A moustache (UK /məˈstɑːʃ/; American English: mustache, /ˈmʌstæʃ/) is facial hair grown on the upper lip. Moustaches can be groomed by trimming and styling with a type of pomade called moustache wax.
The word "moustache" is French, and is derived from the Italian moustacio (fourteenth century), dialectal mostaccio (16th century), from Medieval Latin moustaccium (eighth century), Medieval Greek μοστάκιον (moustakion), attested in the ninth century, which ultimately originates as a diminutive of Hellenistic Greek μύσταξ (mustax, mustak-), meaning "upper lip" or "facial hair", probably derived from Hellenistic Greek μύλλον (mullon), "lip".
Shaving with stone razors was technologically possible from Neolithic times, but the oldest portrait showing a shaved man with a moustache is an ancient Iranian (Scythian) horseman from 300 BC.
Various cultures have developed different associations with moustaches. For example, in many 20th-century Arab countries, moustaches are associated with power, beards with Islamic traditionalism, and lack of facial hair with more liberal, secular tendencies. In Islam, trimming the moustache is considered to be a sunnah and mustahabb, that is, a way of life that is recommended, especially among Sunni Muslims. The moustache is also a religious symbol for the male followers of the Yarsan religion.
Development and care
The moustache forms its own stage in the development of facial hair in adolescent males.
The first facial hair to appear tends to grow at the corners of the upper lip (age 11–15)
It then spreads to form a moustache over the entire upper lip (age 16–17)
This is followed by the appearance of hair on the upper part of the cheeks, and the area under the lower lip (age 16–18)
It eventually spreads to the sides and lower border of the chin, and the rest of the lower face to form a full beard (age 17–21)
As with most human biological processes, this specific order may vary among some individuals depending on one's genetic heritage or environment.
Moustaches can be tended through shaving the hair of the chin and cheeks, preventing it from becoming a full beard. A variety of tools have been developed for the care of moustaches, including shaving razors, moustache wax, moustache nets, moustache brushes, moustache combs and moustache scissors.
In the Middle East, there is a growing trend for moustache transplants, which involves undergoing a procedure called follicular unit extraction in order to attain fuller and more impressive facial hair.
The World Beard and Moustache Championships 2007 had six sub-categories for moustaches:
Dalí – narrow, long points bent or curved steeply upward; areas past the corner of the mouth must be shaved. Artificial styling aids needed. Named after Salvador Dalí.
English moustache – narrow, beginning at the middle of the upper lip the whiskers are very long and pulled to the side, slightly curled; the ends are pointed slightly upward; areas past the corner of the mouth usually shaved. Artificial styling may be needed.
Freestyle – All moustaches that do not match other classes. The hairs are allowed to start growing from up to a maximum of 1.5 cm beyond the end of the upper lip. Aids are allowed.
Hungarian – Big and bushy, beginning from the middle of the upper lip and pulled to the side. The hairs are allowed to start growing from up to a maximum of 1.5 cm beyond the end of the upper lip.
Imperial – whiskers growing from both the upper lip and cheeks, curled upward (distinct from the royale, or impériale)
Natural – Moustache may be styled without aids.
Other types of moustache include:
Chevron – covering the area between the nose and the upper lip, out to the edges of the upper lip but no further. Popular in 1970s and 1980s American culture (Ron Jeremy, Richard Petty, Freddie Mercury and Tom Selleck are noted for their chevrons).
Fu Manchu – long, downward pointing ends, generally beyond the chin.
Handlebar – bushy, with small upward pointing ends. See baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers.
Horseshoe – Often confused with the Handlebar Moustache, the horseshoe was possibly popularized by modern cowboys and consists of a full moustache with vertical extensions from the corners of the lips down to the jawline and resembling an upside-down horseshoe. Also known as "biker moustache". Worn by Hulk Hogan and Bill Kelliher.
Pancho Villa – similar to the Fu Manchu but thicker; also known as a "droopy moustache". Also similar to the Horseshoe. A Pancho Villa is much longer and bushier than the moustache normally worn by the historical Pancho Villa.
