The Fu Manchu

One of the popular movie mustaches is the Fu Manchu–but it doesn’t stop on the big screen.  Many people sport this mustache today, and for good reason–it will get you noticed.

This straight, full mustache grows downward past the lips on both sides of the chin, in a thin, straight line.  It is even common for the hair to hang down below the chin.  This ‘ominous’ style of mustache is often seen on movie villains, but it’s also seen on the street as well.  Biker gangs have long sported the Fu Manchu, thinking it makes them look tougher. 

The Fu Manchu is very similar to the Horseshoe style of mustache, however, the Fu Manchu mustache is grown from the upper lip only, and is not attached to the face at any other point. The sides remain clean shaven.  With the Horseshoe mustache, on the other hand, the hair is attached at the sides of the mouth. This style, the Horseshoe, is sometimes referred to as the ‘American Fu Manchu’ even though they are different.  The Horseshoe got its name because of its popularity with American cowboys  (When you think of the Horseshoe, think Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings or even Hulk Hogan).

If you are thinking of growing a Fu Manchu, know that it will need to be trained, and you will need to use mustache wax.  You will grow the hair out, to a point, and use mustache wax to shape it as desired.

A trimmer will be utilized to keep the mustache’s shape, and you will need to shave the sides of your face at least every other day to keep the look.  If you do not groom the rest of your face correctly, the Fu Manchu will not look right.  Keeping the chin beard-free is key.


Nowadays the Fu Manchu is rising in prominence among both the ‘common man’ and celebrities.  Celebrities such as Brad Pitt, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Boris Karloff, Robert Downey, Jr and even sports stars such as Joe Flacco and Joe Montana have been spotted with a Fu Manchu mustache.


While this style of mustache, the Fu Manchu, is named after a character of the same name, from the author Sax Rohmer, it was originally seen on China’s Mongol invaders. They were also seen prior to that, in the time of the Yellow Invasion, but at that time the sides of the mouth were clean shaven. The straight side extensions came along with the Mongols.

Sax Rohmer’s character, Fu Manchu, first appeared in the British serial novel, ‘The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu’, and was seen in his subsequent novels.  After this series of novels, the Fu Manchu began to show up again and again on Chinese villains in movies and television shows, but is seen today on all ethnicities of villainous characters.


Interesting Facts

If you do decide to grow a Fu Manchu mustache, you may want to enter yourself in the World Beard and Mustache Championship that takes place biennially (the competition’s site changes each time).  There is an entire category for best Fu Manchu.