Growing up I had a strong mustache role model. My father is Black Irish, and for as long as I can remember he has sported a dark and imposing ‘stache that could, on a good day, go 12 rounds with Tom Selleck’s.
When my brothers and I were kids, my dad would take us to watch him play in a lacrosse tournament in Vail Colorado every year (he still plays at age 64). Our annual drive from Denver took us through the mighty Continental Divide. As we stared slack-jawed at its immensity, Dad would point out that the Rockies were so tall that trees stopped growing after a certain point due to lack of oxygen. Little did I realize, in my prepubescent wonder, that soon this “tree line” would become a vexing metaphor for my own disappointing facial hair.
You see, unlike my father, I am a blonde man. Instead of coming in jet black like my dad’s, my facial hair has a gradient that is, at its darkest, an amber/brown transitioning to a flaxen, nearly translucent yellow that bears an eerie sameness to my skin tone. This transition to pigmentlessness is my very own tree line. Sadly, my mustache isn’t fit to thumb wrestle Tom Selleck’s.
Luckily, a few years back I learned a little secret to give my bristles some life. One winter, when my older brother bought my brothers and me straight-razor shaves for Christmas, I asked the barber to leave my mustache alone on a lark. I found the result surprisingly appealing, despite its pale and nearly invisible color. I loved it. No one said anything until a couple of days later, when my mom came back from the store and asked me to unload some groceries. In one bag, I found Just for Men facial hair dye.
I got the message.
With the kit, I mixed up the dye and the base, applied, and kept it on for the required amount of time (about 5 minutes). After wiping away the residue on my upper lip, I beheld my glorious new mustache that was mostly natural looking, with only the slightest Crayola effect to it. Turns out this stuff is great even if you’re not going gray. Now I buy a box on November 1 every year.