Quite why the uncontrolled face foliage of the slacker is making way for more work-intensive, sculpted creations might be blamed on Hollywood. Since the turn of this century, we’ve seen the sharp-as-a-razor combination on the mask in V For Vendetta, Daniel Day-Lewis’ magnificent handlebar in Gangs of New York, Jude Law’s lip-width brush in the Sherlock Holmes films and Clark Gable revisited in the hugely successful French feature film, The Artist. Silent it may be, but that movie may do for upper-lip flora what Mad Men is doing for skinny lapels.

If you’ve outgrown the semi-kempt Dave Grohl look, or you’re too tidy to wear a Gandalf, prepare yourself for added grooming effort – even if you opt for a full beard. Trimmed is the way it should be maintained. But it’s moustaches – with or without the accompaniment of beards or sideburns – that will add 15-20 minutes to your normal regimen.

Among the toughest to maintain are the pencil-thin, lounge lizard moustaches, for the tiniest slip of the razor will render it unwearable in public. Opt for your barber’s steady hand, or invest in an electric razor with a trimmer attachment. The only other hardware needed to maintain a beard and/or moustache is a small, fine-toothed comb. Built for the purpose, there may be none better than the GB Kent A81T Small Moustache Comb.

Should you be attracted by the crowning glory of moustaches, the curl-ended handlebar, you will need to learn the ways of the waxer. Leaving aside absurd handlebars, such as those worn by Germans who enter in moustache-growing competitions, a classic handlebar that avoids the comic element should not extend beyond the cheeks.

What those extreme German moustaches do tax is the strength of one’s wax – 18 inches of facial hair has that effect. Handlebar sightings in Germany are a daily occurrence, and Teutonic moustache artistry demonstrates the stuff’s primary requirement: the ability to maintain the curl. Forget hair waxes and gels: they can’t cope with far tougher moustache hair.

Neutral moustache wax by Dr Dittmar

Provided in a pocketable, matte-finish glass jar, this neutral-coloured wax has one thing going for it: a sublime vanilla aroma. Although lacking the ultimate rigidity to last all day, it’s best for emergency touch-up usage because it’s less messy than Pinaud or Taylor’s. Just rub some on your finger, and apply to the ends.

Mr Taylor’s moustache wax

A small plastic tube holds this pleasant-smelling wax, but the packaging is a giveaway: its consistency is more like toothpaste or cream, so its rigidity is questionable. It offers much better hold than Dr Dittmar’s, but it takes longer to dry to rigidity than Pinaud, and lacks the latter’s ultimate “sculptability.”

Pinaud Clubman neutral moustache wax

No question: this is the global standard, beloved of theatre and cinema make-up artists. A foil squeeze tube delivers a white wax, which dries to invisibility. Apply it to the ends, comb through, and then shape with your fingers. Give it 15 minutes, and the ends of your ’tache will be strong enough to hold Christmas tree decorations. Result? A curl to last 12 hours or more.

by Ken Kessler
Published by Playboy South Africa April 2012