Haircut numbers and hair clipper sizes are important to understand if you’re getting a haircut at a barbershop. Because clipper guards correspond to different men’s haircut lengths, guys wanting to get a good cut absolutely need to know what each number means when asking for a specific style. And although a number 2 or 3 fade seems like a trivial difference, you’d be surprised how much different 1/8 of an inch looks.
To help men visualize haircut numbers, clipper guard sizes and their associated length of hair, we’ve compiled a detailed description with pictures. So if you’re considering a buzz cut or fade, check out these haircut lengths to get your desired cut and style.
Haircut Numbers and Clipper Guard Sizes
Let’s start with the basics of hair terminology. Haircut numbers and clipper guards refer to the clips that attach to electric hair trimmers. You can find the number of each guard etched into the plastic. Most hair clippers come with a set of 8 guard sizes and represent the length of hair that will be left when trimmed.
Generally, each haircut number represents 1/8 of an inch of length. As the numbers increase, so too does the length of the haircut. When men ask a barber for a number 1 or 2, they are asking for a certain guard size to be used. A number 0 is cut without a guard and is essentially a shaved look (1/16 inch of hair left). The different guard sizes come in handy when barbers are using clippers for buzz cuts or fade haircuts.
Quick Reference Guide For Hair Clipper Sizes
As we stated, the higher the number, the longer the haircut. For example, asking for a “Number 1 Haircut” means the #1 guard will be attached for a hair length of 1/8 inch. Then a “Number 2 Haircut” is still a very short cut that corresponds to 1/4 inch length; a “Number 3 Haircut” leaves 3/8 inch of hair; “Number 4 Haircut” is a longer, medium-length cut at 1/2 inch; and “Number 5 Haircut” keeps 5/8 inch of hair on the scalp. A guy can request a Number 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 haircut.
Here are the haircut numbers and their respective clipper guard sizes (in inches of hair length):
- Number 1 – one-eighth of an inch
- Number 2 – one-quarter of an inch
- Number 3 – three-eighths of an inch
- Number 4 – one-half of an inch
- Number 5 – five-eighths of an inch
- Number 6 – three-quarters of an inch
- Number 7 – seven-eighths of an inch
- Number 8 – one inch
Below, you’ll find pictures of haircuts that correlate to the types of clipper sizes used by brands like Wahl, Oster, and Andis.
Number 0 Haircut
The number 0 haircut is the shortest buzzed haircut possible because it requires no guard to be attached to the clippers. A zero is basically a shaved head or a bald fade.
Number 1 Haircut
A number 1 haircut leaves 1/8 of an inch of hair on your head. Barely longer than the zero, the #1 guard is used for faded sides or very short buzz cuts. If you use this clipper size all over your head, be warned that your scalp will show.
Number 2 Haircut
The number 2 haircut is one of the most popular clipper sizes because it is regularly used for faded sides and buzz cuts. Slightly longer than the number 1 at 1/4 of an inch in length, the number 2 is still very short yet doesn’t expose your scalp. If you’re balding or have thin hair, the #2 clipper guard is a safe bet.
Number 3 Haircut
The number 3 haircut is the other very popular clipper size used. The #3 guard allows for 3/8 of an inch of hair, and is the highest number barbers will use to cut a fade. Often, men will ask for a number 3 fade or buzz cut because it’s short and low-maintenance, but no scalp shows. A 3 haircut also works well for thick and thin hair.
Number 4 Haircut
A number 4 haircut is used to get 1/2 inch of hair. The #4 clipper size will not produce a very short buzz cut, and starts to border on a brush or crew cut. As the middle length available on most clippers, a number 4 guard provides a reasonable length of hair for more conservative haircuts and styles.
Number 5 Haircut
At 5/8 of an inch, the number 5 haircut leaves longer hair which can be styled and brushed. It is a good setting to use if you wish to taper the sides of a longer haircut without creating much contrast. Use a #5 clipper size for more classic or gentlemen’s cuts.
Number 6 Haircut
The number 6 haircut is for styles that require 3/4 of an inch of hair length. Like the #5, a #6 size is usually used for tapered sides. At this length and above, a #6 clipper guard no longer gets you a buzz cut but closer to a crew cut.
Number 7 Haircut
A number 7 haircut can be used to get a crew cut with clippers. At 7/8 of an inch, a #7 guard is best for buzzing your hair on top without the hassle of using scissors. Just remember to use the smaller clipper sizes to give yourself a clean fade on the sides.
Number 8 Haircut
Lastly, the number 8 haircut is the longest clipper size for most brands. At a full inch of hair, an 8 haircut is ideal for trimming the longer hair on top of your head. Fading the sides with shorter settings (e.g. #1, 2, 3, or 4) will help give your cut shape and contrast, thereby balancing out the #8 guard.
Best Hair Clippers For Men
If you’re cutting your own hair, it’s important to use the best hair clippers for men. While most guys just need a good hair trimmer for home use, others require professional-grade clippers to cut through difficult thick hair. Ultimately, whether you need one of these top-rated men’s hair clippers to shave your head bald, trim a buzz cut, or blend different types of fades, here are some of the highest-quality grooming tools barbers trust. Between a powerful motor, sharp blade, the ability to work in wet or dry conditions, and sturdy guards, these products will cut through all hair types and won’t let you down!
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Knowing your haircut numbers and hair clipper sizes is important if you plan to cut your own hair or get the right haircut at your barbershop. With hair trimmers, it’s always best to cut your hair longer first. As they say, measure twice and cut once!
Check out these top short hairstyles for men to find a cut and style you’ll love!