What Is A 3 On The Sides Haircut? Styles, Fades, And Pics

For any man, their haircut is one of the most crucial aspects of their look. That is why knowing what you’re asking for in barbers is so important, as you don’t want to be walking away with a haircut that you hate.

What Is A 3 On The Sides Haircut? Styles, Fades, And Pics

The 3 on the sides haircut comes in many variations, though it is a very common hairstyle for men to get. Here is everything that you need to know about this type of hairstyle, including how long it is, how to style and how fades can effet the look.

We have also added some pics of the hairstyle, so you know exactly what you will be getting. 

What Does This Haircut Look Like?

There is what a 3 on the sides cut looks like:

For a 3 on the sides haircut, the length of the hair on the sides of the head is trimmed down to a length of 10 millimeters (approximately 3/8 of an inch) using a clipper guard with a #3 setting.

As can be seen in the image above, the top hair is purposefully left longer to create a textured comb-over style.

The choppy transition from the fade on the sides to the long hair on top almost gives the impression of an undercut.

The top may be given even more prominence and attention by having some genuine difference in length between the sides and the long hair on top of the head. 

The hair on top of your head, on the other hand, may be fashioned in practically any manner you choose. For example, you may buzz the hair on top of your head until it reaches a length longer than the 3 on the sides; for instance, a #4, #5, #6, and so on.

You may also match the three on the sides with a massive and showy style on top, like a pompadour, or a sleek and defined style, like a side part or a slick back.

The options with this cut are endless; the only thing that links them together is that the sides are cut to a beautifully consistent length of 10 millimeters. 

By using a method known as fading, it is also possible to have the length of the sides gradually increase from the base to the peak of the head.

As it gradually rises in length, it may move from a length of #1 at the bottom of the sides to a length of #3 further up above without making any harsh lines. 

It is an excellent strategy for making the number three on the sides a little more noticeable.


While you can essentially style the 3 on the sides haircut in any way, here are the three most commonly asked-for styles, as well as pictures of how each one looks. 

4 On Top, 3 On Sides

For this look, the top is shortened to a #4 length, which is half an inch, while the sides are shortened to a #3 length, which is three-eighths of an inch. The “4 on top with a 3 on the sides” is the name given to this popular style. 

This style is also sometimes referred to as a number 4 buzz cut because the top of the head is almost buzzed down to a length of a 4.

When the sides are chopped down, however, they are reduced in length by one grade, so that they have the appearance of a #3.

This approach gives a few additional advantages over just reducing everything to a length of four. 

When going for the buzz cut look, it is sometimes considered appropriate to get all of your hair chopped to the same length. This is especially important to keep in mind while searching for an incredibly short buzz cut, such as a number 0 or number 1 buzz cut.

In contrast, if you have a longer buzz cut length, as your hair grows out you get that fizz ball of messy kind of look. This is because longer buzz cuts leave more length in the hair. It doesn’t have an appealing look it grows out.

To combat this, if you have a haircut such as a #4, for example, you can create a fantastic tapered effect at the sides of your head by trimming the hair on the sides of your head one grade shorter than the top. This will give the appearance that your head is tapered inward.

This enables the hair in a manner that is more visually pleasing to the eye and makes you look less of a mess as it does so. 

Therefore, if you want a four on top, you should seriously consider combining it with a three on the sides. 

Long On Top, 3 On Sides

A haircut known as “long on top, 3 on sides” is achieved by cutting the hair on the sides of the head to a length of a #3 and then cutting the hair on top of the head to a length that is much longer.

This hair may be styled in a variety of ways, including combovers, quiffs, pompadours, and many other hairdos, depending on how long it was cut and how it was styled.

In the image above, the hair that rests on top of the head has been brushed back into the shape of a quiff.

A three on the sides is an excellent choice since it results in a nice tapering appearance and lends greater significance to the longer hair on top that has been chopped with scissors. It gives the hair the impression of being tapered.

