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Buzz Cuts: 18 Things You Really Need To Know

August 2, 2023
Buzz Cuts: 18 Things You Really Need To Know

They’re straightforward enough. In fact, it’s pretty tough to get simpler than a buzz cut. That’s the beauty of them – buzz cuts are incredibly simple and that’s why so many men flock to them. 

But the fact is, there are many, many questions on buzz cuts out there that just don’t have properly documented answers to them. 

That’s what I’m going to run through today. Some answers to frequently asked yet rarely answered questions on buzz cuts that you really need to know. 

Some of the questions will be about the look itself, while others will be about the technical aspects of trimming them or the practical aspects of getting them done. 

All of them will be important to you at some stage of your buzz cut journey. So without further ado, let’s get to it. 

Here’s the TL: DR, but read on to really dig deeper and become a bonafide buzz cut expert.

Things You Should Know About Buzz Cuts:

  • A buzz cut is a short hairstyle that relies on hair clippers for a tidy appearance.
  • Buzz cuts convey diligence and neatness.
  • The longest buzz cut length is a Number 8, which is about 1 inch long.
  • Uneven trimming can cause a patchy appearance or an uneven hairline.
  • Buzz cuts can make thinning or greying hair less noticeable.
  • Buzz cuts can make the face look rounder and fuller.
  • Buzz cuts should not be done on wet hair.
  • Buzz cuts can “reset” hair to look fuller, neater, and sleeker.
  • Complex buzz cut variations should be done by a barber, not DIY
  • To fix a bad buzz cut, trim it a grade shorter.
  • Use the corner of the clipper blade to trim around the ears.
  • Buzz cuts grow back by approximately half an inch per month.
  • Apply a low-shine styling product to keep buzz cut hair down.

1. What Exactly Is A Buzz Cut

A buzz cut is a hairstyle that’s short and dependent on the use of hair clippers. 

It’s an umbrella term that can refer to a range of different styles. Typical induction-style buzz cuts where the hair is trimmed down to an equal length all over are often what first spring to mind when you hear the term. 

But you’ve also got variations such as crew cuts where you’ve got longer hair on top but buzzed down sides and back. 

Burr cuts are a step in between, where the hair on top is very slightly longer than the buzzed-down sides and back. 

Overall, when most people hear the term “buzz cut”, this is what they think of: 

3mm buzz cut, number 1 length
A very short “induction-style” buzz cut

[From Shutterstock]

This is what’s known as an induction-style buzz cut and is very popular due to the ease of maintenance and the ability to DIY without much trouble. 

That’s the main style we’ll be focusing on today. But just know that the term “buzz cut” can also refer to other styles such as crew cuts, burr cuts, butch cuts, and even Ivy Leagues. 

2. What Does A Buzz Cut Say About You? 

A buzz cut usually says that someone values ease of maintenance and effortless tidiness when it comes to grooming. Buzz cuts give off an air of diligence and neatness, more so than many other hairstyles. 

There are many reasons why people choose to go for a buzz cut and those reasons often say something about the person themselves. 

For one, they’re very easy to keep tidy and maintain. This may suggest that the person trimming it doesn’t want to spend much of their time having to style it every morning. 

They want to look tidy and stylish but don’t want to have to bother with pomades and gels trying to make it happen every morning. 

Once a buzz cut is done, it’s a “set it and forget it” hairstyle that won’t take up much time at all. 

A buzz cut can also say that someone cares about their appearance but not too much. They aren’t going to be spending half an hour styling the perfect pompadour every morning because they’d rather be spending their time doing something else. 

Buzz cuts that have clearly been DIY’d can also say that someone isn’t willing to spend much money on their appearance, as they’ve chosen a hairstyle that’s very easy to do themselves. 

Overall, a buzz cut does suggest a carefree, “hair isn’t everything” type of attitude that’s very endearing and appealing to many. 

3. What Is The Longest Buzz Cut Length? 

The longest buzz cut length is a Number 8, which amounts to approximately 1 inch long. If a hairstyle is longer than this, it really shouldn’t be called a buzz cut. 

