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Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Editor

The Great Movember Survey

In the mo: What does your facial hair say about you?

No longer is November just the time when Christmas ads start taking over the airwaves, Americans give thanks to turkey and everyone complains about how it’s suddenly gotten cold. These days it is known as the month when men in all walks of life start sprouting facial hair atop their upper lips.

cactus moustache by greg anderson

That’s right, Movember is here and it’s here to stay.

For one month every year we are free to live out those finely crafted facial hair fantasies because it’s all in the name of charity, specifically raising money and awareness for fighting prostate cancer.

You’ll spot all shapes and sizes of mo this month

From the hipsters sporting ironic Hitler ‘taches to those bearing a blossoming walrus, the young pups struggling to show off a hint of bum fluff to the swaggering sorts with the full facial tribute to the 70s porn star.

You see, for many men, it is no longer just a case of being liberal with the razor and letting nature do her work, the moustache is a statement, a style and a form of post-ironic expression that deserves attention. As with a haircut or an expensive coat, your choice of facial hair can say a lot about you. And now we have a better grasp than ever as to what it actually means.

white hat crazy moustache by greg anderson

8,000 good folks surveyed…

After quizzing more than 8,000 people across the UK and the US, we now have a handle(bar) on just what that upper lipholstery really says about you. We’re sure you’re just bristling with excitement so wrap your mutton chops around the results (and yes, we expect you to quizzically twizzle your whiskers as you analyse them).

What do people really think of moustaches?

Rockin’ the brostache for Movember?dali by greg anderson Great, we’re proud of you. Every man deserves to treat himself to a full bodied cookie duster or a finely trimmed mouth brow once in a while. The mo will perhaps be forever linked to sexual prowess. A symbol of manliness, testosterone and…1970s porn stars.
But does it really make you a hit with the ladies? Let’s find out.


What is the UK’s favourite moustache?

uk favourite moustache table of results

Well, our survey suggests if you want your bristles to be a woman magnet in the UK then you need to bust out the handlebar. That’s the type that is finely groomed and turns upwards at the end, perfect for twirling in between your fingers.

The handlebar is way out in front as the nation’s favourite

handlebar by greg anderson

In fact, more than 25 per cent of British women surveyed voted it as their favourite, with just over 20 per cent of men going for the same choice. The ‘paintbrush’ was a close second among the men polled, but for the women it was nigh on 10 per cent behind in second place, leaving the handlebar way out in front as the nation’s favourite.

What women in the UK think…

UK ladies moustache graph

And what men think…

UK gents moustache graph

A curious result perhaps when you consider that some of the most famous exponents of the trusty handlebar include Hercule Poirot, General Melchett in Blackadder and…erm…that guy off the Pringles tubes. Oh, and let’s not forget Joseph Stalin.

Most-famous handlebars:


A common moustache misconception

Of course, there is a chance that people had the wrong mo in mind when they cast their votes. A common moustache misconception is that a ‘tache that droops downward, a la Hulk Hogan, is a handlebar, but this is in fact a horseshoe. And we know that works for the Hulk, right? Let’s hope it’s not the tights and waxed legs anyway. That said, the horseshoe performed pretty poorly, with less than five per cent of females declaring it their favourite, while it proved slightly more popular among the men.

hulk hogan
[Image Credit:]

But leaving aside any potential cases of mous-taken identity, how would these other modern day sex symbols look if sporting their own sexy handlebar?

Is this the future of UK celebs?

Brits handlebar logo

A breakdown of results by city

Back to the results, and it was those trendsetting Londoners who most favoured the handlebar, suggesting you’ll soon see these fine examples of facial grooming flooding the streets of Shoreditch.

What is your hometown’s favourite moustache?