It does this by reducing the bulk of hair along the sides of the face, which in turn makes the face appear more thin and refined. In addition to this, it helps to define the jawline, which is an added perk.

There is a gradual transition here, with the sides gradually increasing in length until they reach a length that is about similar to a #3. This can also be described as a mild fading.

This haircut can blend in flawlessly with the thick stubble, which ultimately gives in an end product that is eye-catching while yet managing to preserve a great degree of simplicity.

7 On Top, 3 On Sides

In this look, the hair has been cut to a length of #7 (7/8 inch), and the sides have been trimmed to a length that corresponds to a #3 (3/8 inch). 

This style is also referred to as a “long buzz cut” because it necessitates the use of clippers.

The top layer of hair is left uncut and allowed to grow to a length that meets the requirements for a crew cut. A crew cut has a benefit over a buzz cut since it can be styled in a variety of ways. 

The length of the hair is frequently long enough so that it can benefit from the use of a moderate amount of styling product. For instance, one potential style may include the ability to create a short quiff.

The length difference between a #7 length on top and a #3 length on the sides is rather striking, more so than, for example, a combination with a 4 on top 3 on sides look, which is the reason why this combination works so well.

This cut produces a tapering effect that is much more evident as a result, which once again has a slimming effect on the face and defines the jawline.

It is not a good idea to cut everything down to a length of #7 because it will not grow back in a good looking if it is trimmed down to that length. This includes both the front and back.

One great option is to cut the height of the sides down to 3. It is subtle, but at the same time, it is good enough to remove a sizeable portion of the fullness from the sides.

Tapered Fade

A 3 on the sides taper fade is a haircutting method that consists of gradually increasing the length of the sides from the bottom up to a #3 length (3/8 inch) higher up. This is done to create the fade effect.

It’s a great tactic for attracting a little bit more attention to the sides of your hair. The effect that is commonly referred to as “fade” is produced by gradually blending several sections of the hair. 

The length will gradually get longer from the bottom up towards the top. Your barber will be able to smoothly transition from one length to another without any jarring gaps or sudden transitions, and there will be no clear lines delineating the different lengths of hair.

Because of this, the fading has the recognizable hazy aspect that comes with the process.

The degree to which a fade runs along the sides of the head is what determines its height. The level of the fade might be low, middle, or high.

Approximately half an inch above the ear, the length of the three low fades that are on the sides begins to fluctuate.

While doing a mid fade, the hair is trimmed so that it is roughly one inch above the ear; however, when performing a high fade, the hair is cut so that it is nearly at the level of the temples.

As you might assume, the haircuts that are the most stunning, daring, and in-your-face are high fades. This is because such a major portion of the hair on the sides and back is chopped to its lowest length.

You have complete control over how high you want your fade to go, but a three on the sides will look great with any of these variations.

Scissors On Top

A 3 on the sides with scissors on top refers to any style in which the hair on top is cut with scissors and left a fair amount longer than the sides, which are clipped down to a length of #3 (3/8 inch).

This style may be worn with a variety of different hair colors and textures. Because it is so long, the long hair on top may be styled in a variety of different ways.

The 3 on the sides with scissors on top haircut has several benefits, one of which is that it provides you with a lot of freedom and options to do anything you want with the hair on top of your head. This is one of the many reasons why this haircut is so popular.

For this look, you need to be very confident in what you are asking the barber to do. You can’t just ask for “scissors on top,” because this does not communicate how short you want the top to be, how you want it trimmed, or how you want it done.

Making use of images is a good way of showing what kind of look you are going for. It’s likely that terms like “combovers” and “pompadours” have different meanings for different people, so visual aid may be useful here. 


Getting a 3 on the sides is an excellent haircut if you want some variety and freedom in how you want to style your hair. Having the hair longer on top means that the possibilities are endless for styles or textures.

Joseph Pais