In the early stages of growing a beard, it is common for people to notice that their mustache has a gap. The gap can be in the middle of the mustache – in the philtrum area – or they can be gaps on either side of the mustache where it connects to the beard. When I was growing a mustache it was certainly an area that caused me the most amount of concern but I was able to push through my reservations and have ended up with a thick strong growth in the middle of my mustache.
Mustache gaps are common in people trying to grow out their beards. It occurs because of the lower hair density at the philtrum area on the top lip. You are able to cover up the gap by using beard darkening products and styling the mustache hair to the middle of the lip.
There are typically no particular reasons for why some people have a mustache gap whilst others do not. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about a mustache with a gap and all of the reasons it happens, and what you can do about it.
I asked over 3500 men if they had a mustache gap and here are the results:
The first important thing to understand is what actually causes your mustache gap – this will give you the ability to choose the right approach for filling it in.
Why does my mustache have a gap?
There are a number of reasons why your mustache has a gap in the middle of it and most of it is outside of your control. Ultimately, the biggest determinant of your beard growth density and pattern is determined by your genetics. The lottery of which genes you inherit from your ancestors is something that you just simply cannot fight.
Genetics plays a huge role in determining whether or not you can grow a beard and mustache.
The likelihood that you would be able to grow a beard. You may be in a family where many people grow thick beards and mustaches that you may not be able to. That is just the luck of the genetic draw.
A recent study published in 2010, they found that black boys developed secondary sex characteristics about seven months earlier than Caucasian boys. This demonstrates the difference between the genetics of different nationalities which could indicate why we see a significant difference in the production of a beard between people of different races.
We even get a very small amount of genes from even more distant relatives. You share about 0.78% of your DNA with your great-great-great-great-great grandfather (aka 5th great-grandfather). So, even though it is very unlikely that your beard growing potential comes from your great-great-great-great-great grandfather – it is a possibility.
People with Asian heritage also struggle to develop thick, dark mustache hairs. This is purely due to the evolutionary direction of people in that race. On the other side of the coin, people with Arab and Greek or Mediterranean heritage can typically grow great beards and mustaches which are thick and full.
Another reason why your mustache may have a significant gap in the middle is because you have a particularly large philtrum.
The philtrum is the small divot in the middle of your face. The philtrum is formed during embryonic development when the size of your face meet. When these processes fail to fuse fully it is the formation of a cleft lip.
Because the philtrum is a place on your face where there is a significant change in skin angle and projection the hairs around this area are likely to splay out making any low density areas even more obvious.
This is also something that you cannot fix without surgery. Having a large philtrum is something that you have inherited from your mother and father. However, having a large philtrum which is covered in thin hairs is not an issue as you can darken them up with beard darkening products and beard fibres – which will talk about later.
Another thing that can emphasise your mustache gap is the direction of growth around the philtrum. The philtrum is an area where a number of growth patterns could occur.
Unless the hairs grow straight down people will always see a small change in mustache density across the entire top lip. Personally, I feel like one side of my philtrum has hairs that grows outwards which causes a small cleft in the bottom of the mustache just off centre. I can only control this with heat treatments and beard wax and beard balm.
The density of your hair placement will also determine who thick your beard and mustache looks when it has grown.
A 2011 study found that you can reliably determine the density of a beard and mustache by using a simple photographic method. Take a look at the image from the University of Pennsylvania for examples of the hair density that they found.
Having a low hair density on your mustache is relatively common and I have talked about whether or not a mustache will fill in in my other article – click here here to find out people’s experience with their mustache filling in.
Having a low hair density can be improved with temporary beard thickeners such as beard hair fibers and a beard pen. For a more permanent solution you should try using minoxidil to encourage the light, vellus hairs to turn into thick terminal hairs.
Light hair color
The colour of your mustache can also emphasise the gap. If you have particularly light mustache hair it will be hard to create a full and thick looking mustache particularly in the philtrum area of growth.
There are a few options for temporarily darkening the hairs on your mustache such as using a beard pen. If you want a longer-lasting darkening solution you can use a mustache or beard died to darken up the colour of the hair in the middle of your mustache. If you want to know more about the best beard darkening products check out my other article – the best beard darkening products with 12 insider choices – click here to be taken to article.
