Too long. Too short. Both can be frustrating. So, how do you pick the best buzz cut length?
To choose your best buzz cut length you should consider your face shape, your maintenance and styling requirements, as well as whether you’ve got thinning hair or a receding hairline.
Now that we’ve covered the gist, let’s dig a little deeper and help you figure out the buzz cut length that would best suit your face.
After reading this, you’ll have a good idea of what range of clipper guard lengths you should go for – whether it’s very short, short, medium, or long.
- Very short – #0, #1
- Short – #2, #3, #4
- Medium – #5, #6
- Long – #7, #8
I’ll be going through exactly how you choose the right range based on specific factors you need to take into account.
Ultimately, some experimentation will always be necessary. So the number 1 tip you should take away is don’t go too short, too early.
Test the waters within each length range and go down a grade shorter if you feel that you like it.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
4 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Buzz Cut Length
Here are 4 things you should think about before landing on your ideal buzz cut length. There’s a good chance you’ll personally care about one of them more than the others, but bear all of them in mind when making your decision.
1. Face Shape
The shorter the buzz cut, the more your natural face or head shape will be exaggerated.
Face shape is very important when it comes to hairstyles in general, but especially important when you’re looking to trim a buzz cut.
No matter how “long” a buzz cut may be, it’ll still ultimately be considered a short hairstyle.
The thing about having hair this short is that there isn’t a whole lot you can do with it to adjust the shape of your face.
When your face shape is rounder or shorter, having long hair will allow you to add some vertical height at the top. For example, it would allow you to style a quiff or even a pomp to make the face look longer – less round or less short.
Trimming a buzz cut can actually exaggerate the shape of your face and head. If your face shape is round, it’ll most likely look even rounder once you’ve trimmed a buzz cut and you’re no longer capable of using your scalp hair to add some vertical height.
This is something to bear in mind, as it’s a common complaint that men have after trimming their first buzz cut. Their head just looks rounder or shorter than they ever thought it was.
There’s nothing wrong with this – plenty of men pull it off. It’s just something to be aware of.
If you’re worried that a buzz cut may accentuate or exaggerate your natural face shape, consider going for a longer buzz cut length because it’ll at least give you more hair to work with.
You won’t be able to add much height with it. But it won’t exaggerate face or head shape as much as a shorter buzz cut length would.
The shorter the buzz cut, the less obvious that thinning patches and receding hairlines often become.
Buzz cuts are great for receding hairlines and men with thinning hair.
So much so that if you’ve got thinning hair on top or receding temples, it should influence what buzz cut length you should go for.
First, let’s talk about why buzz cuts are great for balding men.
Having very short and evenly trimmed hair all over will make thin or bare patches look less obvious.
In addition, when the hair is super-short as it would be with very short buzz cuts, the scalp will show through. This makes the transition from the forehead to the top of the scalp less noticeable and obvious.
This, in turn, makes a receding hairline less obvious.
Don’t get me wrong – it won’t disappear. It will still clearly look like a receding hairline. But the shorter the buzz cut, the more blurred the distinction between where the forehead ends and where the hair begins.
As a side note, going for a buzz cut with a high fade is another way of making receding temples less obvious. Having the hair so short and tapered at the top of the sides is a great way of almost absorbing the receding temples into the high fade and camouflaging them.
Short buzz cuts will require more trimming upkeep.
Yes – it’s true that short buzz cuts such as the #0 will be unbelievably easy when it comes to washing and drying.
I mean – it really doesn’t get much easier.
However, you can still expect a pretty similar ease of washing and drying with longer buzz cuts such as the #5 and #6, for instance.
It won’t be quite as easy, but it really won’t add much time to your grooming regimen.
If you’ve got a long buzz cut variation such as a crew cut or an Ivy League with a #8 cut on top, for instance, you’ll probably be spending some time applying styling product as well.
This isn’t even possible with very short buzz cuts (as we’ll come onto shortly), so you’ll be saving time here as well.
But again, styling a long buzz cut won’t take much time at all because there’s simply not much hair to work with.
To sum that up, when it comes to washing, drying, and styling, having a longer buzz cut length won’t take up that much more time than a short buzz cut would.
Where the time really starts to add up is when it comes down to trimming. Whether you’re doing it DIY or going to your barber, if you’re looking to maintain a very short or even just a short buzz cut, you’ll need to get it done more often than you would with a long buzz cut.
When you’ve got a short buzz cut, a few millimeters growth will be obvious. It’ll look noticeably longer than your desired length.
This isn’t the end of the world by any means, but you’ll probably feel the need to trim it back down to your perfect buzz cut length.
You may find yourself doing it every 5-7 days to really keep things in check and maintain that short buzz cut for the long haul.
The beauty of buzz cuts is that this isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time to run a pair of clippers over your hair if all you’re going for is a simple induction-style buzz cut.
However, when you’ve got a longer buzz cut or buzz cut variation like a crew cut or a butch cut, you won’t need to worry about trimming it back down so often. The growth of a few millimeters here or there really won’t be obvious when the hair is longer.
So, if you’re looking to maintain a buzz cut for long periods of time and you aren’t a fan of regular upkeep, consider a longer length.
4. Styling Options
The longer the buzz cut, the more styling options you’ll have.