Elsewhere, while Cambridge may be associated with scholarly full beards, it was actually the extravagant Dali moustache that came out number one in the brainy city, while their rivals in Oxford plumped for the more surprising bikers’ favourite, the horseshoe. Edinburgh folks love a reliable, full-bodied paintbrush while they like to take it a step further in Sheffield, with the walrus voted top ‘tache. Not wanting to get carried away in Manchester, Mancunians favoured the slightly creepy pre-pubescent look, while their north west neighbours in Liverpool prefer the more refined pencil.

What is the US’s favourite moustache?

US favourite moustache graph

Heading across the pond, our survey in the USA has thrown up some different results when it comes to sex appeal.

No curls here, American ‘tache lovers keep it down to earth, voting the good ol’ paintbrush as the darned dandiest piece of facial hair an alpha male can adopt. It picked up a smooth 26 per cent of the votes across the country and scooped nearly 30 per cent of the female vote, compared to less than 25 per cent of men. The handlebar was a close second for male votes, but lagged
further behind among the females quizzed.

paintbrush moustache

What women in the US think…

US ladies moustache graph

And what men think…

US gents moustache graph

Most-iconic paintbrushes:

For many, try to picture a moustache-bearing sex symbol and there’s only one man that comes to mind – Tom Selleck. The man who made his name as Magnum PI even saw active service in the military before turning to acting (or should we just call it smouldering?), so he’s sweeping up the man points left, right and centre. And with a paintbrush like that, points are not all he’s sweeping up.

tom selleck
[Image credit:]

Of course, there are some rivals for his title as most famous brush-bearer. Ron Burgundy? Freddie Mercury? Heck, even Borat and Ned Flanders boost their sex appeal with some suave upper lip decor.

ron burgundy freddie mercury and borat

So pay attention celebs of the world, if you want to maintain your star status, you need to work on those whiskers. Here’s a glimpse of the future if the world’s leading men take heed of our results:

Is this the future?

Americans paintbrush logo

A breakdown of results by US city

Perhaps fittingly, San Diego, home of Ron Burgundy (and “the greatest city in the world!” according to the man himself) is the leader when it comes to paintbrush love. New Yorkers love a handlebar, while the top city for a Fu Manchu is the ultra glam celeb hotspot of Los Angeles.

Facial hair through the ages

crazy beard old man by greg anderson

A solid moustache may seem like a timeless piece of facial decoration, but as with any fashion, tastes change and trends come and go. What may have worked for French Revolution-era noblemen may not prove so tantalising for trend conscious 20-something’s in this day in age. So how does age affect our facial fur preferences?

How does moustache preference differ across age groups in the UK?

age trend uk graph

Well, let’s just say the elegant ‘tache is trailing somewhat behind for a lot of age groups in terms of how we prefer our men to look. For almost every age group in both the US and the UK the boring old clean shaven look still streams ahead as the top preference. Although those trendy Brits in their mid to late 20′s do show a penchant for stubble, which edges out clean shaven as the image of choice.

brown moustache smart by greg anderson

The moustache tends to lag behind goatees and full beards for most younger adult age groups in the UK, with the exception of youngsters aged from 18 to 24, who wisely prefer it to the goatee. The ‘tache then reaches its peak of popularity among 55 to 64-year-olds, perhaps dreaming of those halcyon days in the 70′s, when the ‘tache was the symbol of style.

In the US, the ‘tache also grows in popularity the older people get, lagging behind as the least popular piece of facial decoration until people hit their late 30′s, when its popularity gradually creeps up to become, ignoring the still popular stubble, the king of the facial hair. Clean shaven still rules the roost though.

How does moustache preference differ across age groups in the US?

age trend USRS

The battle for facial hair supremacy

lepricorn moustache by greg anderson

Like a mo that has grown out of control, we were so excited by our ‘tache-tastic results that we weren’t ready to get the trimmer out just yet, instead sprouting our investigation beyond the realms of the upper lip, finding out what people make of facial hair in general.

