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Should You Shave The Middle Of Your Mustache?

One day you stumble across someone on the streets and notice that person has a gap in his mustache. Then you start to wonder, should I shave the middle of my mustache as well? Is it incorrect or just a matter of style? The art of grooming your beard and mustache is a vast world with different preferences and trends, and mustaches certainly aren’t an exception.

Whether or not you shave the middle of your mustache comes down to your personal preference. Many people might be too self-conscious of their natural gap and feel insecure about it, and others choose to either embrace it or shave one in purposefully.

Mustaches are a bold addition to a beard and they can also be worn on their own and provide a bold statement due to the fact that they can help you stand out!

When I first started growing a mustache, along with my beard, I was always very unsure about where to shave my mustache and the options that were open to me for styling. I heard about the mustache notch and was confused about whether or not I should cut one in or not.

Ultimately, I have decided that I will keep my mustache continuous from side to side which means that I do not shave the middle of my mustache. However, if you find that your philtrum is relatively sparsely covered and you want to make more of an impact with your mustache – you can decide to shave the middle of your mustache.

I asked my growing YouTube audience whether or not they shave the middle part of their mustache. This was their response:

You can see that an overwhelming number of people do not actually do anything with the middle of the mustache and let it grow naturally. Only 13% of people regularly or sometimes trim up their mustache and a quote reason such as eating and drinking as the main motivator for trimming up this part of their face.

But that is not the only place that you have to style and groom your mustache. There are four areas of your mustache that you could consider styling – let’s talk about those now.

Where do you shave your mustache?

There are plenty of opportunities to style and trim up a mustache. There are four distinct regions of a mustache that can be styled using a set of trimmers a single blade safety razor, or a sharp pair of barber scissors.

Should You Shave The Middle Of Your Mustache

The four areas are:

  • the top of your mustache – the top line of the mustache can be trimmed a little bit lower to thin out the depth turning it into a pencil mustache.
  • Bottom of the mustache – the bottom of the mustache can be trimmed up in line with the top of your top lip where your top lip joins with your bottom lip or higher and lower than those common lines.
  • The sides of the mustache – the sides, or ends, of the mustache can be trimmed up to keep them short which allows them to flow into the beard nicely or can act as a hard stop at the end of a mustache. Or, the ends of the mustache can be allowed to grow which allows you to grow a fancy mustache which is controlled with a mustache wax.
  • The mustache notch – the middle of your mustache can be trimmed so that it is shorter than the rest of the hair or it can be left the same length as the rest of the mustache.

By changing the way that you trim up the four parts of the mustache you are able to quickly change the style and look of the hair that grows on your upper lip.

There are a number of ways that you can trim the middle of your mustache and we can look at these, below.

How do you trim a mustache?

If you want to trim up your mustache you will need to, firstly, collect all the appropriate tools so that you can do it like a professional.

Gather together:

  • sharp scissors
  • beard trimmers
  • comb with narrow teeth spacing
  • a mirror
  • a bucketload of confidence!

The first question you to ask yourself is how bulky would you like your mustache to look? I have a particularly long nose so my face allows me to have a relatively thick mustache. However, you may want to thin out your mustache which you can do with scissors and clippers.

Thin out your mustache

Thinning out your mustache requires you to use a comb to limit the amount of hair that you are moving with scissors or a set of trimmers.

Simply place the comb into your mustache and move away from your face until only a few hairs are poking through. These are the hairs that you want to remove with a sharp pair of scissors or some electric trimmers.

Should You Shave The Middle Of Your Mustache

Alternatively, you can use a guard on your trimmers to evenly cut the hairs on your upper lip to the same length.

As with other beard trimming tips, remove a small amount of hair at a time so you do not over-trim.

Trim up the bottom line

The next part of the mustache and I like to trim is the lower portion. The length of the mustache depends on your own personal style but, because I have a relatively big beard, I like to have my mustache finish at the line between my two lips as they are touching together.

Should You Shave The Middle Of Your Mustache

Earlier in my beard growing journey, I decided to have a much shorter mustache where the bottom line was touching and running alongside the top line of my top lip.