Pencil moustache – narrow, straight and thin as if drawn on by a pencil, closely clipped, outlining the upper lip, with a wide shaven gap between the nose and moustache. Popular in the 1940s, and particularly associated with Clark Gable. More recently, it has been recognized as the moustache of choice for the fictional character Gomez Addams in the 1990s series of films based on The Addams Family. Also known as a Mouth-brow, and worn by Vincent Price, John Waters, Sean Penn and Chris Cornell.
Toothbrush – thick, but shaved except for about an inch (2.5 cm) in the center; associated with Adolf Hitler, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy and Michael Jordan in his commercials for Hanes.
Walrus – bushy, hanging down over the lips, often entirely covering the mouth. Worn by Mark Twain, Richard Brautigan, John R. Bolton, Wilford Brimley, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Jamie Hyneman.
The longest moustache measures 4.29 m (14 ft) and belongs to Ram Singh Chauhan of India. It was measured on the set of Lo Show dei Record in Rome, Italy, on 4 March 2010.
In some cases, the moustache is so prominently identified with a single individual that it could identify him without any further identifying traits, as in the cases of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. For example, Kaiser Wilhelm II's moustache, grossly exaggerated, featured prominently in Triple Entente propaganda. In other cases, such as those of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx, the moustache in question was artificial for most of the wearer's life.
In art, entertainment, and media
Moustache was the alias name of a French comic actor, François-Alexandre Galipedes (b. February 14, 1929 in Paris, France - d. March 25, 1987 in Arpajon, Essonne, France), known for his roles in Paris Blues (1961), How to Steal a Million (1966), and Zorro (1975)
Moustaches have long been used by artists to make characters distinctive, as with Charlie Chan, the video game character Mario, Hercule Poirot, or Snidely Whiplash.
Sharabi movie from Bollywood had a character Natthulal whose moustache became a legend. Munchhen hon to Natthulal jaisi, warna na hon (Mostaches should be like Natthulal's or shouldn't be at all) became one of the most quoted dialog.
At least one fictional moustache has been so notable that a whole style has been named after it: the Fu Manchu moustache.
In 1954, Salvador Dalí published a book dedicated solely to his moustache.
They have also been used to make a social or political point as with:
Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. (1919), a parody of the Mona Lisa which adds a goatee and moustache
Frida Kahlo's moustachioed self-portraits
In the military
The Rajputana Moustache, worn in India, is famous worldwide. In the Indian Army, most senior rifle Rajputana regiment soldiers have moustaches, and the Rajputana Moustache is a symbol of dignity, caste status, and the lion-like fighter spirit of Rajput soldiers.
Moustaches are also noted among U.S. Army armor and cavalry soldiers.
In the early 1970s, Major League Baseball players seldom wore facial hair. As detailed in the book Mustache Gang, Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley decided to hold a moustache-growing contest within his team. When the A's faced the Cincinnati Reds, whose team rules forbade facial hair, in the 1972 World Series, the series was dubbed by media as "the hairs vs. the squares".
The Liverpool sides of the late 1970s to late 1980s were famously notable for numbers of moustachioed players, including Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Kennedy, Mark Lawrenson, Terry McDermott, David McGurrin, Ian Rush, and Graeme Souness.
For the 2008 Summer Olympics Croatia men's national water polo team grew moustaches in honor of coach Ratko Rudić.
South African rugby union coach Peter De Villiers has a moustache and is derisively known as Piet Snor ("Peter Moustache"). In 2008, De Villiers was nicknamed "Twakkie" in a public competition held by the South African Sunday Times newspaper – in reference to a local fictional character with a similar moustache, from the SABC's The Most Amazing Show.
During the 2012 London Olympic Games Chileans supporters painted moustaches on their skin as a sign of support of gymnast Tomás González. A site called bigoteolimipico.com (olympicmoustache) was created to allow people create Twitter avatars and Facebook images with moustaches in support of Tomás González.
NHL player George Parros is well known for his moustache, of which fans can buy replicas of at the team store, with proceeds going to charity. Parros also has a line of apparel called "Stache Gear" that benefits The Garth Brooks Teammates For Kids Foundation.
American Mustache Institute
Occurrence and perceptions of mustaches
Photos of famous composers' moustaches in recognition of Movember
French documentary (52min) about history of moustache