This may be a good rule of thumb to follow, but most buzz cuts are trimmed to a Number 4 or shorter. At these lengths, there really isn’t much confusion about what a style really is – people will know it’s a buzz cut as soon as they see it. 

Yes, there are clipper guards that’ll allow you to trim longer than this; long buzz cuts that are between #5 to #8. 

A Number 5 Buzz Cut

[From Shutterstock]

But at these lengths, it can sometimes be tough to identify them as actual buzz cuts. 

What they’re useful for, however, are longer buzz cut styles like crew cuts and Ivy Leagues. 

In other words, you can have some length at the top (like a number 7 or 8), with the sides and back trimmed down much shorter (like a number 2 or number 3). 

If you wanted to trim the longest buzz cut length all over, however, this would be a #8 all over. The main risk of doing this is that it won’t grow out very well. 

Having all of the hair clipped down to an equal #8 all over in all directions and dimensions will probably lead to a sort of “fuzzball” appearance as it grows out. 

Tapering the sides and back down at least a couple of grades shorter than the top should prevent this and lead it to grow out in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

4. Can You Mess Up A Buzz Cut? 

You can mess up a buzz cut by trimming it unevenly, causing a patchy appearance or an uneven hairline. You’re more likely to mess up a more complex buzz cut variation like a crew cut or fade than a simple induction cut. 

Ultimately, if all you’re doing is clipping all of your hair down to the same even length in every direction (i.e an induction cut), it’s pretty hard to go wrong even when doing it yourself. 

One of the reasons induction cuts are so popular is just how easy they are to DIY and how hard they are to mess up. 

Clipping on a #3 guard onto a clipper, turning it on, and trimming everything down exactly the same way really isn’t difficult. 

The tough part would be the back of the head, simply because it’s difficult to see and also because of the uneven surface that most people have at the back. 

But using a second mirror, going slow, and maybe asking your partner for some assistance is usually enough to get the job done properly. 

Another tough part of DIY is lining up the neckline at the back properly as well, again, because the back is hard to see. 

But tools such as this one (Amazon Link) make it easy by giving you a template guide you can follow with your clipper. 

Having said all of that, if you were looking to do anything fancier than this, you’ll probably be more likely to mess it up. 

Crew cuts and butch cuts where you’ve got a contrast in hair length between the top, back, and sides would benefit from a more experienced set of hands and some scissor-cutting at the top. 

In addition, if you’re looking to fade the sides, there’s plenty of opportunity to mess things up. Having a nice, graded, and blended transition in length at the sides and back isn’t easy to get right. 

So, to sum that up, if all you’re going for is an induction cut, it’s pretty tough to mess it up. Just do it in good lighting and look/feel for any uneven patches when you do it. 

It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from a trusted loved one once you’re finished so you can address any issues they pick up on after a thorough inspection. 

5. Do Buzz Cuts Make You Look Younger Or Older? 

Buzz cuts often make you look younger, not older. This is mainly because they make thinning hair and receding hairlines look less obvious. They can also make greying hair look less noticeable.

If you’re looking for a style that’s easy to maintain and also has a youthful edge to it, a buzz cut may be the one for you. 

The reason they make receding hairlines less noticeable is that they make the transition from the forehead to the frontal hairline less sharp and obvious. 

Buzz cuts with high fades are even better because the fade sort of absorbs the receding temples and camouflages them. 

Having the hair trimmed down to a very short and even length also makes thinning hair on top look less noticeable. 

This is because there’s simply much less contrast between the hair and the thin/bare patches on top. When everything is trimmed down super short, thinning looks less obvious. 

The shorter the buzz cut, the more pronounced this effect is. 

It’s a great way for balding men to really embrace their baldness instead of trying to cover it up. Buzz cuts are a stylish form of acceptance when it comes to thinning hair. 

Thanks to all of this, they often make you look younger. 

