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How To Dye A Mustache Without Staining The Skin

A mustache rarely grows exactly the way you want it to. It takes work. Trimming, brushing, balming, or even changing color. You’re about to learn exactly how to dye a mustache in the most effective way possible. 

It seems simple enough, and in many ways – it is. 

But if you don’t choose the right shade and the right type of dye for your specific needs, you’ve lost. 

If you choose the perfect dye, however, the right mustache dyeing technique is all you need to achieve phenomenal results each and every time. 

It’s all laid out below. Let’s get to it. 

How To Choose A Mustache Dye

You’ll find it tough to find a good dye specifically created for mustaches. What you need is a solid “beard dye” – it’ll do just fine for any mustache. 

It all comes down to what you need. Choose your dye based on the color you want and how permanent you want it.

Let’s look at each of those factors separately. I’ll also mention a few great dyes you can try out if you’re interested. 

1. Color And Shade

The color of dye you choose depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Broadly speaking, you’re probably either looking for a “touch up”, or to coat your beard in an entirely different color. 

If all you want to do is a “touch up” on the grey mustache hairs, try to choose a shade that’s as close to your original color as possible. 

But that’s easier said than done. Dyed mustaches often turn out darker than expected. 

In general, you can expect the end result to be one or two shades darker than what you might think based on the color shown on the product box. 

So, it’s usually best to choose a color a couple of shades lighter than your original. 

That should give you the best result for a touch-up. 

But what if you want to achieve a mustache color that’s entirely different to your original? Some men just really want a change to keep things interesting. 

“Color mixing” can be a problem, particularly when trying to dye a dark mustache a lighter color (eg. from dark brown to strawberry blonde). 

If this is the case, pre-lightening with peroxide might be necessary, and this is usually best done by a stylist your first time around. 

2. Temporary Vs Permanent 

How long do you want the dyed effect to last? There are many beard and mustache dyes on the market today and they range from very temporary to not-so-temporary. 

Permanent Dyes

“Permanent” doesn’t really mean permanent when it comes to mustache dyes. You can generally expect “permanent” and “semi-permanent” dyes to last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. 

Be sure to check the product description of the specific dye you choose for an estimate of how long it’ll last. 

The more permanent dyes often need mixing (but not always). A base color and developer need to be mixed together before the dye paste is applied to the mustache. 

Simpler Hair And Beard Dye is a semi-permanent dye that has the benefit of being long-lasting but doesn’t require mixing in a tray beforehand. 

It comes in a can with two nozzles that release base color and developer onto your mustache at the same time. The two are mixed on your mustache itself as you brush it through. 

It also doesn’t use harsh chemicals like PPD, ammonia, and peroxide. Although these chemicals do make the dye last longer, more and more men are avoiding them. 

“Simpler” use similar, but much milder ingredients to achieve the same effect. 

Neat, right? 

Temporary Dyes

Temporary dyes are perfect for men who aren’t looking for a long-lasting change to their mustache. 

They usually last a day or two and are as easy to wash off as they are to apply. For men who want to experiment with different colors and shades, this is perfect. 

They usually don’t require mixing and are ready to apply right out of the box. 

The main reason they wash off so quickly is that there are no oxidizing agents used to really infuse the color like there are in more permanent options. It’s essentially just a superficial coating of paint, which may well be all you’re looking for.

Blackbeard (Amazon Link) is an example of a temporary dye you could use on your mustache; easy application and easy removal. 

How To Dye A Mustache In 7 Steps

What you’ll need: 

  • A Mustache Dye – Use the guide above to pick one. 
  • Vaseline – This is a “stain guard”. It prevents leakage of dye outside the mustache.
  • Gloves – To reduce the mess on your hands. 
  • Application Brush  – One should be provided with the dye. 
  • Cleaning Wipes – Colortrak (Amazon link) is ideal. But cotton balls soaked in soapy water should remove fresh skin stains too.

1. Do The Patch Test 

Before you apply the dye to your mustache, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it. 

Apply a small amount of dye to the back of your elbow (or anywhere else that’s easy to hide) and leave it for 48 hours. 

After this, review the area. If there’s any redness, soreness, or irritation, don’t apply the dye to your mustache. 

Try a different one after doing the same thing – a patch test. Patch tests are so important in men’s grooming and a good habit to get into. 

2. Trim, Wash, And Dry The Mustache

It’s usually best to prime your mustache before you start dyeing. You’ll want to groom it so that the dye will distribute itself nicely. 

A greasy mustache is harder to dye than a clean and dry one. 

Trimming the mustache beforehand will also make it easier because tidy mustaches distribute color better than scraggly ones. 

horseshoe mustache example
[From 123RF]

It’ll also give you a much better idea of what you’re working with and where in your mustache you need to focus your dyeing efforts. 

