Skip to Content

Buzz Cuts And Receding Hairlines: The Complete Guide

July 31, 2023
Buzz Cuts And Receding Hairlines: The Complete Guide

The buzz cut has always been kind to the receding hairline. It’s provided comfort when comfort is needed most; a short, sharp reminder that all is not lost. On the contrary, the buzz cut can transform a receding hairline, no matter how advanced it might be. 

It’s almost defiant. A refusal to bow down to the perils of age. A willingness to not only accept it with grace but to also turn it into something potentially more stylish than a full, thick head of hair. 

I believe it’s calling “playing the cards you’ve been dealt”. Working with what you’ve got is one of the most intensely attractive traits in a man. This almost zen-like understanding that imperfections can be flipped and turned into something great.

That’s what a buzz cut can do for a receding hairline. But there’s so much to understand with this topic – it’s just so broad. I want to delve into it deeper. 

I’ll first explain exactly why it works for the balding man. Then, I’ll talk through a few specific types of buzz cuts you could try out for yourself. I’ll round things up by answering a few frequently asked questions regarding this glorious style. 

Let’s get to it. 

Why Is A Buzz Cut Good For A Receding Hairline?

There are a few main reasons. One reason is that thin patches are less obvious when hair is shorter. The hairline is also surprisingly less obvious with a buzz cut. Plus, a buzz cut is just far more stylish than a combover. 

Before I go into these reasons in more detail, it’s worth explaining what a buzz cut actually is. It actually refers to a range of different styles that fall under the umbrella term of “buzz cut”. They share the common features of being short and heavily dependent on clippers. 

The main types of buzz cuts to know about are: 

  • The Induction Cut – The hair is cut to the same, short length in all dimensions.
  • The Crew Cut – Short on the sides, longer on the top. The top may be spiked or slicked to the side. 
  • The Burr Cut – Consider this the halfway point. It’s closer to an induction cut, but the top is slightly longer than the sides. 

There are other more nuanced variations, but you could quite easily fit every buzz cut style into one of those three subcategories. 

A popular way to supplement a buzz cut these days is to fade or taper the sides at a low, medium, or high point. 

But let’s discuss why exactly buzz cuts such as these are great for receding hairlines. 

When hair is cut very short and evenly as it often is with buzz cuts, thinning hair seems to appear less obvious overall. This is quite a remarkable phenomenon and it really does work. Use it to your advantage as though it were a secret weapon. 

Buzz cuts also make the hairline itself less obvious. This is because there is less of a stark contrast between the hair and the forehead. That’s particularly evident when the sides are tapered or faded up to the temples. 

The more pronounced the fade (eg. a skin fade) and the higher the fade, the less obvious the hairline is at the temples. 

The shorter the buzz cut, the more visible the skin of the scalp underneath. This blurs the distinction between the hair and the forehead and so makes a receding hairline look less obvious as well. 

Finally, a buzz cut is just an incredibly stylish way to combat a receding hairline. Instead of desperately trying to hide or camouflage it, the buzz cut embraces it. No one is saying that a receding hairline isn’t visible with a buzz cut, because it almost always is. 

Yes, it makes it less obvious, but that’s also partly because it works and looks good. People aren’t focused on the hairline. They’re focused on a haircut that looks stylish, sleek, and thoroughly modern. 

That’s why it works. 

By the way, if you’ve got a receding hairline and you’d like to trim a buzz cut, you’ll need a hair clipper capable of giving you your desired length.

I like the Wahl Elite Pro clippers because they give you a wide range of lengths (#0.5 – #8). Check them out on Amazon by clicking here if you like the sound of them.

Great Buzz Cut Styles For A Receding Hairline

Here are some fantastic buzz cut variations that work great for men with receding hairlines. Show them to your barber and say “I want that one”. 

1. The Standard Induction Cut

As I mentioned earlier the induction cut is defined by clipping the hair down to a very short, equal length in all directions and dimensions. 

buzz cut with beard and glasses deposit photos
Deposit Photos

It’s the simplest one to DIY and has always famously been a friend to the receding man. The “military buzz cut” is the most well-known, also known as a “zero” as you’re simply trimming down to stubble with no clipper attachments. 

What I love most about this cut is how simple life becomes, especially if you can learn to trim and maintain it yourself. Stepping out of the shower and drying yourself off will never have been so simple. 

A life that was previously defined by nervously combing over thin patches and a receding hairline becomes a bold and brash fashion statement. When hair is this short and entirely equal in length, bare patches become a lot less obvious. 

2. The Burr Cut

This is very similar to the style above, but the hair on top is very slightly longer than that of the sides and back. We’re just talking about a few millimeters here. 


The reason this also works for men with receding hairlines is that some of the hair at the front, if long enough, can cover the temples. 

