When getting a haircut as a man, you'll notice barbers referring to numbers like #1, #2, and #3. But what do these haircut numbers mean, and how can they help you pick the right style? Understanding these numbers is the key to consistent cuts and effective communication with your barber. The numbers refer to clipper guard sizes that blend and taper hair to different lengths.
Most clipper guards range from #1, the shortest length, to #8, the most extended length. Lower numbers like #1 and #2 describe concise buzzed hair, whereas higher numbers indicate longer locks on top. Learning what the numbers represent allows you to request your desired style confidently. Here's what you need to know about the most common haircut numbers for men.
A #1 haircut trims hair down to 1/8 inch, creating a short buzzed look. This works well for men wanting minimal length on top and an exposed scalp on the sides and back.
A #1 cut requires virtually no styling and maintenance. It's a popular choice among men in the military, law enforcement, or looking for a simple, fuss-free style. It is a good option for men who prefer super short hairstyles with little to no maintenance required.
A #2 haircut leaves 1⁄4 inch of length using the #2 guard. This adds a uniform layer all over the head for a slightly longer buzzed style than the #1. It is ideal if you don't want your hair to be completely invisible, as it is with the #1 haircut number.
It provides a low-profile look that is still neat and short enough for minimal upkeep. The #2 cut can be worn casually or dressed up.
The #3 guard leaves 3/8 inch of length for a conservative short hairstyle. This versatile classic is long enough to style yet fast enough not to require heavy grooming.
It's a favorite for crew cuts, Ivy League cuts, and simple side parts. The #3 cut works both professionally and casually. This haircut number allows you to explore various haircuts and is not limited to a few haircuts like it is with haircut numbers 1 and 2.
The #4 clipper guard cuts hair to 1⁄2 inch, allowing for medium-short hairstyles. This length offers enough hair to experiment with parting, brushing, or lightly styling the top into place.
It maintains a tidy look that is manageable. The #4 is a popular choice for school-aged boys. It is also a good option for men who want to have at least a certain length of hair to avoid exposed scalp.
A #5 guard cuts hair down to 5/8 inches long. This produces a medium-length style with a layered look. The hair is long enough for side-swept bangs and combovers yet short enough not to appear fuzzy.
It combines manageability with versatility. The #5 works for casual, professional, and athletic lifestyles. The haircuts achieved with this number are easy to maintain because the hair left on the scalp is short and long.
The #6 guard leaves 3⁄4 inch of length. This produces a medium to longer hairstyle, allowing for added height and volume on top. The size suits brush-ups, thicker side parts, and messy textured styles while keeping the sides/back tapered. The #6 offers flexibility for different looks.
A #7 cut trims hair to 7/8 of an inch, allowing for long hairstyles on top while tapering the back and sides. This length provides ample hair to play with for combed-over bangs, surfer locks, faux hawks, and spiky textures. It's great for men wanting a longer top with short sides.
The #8 guard is the most extended conventional clipper guard, cutting hair to 1 inch. This leaves enough length for man buns, curly afros, flowy tops, and increased height. It allows hair to be styled tall or voluminous while maintaining clean sides and back.
The #8 makes a statement while looking neat. This is the go-to haircut number for men who prefer longer hairstyles.
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