Well-known as a staple of the standard military uniform, the buzz cut has been around for years.
While the first thing you may think of when you hear buzz cuts is an ultra-short hairstyle, longer buzz cuts are very much in style and have become a modern trend, not just reserved for the military.
It’s essential to know the difference between clipper guards when giving yourself a buzz cut or asking for one at your local barber shop. This will save you from a haircut mishap or will allow you to tell your barber with confidence what you’re looking for.
With this guide, you’ll learn the different buzz cut lengths with more length, what each length looks like, and the type of clipper guard you need to get the buzz cut you want.
What Is A Buzz Cut?
A traditional buzz cut haircut that is trimmed evenly all the way around using hair clippers. However, there are several other variations of buzz cut that are different from the traditional.
Firstly, there is the crew cut, which is a type of buzz cut where the hair is left longer on the top of the head. The longest part of the hair is at the front of the scalp and it gets shorter towards the back, the shortest part of the hair being at the crown.
There is also the butch cut, which is similar to the crew cut, however the hair on top is more evenly cut and not as tapered. Lastly, there is the “Ivy League” cut, which is a slightly longer version of the crew cut.
While these types of buzz cuts differ slightly, they all have two things in common – they’re all short and all reliant on hair clippers to achieve them. Some buzz cuts are so short that they resemble a shaved head, so are limited in styling options.
Having a longer buzz cut gives your hair much more versatility. With longer clipper guards, you’d have enough length to play around with the style.
For example, if you leave some length on top, you can style a simple quiff or faux hawk. Buzz cuts are especially stylish with facial hair, particularly a goatee, a mustache, or everyday stubble.
Buzz Cut Lengths
Before you decide on what length buzz cut you want to give yourself, you need to make sure you have the correct tools. Look for high quality clippers that can fit clipper guards that’ll allow you to trim your hair according to the length you want.
You should make sure that your clippers can fit different guards so you can change your style easily, especially if you want to leave some length on top.
Haircut numbers and clipper guards refer to the clips that attach to your electric hair trimmer. The number is etched into the plastic of the guard and most clippers come with eight sizes that represent the length of hair that will be left when trimmed.
Each number represents ⅛ of an inch, or 3mm, of hair length. These are the four clipper guard lengths that will allow you to trim and style your preferred type of buzz cut.
The number 5 buzz cut is a great choice for those who prefer a shorter style, but want some options when it comes to subtle styling. The number 5 leaves you about 16mm, or ⅝ of an inch, of hair after trimming.
While shorter buzz cuts can be difficult to comb and style, the number 5 cut may give you enough hair to form a small quiff. If you’re looking for something a bit more versatile than a longer length may be the way to go.
This cut is ideal for a “high and tight” look, being a clean and hassle-free hairstyle. With some extra length on the top with short back and sides, this cut can help you achieve this look.
To do this, buzz the top of your hair down with number 5 clippers, and the sides and back down to a number 0 or 1. There should be a sharp transition for the perfect “high and tight” look, with minimal fading.
Overall, the number 5 is the perfect option for men wanting a professional look that’s easy to manage. While it’s a low effort hairstyle, it still gives you some maneuverability and styling potential, while also not seeming bare-scalped.
The number 6 buzz cut leaves your hair about 19mm long, or ¾ of an inch. It looks slightly fuller than shorter buzz cut length and offers a few simple styling options that you can experiment with.
A number 6 buzz cut should give you enough length to style a short quiff or small faux hawk at the front of your head, giving your hair less of a traditional buzz cut look.
It’s not as clean-cut as the buzz cut that first comes to mind when we think of one, giving you a hairstyle that looks like a regular, no-nonsense men’s cut.
Again, the “high and tight” style would be an fantastic option with a buzz cut that’s taken down to a number 6 on top with a number 0 or 1 on the back and sides.
It can also look great with tapered sides and back that fade into the top of the hair. This is currently a popular choice among men, and looks more modern than the traditional buzz cut.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve a side-swept quiff, undercut, or comb-over with a number 6 buzz cut, however, there are still options and using a small amount of hair pomade can help you experiment with your hair.
Bear in mind the texture of your hair as well, as not every buzz cut looks the same. Some texture is easier to style than others, even at very short lengths.
If you use the right product for your hair type, you should be able to create a look that suits you and that you’re happy with.
The number 7 buzz cut gives you a broader range of options than shorter buzz cuts, and you’ll find it easier to achieve a crew cut or faux hawk with the 22mm, or ⅞ of an inch, of hair you’ll have.
With a number 7 cut, you will find using products and blow drying much more beneficial when styling your hair. The length this buzz cut gives you allows you to experiment with buzz cut variations, like a crew cut, as it gives you more hair to work with on top
As previously mentioned, the crew cut is a hairstyle that consists of longer hair near the front, towards the hairline, that gradually fades shorter towards the back of the head, near the crown.
A number 7 buzz cut definitely gives you this option, as the longer length makes the transition from long to short more noticeable.
The crew cut often features back and sides that are clipped down shorter, sometimes to the skin, similar to the “high and tight” style.
This cut goes especially well with a skin fade, where the top hair fades sharply into the back and sides, which are clipped right down to the scalp.
The number 7 buzz cut gives you great options to create an obvious and striking style with a number of techniques, especially when using longer hair on the top of your head. It is achievable with shorter cuts, however it is not as noticeable.
Unfortunately, the number 7 buzz cut is slightly harder to maintain than a shorter buzz cut, especially if you opt for a crew cut variation or a skin fade. However, if you keep it trimmed and styled regularly, it’ll look great every day.
It’s also recommended that you use some product to give your hair some texture and volume, so your hair reaches its full potential. Be sure to keep your hair clean and combed too, as greasiness and knotting can make your hair appear thinner.
In general, buzz cuts are great for concealing receding hairlines, making them much less noticeable. While a number 2 or 3 is usually better for this, a number 7 is just long enough to reduce the appearance of a receding hairline, so you’ll have that benefit, while still having styling options.
With more flexibility and styling options, the number 8 buzz cut leaves you with 1 inch, or 25mm, of hair. This a great option for those looking for something more versatile, however is more high maintenance than shorter buzz cuts.
Like the number 7 cut, the number 8 gives you the option to style a crew cut or faux hawk, and like the shorter buzz cuts, this one looks great with a “high and tight” style.
With this cut, you can also style a short quiff, or even produce a short fringe that you can style as you please.
You can buzz your hair evenly all the way around with number 8 hair clippers, however it usually looks too full at the back and on the sides. This is not an ideal look, and is not flattering for those with shorter or rounder faces.
It’s best to taper the sides and back to reduce this fullness and keep it look sharp and tight. This reduction in volume makes the jawline more defined and is far more complimentary to the facial structure.
The number 8 buzz cut is much harder to do yourself at home, as is the number 7, so it’s recommended that you visit your barber and get it done professionally so you can look your best. You’ll have a much better outcome.
Whether you do it yourself or professionally, it’s good to know exactly what you want out of a buzz cut. To get exactly what you want, refer to this guide and consider how you want your hair to look.
It’s always good to get a second opinion too, and with this knowledge you can walk away with the best-looking buzz cut for you.