Ever the disciple of the zeitgeist, Harry Styles has joined the long line of celebrities who have grown a moustache during the coronavirus pandemic. The “lockdown tache” has been seen on a wide variety of famous top lips including Armie Hammer, Tyler, the Creator, Dele Alli and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Since lockdown measures began in March, searches for the term “how to grow a moustache” have increased by 63.4%, while global sales of moustache oil have increased by 67.6%, according to Cosmetify.com.
It is a trend that has been mirrored in fashion. Last week’s Gucci’s SS21 Epilogue show featured models with handlebar moustaches and Clark Gable styles. And John Waters was unveiled this week as the new face of Saint Laurent’s AW20 campaign, where his ubiquitous pencil tache took centre stage.
“Lockdown finally gave men the opportunity to experiment and have some unfettered fun with their facial hair without fear or criticism,” said Lee Kynaston, a grooming expert. “We saw a lot of men sharing their successes, and failures, on social media too [which] helped normalise the ‘lockdown tache’ as a thing.”
Dominick Murray, an author, started growing his in mid-March as part of a beard, then shaved it down to a moustache: “I started growing it partly because I didn’t need to attend face-to-face meetings,” he said, citing Wyatt Earp and Kurt Russell in Bone Tomahawk as his wild west inspirations.
“I’m aiming to keep it until mid-September,” Murray said, adding: “Society is very inflexible when it comes to lip hair.” Pre-lockdown, celebrities such as Timothée Chalamet, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars were met with snorts of derision on social media for growing a moustache.
Kynaston said Movember – the charity event where men grow moustaches to raise awareness of male-specific health issues – had not helped: “It took the moustache as a style statement and made it a bit of a gimmick, a novelty that you only grow for a few weeks of the year for charity.”
It is in keeping with the last time the moustache was big: during the hipster era in the mid-2000s. Here the tache was worn twizzled at the ends and with a deep sense of kitsch.
“Moustaches in 2020 can’t be anything but ironic due to the bad rap the poor old tache has had since its last ‘unironic’ resurgence,” said Phil Ashton, the brand manager of the men’s skincare brand Triumph & Disaster. “Being the facial hair of choice among dictators isn’t great PR either,” said Kynaston.
He added that a moustache was harder to wear well than a beard, “because they’re a rarer sight it takes more attitude, conviction and confidence to carry one off”.
But surely if anyone can bring it back it is Styles? Not only did the former One Direction singer make the word “moustache” trend on Twitter, fans were vocal about its merits: “Harry Styles may be the only person who could wear a moustache like this and still look good,” wrote one.
But Dion Nash, Triumph & Disaster’s founder, thinks its charms are fleeting and will not last beyond lockdown: “Like white jeans and turtlenecks, by the time you realise they are in they are actually out again,” he said.