How do I fix a mustache gap?
Because your mustache gap is likely due to your genetics there isn’t too much you can do to fix it permanently. You can choose to wait, to see if your mustache thickens up – which happens to a lot of people, you can also choose a mustache style that de-emphasises the mustache gap. Choosing a beard product to darken the area around the gap can also help cover up the space by darkening the thin hairs that are growing on your philtrum but are much harder to see.
Here is a rundown of all of the important things that you can do to fix a mustache gap.
Grow it out
There is an ongoing joke on my Beard Growing Pro YouTube channel which is pretty much any issue can be solved by growing out your beard. This is also true for growing out your mustache. You will probably find that as your beard grows past the three month mark it will have enough density to significantly fill in and look much thicker and fuller. At this stage the mustache has grown to the point where the top line of hairs are long enough to cover the full depth of the mustache and you may find the added bulk covers up your mustache gap with ease.
If you want to know how long it takes to grow a mustache check out my other article where I go through the calculations for growing a stubble mustache all the way through to a fancy mustache – Click here to be taken to the article.
Facial hair grows at 0.38 mm per day (0.015 inches per day) and based on that figure here is a table where I have calculated how many days or months you need to wait to grow a stubble through to a full fancy mustache.
You can see from the above table that between one day and 14 days you are able to achieve a stubble mustache. This type of mustache is perfect if you shave up your cheeks for maximum contrast between your facial hair and your top lip.
Beyond 15 days you start entering the intermediate territory. This is where the mustache is starting to look denser because the hairs are long enough to fill in the gaps between the hair follicles but the hairs are not long enough to reach the full length of the mustache.
After approximately two months worth of growth you have achieved about 1 inch of length in your mustache which means that the hairs on the top line of the mustache are long enough to cover the full length and width. This is where a mustache really looks full and awesome.
Beyond the full-length mustache you have the opportunity to grow a fancy type of mustache. This is where the ends of the mustache can be grown out to form a fancy mustache that needs to be styled with a stronghold mustache wax.
Trim the top line/thin it out
Another way to de-emphasize the mustache is to thin out the mustache so that it becomes closer to a pencil mustache. This means simply trimming down the top line of the mustache so that the depth is much thinner.
By thinning out the mustache you will change the perception of the gap and provide less density on either side of the gap which in turn makes the gap look less obvious.
Having a thinner mustache with a trimmed top line takes a fair bit more maintenance and you will need to trim it up every few days to make sure that you maintain a defined line and contrast between the skin and where the hair is growing.
Use a darkening products
If you are suffering with particularly light beard hair and mustache hair you can use a variety of beard darkening products. You can use temporarily beard darkening products such as beard pens, hair wax, hairspray, and other beard fillers. If you want something more permanent you can use a die such as the grisly mounting beard I or a natural product such as henna powder.
If you want to find out more about some natural beard darkening products check out my YouTube video:
Here are some of the best ways that you can darken up your mustache to minimise the look of the mustache gap.
Beard pens do exactly what a sound like – they allow you to draw in hairs so that your beard looks fuller and darker. Beard pencils come with different types of tips from a typical pen tip to one with a micro fork. This micro fork allows you to apply more product to your face in a shorter period of time. The Beard filler is designed to reduce the appearance of gaps in your Beard, mustache, and eyebrows.
You can also consider applying some hair fibers to the hairs that already exist on your face. There are products such as Toppik hair fibers.
Hair building fibers can either be applied by shaking the hairs over the surface of the beard or you can use a spray applicator attachment. Shaking the hair building fibres are later coverage over a large area but if you want more precise application then go with the applicator attachment. This simply provides a puff of air to deliver the hair fibres.
Use beard wax to hold hairs
If you have the Beard density around the gap but you are unable to get it to lie naturally so that the gap is less obvious you can choose to use a beard wax or a beard balm with a significant amount of beeswax to hold the hairs over the gap.
Instead of pushing the hairs directly over the gap try brushing them so that they lay flat and in a downwards pointing direction using the product.
