It’s about as simple as a men’s hairstyle can get. No frills or fancy stuff. Just a good ol’ fashioned crew cut.
There’s a reason it’s remained so popular for decades; it’s really difficult to go wrong with them.
They’re incredibly versatile and they’re quick and easy to get done.
Having said that, there are still quite a few questions on crew cuts out there that haven’t been answered properly.
That’s what I’m about to do – plug the holes in the available crew cut information online in the most effective way possible.
Let’s get to it.
1. What Exactly Is A Crew Cut?
A crew cut is a hairstyle where the hair on top is short and upright, graduated from front to back in such a way that it looks horizontal when observed from the side. The sides and back are shorter than the hair on top and tapered or faded.
A crew cut is a form of buzz cut; a hairstyle that’s short, neat, and dependent on the use of a pair of clippers.
The hair on top isn’t usually any longer than an inch long and is scissor-cut.
The hair at the sides and back is faded using clippers and is short in comparison to the top. Although the length varies and increases in length from the bottom to the top, on average you wouldn’t expect the longest hair to be any longer than a #2 or #3 at the sides/back of a crew cut.
Although it has a distinctive appearance, its name is often used incorrectly and confused with other styles such as a high-and-tight or even a simple short-back-and-sides.
A crucial difference between crew cuts and other short styles such as this is that the gradual and blended transition from the sides/back to the top.
2. Can You Pull Off A Crew Cut?
Due to its subtlety and simplicity, most men will be able to pull off a crew cut. It adds just enough height to be considered versatile; enough for rounder faces but not too much for longer faces.
Plus, the short and tapered sides can make a round face look narrower and more chiseled.
It’s become a go-to hairstyle for men who want something short and understated but still also want those tapered sides that are so popular at the moment.
It also goes well with facial hair. Light stubble to medium stubble works especially well as it’s in keeping with the neat and tidy aesthetic of buzz cuts.
But even men with longer and fuller beards can rock a crew cut. In fact, it’s a great way to contrast the short hair on top of the head without fear of elongating the face too much.
The only people who may not be able to pull off a crew cut are those with thinning hair on top.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but these men may be a lot better off going for a shorter induction-style buzz cut. These are great for men with thinning hair and receding hairlines as they make it look less obvious.
3. Can You Give Yourself A Crew Cut?
Giving yourself a crew cut is difficult because of the need for effective fading on the sides and back. Even if you were capable of doing so, the back is notoriously difficult for a DIY trim.
In addition, the hair on top requires a scissor cut which a lot of men may not be comfortable doing on their own.
Crew cuts are known for the gradual, tapered, and faded appearance at the sides and back. It’s what gives them that great contrast between the sides/back and the top.
To get this faded appearance right without any harsh lines, you’ll need some pretty advanced skills and a solid pair of clippers.
To cut a long story short, there’s quite a lot that can go wrong when trying to give yourself a crew cut.
It just isn’t as simple as giving yourself an induction-style buzz cut which is the exact same length on the top, sides, and back in all directions and dimensions.
Grabbing a pair of clippers, setting it to a #2 and just trimming every area of your scalp the same length is a lot simpler than giving yourself an actual crew cut.
To ensure you get an impressive outcome, get your crew cuts done by a barber or hairdresser. It’s their bread-and-butter and they know what they’re doing.
In addition, they’ll be able to use factors specific to your face (eg. face shape) to get the most balanced and aesthetically pleasing result.
4. How Are Crew Cuts Different From Other Short Styles?
Here’s the part where it can get confusing. The term “crew cut” is used incorrectly so often that it can be difficult to know what’s right and what’s wrong.
The fact is that crew cuts have a pretty specific and distinctive appearance, as I explained earlier.
Here are a few similar styles with descriptions of how they’re different.
Crew Cut Vs High And Tight
With crew cuts, the hair at the sides and back blends into the top very gradually, while with high-and-tights the transition from the sides and back to the top is sudden and sharp.
With the high-and-tight, the difference in length between the sides and the top is immediately obvious as there’s often a sharp line at the transition point.
The sides and back are clipped very short up to a very high point – hence the name.
This makes the top look like a “strip of hair” that’s completely separate from the sides and back.
