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Can You Trim A Buzz Cut With Scissors? [Solved]

August 9, 2021
Can You Trim A Buzz Cut With Scissors? [Solved]

DIY buzz cuts aren’t rocket science, but there are right and wrong ways to get it done. So, can you trim a buzz cut with scissors? 

You cannot trim a buzz cut with scissors because it would not be possible to achieve the short, precise and even length that buzz cuts are known for. A pair of hair clippers would be much more suitable than a pair of scissors when trimming a buzz cut. 

After going through what you should be using instead, I’ll dig deeper into the problems that using scissors for buzz cuts can cause. 

Let’s get to it. 

mans hair being cut by barber
Image From Deposit Photos

What Should You Use Instead Of Scissors To Trim Buzz Cuts? 

When it comes to trimming buzz cuts, hair clippers are much more effective and efficient than scissors. 

Ultimately, hair clippers should always be used for buzz cuts. In fact, I’d argue that a buzz cut is by definition a hairstyle that’s dependent on the use of hair clippers. 

Sure, you’ve got different types of buzz cuts. You’ve got the induction-style buzz cut with all of the hair clipped down to the exact same length. 

But you’ve also crew cuts and Ivy Leagues which are technically buzz cuts but have the hair on top scissor-cut while the sides and back are “buzzed” (i.e clipped down). 

But at the end of the day, a buzz cut will require the use of a pair of clippers at some point during the trimming process. 

hair clipper example
Hair clippers would be a lot more appropriate for trimming a buzz cut than scissors would be 

Image From Shutterstock

You could say that the “buzz” part of the buzz cut comes from the sound that the clipper’s motor makes as it mows through the hair. 

Hair clippers are great for buzz cuts because they consistently and reliably trim the hair down to the exact same, short length. 

number 1 buzz cut fade example
A buzz cut. Notice the meticulously evenly-cut length. Impossible to achieve with scissors

Image From Shutterstock

If you wanted to learn more about how hair clippers actually work, read this article

Essentially, a “guard” is attached to the clipper blade to allow you to adjust the height to which the hair is clipped down. 

It allows you to adjust the length of the hair strand that comes into contact with the fast clipper blades and so enables you to adjust the length of the hair as a whole. 

But what makes it different from scissors is that it does this with ruthless efficiency. All of the hair will be trimmed down to the exact same length with minimal opportunity for human error – at least in terms of the length. 

Length guards take away the guesswork. You want a number 3 buzz cut (9mm)? Just pop on the #3 clipper guard and go for it. 

No matter how much experience you’ve got, you can be pretty confident that what you’ll end up with will be 9mm long. 

The speed at which it can trim through large chunks of hair is driven by a motor, without much effort or force required on the user’s part. 

That’s what makes induction-style buzz cuts so easy to DIY. 

The famous aesthetic of the modern-day buzz cut is heavily dependent on a smooth and tidy appearance. 

A pair of clippers is integral to achieving it. 

Before we move on – many people ask whether a beard trimmer would be a reasonable alternative to hair clippers for trimming buzz cuts. 

I say no it isn’t – and explain why in this article. Although it may be better than a pair of scissors, it’s still not anywhere near as good as a proper pair of clippers. 

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Scissors To Trim Buzz Cuts

If you still weren’t convinced, hopefully, this section should make all the difference. 

1. You Won’t Get An Even Cut

Trying to trim a buzz cut with a pair of scissors is a recipe for creating patchiness and an uneven finish. 

It’s exactly what you don’t want from a buzz cut. 

In a pair of experienced hands (eg. a barber), you’ll probably end up with a better finish. 

But a barber would be the first to say that the end result won’t be anywhere near as neat as a clipper-cut buzz cut. 

Buzz cuts need an even trim to achieve the desired aesthetic. If the trim isn’t even, it’s tough to call it a buzz cut. 

Sure – you can have the top buzzed down to one length while the sides and back are buzzed down to another and possibly even faded. But each section will have a characteristic, evenly-trimmed appearance. 

So, why can’t scissors achieve this? 

Scissors give you much less control over the length. Judging length is pretty subjective and depends on what the user feels is an even cut. 

You can’t just pop on a length guard like you can with a pair of clippers and start trimming. 

Even an experienced barber would struggle to trim everything down to the exact same short length, which is what you need with a buzz cut. 

What you’ll most likely end up with are parts that look a little longer than others. 

The worst-case scenario would be a patchy and uneven finish that’s obvious and unattractive. 

That’s probably what most amateur DIY scissor-trimmers would end up with when trying to achieve a buzz cut. 

2. It Will Take Too Long

Let’s set aside the undesirable result for a second, although I’d argue that was the most important factor. 

Using a pair of scissors to trim a buzz cut is also a bad idea because of just how long it’ll take to do. 

One of the beauties of the buzz cut is just how easy and quick they can be to do – even when done at home by a non-professional. 

For men who don’t want to spend too long making intricate snips, trimming a buzz cut with a hair clipper is an ideal choice. 

You just pop on the desired length guard of choice and start trimming. If the clipper is of decent quality, charged, oiled, and relatively clean, it should glide across the scalp with ease. 

Although it can take a bit of time to fine-tune and ensure you haven’t missed any patches, it’s still pretty quick. 

When using scissors, you don’t have the benefit of an electric motor driving the movement of the blades back and forth. 

You’ve got to depend on your own hands doing the hard work and making the cuts. 

When trimming the hair down to a tidy and even length, even attempting to do so with a pair of scissors will be tiring and time-consuming. 

Although a barber will undoubtedly be quicker and more effective at it than trying to DIY it, it still won’t be anywhere near as efficient as using a pair of clippers. 

3. It’s Riskier

Yes, using a pair of scissors will indeed be riskier than a pair of clippers in terms of the end result. You’ve got a real risk of the result being subpar – patchy and uneven. 

But it’s also riskier in that you haven’t got the protective benefit that a clipper attachment would have when trimming down to such short lengths. 

Trying to use a pair of scissors to trim down so extensively and so close to the skin (as would be necessary with a buzz cut) just leaves more scope for risk. 

Nicks, cuts, and so on. 

Of course, this risk would be a lot less if you were to go to a barber. 

But still, it wouldn’t be quite as good as a clipper. Hair clippers can only trim down so low, depending on what length you set it to. 

This is determined by the length of the guard you attach to it. If you don’t attach a guard, the length is still determined by the height of the lone clipper blade. 

Either way, there’s a minimum length it can cut down to which gives you at least a degree of protection. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still scope for nicks and cuts with a pair of clippers – more so if you aren’t familiar with the device or it’s simply a poor-quality clipper. 

But when you know what you’re doing, it’s always going to be less risky than trying to trim a buzz cut with a pair of scissors. 


Some experiments simply aren’t worth trying. This would be one of them. 

Go for a pair of clippers and not a pair of scissors when trimming a buzz cut.