If the product is not as long-lasting as you would hope you should continue to trial different products until you find one that is able to provide enough hold throughout the entire day.
Minoxidil was first introduced as an oral medicine for the treatment of hypertension in the 1970s. At the same time doctors observed that there was hair regrowth in bolding patients which led to the development of topical formulation for treating male pattern baldness in males and then females. There was a 2% minoxidil solution launched on the market in 1986 followed by a 5% solution in 1993. It has continued to be a good topical treatment for a range of hair related disorders.
The most well-known hair growth treatment is Minoxidil. It’s found in hair regrowth products such as Rogaine. The FDA has NOT approved Minoxidil for use on the face and so all of the instructions are for the scalp. One of my favorite places on the internet, Reddit, has a subreddit where people show their progress pics.
Although minoxidil has been used for treating hair loss for a long time it has been proven to provide remarkable benefits to patients with a range of hair-related disorders. There are many off-label uses for minoxidil that are not currently improved by the FDA even though topical minoxidil treatment is considered an effective and safe option for a range of patients.
Beards without a mustache
One of the last things that you can do is to remove the mustache completely. If you are not happy with the way that your mustache looks there are a few beard styles that can make your mustache gap less obvious and remove the problem from your face altogether.
Here is a selection of our favorite beards that lack a mustache. You’ll see that a lot of them are like the regular mustache style but simply lack hair between the nose and the upper lip.
The chinstrap can be a hard style to pull off. The important aspects of this style are to select a strap thickness that isn’t too thin or too wide. Keeping the lines as neat as possible and the length short will help you pull off this style.
The connection to your head hair or how it fades to a bald head will be what takes this style to the next level!
The Chin Curtain
The chin curtain is a slightly longer version of the chin strap. Make sure that your beard is well lined on top and a little longer underneath is a sure-fire way of making this beard stand out.
Although the beard can be left a little rough and ragged along the bottom – play with how long and unkempt it looks until you are happy with it.
Old Dutch Beard
The old styles are making a comeback! This style has s full chin (which is personally my favorite style) and longer sides. IT tends to be lined up on the top side and is lined a little lower on the cheeks.
Take a bit of time to grow out the chin and line it according to your face shape and this style will really pop!
Hugh Jackman really brought back the ol’ mutton chops with his character Wolverine. This beard style needs to be a little longer and bushier to make it work and then keeping the shaved parts of the beard a little rougher will help soften the bulk on the side of your face.
The Lincoln Beard
Okay, you may be thinking super hipster when you see a Lincoln beard but if you like it – go for it! The Lincoln beard is a long chinstrap beard with a rounded chin. It tends to be a little raw around the edges and shorter through the cheek areas.
This beard is good for someone who can grow a thick chin and sides. The cheeks are lined a little higher than a chin curtain beard so if you have good growth in that area this is an excellent option for you.
The Long Goatee
This style of goatee is perfect for people with strong chin growth and have a healthy sense of patience.
It’ll take 6 – 12 months for you to grow a really long goatee and you’ll have to look after it along the way. Make sure that you apply plenty of beard oil and follow the instructions in this blog post about growing a long beard!
Long Beard without the Mustache
I must admit, for my own personal tastes I love a great big busy beard. Not that I’d want to own one – I just like the look of it.
This is no different from a big bushy beard – it has just had the mustache part completely removed! Having a mustache is a bit of a pain in the arse. I need to have a napkin handy when eating drinking and breathing – as pretty much everything that could end up in my mustache does end up in my mustache.
There’s no rule to say that you can’t just remove the most annoying part from your beard.
In this article, we have gone over everything you need to know about a mustache with a gap.
From understanding exactly what is causing the mustache gap all the way to the most effective solutions for managing it you’ll be able to make the best decision for your style of mustache.
Ultimately, it comes down to acceptance. Not all of us can grow the type of beard that we want to grow but by working with your beard and not against it you will be able to develop a style that you are proud of and making sure that you love your beard and mustache is the most important step of all. Sometimes even the quirky is looking growth can really add to a person’s style.