This slight variation in length also often looks more stylish than the more clinical-looking induction cut. It’s remarkable what just a few millimeters of added length on top can do. 

It may not be long enough to style, spike, or slick using product, but it’s long enough to notice a distinct difference between the top and the sides and back. 

Overall the hair on top is still short enough to carry the same benefits as the induction cut. 

The skin is still evenly visible along the top of the scalp under the hair as opposed to only visible in patches. Once again, this makes thinning hair look less obvious.

3. Crew Cut With A High Fade

In terms of length, consider this one step further from the previous two. Much like a Burr Cut, a Crew Cut consists of short, clipped sides leading up to longer hair on top. 

crew cut plus a high fade

The difference between the two, however, is that with a Crew Cut, the difference in length between the sides and the top is more noticeable. 

With a Crew Cut, the hair on top is often long enough to spike or slick to the side. This was the style opted for and named after the Ivy League rowing crews who chose to sport it during races. 

The main benefit of a Crew Cut is how versatile it is. In terms of styling, far more can be done with it simply because the hair on top is longer. It’s long enough to experiment with and vary the style from day to day. 

This is all while keeping it simple and easy to maintain. 

The “Crew Cut With A High Fade” as shown in the picture above, is a great way to work with a receding hairline. The high fade almost absorbs the receding temples and makes them much less noticeable. 

The added benefit of being able to style the hair on top allows you to slick over and “cover-up” any thinning patches as well. 

It’s a great style for men looking to not only mask their receding hairline but also use it to their advantage in an extremely stylish manner. 

4. “M” Hairline Buzz Cut

Buzz cuts do work well for an M-shaped hairline, but ultimately, when receding at the temples gets this deep a buzz cut won’t make it that much less noticeable.

The “M” hairline is the M-shaped outline that appears as thinning at the temples gets deeper and deeper. Eventually, it will resemble the letter M.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were men reading this with pretty advanced receding hairlines feeling skeptical that a buzz cut could actually work for them. 


But the reason it works well is that it signifies a man that accepts his balding scalp with grace, humility, and a subtle sense of defiance. 

An induction cut that trims very short in all directions and dimensions will also feel incredibly liberating. Gone are the days of nervously trying to comb over those receding temples. 

Embrace it. 

Wear it with pride and know that this stylish recipe has been proven time and time again. 

FYI, I’ve also written about how fades, faux hawks, quiffs, high and tights, undercuts, crew cuts, and French crops work with receding hairlines. Just in case you wanted to explore a few other styles.

Buzz Cut For A Receding Hairline: Before And After

It’s always fun to see what a man looked like before and after a transformative style transition. Although it can never be 100% representative, it does give us a reasonable glimpse into what this transition could do for us. 


As you can see from the image above (a crew cut with a mid-high fade), you can use a buzz cut to camouflage and also utilize a receding hairline to your advantage. 

With longer hair at the sides, the receding hairline looks a lot more obvious. The transition between hair and forehead is just so much more obvious. 

Let’s take the crew cut example in the picture above. Just trimming the sides down alone makes the receding temples less noticeable while allowing you to style the longer hair on top as per your wishes. 

The options really are more varied than you might have initially thought. A “buzz cut” can take many different forms. The type you choose depends on just how advanced your receding hairline is, what color your hair is, and what your personal preferences are. 

The Receding Hairline Buzz Cut And A Beard

Ah, what a classic combination this is. At length, we’ve discussed what the buzz cut can really do for the balding man. But in combination with a beard, it really does take things to a new level. 

I’ve written separate articles on why stubble is great for bald men and why goatees are great for bald men. But ultimately, there are many beards that would be phenomenal for men with receding hairlines. 

Once a man with a receding hairline gets a buzz cut, they may find that their face shape looks considerably different to what it did before. 

Having longer hair on the scalp will always have the benefit of allowing you to change your face shape. For example, a man with a round face could sharpen the contours of their hairstyle to make the face more oval-shaped overall. 

Once you get a buzz cut, you won’t have this luxury anymore. So what can be done? 

Well, a beard can do exactly the same thing – change your face shape/silhouette. A pointed beard style would work just as well to make a round face more oval-shaped overall, for example. This is why beards work so well with buzz cuts and receding hairlines. 

Plus, beards just up the masculinity level multiple notches.

I’ve written extensively on beards before, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Just know that a beard can be an invaluable stylistic tool for balding men. 

What Is The Best Length For A Buzz Cut With A Receding Hairline

The best length is determined by just how advanced the receding hairline is, the color of your skin and hair, as well as personal preference. 

Men with more advanced receding hairlines would do well with an induction cut. In other words, trim it down as short as you’d be comfortable with to the same length in all directions and dimensions. 

I’m referring to the “deep widow’s peak induction cut” picture above. The more advanced the receding hairline, the shorter the hair on top should be. 

