Haircut numbers and hair clipper sizes have confused men for years. Whether you are visiting a barbershop for the first time or learning to cut your own hair with a clipper set, it’s important to know what lengths correspond to different clipper guard sizes. In this guide, we will demystify buzz cut and fade haircut numbers and sizes by detailing the length of hair each clipper number represents.
Haircut Numbers and Clipper Guard Sizes
Let’s start from the basics in case there are any women planning on helping their men trim facial or head hair. Haircut numbers refer to clipper guard sizes, and you can find the number etched into the guard itself. Most clipper sets provide 8 guards, and each hair clipper size represents the amount of hair that will be left when used. The larger the number, the longer the haircut. Oftentimes, most brands like Oster, Wahl, and Andis use increments of 1/8 of an inch.
For example, asking for a “Number 2 Haircut” means the #2 guard will be attached to the clipper to leave 1/4 inch of hair on the scalp. Similarly, a “Number 1 Haircut” is a very short cut that corresponds to a 1/8 inch length; a “Number 3 Haircut” cut to 3/8 inch; and a “Number 4” is the medium length of 1/2 inch. In this way, a man can request a Number 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 haircut, where a “Number 0” means no guard is used, resulting in a near-shaved look with 1/16 of an inch of hair left.
Quick Reference Guide For Hair Clipper Sizes
Here are the haircut numbers and their respective clipper guard sizes (lengths):
- 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
Number 0 Haircut
A “Number 0 Haircut” has no guard attached and therefore uses the permanent guard attached to the clipper for a short cut. A zero is often used to provide a very short buzz cut or almost skin fade, leaving the scalp exposed.
Number 1 Haircut
A “Number 1 Haircut” is about 1/8 of an inch, which is a little longer than a number zero. The #1 guard is still ideal for buzz cuts, or you can use it to taper or fade from different numbers. However, we do not recommend a number 1 cut if you don’t want your scalp to show.
Number 2 Haircut
The “Number 2 Haircut” is one of the most popular clipper sizes for fade haircuts. Not too short or long, the #2 gives you 1/4 of an inch in length, allowing for a fuller hairstyle that doesn’t expose the scalp. A number 2 is a safe bet for guy’s with thinning hair and is likely perfect for thick hair.
Number 3 Haircut
The “Number 3 Haircut” cuts your hair down to 3/8 of an inch, and is generally the longest clipper size most barbers will use to maintain short faded sides. On the other hand, a #3 can also be used on the top for a longer buzz cut style (e.g. burr cut).
Number 4 Haircut
A “Number 4 Haircut” leaves hair 1/2 inch long, making it the medium length of the clipper guards. With the #4 size, you can start to get a brush or crew cut, which are similar to a buzz cut but include a skin fade on the sides and longer hair on top. The number 4 works well for both thick and thin hair.
Number 5 Haircut
The “Number 5 Haircut” length is 5/8 of an inch, although most brands use the #5 and #6 clipper guards for taper styling.
Number 6 Haircut
The “Number 6 Haircut” is 3/4 inches long. As mentioned above, the #6 size is reserved for tapering your hair.
Number 7 Haircut
The “Number 7 Haircut” is a 7/8 inch long cut. Because of its length, the #7 may be used to style a crew cut for men with thick hair. However, just remember to use a smaller size guard (e.g. #1, 2, 3, and 4) to fade your hair on the sides.
Number 8 Haircut
Finally, the “Number 8 Haircut” is one inch in length and represents the longest clipper size made in the United States. While not commonly used to give a fade haircut, the #8 is a lazy way to trim the hairs on top of your head while using a #1, 2 or 3 on the sides.
For more information on cutting your own hair, check out our reviews of the best hair clippers for professional and home use.