There’s something very liberating about going this short. A “set it and forget it” length that’ll look effortlessly tidy without the need for styling. Here’s everything you need to know about the number 1 buzz cut.
Let’s get to it.
What Length Is The Number 1 Buzz Cut In mm?
The number 1 buzz cut is 3mm in length.
It can be trimmed using the #1 clipper guard of most mainstream clipper brands.
It may be the shortest clipper guard available, although many clippers do come with a #0.5 guard as well if you’re looking to go even shorter.
Higher-end clippers often come with a lever on the side that can be pushed forward (closed) or backward (open).
“Closing” the lever with a clipper guard attached (such as a #1 guard) will allow you to trim slightly shorter than you’d be able to with the clipper guard alone.
It’s a good option if you want to go very slightly shorter than a #1 length, for example, but don’t want to have to go all the way down to a #0.5 or a zero guard buzz cut.
So, those of you who have clippers with a lever do have this option, although many don’t find it necessary and simply leave the lever open.
What Does A Number 1 Buzz Cut Look Like?
The number 1 buzz cut looks like a light layer of stubble across the entire scalp. It has an effortlessly neat appearance that’s incredibly easy to maintain.
It looks like this:
There are slight variations on the buzz cut, but an “induction-style” number 1 buzz cut is trimmed down to an even #1 length (3mm) in all directions and dimensions.
This type of buzz cut is the easiest to DIY as all you have to do is pop on a #1 clipper guard and clip everything down to the same length – top, sides, and back.
I’ll be going through exactly how to do this shortly.
There are a couple of variations on the #1 buzz cut that are harder to DIY but are worth knowing about. They look a little more interesting than a simple induction cut.
The main way in which they differ is that the sides and back are trimmed shorter than the #1 length on top.
For example, a #1 length on top with a #0.5 or zero guard at the sides and back.
Sometimes, this contrast can be sharp with minimal blending between the sides/back and the top. This has more of a high and tight appearance to it.
Alternatively, fades can be produced – this is where there is a gradual increase in length from the bottom of the sides and back to the #1 length on top.
The intricately blended appearance is what gives fades their characteristic appearance. At these very short lengths, it won’t be as pronounced or obvious, but it’s still one way your barber can make a simple #1 buzz cut more interesting.
Number 1 Buzz Cut Styles
Here are a couple of buzz cut styles/combinations to know about.
Number 1 Buzz Cut Fade
The number 1 buzz cut fade is a style where the top is clipped down to a #1 length, but the back and sides gradually increase in length up to the top.
The intricate blending of lengths creates the characteristic fade appearance.
An example could be the top being trimmed down to a #1 length, while the sides and back gradually increase from a zero guard at the bottom up to the #1 length on top.
It makes a #1 buzz cut look more interesting than a simple induction cut where everything is trimmed down to the same even length at the top, sides, and back.
Number 1 Buzz Cut With Beard
The number 1 buzz cut with a beard is a great style combination because the length added by the beard compensates for the roundness created by the ultra-short hair on top of the head.
This is especially useful for men with shorter or rounder faces.
One of the downsides of trimming a buzz cut this short is that the shape of the head can be exaggerated.
You aren’t physically able to add any length or height at the top of the head in the form of a quiff, for instance.
A #1 length is simply way too short to allow you to do that and this is something you may not be used to.
As a result, the shape of the head could look a lot rounder than you might have expected.
A solution to this would be to add length at the bottom of the face instead. In other words, grow a beard.
The more length you want, the longer and pointier your beard could be. It’s a great way of being able to alter the shape of the face to compensate for your ultra-short buzz cut.
How To Trim A Number 1 Buzz Cut
Here’s a simple, step-by-step routine you can use to trim an induction-style number 1 buzz cut all over.
Everything will be trimmed down to a #1 length. No fancy fading techniques – leave that to your barber.
This for those of you who want to DIY.
All you’ll really need is a mirror, a hair clipper, and (ideally) a second handheld mirror to do the back.
If you don’t have a clipper, the Wahl Color Pros are affordable and capable of trimming down to a #1. Check them out on Amazon here if you’re interested.
1. Prep The Clippers
Always start your buzz cut routine by prepping your clippers. Poorly prepped clippers are a common reason for a poor end result.
To prep a pair of clippers, they need charging, brushing, and oiling.
A fully charged pair of clippers is going to trim through hair a lot more efficiently and effectively than an uncharged pair. This will lead to less tugging, less pulling, and a more even trim.
This is, of course, only relevant if your clippers are cordless. If you’ve got a corded pair of clippers you’ll just need access to a power source.
Clogged blades are another reason for tugging. You’ll want to make sure any old hair is brushed away from around the blades.
Your clippers may have come with a tiny brush for this purpose. If you don’t have one, an old toothbrush would do.
Finally, oiling the blades before a trim will also lead to a more effective trim. Your clippers should have come with some, but there are hair clipper oil alternatives if you don’t have access to any.