6. Do Buzz Cuts Make You Look Fatter? 

Buzz cuts can sometimes make you look fatter by making the face look rounder. Having the hair so short can really exaggerate the shape of the face sometimes. 

It’s one of the downsides of buzz cuts, especially for men with naturally round-shaped faces. 

For these men, the good thing about having long hair on top is that they can use it to their advantage. By adding some vertical height at the top using a quiff or a pompadour, for instance, they can add some length to a round face and make it look less round. 

When you’ve got super-short hair on top like with a buzz cut, this isn’t an option. You aren’t able to add any height on top because there’s simply not enough hair to do it with. 

But there’s a solution to this – although it may not be perfect or even an option for some. 

Grow a beard. 

If you aren’t able to add length at the top because you’ve got a buzz cut, add some length at the chin. 

You can use facial hair to elongate a round face and make it look less round. This can add definition and contouring, making the jawline look more chiseled and narrow. 

7. Can You Buzz Cut Wet Hair? 

It’s not possible to buzz cut wet hair. Most electric clippers aren’t suitable for use on wet hair for safety reasons. Even if they were, it’s much more effective and efficient to buzz down dry hair. 

It can be tempting to get the job done while you’re in the shower, especially if all you’re doing is trimming an induction buzz cut where you may not even necessarily need a mirror. 

But even if your pair of clippers was safe to use wet, it’s tough for the length guard to grab hold of wet hair and clip it down effectively. 

From Shutterstock

It’s also tough to really see what you’re trimming when the hair is wet. As the hair clumps together, you don’t get a good idea of what the buzzed hair really looks like until it’s dry. 

That reason alone should be enough to sway your decision – buzz cuts should be trimmed dry and clippers shouldn’t be used on wet hair

It’s inefficient, ineffective, and often unsafe. 

8. Are Buzz Cuts Ugly? 

Although buzz cuts aren’t generally considered ugly on men, a lot of women do prefer the feel and versatility of longer hairstyles on their partners. 

Not being able to run the fingers through a buzz cut is an often-quoted reason for a general dislike of them. 

Having said that, the effortless tidiness and sleekness of buzz cuts can often look attractive and not ugly. This is especially true for men with longer or more defined face shapes. 

The main reasons some women give for not liking buzz cuts are to do with feel and versatility; it usually has nothing to do with looks. 

Another reason that it really wouldn’t be wise to say that buzz cuts are ugly is that the term “buzz cut” can refer to so many different styles. 

You’ve got crew cuts, butch cuts, burr cuts, and Ivy Leagues. If you happen to find one of them “ugly”, there’s a good chance you won’t think the same of one of the others. 

Plus, it’s all subjective. Some may love it and some may not – the same goes for any hairstyle. 

Each to their own. 

9. Does A Buzz Cut Reset Your Hair? 

In many ways, buzz cuts do reset the hair by clipping everything down to an equal length. When done properly, the hair can grow out looking fuller, neater, and sleeker. 

In fact, it’s often a good option for a man that’s truly fed up with trying to manage a long hairstyle. 

It’s quite common to get into a rut where no matter how long you spend preening the hair in front of the mirror each morning, the results aren’t to your satisfaction. 

In these instances, a reset is often what you need. 

You want a simple, short hairstyle that’s easy to maintain and won’t take up much of your valuable time and energy. 

Even if it’s just a temporary reset to give yourself a break, trimming down a short buzz cut could be worth it. 

Another way in which buzz cuts can “reset” the hair when you’re not happy with it is by getting it all down nice and even. 

It’s usually better to buzz down the back and sides a little shorter than the top. This will produce a nice and natural tapered appearance as it grows longer. 

But overall, it’ll often grow back looking fuller and tidier than it was before. 

10. Should You Go To A Barber For A Buzz Cut? 

If you’re looking to trim a more complex buzz cut variation like a crew cut, butch cut, or buzz cut fade, you should go to a barber. If you’re simply looking to trim an induction cut, you should be able to do it yourself. 

Induction cuts are the same length all over and all they require is a pair of clippers that allows you to trim down to it. 

