Why readers love their moustaches

Five moustaches

Following the Magazine feature on how to grow a four-metre moustache, readers have been sending in pictures of their own follicly fertile upper lips.

Manly pride, a political statement or some fundraising fun.

No readers have gone to the lengths of India's Ram Singh Chauhan, but what their moustaches lack in substance, they more than gain in personal significance.

Here is a selection of their stories.

A strike against moustachephobia

Demian Stimson

This is my latest attempt at growing a handlebar moustache. I usually start growing one in Movember and shave it off when required to do so by a part in a play or following a losing encounter with ice-cream or soup. I generally wear it without the support of my partner, even though she is from Finland. My daughters are in favour - my oldest daughter, 16, speaks highly of it and is always pleased to see it return, and my youngest, 10 months, likes to swing from it.

I lament the general absence of handlebar moustaches from British faces - friends visiting from Chile and Mexico were not only unaware of and alarmed by British moustachephobia, they were unaware of moustachephobia. People in the street do occasionally comment on or laugh at my moustache but they are rarely unkind and there are worse things than making a stranger laugh.

Demian Stimson, Liverpool

Chaps should act like chaps

Ewan McGregor and Matt Hooper Matt Hooper met Ewan McGregor last year while taking part in a bicycle ride

I first grew it for The Tweed Run (a bike ride while dressed in traditional English dress) in London two years ago, but when it came time to shave it off I found I had grown too fond of the old chap to get rid. Therefore I became a moustachioed man.

I have had a rather mixed reaction to my facial furniture. Some people openly stare, others openly admire. Many a chap has approached me and said that they wish they could culture a cookie duster as fine as mine, and when I happen to meet a fellow moustache wearer in the street, there is definitely a shared glance of mutual approval and admiration, regardless of age.

Matt's moustache maintenance

  • I gently shampoo mine daily, as I wash my hair. Afterwards I give the whiskers a buff with a towel to dry before carefully massaging a liberal application of wax into the whiskers
  • I comb through, twizzle the ends to a pleasing curl, and I'm all done
  • Occasional trimming stops stray strands straying into the soup, and I prefer the tips to be kept at a set size, or they tend to become slightly straggly

As a part-time pipe tobacco reviewer, the moustache is invaluable. Firstly, it lends a chap the required gravitas to be seen smoking a pipe in the street, and secondly, the smoke infiltrates the whiskers in a most pleasant manner, the sweet scents nestle there to be savoured throughout the day, or at least until another pipeful of quality shag can be combusted.

Lastly, I love my moustache because fashion has become rather bland of late, very casual and dreary. Formality is seen as something to be avoided, with preposterous fads such as "Dress Down Friday" and training shoes being worn to clubs now seem to be the norm. Men dress and act like boys far into their 40s now, and this is simply wrong-headed. It is time for chaps to act like chaps, swap their hair gel for pomade and jeans for pleated flannels, and start showing the younger generation a decent example.

Matt Hooper, UK

The influence of Sgt Pepper's

Richard Saunders Richard Saunders in 1973 and today

I first started wearing that style of "Zapata" moustache in the late 60s when I would have been my early 20s, probably influenced by The Beatles LP cover of Sgt Pepper's. As an aspiring surrealist painter it seemed appropriate. It's never really evolved, though it has been shaved off occasionally or added to, to become a full beard.

My wife considers that it wouldn't "be me" without it now. Our youngest daughter burst into tears the first time I shaved it off, so I had to grow it back quickly.

I have had roughly the same moustache and hair style, on and off, for the last 40 years or so. As a surrealist painter, I feel I have to uphold a tradition of British eccentricity!

Richard Saunders, Herts, UK

It's introduced me to people

Tom Cutler In 1979, it was a year old. Now it unfurls to 20cm (8in)

My moustache celebrates its 34th birthday this year. I first grew it in 1978 when I was at university, although really you don't grow a moustache, a moustache grows you. It's an outcrop of the personality in my view. I'll never shave it off. I began curling it into the handlebar style straight away and most mornings I just run a comb through it and Bob's your uncle.

However, if "moustache fatigue" has set in or if I've been out on the razz, it can look like the vicar's knitting after the cat's got at it. (I never bother with a moustache snood.) Anyway, the answer is mortal combat with a metal moustache comb and some stiff moustache wax. I had a terrible dream recently that a huge pair of scissors was striding towards me down Regent Street. I woke up sweating.

Grooming tips from Tom Cutler

  • When you're looking in the mirror to trim off a few stray hairs you've got to be careful that you don't cut off one of the wings
  • The trouble is you think you're going forwards and left when you're actually going backwards and right
  • Occasionally I wax it out straight into points in the so-called "English" style
  • When I do it that way the wingspan is about 8 inches (20 centimetres)
  • I make my own wax, using a secret recipe, like Colonel Sanders
  • Beeswax does most of the work and a drop of Frankincense makes it smell nice
  • Not too strong, though, because you don't want it to interfere with the perfume of your beef and beer

Food can be a problem. Hot soup is sucked up by capillary action and hurts like billyo - you end up doing a little dance of pain, and the language can be frightful. Soft ice cream is another disaster.

A good bushy wing-commander style tash causes many women to swoon and go all funny and I am often stopped at railway stations by young ladies who ask me if they may stroke it - something I encourage. I've made lots of new friends this way.

But it's not all wine and roses. For every girl who goes weak at the knees, there is a young street urchin who will yell something rude or throw contumely at you. But, as I always say, if you can't take the abuse don't grow the moustache. My wife, though indulgent, also remains unimpressed by the old lip-weasel. She wouldn't recognise me without it, though, and has never seen me with an unshaven ergotrid.

Tom Cutler, Brighton, UK

It's what my six-year-old self would want

Jeff Sauber

I'd dabbled with a lot of different facial hair arrangements in college in the 80s, and even had the handlebar - for about a week. Some years later, clean-shaven, ponytailed and balding (I was in advertising then, and everyone had a ponytail), I made some changes in my life and decided I needed a style change as well.

A moustache seemed like a good idea, but I didn't want the standard "caterpillar" moustache. My decision-making process for most things is to ask myself what I'd do if I were still six years old, and the obvious answer to that is what I have now. That was probably closer to 20 years ago. In the 90s, pop-culture was fairly hostile to any kind of facial hair and even haircuts were absurdly short, so what I was wearing was a kind of challenge.

Some people - conformists - were actually offended, so I knew I was doing the right thing. The most common thing people would ask me was: "Aren't you afraid you're losing dates by wearing a moustache?" and in fact some women did, and still do, refuse to go out with a man with a moustache, any moustache, let alone the kind of moustache I wear.

In those cases, my 'stache is a happy filter, since women that shallow are not the kind I'd be happy with, anyway.

Jeff Sauber, New York

A six-month cycle

Andrew Shervill

I grow a handlebar moustache on a regular basis.

After I have cultivated it for about six months, I get the urge to be clean shaven.

Once it's off I miss it and start all over again.

Sometimes the wife doesn't even notice when it's gone (I'm not sure if that's a good sign).

Andrew Shervill, Derby, UK

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