So, trim your mustache however you usually do – with scissors, a beard trimmer, or even clippers

Then, wash it. Before dyeing your mustache, you’ll want to avoid using beard shampoo on it. 

It may dry it out too much; a small amount of natural oil apparently improves the absorption of the dye. 

Just rinse it with water alone before drying it. 

3. Apply Vaseline Around The Mustache Borders

Now is when you want to apply your “stain guard”. Although Vaseline will help reduce the amount of dye that leaks out and stains your face, it’s never going to be perfect. 

You will probably get some dye on your cheeks or other parts of your face, particularly the first couple of times you do it. That’s OK. 

As long as you don’t wait too long before wiping it off, the mustache dye should come off

Apply a strip of Vaseline around the borders of your mustache. But don’t get any Vaseline on the mustache hair itself, as this will reduce the absorption of the dye. 

4. Prepare The Mustache Dye (If Needed)

This step really depends on the type of dye you’re using. 

If you’re using a temporary dye, there’s a very good chance it won’t need any mixing. It’s usually ready to use straight away. 

But many semi-permanent and permanent dyes do need mixing. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s say you need to do this. 

The first thing you should do is read the mixing instructions of the specific product you’ve chosen, as the methods can vary. 

But usually, you’ll have some base color and some developer that come separately and need mixing in a tray. You can use the handle-end of the applicator brush to mix the two in the little tray it’ll most likely come with. 

If you use Simpler Hair And Beard Dye, all you’ll need to do is press the nozzle at the top of the can. It’ll squeeze out some color base and developer onto your applicator brush at the same time. 

You then just apply it to your mustache and the two will mix on your mustache itself. That’s super convenient and isn’t the case with most dyes, however. 

5. Apply The Mustache Dye 

This step will depend on what you’re looking to achieve. If all you want to do is a “touch-up”, focus on the greys. 

Sometimes, an even coating of a single color throughout the mustache can look unnatural. 

Real mustaches are often a blend of a variety of different shades; this is normal and looks very natural. 

Simply focusing on the greys should darken up your mustache while also ensuring there’s still a nice blend of different shades within the mustache. 

However, if you’re looking for an even coating, that’s exactly what you should aim for. Distribute the dye throughout the mustache. 

Use the application brush to work the dye into the mustache, using the bristles at the tip to work the edges. 

If you’ve got a particularly long mustache, a mustache comb may be helpful as well. It can dig into the deeper parts of the mustache.

Make sure it’s one you don’t mind getting stained though. 

If you notice a bit of skin staining around the mustache, it’s usually a good idea to wipe up as you go along. 

Keep your cleaning wipes or soaked cotton balls ready and just give them a dab when you get a moment. 

6. Let It Set 

Once again, this will depend on the dye you use. 

If you’re using a temporary dye, you’re done at this point. You can go about your day after admiring your newly-colored mustache. 

But if you’re using a semi-permanent or permanent dye, you’ll need to allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time, before rinsing the excess dye out. 

The amount of time you’re advised to leave it on your mustache before rinsing depends on the dye you use. It’ll give you a recommended amount of time. 

Usually, it’ll be around 15-20 mins, but you can rinse it out a few minutes before if you’d prefer a lighter tone. As you do it more often you’ll figure out what your ideal time really is. 

Remember, the longer you leave the dye on your beard, the darker it’ll eventually be. 

So, in order to avoid a shade of mustache that’s darker than you’d hoped for, be very careful with the time you leave it on. 

Use a timer. 

7. Rinse And Admire The Mustache

Once your time’s up, rinse the mustache of the excess dye until the water runs clear. Use some beard shampoo at this point to really wash it out. 

Sulfate-free shampoo is better to use on dyed mustaches because it removes less color. It’ll help the dye last longer. 

Towel-dry it. Avoid heat from blow-dryers because this can remove dye prematurely as well. 

After this, you’re done. Take a look at that glorious new mustache. 

Bonus Mustache Dyeing Tips

Here are a few extra nuggets to help you get the best possible outcome. 

  • Don’t judge it too soon. It can take a day or two before the color really “settles”. Plus, you’ll get more used to the new look. 
  • If you really aren’t a fan, there are ways of removing the beard dye from the mustache instead of waiting for it to wear out naturally. 
  • Experiment, especially with temporary dyes because you haven’t got much to lose. Try out different colors and shades. 
  • It’s best to choose a color that’s a shade or two lighter than your original. I mentioned this one again here because it’s so important. 
  • If “color mixing” is a problem, don’t panic. Try to choose a shade that’s closer to your original or consider pre-lightening (with a professional’s assistance) before dyeing it. 


It may seem simple. 

After all, it isn’t a huge amount of hair to deal with. But any mustachioed man will tell you just how much work grooming it properly can be. 

Dyeing the mustache is no exception. It takes planning and practice to get it right. Hopefully, this article has gotten you a whole lot closer.