What people think of facial hair in general

US and UK fav type of facial hair

But as the results above hinted at, the moustache, despite all its elegance and attention to detail, is not the hit that it once was. Suggesting that Movember is more an ironic attempt at self-mockery, the moustache sits in a lowly third place in the popularity stakes in the UK, firmly behind a full beard and even the goatee. In the US, it seems they embrace it a little more. The moustache ranks second out of the three types of facial hair, pipping the full beard but, shockingly, still way behind the goatee.

Younger folk in both the USA and UK still like some kind of facial hair though, with those aged between 18 and 45 in the USA stating they would be more attracted to a man with facial hair compared to being clean shaven. In the older age categories though, the clean living, clean shaven look is definitely preferred. The same pattern is evident in the UK, with the younger age groups voting in favour of facial hair until the middle of the 35 to 44 age category, at which point the fur free look takes over as the leading choice.

old lady beard
[Image credit:]

England vs. Ireland vs. Scotland vs. Wales

fighting moustache by greg anderson

But if you really want to blend in with your surroundings, then try plumping for the most popular facial hair in your home town. Or if you’re looking to wow the ladies in different corners of the UK then these findings should help. It seems stubble proves the most popular with English females, whereas a full beard is preferred in Ireland (queue Alan Partridge jokes about Irish people with “eyebrows on their cheeks”). In Scotland, the goatee is the biggest hit, whereas Welsh women are torn between the goatee and the full beard.

fighting moustache by greg anderson

Scottish men demonstrate some wishful thinking by voting for the full beard as the facial adornment that they think women find the most attractive – but this could just be an excuse to keep their faces warm during those cold Scottish winters. English men clearly know what women want, agreeing with their preference for stubble, whereas Irish and Welsh blokes also like to be more liberal with the razor, with men in Ireland thinking the goatee would be the biggest babe magnet, while Welsh men also thought a full beard was the best way to woo a lady.

Why do men bother with Movember?

US and UK why men take part in movember

So, with the moustache seemingly not the top choice for how we should adorn our faces, why do so many hordes liberate their upper lip whiskers every November? Of course we know it started off with the admirable aim of raising money and does a fine job in raising awareness of prostate cancer. But like many things, people tend to have their own agenda too.

In fact, our stats suggest that laziness and ego are two of the dominant factors. Men like to save themselves that extra effort of shaving properly for a month, while for many the ‘tache proves a great tool to draw some attention to themselves. Other popular reasons included winding up wives and girlfriends, or using it as a chat up line. Although how successful that would be given the other survey results, we’re not sure.

People in the UK demonstrate greater awareness of prostrate cancer than those in the US

While the reasons for doing it showed pretty consistent similarities in both the UK and the US, we decided to investigate further to see how much awareness there was of the origins of the campaign, asking people if they really knew what Movember was about. Our results concluded that the UK demonstrated greater awareness of Movember and prostrate cancer than those in the US.

eye patch by greg anderson


So it seems the finely groomed moustache will have to settle for one month of glory a year, with our survey suggesting a moustache is not for life, but just for Movember. It still trails behind beards, goatees and even the clean shaven look when it comes to what the masses think looks best.

All is not lost for facial hair in general though. Younger women in both the UK and the USA still suggested they preferred designer stubble to no facial hair at all, so you can give the razor a rest for a couple of days if you’re going out on the pull.

The mighty moustache requires a little more dedication though. And it certainly requires more determination and a desire to stand out from the crowds. While you might get some knowing nods and virtual high fives from your fellow mo bro’s throughout November, any other time of year you’ll be lagging behind in the facial hair popularity stakes. But don’t let that put you off, will you dare to rock your ‘tache all year round?

A big thanks to Greg Anderson for his photos, if you’ve liked them and want to buy his calendar, follow the link here. And to donate to Movember click here.

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Some say he once drunk Keith Richards under the table, and that if he could be bothered, he could crack the Da Vinci Code in 43 seconds. All we know is he's called…the Chillisauce Editor.

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