The international world of the mustache competition is a hierarchical realm that rewards men of hirsute greatness and shames those of lesser upper-lip endowment. Lower level lip sweaters can earn you a victory at charity events or local contests, but to be taken seriously on the regional, national, or international stage you’ll need to make sure your ‘stache is in premium condition. Carefully consider what type of mustache to grow and make sure it’s a good fit with your looks and personality. Research the contest, know the rules governing your category, and learn proper grooming techniques. If you still feel you don’t measure up to the competition, consider a contest with alternate judging criteria or even a fake mustache competition.
The casual mustache wearer may compete with friends, coworkers, or classmates during seasonal traditions like Mustache March or Movember. To counter criticism from unsupportive spouses and family members, consider entering one of the charitable events that coincide with these traditions. Local beard and mustache clubs are the first step into more formal facial hair face-offs. These organizations often send their most qualified members to regional or national events which may in turn lead to a chance to compete at the prestigious World Beard and Mustache Championships. Participants at this level treat their soup strainers as a way of life rather than a mere aesthetic accessory, and the most elite bearders and ‘stachers can cash in on their wondrous whiskers through book and television deals.
Your fist step in winning praise and acclaim for your whiskers is to decide what type of mustache to grow. Competitions are commonly split into categories for various types of facial hair, often with some very specific rules governing size, style, and growth patterns. Common categories include the natural mustache, the Dali — modeled after Spanish painter Salvador Dali — the English mustache which recalls the proper and sophisticated lip sweaters of dignified Englishmen from years past, the small and bushy Imperial mustache, the nearly vertical Fu Manchu, the anything-goes Freestyle category, and of course, the Handlebar. Judges at official competitions may look beyond the upper lip and consider the overall contribution your mustache makes to your appearance and personality, so choosing a style that suits you is important.
Proper grooming is also essential to success in any type of mustache competition. Contestants at the World Beard and Mustache Championships devote several hours each day to washing, combing, trimming, waxing, and styling their facial hair. You may not need to go to such great lengths in cultivating a killer ‘stache, but you’ll want to pay close attention to factors like symmetry, uniformity of color, cleanliness, styling detail, thickness, texture and feel — some competitions allow judges to sample the tactile qualities of contestants’ mustaches — and of course size. Check the competition’s rules on “performance enhancing substances” in your category; styling aids like mustache wax and hairspray may be prohibited. If you’re entering a themed category or have a certain look you’d like to present, wear appropriate attire and don’t be afraid to add accessories like hats, glasses, monocles, pocket watches, or anything else that enhances your overall appearance.
If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who finds themselves unable to grow a world-class wonder under your nose, don’t worry. Not every mustache competition is based solely on looks. The American Mustache Institute’s Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year competition, for example, honors a member of the "mustached American community.” For the fairer sex, events like “The Whiskerinas National Ladies' Beard & Mustache Competition” provide a safe and welcoming environment for women seeking to embrace real or artificial whiskers.