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The Buzz Cut: Expert Styling Tips And 14 Must Try Looks

photo of man getting a buzz cut

Recently, we’ve found ourselves feeling a little buzzy. Maybe it’s the sudden excitement of summer on its way, but we can’t shake the itch that the best hairstyle may be no style at all. It’s a radical idea, but the buzz cut may just be the most flattering trend this season. You don’t have to know the difference between a fade vs. taper to know a buzz cut is a good idea!

Of course, buzz cuts aren’t new. However, this rise in popularity is notable because it exists without a gender divide. That’s right: Men and women are finally starting to shear away their manes in equal numbers. Both female and male celebrities are wearing the style statement down the red carpet, shedding their extensions and hair gel for a more natural way of life.

Have you ever considered clipping your strands away? It’s an idea that will seem avant-garde to many, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Sit back, relax, and imagine a life with no hair styling necessary.

Number 1

If you’ve never been anywhere near an electric hair clipper, let us give you a crash course on how all this works. A series of guards fit onto the trimmer, enabling hair stylists to get one clean length all over the head. Each number corresponds to a particular unit of length.

In this case, a number 1 (named after the respective buzzer guard) is the shortest buzz cut we’ll deal with. It trims hair down to a length of one-eighth inch.

Number 2

Don’t worry, we’re not planning to take you through absolutely every buzz cut length on the market—just the noticeably different ones. If a number 1 cut is all about the illusion of bare scalp, the number 2 leaves a slight halo of hair behind. Your barber will leave one-quarter inch of length on your scalp.

Number 4

A number 4 buzz cut leaves one-half inch of hair on the head, which means we’re erring into pixie cut territory. With this much hair, you’ve exited the fuzzy-looking halo of hair and fully re-entered the world sleek, shiny strands.

Number 8

Our last—and longest—clipper size leaves a full inch of hair on the head. By this point, you’ll be able to see the texture of the hair and probably even require a little styling product to hold everything in place.

Thick Buzz Cut

“Thick” may not be the most precise hair term on the market, but that doesn’t mean your stylist won’t understand you. Here, we’re talking about a cut that keeps the integrity of the hair intact. Instead of getting a peek at your scalp skin, you’ll be seeing enough length to comb.

High Fade Buzz Cut

There’s a surprising amount of variation possible within the realm of buzz cuts. If you’re looking for a style that’s more than just a single length across the scalp, then a high fade is your best pick. Your barber will hold onto length at the top of the head, then seamlessly transition to a close crop at your temples.

Low Fade Buzz Cut

As you may have inferred from the name, the low fade buzz cut is a very close cousin to the high fade. Instead of transitioning to a close cut at temple height, however, your stylist will begin the fade around your ears.

Although we traditionally haven’t seen many women try the fade style for themselves, there’s nothing to stop you from giving it a try. Why not take a step toward stylish androgyny with a traditionally male cut?

Military-Inspired Buzz Cut

In the military, the regulation style is the high and tight—a skin fade on the sides with some length on the top. While the look hasn’t traditionally been considered stylish or (admittedly) particularly attractive, we’re big fans of the cut.

If you’re a woman who isn’t sold on the look, ask your stylist about creating a mini pompadour on top of your head. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how flattering the cut can look if you make it your own.

Faux-hawk Buzz Cut

Of all the buzz cut styles, the faux-hawk is probably the one that’s had the most time in the spotlight. This look calls for close-cropped sides and a long, mohawk-inspired strip of hair down the back of the head.

Whether you’re wearing your natural hair color or can’t resist the opportunity to go white blonde, this style is incredibly flattering on both men and women with strong, chiseled features. Why bury all that attractiveness underneath long hair?

Undercut

If you’ve reached this point and can’t help but frantically cling to your length, don’t feel guilty about it. Buzz cuts are not for everyone. Still, there’s no rule saying you can’t have the best of both haircuts at once. We love the look of an undercut—a fancy name for a buzzed section of hair above the nape of the neck.

On long manes and short styles, the undercut looks like a happy surprise. It can serve as a peekaboo (pop of color, anyone?) or the focal point of the style. What’s more, the undercut is an excellent way to give buzzed hair a try before fully committing to it.

Crew Cut

By now, all these styles of buzz cuts may begin to blur together. Don’t tune out yet, though, because we’ve saved our favorite for (nearly) last: the crew cut. This look is all about dramatic, gently-building volume. Your barber will crop the hair close around your ears, tapering into a look that hits its longest point at the very top of the head.

We’ve seen this on male movie stars for decades, but even their female counterparts have begun to try crew cuts for formal events. Dyed black or even platinum, this is a statement hairstyle.

Neon Buzz Cut

When in doubt, schedule an appointment with your colorist. Just because your hair is short, that doesn’t mean you get to neglect your dye. We love the look of a statement color on buzz cuts, particularly the neon kind.

If you’re feeling ready to make waves, we recommend using your very short hair as a chance to try out the dye graffiti that’s been ruling social media for months. You’ve already taken a chance with your look, so why not fully commit to running wild?

Hair-Free

If you’re seeing your hairline scoot further and further back, it may be time to finally embrace a hairless aesthetic. Ask your stylist to clip your hair close to the scalp can actually make you look younger. Gone are the days of agonizing over your bowling alleys—just embrace the hairline nature’s given you.

Beard-First

Here’s another way to make a hairless look work: Grow a beard. If you’re a man who’s capable of growing a thick, lush crop of facial hair, make that the focal point of your appearance! Ask your barber to help you customize the shape to highlight your jawline and groom your facial hair into submission.

Interested in trying a buzz cut of your own? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a barber or stylist near you.