Crew Cut Vs French Crop
While crew cuts have the hair on top standing short and upright, French Crops are known for having longer hair on top flopping forward into a characteristic fringe.
Although both styles are known for having the hair on top being long relative to the sides and back, it’s the way in which the hair on top lies that makes them different.
You’ll most likely need slightly longer hair on top with a French Crop, considering it needs to be long enough to pull forward into a noticeable fringe.
But overall, both crew cuts and French Crops are quite easy to maintain once the style has been trimmed.
After all, it isn’t difficult to style the hair forward into a fringe. Building texture using a paste or a clay is often a nice touch, producing an impressive layered and separated appearance to the fringe.
In that way, French Crops are more versatile than crew cuts when it comes to styling. There’s just more you can do with it.
Crew Cut Vs Undercut
With crew cuts, the sides gradually blend into the top. But with undercuts, there is a sharp transition between the sides and the top, creating a disconnected appearance.
This disconnectedness between the sides/back and top makes undercuts quite similar to high-and-tights in this respect.
However, the difference is that with undercuts, the hair on top is long enough to be combed. With high-and-tights, the hair on top is much shorter and impossible to comb, although still longer than the sides and back.
Undercuts are way more versatile than crew cuts when it comes to styling. With crew cuts, the hair on top is still pretty short and styling options are limited.
However, with undercuts, the hair on top is so long that there’s really no limit to what can be done with it. From pompadour undercuts to man bun undercuts, the sky’s the limit.
If you’re looking for something more clean-cut and tidy, go for a crew cut. But if you want significantly more styling options and don’t mind a disconnected appearance, strongly consider an undercut.
Crew Cut Vs Caesar Cut
Caesar cuts are known for the hair on top flopping forward into a short fringe, while with crew cuts the hair on top lies short and upright.
Caesar cuts are more similar to French Crops than crew cuts. But the difference is in the length of the fringe, with Caesars having shorter fringes than French Crops.
Crew cuts would be a better option for men who prefer to add a bit of height to the top of their head – that’s what having upright hair can do for you.
It won’t be much, as the hair is still quite short. But it’s something. It may be a better option for men with shorter or rounder faces looking for a way to add some length to their faces.
WIth Caesar cuts, the hair lies flat and forwards. For men with longer face shapes like oval or oblong, this could be ideal as it doesn’t add much length or height.
With both of these styles, the hair on top is a pretty similar length. The difference is what you do with it.
Flop it forward into a fringe or have it standing upright.
Crew Cut Vs Side Part
With Side Parts, the hair is parted at either the left or right side and combed to the opposite side. Crew cuts are not parted at one side; the hair on top stands upright and is usually too short to be combed.
A well-defined side part can be incorporated into many different styles where the hair on top is long enough. For example, pompadours, slick-backs, and quiffs can all have a well-defined side part.
It’s a great way to add some contouring to your hairstyle, immediately making it look intentional and tidy.
Crew cuts are known for having the hair on top short and upright – it isn’t possible to comb the hair to one side. Because of this, it isn’t possible to really define the side part at either the left or right.
5. How Long Does A Crew Cut Last?
On average, a crew cut will last 4 to 6 weeks. The shorter the length of the faded sides and back, the harder it’ll be to maintain and the shorter it will last.
For example, a crew cut with a skin fade at the sides and back will start to sprout stubble pretty quickly and will probably need a touch-up after 2-3 weeks if you want to keep it looking fresh.
In fact, many barbers do offer a discounted option for a touch-up a couple of weeks after you get a skin fade.
But a crew cut with a tapered #2 on the sides and back will last longer – it’ll look less noticeable when it grows out.
But on average, you should expect to have to get a crew cut every 4-6 weeks if you want to keep it looking tidy.
6. How Long Does A Crew Cut Take?
On average, a crew cut will take 15 to 20 minutes to do. This allows enough time to taper the sides and back using clippers and to gradually blend them into the scissor-cut hair on top.
The time it takes will, of course, depend on the nature of the crew cut as well as the experience of the barber doing the trim.
Crew cuts with skin fades will take a little longer than a tapered #2 on the sides, for instance. That’s because the “skin” area will need to look ultra-clean and will require the use of a foil shaver to achieve this.
In addition, a barber with many years of experience and can do fades with exceptional ease will be quicker than a novice barber desperately trying to remove harsh lines.