The back can be tricky but the use of mirrors and neckline guards make it simpler. 

But more complex variations where the sides and back are buzzed-down but the top is left longer (eg. crew cuts and butch cuts), or where they’re faded, should be done by a professional. 

Unless you’ve got the technical know-how to do it yourself, it usually isn’t worth the risk. 

11. How Much Does A Buzz Cut Cost? 

On average, a buzz cut will cost between $20 and $30. 

The exact price will usually be determined by the complexity of the buzz cut you’re getting, your location, and whether you’re getting any additional services with it. 

But $20-$30 is a pretty safe bet. 

Ultimately, a haircut as simple as this shouldn’t be expensive. 

This is especially true of simple induction cuts that are the same length all over. These are so simple to DIY that charging a lot for one wouldn’t be fair. 

But buzz cut variations such as crew cuts or where you’re getting the sides and back faded may be expected to cost you a little more. 

The longer the cut will take to do or the more technical know-how required to do it will influence how much you can expect to pay. 

In addition, getting a buzz cut in Manhattan is going to cost you more than getting one in a less expensive part of the country. That’s a fact. 

If you wanted an additional service (eg. coloring), you’ll obviously be paying more too. 

12. How Do You Fix A Bad Or Uneven Buzz Cut? 

The simplest way to fix a bad or uneven buzz cut is to simply trim it all down a grade shorter. For example, if you’ve trimmed a bad #3 buzz cut, go over it again with a #2. 

It’s very difficult to correct mistakes in a buzz cut while still keeping everything the same length. 

So how do you fix a patchy buzz cut? 

If your buzz cut has got uneven patches, there’s a good chance it’s simply too long for your hair distribution. If you’ve got thinning patches, for instance, the easiest way to make them less noticeable is by trimming it all down shorter. 

This may not seem like the ideal solution for some men, but trying to fix an uneven or patchy buzz cut without doing so really is difficult. 

If the buzz cut is bad for a different reason, however, there may be other solutions. 

Another issue men sometimes have with their buzz cuts is a crooked hairline either at the front or the back. 

Identifying this is the first step toward correcting it. The neckline is quite simple to correct with a neckline template such as this one (Amazon Link). 

But because the frontal hairline of your buzz cut is front-and-center, you’ll want to be more meticulous with it. 

If you aren’t confident lining up the front, it may be best to get it done professionally for the first couple of tries. 

Overall, DIY buzz cuts get better the more you do them. Don’t be disheartened by a poor first attempt. 

Trimming it down a grade or two shorter should usually fix a lot of problems. Don’t fret about this either – it’ll grow back before you know it and there’s a good chance it’ll look better than a patchy buzz cut would. 

13. How Do You Trim A Buzz Cut Around The Ears? 

When trimming a buzz cut around the ears, you want a clean arc all the way around. To do so, use the corner of the clipper blade to define the line from the corner of the sideburn all around the ear and to the back. 

It’s easier said than done when doing it yourself. In fact, doing it perfectly is often impossible when DIY simply because the area is so hard to visualize. 

In this case, either don’t worry about it and leave it buzzed down au naturale, or ask a friend or family member to line this up for you. 

Ultimately, this line doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as you’ve remembered to buzz this area down to your desired length properly, a jagged line won’t be all that obvious unless you’re aiming for perfection. 

But do remember to buzz this area down. 

To do so properly, gently fold the ear to really get the hair behind it. It’s a common area for men to miss when trimming their own buzz cut. 

If you really wanted a perfect lineup, you’ll probably want your barber to do your buzz cut in any case. 

14. How Fast Does A Buzz Cut Grow Back? 

A buzz cut can be expected to grow back by half an inch per month. 

Although men vary in terms of rate of hair growth, this is a pretty safe bet and rule-of-thumb that you can follow when making your estimates. 

For instance, if you’ve trimmed down from a 3-inch hairstyle to a #4 buzz cut, you can use the rule of thumb to make your calculations:

A #4 buzz cut is 12mm in length. That’s around half an inch long. 