Men that are in the earlier stages of receding can experiment a little bit more. There’s enough hair on top to pull off a Burr Cut or a Crew Cut. 

The color of the hair is also important. When the contrast between hair color and skin color is starker (for example dark hair with pale skin), receding hairlines are more noticeable. 

Lastly, it’s also down to personal preference. Some men just prefer a shorter buzz cut. They love the convenience and ease it brings when it comes to washing and drying. They may just love the feel of it. Or, they may just be a fan of the military aesthetic. 

Other men prefer the versatility that a longer cut such as a crew cut brings. They like having the hair on top long enough to style, slick, or spike. 

Ultimately, personal preference does play a huge role as well. 

How To Grow Out A Buzz Cut With A Receding Hairline

Although a man with a receding hairline can rely upon a buzz cut for years, there may come a time when he wishes to grow it back out. 

This may sound simple in theory, but in reality, it’s far from it. The main reason for this is that a straightforward buzz cut can look much more awkward as it grows out to the desired length. 

It’s no secret that growing through and past an “awkward phase” is often necessary before the hair starts to resemble something you’d be proud to wear. 

Here are some tips for growing it out and keeping it well-maintained and stylish while you do so. 

1. Trim the sides and back every 8 weeks

One of the main reasons a buzz cut can look odd as it grows out is the length. A buzz cut, with or without a receding hairline, looks great when it’s nice and short. 

But when it grows out, the top, back, and sides look so even in length it actually looks unnatural. It almost looks “fuzzy” and the hair looks almost rounded. In fact, the whole head can look more round as a result. Almost like a tennis ball. 

Unfortunately, it’s too short to lay flat but long enough to give off that tennis ball look. 

In order to fix this, the sides and back should be tapered slightly to allow for a more natural transition to the top. This is best done by your barber.

So, to keep things in check, try to get this done every 8 weeks or so. You may find you need to do it even sooner – every man’s rate of growth is different after all. 

2. Use a styling product to your advantage

The fuzz-ball appearance of a buzz cut growing out through its “awkward phase” can be partially corrected using a styling product. 

Slicking it to the side or spiking it up using a decent-quality wax, gel, or pomade will most likely do you the world of good. 

It probably won’t be quite enough, as the overall shape will need to be trimmed and sculpted into something more sensible. But using a styling product to supplement this is almost always a good idea. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions on the topic to finish up.

Do Buzz Cuts Work Well For A High Hairline?

A buzz cut won’t necessarily be the best choice for a man with a high hairline that isn’t receding. If the hair is otherwise thick, it may be better to simply grow a fringe if you were looking to make the high hairline less noticeable.

A high hairline is different from a receding one in that the temples are still full and not thinning – it’s just that the hairline starts higher up, producing the appearance of a large forehead.

Ultimately, a buzz cut may just make it more obvious. Consider a French Crop or a Caesar Cut instead.

When To Get A Buzz Cut When You Have A Receding Hairline?

Consider a buzz cut when the receding hairline becomes more noticeable and the hair itself becomes thinner.

At the end of the day, a mild receding hairline and hair that isn’t too thin yet may just benefit from growing the front hair out a little to cover it.

But, once the receding hairline becomes deeper, attempts at trying to hide it with a fringe look more and more obvious.

At this point, embracing the receding hairline with a buzz cut is often the best option. The fact that it makes the hair itself look thicker is a bonus.

What’s The Best Buzz Cut Length For Thinning Hair?

The shorter the buzz cut length, the less thin the hair will generally look. Trimming all of the hair down to a very short and even length will give the illusion of thickness.

So, consider a number 2 or a number 3 buzz cut. If you’d prefer to go even shorter, a number 1 buzz cut (3mm length) may be worth considering too.

Does A Buzz Cut Hide A Receding Hairline?

A buzz cut doesn’t hide a receding hairline but does make it look less noticeable. It also makes thinning hair look less obvious. It comes down to the fact that attempts at hiding a receding hairline (eg. by growing a fringe) can often make a receding hairline look more obvious.

Should You Get A Buzz Cut If You Have A Bald Spot?

A buzz cut can make a bald spot appear less obvious. It does so by reducing the difference in length between the bald spot and the surrounding hair.

Put it this way – a bald spot surrounded by 1-inch hair is going to look a whole lot more obvious than one surrounded by 3mm hair.


Buzz cuts and balding may not seem like the typical match made in heaven.

It’s simple, sure. But that’s almost certainly why it works. 

You’ve hopefully learned pretty much all you’ll ever need to know about this topic, including why the combination works so well. You’ve also seen some examples of style variations you could very reasonably try out for yourself. 

Embrace the hairline, gentlemen. Wear it with strength and honor. Know that so much can be done with it, right until the very end. 

Have fun with it.