But overall, expecting a crew cut to take 15 to 20 minutes is a pretty safe bet. It isn’t a very complicated style – that’s the beauty of it.
7. How Long Does A Crew Cut Take To Grow Out?
On average, a crew cut that’s a typical inch-long on top will take 2 to 3 months to grow out to a standard medium-length of 3 to 4 inches long.
But the time it’ll take to grow out will depend on what length you want to grow it out to.
In addition, if your initial crew cut has pretty short hair on top – for instance, around a half-inch in length, it’ll take longer for it to grow out to your target length.
A good rule-of-thumb to follow would be this:
Hair grows around half an inch a month. As long as you know how long the hair on top of your crew cut is to begin with, you should be able to estimate how long it’ll take to reach your desired length.
If you simply want to grow out that crew cut from 1 inch to 2 inches on top, you can expect it to take around 2 months.
The great thing about crew cuts is the way in which they grow out. Unlike induction-style buzz cuts where the hair is the same length everywhere, it doesn’t grow out with a round and “fuzzball” appearance.
Instead, as the sides are tapered and short in comparison to the hair on top, it grows out in a more aesthetically pleasing way. The sides and back will still look short relative to the top, even as it grows out.
This prevents it from looking bushy at the sides and back and actually makes the sides of the face, cheeks, and jawline look more chiseled and narrow.
8. What Face Shapes Are Best For Crew Cuts?
In general, a crew cut will suit any face shape. Here are a couple of common face shapes categories you should know about and how they relate to crew cuts:
Is A Crew Cut Good For A Round Face?
Crew cuts are especially beneficial for men with round faces because the short, tapered sides make the face look narrower.
If you’ve got a round face, you may want to consider keeping the hair on top of your crew cut a little longer. As it stands upright, it’ll add height at the top of your face and length to the face as a whole.
If you really want to add some length to a round face, consider adding some at the other end as well. In other words, grow a beard and keep the edges sharp and well-defined.
Beards go great with buzz cut variations in general – crew cuts included.
Ultimately, a crew cut is still pretty short, however. It won’t ever be able to add as much height or length as a pompadour, for instance.
But if you’re looking for a style that’s effortlessly neat-looking, adds some height at the top, and also has tapered sides, a crew cut may be the one for you.
Is A Crew Cut Good For A Long Face Shape?
Crew cuts do suit men with long face shapes such as oblong or diamond. The upright hair on top is short and doesn’t add too much height or length.
Overall, it’s versatile enough to suit men with long face shapes just as it does with round face shapes.
If the face is particularly narrow already, you may want to consider adding a bit of fullness at the sides by keeping the hair a little longer here.
For instance, instead of a skin fade or a zero fade at the sides and back, go for a #1 or a #2.
This “fleshes out” the sides a little and prevents the face from looking even narrower.
Is A Crew Cut Good For An Oval Face?
Crew cuts work well for oval faces, just as most hairstyles do. The effortlessly balanced appearance of an oval face brings a lot of versatility with it. Crew cuts are a neat and low-maintenance option.
In fact, with an oval face, your options are pretty vast when it comes to crew cuts. You can choose to keep the hair on top short or long – although crew cuts shouldn’t really ever extend beyond the one-inch mark on top.
You can also choose to keep the sides and back ultra-faded down to a skin fade or zero or keep them relatively long at a tapered #1 or a #2. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, as long as the sides and back are kept short compared to the hair on top.
9. How Much Is A Crew Cut?
On average, a crew cut will usually cost you somewhere between $20 and $30. The exact price will depend on the complexity of the cut, your location, and any additional services you get.
Put it this way – if you’re in New York City, that crew cut will probably cost you more than if you were in a less prime location.
In addition, if you wanted a crew cut with a skin fade, it’ll most likely cost you more than if you were to get a standard tapered #2 to a #3 at the sides and back.
This is simply because it requires more intricate trimming and the use of a foil shaver to get a really clean finish. It’ll take the barber longer and time is money.
Finally, if you were getting a wash and dry to go with that crew cut or even a coloring service, you can expect to pay more for it as well.
There you have it. Exactly what you need to know about getting yourself a solid crew cut. A classic style that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
It’s simple, slick, and easy to maintain.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.