If you want to know more about whether or not your beard should cover your upper lip check out my other article – click here for the full run down!

Should your beard cover your upper lip

How do you trim the middle of your mustache?

Trimming the middle part of your mustache typically falls into these types of styles.

  • Flat blended – this is where the middle of the mustache is allowed to grow and equal length to the sides of the mustache and a continuous line runs on the bottom line of the mustache from one side to the other.
  • The mustache notch – trimming in the middle part of your mustache to a notch (which is an inverted V) is an easy way to add flow and style to an otherwise flat mustache. It is common to cut a notch into your mustache if you are struggling to grow hair on your philtrum.
  • Middle full shave – you can choose to remove all of the hair from the middle part of your mustache. Typically, people remove the hair on the philtrum area of their mustache and keep it tapered with the top part being thinner than the bottom. This is perfect for people who are struggling to grow a mustache on the philtrum area of their face and works particularly well for short beards.

You can trim the middle of your mustache using a good-quality pair of trimmers to achieve the flat blended look. If you want to cut in a mustache notch the best option is to use some hairdressing or straight scissors.

Should You Shave The Middle Of Your Mustache

The biggest trick for achieving a good mustache notch is to ensure that the angle that you are cutting in is even on both sides. The human eye is very good at seeing the irregularities in uneven cuts so you have to be extra careful. If in doubt, slowly creep up and increase the size of the notch rather than going all in!

How Often Should You Trim a Mustache?

I trim up my mustache once every two weeks or when the hairs on the mustache start tickling my lips so that it starts to become uncomfortable.

You have to be very careful not to over trim your mustache as it is very easy to cut it too short by taking off small bits every single day.

If you want to grow a long mustache you need to wait for it the middle parts of the mustache to get long enough to wax to the sides. This can take many months and patience will be your ultimate goal.

Why Some People Have Mustache Gaps

Based on extensive research, mustache gaps happen due to genetics, making them more common than you think. This usually occurs in the area called “philtrum,” which is the cupid’s bow or the indentation between your upper lip and your nose.

Some people who naturally have a space in between the mustache tend to style it in various ways, where they can hide it easily or use remedies to make it grow thicker and fuller.

In fact, many men around the world have this genetic gap where hair tends to be thinner and sparse in the middle of the mustache.

The most common method to conceal it is by letting facial hair grow longer to cover the center of the philtrum and prevent it from looking patchy.

Facial Hair Growth Factors

When it comes to grooming and shaving, it is best to cut the facial hair closely to the skin while preventing unwanted side effects on the face. In order to achieve this, first, we need to comprehend the science behind facial hair growth before deciding on the style you’re trying to achieve.

Believe it or not, growing a beard or a mustache is primarily determined by your genetics, especially the thickness of the hair.

This is possible thanks to a masculine hormone called “androgen,” which is related to the ability to grow facial hair, along with another one called “Dihydrotestosterone,” or (DHT), which stimulates facial hair growth.

Another factor for facial hair growth is age. According to Healthline Media, “Men experience an increase in facial hair until the age of 30. If you’re in your early twenties or teenage years, then it’s more common that your beard or mustache will get thicker as you get older.”

But as you may know, there are some cases in which age is not the determinant factor in why some men have thinner and fewer facial hair than others. That’s when another aspect comes into play, which is ethnicity.

Based on a study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2016), Chinese men tend to have less hair, and it is usually concentrated around the mouth, while Caucasian men tend to have fuller hair on the cheeks, chin, and extending all the way to the neck.

Other things to take into consideration when shaving facial hair are the following features that describe a male’s skin:

  • Male’s skin is prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Sensitive skin
  • Slower healing

This is why it is essential to understand when choosing a style for your mustache, whether it be shaving the middle or any other, you should consider how fast your hair grows and your skin type.

Different Styles Of Mustaches

Now getting further away from technical and scientific explanations, let’s get into the exciting part of this article: shaving your mustache.

