As far as men’s facial-hair styles are concerned, the beard has been enjoying the limelight for a while now. The mustache might be a harder look to pull off, but there’s no question that when it works, it really works. And although mustaches come in all shapes and sizes, the one thing most well-groomed mustaches have in common is mustache wax. In general, mustache wax tidies everything up a bit; it lets you shape and define your mustache and helps tame any stray hairs. And of course there are different types of mustache waxes for different types of mustaches. If you’re going for a vintage-style mustache with curled tips, you need something heavy to style it, likely with a beeswax base. Or if you’re going for a more natural look, you might prefer something water-based with a little less hold and lower shine. There are lots of options, and we spoke with seven experts — barbers, makeup artists, and specialty retailers — to learn about all their favorite mustache waxes.
Best overall mustache wax
Woody’s Stache Wax came recommended by two barbers we spoke with: Angelo Ruscetta of American Haircuts in Kennesaw, Georgia, and Dreux Martinez of Urbane Blades in Chicago. They both like that it has more of a medium hold, so it’s a good all-purpose wax. A lot of the more popular waxes out there are beeswax-based, which is great for certain styles that require that stiff, gravity-defying lift, but if you’re after a more natural look, Ruscetta and Martinez say a lighter wax like this one is your best bet; it will be more comfortable, and it’s easier to wash out. “It breaks down easily and holds well,” says Martinez, who adds that Woody’s formula is based on lanolin wax, which he prefers to beeswax. “Beeswax can be a little too heavy sometimes,” he notes. It also has a light scent, which is one one of the more important things to look for, according to Ruscetta. “It’s going to be under your nose all day,” he says, so you don’t want anything too strong.
Best medium-hold mustache waxes
If you don’t mind a little fragrance, this “wood and spice”–scented mustache wax from the famous Italian grooming company Proraso comes highly recommended by Daniel Chulpayev of Made Man Barbershop in New York City. “It’s water-based,” says Chulpayev, which is something he always seeks out in a mustache wax because it’s “easier to wash off” and less messy. He says it provides a nice medium hold that “lasts throughout the day.” (Worth noting: Proraso also makes our expert-recommended best overall shaving cream.)
Paul Langevin, co-owner of the barbershop Mildred New York, told us this mustache wax from Lucky Tiger is his favorite. “It’s a very versatile wax,” he says. “You can use it to sculpt elaborate styles or just to tame a traditional look.” He adds that it works on beards, too, and provides a “moderate shine.”
As far as we can tell from the ingredients list, this one doesn’t have any actual wax in it, but it’s still labeled as a mustache wax and designed with the same purpose in mind. Marissa Machado, a celebrity groomer and makeup artist who has worked with clients such as the Jonas brothers and Rami Malek, says this is her “go-to” and it has been a “savior on set.” According to Machado’s professional advice, it’s especially important to keep mustaches looking neat and “polished,” and this product is “perfect for those annoying flyaway hairs that won’t lay with the others.” She says a “dime-size amount” should last all day. Another thing Machado loves about this one is that it can double as a pomade (for the hair on your head).
Best high-hold mustache waxes
We’ve been focusing mostly on medium-hold waxes because those will be the best option for most mustache styles, but some looks call for a stronger wax with more hold. That’s where the beeswax come in. According to Ruscetta, if you’re going for a “rolly mustache” or any of those more vintage-inspired looks that require “tight control,” you can’t do better than Firehouse Wacky Tacky. “It’s phenomenal. And it will keep its hold all day, even in the heat and humidity of the South.” (Ruscetta lives in Georgia, so he would know.) He also likes that it has a really subtle “neutral beeswax-y scent,” because he’s sensitive to fragrance. One thing to note with this wax, and with mustache waxes in general, is color. As Ruscetta explains, mustache wax essentially coats your facial hair, so you want to try to match the color of the wax to the color of your hair. Firehouse Wacky Tacky is available only in this dark color, but the brand makes a similar “light” wax, too. And Ruscetta offers a pro tip for washing out a heavier wax like Wacky Tacky, which can sometimes be difficult: Beard oil will help break down the wax.
The image consultant Denis Carvajal, host of the podcast The Life of a Gentleman, says he goes for this wax when he wants a “super-stiff hold” that will last all day. “It has a great smell to it, too,” he adds, and while the jar is small, it should last a long time. “The key is not to use too much at once,” says Carvajal.