2. Wash And Dry Your Hair
Washing the hair and getting rid of dirt and excess oil will lead to less friction and resistance during the buzz cut trim.
This also leads to a quicker, more efficient, and more even trim than you’d otherwise be able to achieve.
It should be fully dry before clipping it down.
3. Clip The Top And Sides Down To #1
The back of the head is definitely the hardest part to trim. It’s usually best to leave it until last, although there’s no hard and fast rule here.
Attach the #1 clipper guard (3mm) to the end of the clipper and prepare to trim in front of a mirror.
Start trimming the top. You’ll want to trim against the grain. This means against the general direction of growth.
On top, this will usually mean clipping backward. Go slow, making sure you get an even trim all over.
On the sides, going against the grain usually means trimming upward. Be careful with the areas behind the ears – don’t forget them.
Gently pull the ears downward with your other hand when doing these areas if it makes it easier.
Try to spot any patches you’ve missed. Doing all of this in good lighting will make it easier. In addition, feel over the areas to see whether you can pick up on any missed areas that might not be as visible.
If there are some patches that don’t seem to be trimming down, try varying the angle you’re trimming to see whether it makes a difference.
There will always be strands that grow in different directions – changing up your angle of trimming should do the trick.
4. Clip The Back Down To #1
The back is, as you’d expect, the toughest area to trim down.
This is because it’s the hardest area to see. Also, the back of the head has quite an uneven surface, with ridges and grooves that are hard to run a clipper over.
This is normal, but a nuisance.
It’s possible to DIY the back, but it’ll take longer. If, however, you do have a trusted friend or relative that can do the back for you, it would always be preferable.
When doing it yourself, a second handheld mirror would come in very useful.
What you do is turn around so your back is facing your main mirror. Then, hold the handheld mirror in front of your face – you should now be able to see the back of your head in the handheld mirror.
Now, start slowly trimming the back down to a #1 length. Go slow over the ridges and grooves and try your best to get an even cut.
The crown area often grows in many different directions. The term “cowlick” is often used to describe this frustrating, spiraling pattern.
Try to gauge the different directions of growth and change up the angle at which you trim it to try and trim it all down as evenly as possible.
5. Shape The Neckline
This really isn’t essential, especially when you’re trimming everything down this short.
But, you could choose to trim and shape the neckline if you wanted to make things look even slicker.
The neckline is where the hair meets the back of the neck (nape). This line can be left au naturale and look perfectly acceptable at a #1 length.
But some men do want their neckline to be rounded or squared off in a neat and tidy fashion.
This can be difficult to do yourself, as you’d expect.
But there are now tools out there that help you do it.
Here’s an example of a neckline shaping tool on
Ultimately, it’s down to personal preference. At a #1 length, leaving the neckline natural really isn’t that big of a deal.
Either way, at this point – you could say your DIY buzz cut was done. Wash off any excess hair, dry off, and then step back and admire your work.
Is The Number 1 Buzz Cut Good For Thinning Hair?
The Number 1 buzz cut is good for thinning hair because having the hair this short makes the thin patches appear less noticeable. This is due to there being less of a difference in length between the thin patches and the thicker areas.
It may sound counterintuitive to trim down thinning hair ultra-short. It can be tempting to grow it out in an attempt to hide or even comb over the thin areas.
But in many ways, trimming a very short buzz cut such as a #1 is a lot more effective at making thinning hair appear less thin.
Another reason for this is that it can make receding hairlines look less noticeable as well.
The transition from the forehead skin to the forelock (hair above the forehead) is less obvious. They blend into each other smoothly, making the hairline look less pushed back overall.
It’s interesting. If you want to learn more about buzz cuts and balding, this article would definitely be worth a read.
Number 1 Buzz Cut Vs Number 2 Buzz Cut
The number 2 buzz cut is 6mm in length, while the number 1 buzz cut is 3mm in length.
This seemingly slight difference in length has a more obvious impact on the appearance than you might initially think.
Both buzz cut lengths could be labeled “very short”, but the #2 length is a better option for men who don’t want to commit to the light layer of stubble that is the #1 length.
The scalp will be a little less visible with a #2 buzz cut, which is often appealing to people.
But the benefits of both lengths are quite similar.
They’re both good options for men with thinning hair, making bare patches and receding hairlines look less noticeable and more aesthetically pleasing.
In addition, both the #1 and the #2 buzz cuts are extremely easy to maintain, with washing and drying becoming a practically negligible part of your grooming routine.
Overall, the number 2 buzz cut would be a better option than a number 1 for men who want just a little more coverage over their scalp.
It still won’t be anywhere near enough to style – a longer buzz cut length would be necessary for that.
But when you’re looking for a very short buzz cut, a mere difference of 3mm is worth thinking about.
Most of its appeal is down to its unbelievable simplicity.
The number 1 buzz cut may not be for everyone, but it’s hard to deny how universal the style really is.
Aesthetic, easy to maintain, and simple.
Hopefully, you now know a lot more about it than you did before.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.