trim down.
But if this isn’t tolerable or feasible, just trim down the non-mustache areas of your beard as required. Just be careful not to disturb the desired shape of your mustache as you do it.
Of course the time it will take you to complete this step varies from man to man. It’s dependent not only on the length you want your mustache to be but also on the rate your hair grows.
A very general rule-of-thumb is to expect it grow 5mm every 10 days and go from there.
Step 2 – Exfoliate using a face scrub
It upsets me to think of how many men are missing out on impossibly close shaves with soft skin and no itch.
This is so essential to serious beardsmen that it can almost be considered a trade secret.
In brief, exfoliating using a face scrub removes the layer of oil, dirt and dead skin cells above your top layer of skin.
This layer of gunk mattifies or clogs up the bases of the hairs, resulting in friction during shaving.
Friction leads to irritation, itch and perhaps even razor burn.
Remove this layer of filth and that blade is allowed to effortlessly and merrily glide across your skin.
It’s able to cut as low as possible across the base of the hairs, leaving that skin feeling smooth as a dream.
It takes 20 seconds and can transform your experience. Use it on your entire face and neck, bearing in mind that the most important areas are those to be shaved.
In other words, above the cheek line, and below the neckline.
Step 3 – Trim the beard down
It’s simple in principle, but the tricky bit is appreciating your mustache and stubble as two separate entities.
To ensure you don’t trim the mustache down as well, simply pinch the corners of your mustache (at the length you want) as you trim down your cheeks.
Now would be a good time to decide what length of stubble you want. It’s useful to differentiate it into light (1-2 mm), medium (3mm) and heavy (4-5mm) stubble.
If you aren’t sure, just gradually trim down until you find your optimal stubble length.
Grab your trimmer and use a size setting you’re pretty confident is longer than you’d like.
Then, just go down in 0.5 – 1mm increments until you find the length you’d like. It’s common practice to vary the length slightly (approximately 1mm longer or shorter) in different parts of the beard.
For instance, in the often patchier parts like the cheeks, leaving the hairs 1mm longer could give the stubble beard a thicker appearance as a whole.
But trim down everywhere other than the mustache. As always, ensure the blades are clean and not dulled.
If going with the grain (in the direction of hair growth) isn’t providing as close or uniform a trim as you’d like, try passing over against the grain instead.
Keep the skin slightly taut. If the hairs immediately above and below the angle of the jawline are proving tricky, try lifting the facial skin up from the cheeks gently.
This should temporarily bring those hairs into view on the face so you can trim them.
The soul patch is the small patch of hair beneath the lower lip. Depending on what style you’re going for, you may want to keep this intact. Something to experiment with for sure.
What you’ve got now is the mustache with stubble look in it’s rawest form.
The mustache is intact but hasn’t been groomed yet. The stubble has been trimmed but the borders haven’t been defined yet.
Step 4: Define the neckline and cheek line
Although the mustache is very much the superstar when it comes to the mustache with stubble look, neglecting the cheek line and neckline could be disastrous.
These supporting actors prevent the style from drifting into shabbiness. Well defined borders neaten things up beautifully and also contour the face.
The objective is to be hairless above the cheek line and below the neckline.
For a full tutorial on how to trim the neckline, click here. The aim is to follow the angle of the jaw in a natural manner, while not letting it go too high on the face.
A high neckline can give an odd “double chin” appearance that’s best left avoided.
The ideal cheek line is dependent on personal preference and face shape. More angular faces are generally suited to curved cheek lines.
Rounder faces work well with straighter cheek lines, perhaps with a very slight curve.
If you aren’t sure, try a straight cheek line first. You can always curve it afterward by dipping into the beard if you’re unhappy with it.
A good starting point would be to visualize a straight line going from the bottom corner of your sideburn to the corner of your mouth. This is universally considered an acceptable cheek line.
Experiment with this outline to find what works best for you.
You can outline these borders using the naked blade of your trimmer first. Once you’ve done this, trim everything outside these borders using the same blade.
Some people just leave it at that, but your trimmer can only go so close. For the best results, it’s necessary to shave outside the borders using an electric shaver or manual razor. This will give the borders a nice, sharp edge.
Be sure to use shaving gel when shaving. Lubrication is the key to a frictionless shave, greatly reducing the risk of razor burn and also those dreaded razor bumps.
If a sharp edge isn’t what you want, try fading the borders by using a size setting 0.5mm shorter at the edges. It can give a natural yet sleek look.
Step 5: Comb the mustache
Time to tackle the beast. It’s what we’ll all been waiting for.
First things first – comb the mustache. It’s been growing for a while now and it’s highly likely those hairs aren’t as disciplined as you’d like to think.
Combing the mustache vertically downwards will straighten the hairs and let you see exactly how far they extend. It’ll also bring those more elusive, wiry, stray hairs into vision.
The comb you use is important. Beard and mustache hair is different to head hair, mainly because it’s coarser and thicker. Because of this, the teeth of the comb you use need to be spaced wider to accommodate for it.
Beard and mustache combs are tailor-made with this in mind. Use a comb with narrowly spaced teeth and you’ll struggle to pull through it.