Some people have a love-hate relationship with mustaches. Many adore the attractiveness and sex appeal it gives, while on the other hand, others feel it is old-fashioned and outdated.

Regardless of various opinions on the matter, we can conclude that a mustache is just a bold and risky maneuver. That is why it is fundamental to determine the proper thickness as well as the length of the facial hair for it to complement your face. Most importantly, it is all about great technique and choosing the correct products to use.

In other words, having a mustache can be demanding, which will include regular washing, trimming, and styling aids.

Here are some mustache styles with the shaved or parted on the philtrum style:

1. Pencil Mustache: Sometimes accompanied with the parting in the philtrum (called double) or just a thin straight line of facial hair (called single). It became the trendiest style for mustaches around the 1930s or 40s.

  • Growing and maintaining a pencil mustache: In the case of this style, you need to let it grow naturally, keep the length short, trim the bottom to follow your mouth’s shape, and finally use a razor to shave the top of the mustache, following the cupid’s bow. The only disadvantage is that it requires a higher amount of growth since you have to shave a few times per week to keep it looking neat.

2. Petite Handlebar mustache: With this style, you will be required to wax the ends of the mustache to shape it into finer points curling towards the corners of the lips. This is finely groomed, smaller than the traditional handlebar mustache.

  • Growing and maintaining a pencil mustache: Growing this style requires around six months or longer, depending on the person. This involves much grooming by keeping the mustache short and trimmed in the middle of the top lip to give it a cleaner look.

3. Clark Gable mustache: If your goal is to acquire a sophisticated, old-school style, then this mustache would be perfect for you. This can be accomplished by trimming around 3-5 millimeters to draw the borders, then placing it directly on the philtrum and creating a diagonal line going downwards, all the way to the corners of your mouth. Touch it up with a mini foil shaver to get rid of any hairs sticking out.

  • Growing and maintaining a Clark Gable mustache: Regardless of this being such a distinguishable and tidy style of mustache of the Hollywood legend Clark Gable, it does require some daily grooming to keep it impeccable and at an appropriate length.

4. Stubble mustache: Yes, you heard right. It’s an easy, manageable mustache. It looks great on the majority of men, and it is a perfect option if you can’t grow one or would like a safe choice since it looks great and neat if you keep it that way. You just need to grow your beard at least 3 centimeters, trim at the neckline and start creating the stubble by trimming evenly.

  • Growing and maintaining the stubble mustache: All you need is to use either an electric shaver or beard trimmer to keep this style. Depending on the person, this will be a daily task which means it requires a lot of maintenance but is pretty simple to achieve.

If you want to know more about mustache with stubble check out my other article – mustache with stubble [polls, styling guide and tips]. Click here to be taken to article.

Mustache with stubble

Celebrities Embracing The Middle Gap

  • Leonardo Dicaprio
  • Vince Vaughn
  • James Franco
  • Andrew Garfield
  • Post Malone
  • Zac Efron
  • Ryan Gosling
  • Channing Tatum
  • The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye)
  • Clark Gable
  • Billy Dee Williams
  • Johnny Depp
  • Nick Cannon
  • Pedro Pascal
  • Bob Marley
  • Che Guevara
  • Salvador Dali
  • Bryan Gumbel
  • Laurence Oliver
  • The Beatles (especially Paul McCartney’s iconic mustache)
  • Liam Hemsworth
  • Ashton Kutcher
  • Matt Damon

Conclusion

It is no crime to try and shave the middle part of your mustache (even though some may disagree). In fact, being a little risky and giving it a try might surprise you in the end since it all comes down to preferences and finding what suits you the best.

Something important to remember is that there is no reason to feel insecure about it if you have it naturally. Since this world is driven by trends, there might be a point where the middle gap will become the number one go-to style, just like it was in the 1930s. Maybe trendsetters like Clark Gable or Salvador Dalí may come in modern times to resurface the peculiar beauty of this choice of style. It just will require many people to be on board with it and accept it or embrace it since, at the end of the day, it is normal to have the gap in your mustache.

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!