Assuming an average rate of growth of half an inch per month, it’ll take you around 5 months to get back to your 3-inch length. 

Let’s take a more extreme example. 

How long would it take you to grow out a buzz cut to shoulder length? 

It’ll take you around 18 to 24 months to grow out a buzz cut to shoulder-length hair that’s around 12 inches long. This assumes a rate of growth of around half an inch per month.  

Ultimately, how long it takes for a buzz cut to grow back will depend on how long you’re growing it out. 

But use the half-an-inch per month rule-of-thumb to help you calculate an estimate for the time it’ll take you. 

15. How Do You Keep Buzz Cut Hair Down? 

If you’ve got buzz cut hair that keeps sticking up, to keep it down, consider applying a small amount of a low-shine styling product like clay or paste. If this doesn’t work, trimming the buzz cut a grade longer next time should allow you to do it. 

You’ll want to apply the minimum amount of matte product to do the trick. 

Using too much or using a shinier product like a water-based pomade or gel may simply cause the hair to clump up and reveal too much of the scalp. 

That’s a real risk when the hair is this short. Plus, using a wet product like this will feel pretty uncomfortable to apply when the hair is this short. 

Unfortunately, buzz cut hair that won’t stay down is a common problem. It’s usually because it’s been trimmed down to a pretty awkward length. 

Too short to weigh itself down and lay flat, but long enough for hair sticking up to be noticeable. 

If you aren’t a fan of the thought of having that buzz cut a bit longer (enough to style it flat), consider trimming it down even shorter. 

It gets to a point where a buzz cut is so short that hair standing up won’t even be noticeable. 

To sum that up, try adjusting the length and consider applying a low-shine styling product. 

16. How Often Should You Wash A Buzz Cut? 

Wash the buzz cut at least once a day with water only and once or twice a week with a shampoo and conditioner. This is important for the hair as well as the scalp. 

Maintaining proper scalp and hair hygiene is important, even when you’ve got ultra-short hair like a buzz cut. 

Greasy and oily hair won’t be as noticeable with a buzz cut – that’s one of the benefits. 

However, it’s important to clear out dirt, grime, and excess oil from the hair and scalp regardless of how long it is. 

It isn’t necessary to use shampoo every day. In fact, doing so can actually be excessively drying. 

But once or twice a week would be a pretty good habit to get into for cleansing purposes. 

One of the best things about having a buzz cut is just how quick washing and drying can be. Having said that, don’t neglect it or take it for granted. 

So, should you condition a buzz cut? 

Yes. Try and use a conditioner after applying shampoo to a buzz cut once a week to moisturize the short hair and hydrate the scalp. 

It may seem unnecessary for a buzz cut at first, but you’ll most likely notice a difference in how it feels in terms of comfort. 

17. Should You Use Conditioner On A Buzz Cut?

Conditioner can be helpful when you have a buzz cut, especially when you have dry or damaged hair. Additionally, if you have a sensitive scalp or are prone to dandruff, conditioner may be worth using even when you have a short buzz cut.

On the other hand, if you have oily or fine hair, conditioner could make the short, buzzed hair appear greasy or weighed down.

Ultimately, it depends on your hair type.

18. Are Buzz Cuts Good For Men With Weak Chins Or Jawlines?

When the cheekbones are well-defined, a buzz cut can make a weak chin or jawline appear stronger by drawing attention to the facial contours. Men with rounder faces, however, may find that their faces appear rounder due to the hair being so short.

It comes down to face shape. If you have a narrower face with (relatively) well-defined cheekbones but a weak chin, consider an ultra-short hairstyle such as a buzz cut.

If, on the other hand, you have a rounder face, you’re unlikely to see as much of an overall benefit once you’ve trimmed a buzz cut.


Hopefully, you’ve now got a great understanding of what buzz cuts really are and what they can do for you. 

They’re incredibly popular and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but they may not be for everyone. 

Use this information to decide whether it’s the style for you and if so, how to style it in the most effective way possible.