This one is probably the most obvious factor but it’s definitely worth pointing out. If you’re going for a very short or just a short buzz cut, you won’t have any styling options.
But there’s a good chance that’s absolutely fine. If you’re looking to go this short, chances are that you really don’t care about having the ability to style your hair.
However, when you get to longer buzz cut lengths like #5 and onwards, you may want to think about how important having the ability to style your hair really is.
At #5 and #6, you’ll struggle. Sure, you’ve got some length – but not enough to really do anything much with. Probably a small quiff but that’s about it.
But when you’re going for a #7 or #8, your options become wider. You could style a proper (albeit short) quiff or style a faux hawk. Variations like crew cuts and butch cuts become options too.
Which Buzz Cut Length Is Best For You?
Now that we’ve talked about what factors you should consider, let’s dive into these buzz cut length ranges in more detail.
Very Short Buzz Cut
This range includes the #0 (buzz cut with no guard) and the #1.
These lengths are for men looking to go all the way. The hair is so short that it’s barely visible. It looks like a light shadowing across the scalp.
Having hair this short is a great option for balding men who are looking to embrace their baldness and also make thinning hair/receding hairlines less noticeable.
It’s also good for men who don’t want to spend time or energy washing, drying, or styling their hair.
As you don’t have any hair to add any vertical height whatsoever, having hair this short will exaggerate the shape of your face and head. For instance, it may end up making a round face look rounder.
Maintenance, in some ways, is the most difficult in this length range. When the hair is very short – essentially, stubble length – regular trimming will be necessary to keep things in check. More so than with longer buzz cuts.
Short Buzz Cut
This range includes the Number 2, Number 3, and Number 4.
There’s less scalp on show. If you’ve got known scalp blemishes and marks (as many people do) and you’d rather not have it on display (as they would be with very short buzz cuts), these lengths will be more forgiving.
The lengths are also great stepping stones for men looking to dabble in short buzz cuts but aren’t looking to go all the way down to a #0 or a #1.
They’re also still short enough for balding men to benefit from them. Although thinning hair will be a little more obvious than it would be with very short buzz cuts, it should still look less obvious than with longer hair.
Plus, with the #4, you may have just about enough length to cover up the receding temples at the front if you so wish to.
It’s still not long enough to do much with in terms of styling – but that’s fine. Again, most people going this short are looking for simplicity when it comes to styling and aren’t looking to rub wax or pomade in every morning.
It’s also important to take face shape into consideration here. If you’re worried that going to short may make exaggerate your face or head shape too much, consider a #4 buzz cut if you’re looking to stay within the “short” buzz cut range.
Remember, the longer the buzz cut, the less your face/head shape will be exaggerated.
Medium Buzz Cut
This range includes the Number 5 and Number 6 buzz cut lengths.
When you’re at these lengths, you’ve got a couple of styling options. Not many at all, but you’ve got a bit of hair to work with. A small quiff would probably be possible.
In addition, if you’re looking to have a short hairstyle but don’t want the hair to come across as an obvious “buzz cut”, this is a good in-between look you could go for.
When the hair is this long, faded sides and back look more impressive. This is because you’re able to get more contrast in length between the top, sides, and back.
A #5 on top with a faded number 2 on the sides will look more noticeable and attention-grabbing than a shorter buzzed length on top would. That’s because the contrast in length between a #5 on top and a #2 on the sides is more than a #3 on top with a #2 on the sides, for instance.
It can be a bit of an awkward length range. It isn’t short enough to be clearly be identified as a true “buzz cut” sometimes. But at the same time, it isn’t quite long enough to style properly or go for longer buzz cut variations like crew cuts and butch cuts.
Long Buzz Cut
This range includes the Number 7 and Number 8 buzz cut lengths.
As I mentioned earlier, “long” buzz cuts are still short hairstyles. They just aren’t anywhere near as short as a #0 or #1, for instance.
When you’ve got long buzz cut lengths like these, your styling options are greater. You should be able to style a quiff or perhaps even a faux hawk. You can use #7 and #8 on top for buzz cut variations such as crew cuts or high-and-tights.
Because you’re able to add some vertical height with the hair on top, longer buzz cuts like these may be a better option for men with rounder or shorter face shapes. They’ll be able to use the hair on top to elongate the face and make it look less round or less short.
So, face shape is less important than it would be with shorter buzz cut lengths.
Although washing and drying may take a little longer than it would with short buzz cuts, overall, you’ll need to get your buzz cut trimmed less often than you would with short buzz cuts.
Remember, the longer the buzz cut, the less often you’ll need to trim it down. A few millimeters growth isn’t going to be as noticeable as it would be with a #0 or a #1.
Thinning hair will usually look more obvious than it would with shorter buzz cuts. The hair is longer and so bare patches will stand out more.
Plus, long buzz cuts such as these aren’t exactly what comes to mind when you hear the term “buzz cut”. It won’t clearly be identified as a true buzz cut as it doesn’t look like an obvious one. If you’re looking to go for a clear, unambiguous buzz cut – go for a shorter one.
Hopefully, you’ve now got a much better idea of what buzz cut length to go for.
The great thing about these lengths is that even if you think you’ve gone too short, it’s likely that it won’t be too long before you’re at a length you actually like.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.