Wooden, hand-cut combs are also higher quality, last longer and are gentler on the hairs. Overall this results in fewer hair shaft breakages and split-ends.
Hunter Jack make a great one. Click here to take a look on Amazon.
Sounds good, right?
Step 6: Trim the lower border of the mustache
The tool you use for this is dependent on both personal preferences as well as experience.
When it comes to mustaches, the consensus is that using a good old fashioned pair of scissors will give you the best results. This is because they allow for very precise control, and provide the most natural-looking result.
Also, it’s such a small area that it isn’t as time-consuming as trimming the rest of your beard. It’s honestly worth doing.
However, it’s a little more technically demanding and undeniably a little more time consuming than just using the beard trimmer. It’s a decision you’ll make over time.
At this point, it’s also worth mentioning that there are many, many mustache styles you can try out. That’s beyond the scope of this how-to article.
What you’re about to get is a general routine for grooming a smart and neat mustache that can be styled as you wish.
Based on the style you want you may decide to have it thicker or longer. This routine will give you a great jumping-off point.
The aim of this step is to trim down the hairs of the lower border of the mustache so that they don’t extend over the upper lip. This is generally considered a no-no, but again, certain styles such as “The Walrus” actually embrace this scraggly appearance.
If using scissors, carefully cut the hairs that comprise the lower border of the mustache. You want the border to run just above the upper lip, not over it.
Be sure to follow the contour of your upper lip to give the most natural-looking result. You’ll be surprised by just how much neater this simple step will make your mustache look.
You can trim from the outside edges of the mustache towards the center. In other words, tackling it one half at a time.
If using an electric beard trimmer instead, remove any size guard you may have on, leaving just the naked blade. Press the blade gently above the upper lip and make tiny pulls downwards for the same effect.
The main warning here would be to ensure you don’t trim too much. Make tiny cuts or trims and review the results. If it isn’t enough, cut a little more.
Trimming too little isn’t as bad as trimming too much. The latter is much more of a headache to correct.
Step 7: Trim the upper border of the mustache
To achieve the sharpest mustache with stubble look possible, defining a crisp upper border is crucial. The process is very similar to that which you did with the lower border.
The main objective here is to distinguish the upper border of the mustache from the nostrils.
Looking like your mustache is an extension of your nose hair is, well, unacceptable.
If using scissors, simply cut and straighten up the area immediately below the nose. Then work your way out to the edges, one half at a time.
Less is usually more when it comes to the upper border. Cutting any stray hairs may be all that’s necessary to get a nice and sharp upper mustache border.
Step 8: Reduce the mustache bulk
Be very, very, careful. It would be a shame to trim the mustache down too much and to have to wait till it regrows.
The mustache may well be at the length you want it. However, as you may already know, not all hairs grow at the same rate. There will almost certainly be hairs of differing lengths within that mustache, which can cause an unruly appearance.
Trimming down any “excess” and reducing the bulk often gives the mustache a very professional look.
If using scissors, comb up and away from the mustache so that the tips of the hairs are held between the teeth. Then, make tiny cuts at the length required, in the areas required. Remove any excess hair.
A nice, thick mustache is often the desired appearance. But it’s important to make it look full, not bulky. There’s a danger of thinning it out too much if you overdo it. Go slow, and cut more as required.
If using your beard trimmer for this, be extra careful of going too short. Trim with the grain, using longer size settings first and going down in very small increments (0.5mm ideally).
Once you achieve your desired length, stop. Comb the mustache once again to look for any more stray hairs.
Turn your head and view it from the sides to spot any hairs that jut out.
Step 9: Moisturize
Skin isn’t a huge fan of shaving. It never has been. Unfortunately, we can’t let this age-old confrontation stifle our facial hair aspirations.
Irritated, shaven skin needs moisture. The process robs the skin of its natural oils and leaves it dry and vulnerable.
A thoroughly hydrating moisturizer is necessary to infuse this angry skin with what it needs most.
Remembering to do so after every shave will settle irritated skin and prevent razor burn.
Step 10: Try some beard oil
Beard oils are infused with essential oils such as argan oil and jojoba oil. They can give the mustache, as well as heavier stubble, a very attractive shine.
The oils also strengthen the hair shafts, reducing breakages and split-ends. To top it all off, it’ll also further moisturize the underlying skin.
The mustache bristles, as well as the stubble edges, should feel noticeably softer once you’re done.
If I haven’t sold it to you yet, trust me. Try some beard oil. It’ll take your mustache with stubble look to exceptionally debonair heights.
Step 11: Style the mustache
This last step may not be necessary. You may be perfectly happy with your newly trimmed and oiled mustache the way it is now.
But, some mustache wax might be necessary to style it. This is particularly the case with more meticulous styles such as The Handlebar where the edges are curled upwards.
Even if you want to do something as simple as parting the mustache at the center, some wax could really give you some support.
The mustache with stubble facial hair style is exactly what it says on the tin. But it’s also so much more. It carries a subtle sophistication that’s very hard to ignore.
It’s quite certain that you’ll be seeing this style more and more often in the years to come. We hope that this in-depth guide has given you what you need to sculpt it for yourself.
What are your thoughts on the mustache with stubble? Have you tried it out and gathered any tips or comments you want to share? If so, please do leave them below!