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What is a Soul Patch?

By Jennifer Fenn
Updated May 21, 2024
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A soul patch is a men’s facial hair style, specifically a patch of hair centered beneath the bottom lip. It can be worn alone, or with a mustache, beard or goatee, which is a pointed and trimmed beard that does not extend beyond the chin. The width, length and thickness of the patch of hair can vary according to personal preference and hair growth patterns, though most modern ones are short and narrow. This style has also been called an “imperial,” “small beard” and a “mouche,” which is French for “fly.” A derogatory nickname is “face fungus.”

This style of facial hair was popularized by jazz musicians, beatniks and other artistic or rebellious men in the 1950s and '60s, which is how it got its name. Jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie had a soul patch, leading the style to also be called a “jazz dab” or “jazz spot.” The style was popular with trumpeters in particular, as the hair provided a cushion between sensitive skin and the trumpet’s mouthpiece.

Soul patches came be traced farther back then that, however, as William Shakespeare and 15th century Walachian leader Vlad the Impaler both sported them. Famous men who’ve flaunted one at one time or another include Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, actors Bob Denver, Howie Mandel and Keanu Reeves, and athletes Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson and Phil Jackson. Many musicians from all genres of music have also helped to popularize them, including Tom Waits, Frank Zappa (who wore his in combination with a moustache), Eddie Vedder, Trent Reznor, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Jack Black, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.

Any man who can grow facial hair can easily grow a soul patch. Men should allow their facial hair to grow for a few days and then shave and trim it until only the small patch remains. It should be trimmed with a small pair of scissors or a razor regularly so they remain neat. Men with facial hair should take care when eating, as crumbs can get stuck in the hair rather easily.

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Discussion Comments

By anon331078 — On Apr 20, 2013

"Upside down Hitler mustache" is another name for it and it looks good on no one. It seems to be popular only with musicians over 45 nowadays.

By anon253728 — On Mar 10, 2012

Here are some other less official names for it:

God’s asterisk, jazz dab, flavor saver, mosca, barbilla, cookie duster, face fungus, attilio, liptee, kionjamchuzi, royale, zif, ball tickler, Cadillac, spit catcher, taint brush, soup catcher, flavor stripe, spit, sauce, womb broom.

By anon144170 — On Jan 19, 2011

Prior to this being called a soul patch, it was referred to as a divot. Dizzy Gillespie had a divot. Howie Mandell has a soul patch.

By anon130270 — On Nov 28, 2010

I wonder why the nickname "flavor saver" is not mentioned, since it is such a commonly used alternate for the term "soul patch".

By desertdunes — On Feb 20, 2010

Gilligan had a soul patch?! Gotta love the face fungus though. At least if the man manages to keep it even, nothing looks quite as silly as a crooked or uneven face fungus haha!

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