Going this short can be great, but you need to know what you’re getting into before you reach for that clipper. Here’s everything you need to know about the number 2 haircut.
Let’s get to it.
What Does The Number 2 Haircut All Over Look Like?
The number 2 haircut looks like this:
As you can see, it looks effortlessly tidy.
It’s tough to go wrong with this style. Overall, it’s so simple that once it’s done, you can pretty much just leave it alone.
It’s way too short to style or really do anything whatsoever with. That’s the beauty of it.
The #2 haircut all over suits men who value simplicity when it comes to their grooming routine.
Washing and drying become super quick and the length is effortlessly tidy.
Having the hair this short, particularly on the sides, can actually often add some definition to the sides of the face and the jawline.
But is there anyone it wouldn’t suit?
Well, people with rounder or shorter face shapes may actually find that clipping the hair this short makes the face look even rounder or shorter.
This is because you’ve literally got no ability to add any sort of vertical height at the top of the head.
Put it this way – with hair this short, there’s no way you’re going to be able to style any sort of a quiff, for instance.
So, they may want to go for a longer length instead.
Anyone in particular it would look great on?
Well, the #2 haircut is generally pretty versatile and most men looking to dabble in ultra-short hair lengths would benefit from trying it.
But balding men with thinning hair would often benefit from it even more than most.
Although it may sound strange, trimming the hair this short often makes thin hair look less obvious.
I’ll be discussing this effect in more detail later on.
What Length Is The Number 2 Haircut?
The number 2 haircut is 6mm long (approximately 1/4 of an inch) and is trimmed using the #2 clipper guard.
In other words, it’s very short.
It isn’t the shortest you can go by any means, with the #1 and #0 also easily available to you.
But yes – the number 2 haircut all over is definitely short enough to immediately come across as a buzz cut.
While some do choose to trim a #2 haircut all over, a lot of men prefer to trim the sides down a grade (or more) shorter.
This produces a nice tapered appearance, defining the jawline. It also allows the haircut to grow out in a better way and less like a “fuzzball”.
Let’s discuss tapers and fades in more detail.
The Number 2 Haircut With A Fade
The number 2 haircut with a fade has a number 2 length (6mm) on top, with the sides incrementally increasing in length from the bottom to the top. The characteristic faded appearance at the sides is formed by the seamless blending of the different lengths.
When the hair on top is so short in any case, the sides and back will have to be even shorter to fade up to it.
It’s important to note that fading the sides and back is a good way to make an otherwise straightforward number 2 haircut a little more unique and interesting.
Fades are eye-catching.
But explaining what type of fade you want can be confusing, so let’s go through it in a little more detail.
When describing it, you’ll want to let the barber know what you want to do with the hair on top, how high up the sides you want the fade, and how short you want the fade to be.
The first part is obvious here – you want the top at a #2 length.
The height of the fade refers to the height at which the fade starts to transition from the shortest length into longer lengths.
The number 2 haircut with a low fade has the shortest length at the sides start to gradually blend into longer lengths around half an inch above the ear.
A number 2 haircut with a high fade has the shortest length at the sides gradually blend into longer lengths around the level of the temples.
The number 2 haircut with a mid fade has the shortest length at the sides gradually blending into longer lengths approximately halfway up. This would be around halfway between where you’d expect a low fade and a high fade to be.
Finally, let the barber know how short you want the fade to be. Skin fades have the shortest length literally shaved down completely, while a 1 fade has the shortest length at a #1 length.
The shorter the shortest length of the fade and the higher up the transition point of the fade, the more obvious and attention-grabbing you can expect the fade to be.
How To Do A Number 2 Haircut
The great thing about these short hair lengths is that they’re pretty easy to DIY. Here’s a step-by-step you can use to trim a number 2 haircut at home and by yourself.
You’ll need a clipper that comes with a #2 clipper guard – the great thing is, most of them will. Even budget ones.
FYI – this will go through how to trim a #2 haircut all over. Remember, many would do well to clip the sides and back a grade shorter to produce a nice tapered appearance.
But in general, when doing it yourself, trimming an all over #2 haircut would be simpler.
1. Prepare The Clippers
To prepare a pair of clippers, you’ll need to make sure they’re charged (if they’re cordless). Charged clippers glide through hair a lot more efficiently than uncharged clippers do.
Oiling the blades is also a pretty good idea. Most clippers come with a bottle of lubricating oil to allow the blades to slide past each other with minimal friction.
If you don’t have some, you can buy a bottle online pretty easily.
After this, clip on that #2 clipper guard. Remember, for most brands, this is usually 6mm.
2. Wash And Dry
Wash the hair. Hair is much easier to clip down quickly and evenly when the hair is clean and dry.
Greasy hair isn’t so easy.
Wash the hair and towel-dry or blow-dry it until it’s completely dry.
After this, prepare for the trim down to that glorious #2 length.
3. Trim The Top To A #2
The top is a pretty satisfying place to start. It’s easy to see and easy to trim (usually, at least).
When clipping your hair, you’ll want to go against the grain. This means against the general direction of growth.
While hair can vary in terms of the direction of growth, even in specific areas, on the top you can generally expect it to grow forward. That means you’ll want to trim backward.
Start trimming and try to get as even a trim as possible. Ensure you do this in good lighting.
Shake off any hairs that start to clog the clipper guard and obstruct the trim.
4. Trim The Sides To A #2
Start trimming the sides.
Nothing new here – all you’ll need to do is change up your angles. As the hair on the sides generally grows downward, you’ll want to trim upward.
The area behind the ears can sometimes be difficult. Patches of hair can often be missed here.
Pull the ears forward gently and clip down to a #2 length.
5. Trim The Back To A #2
The back can be frustrating to DIY. The area is just tough to see and tough to trim because of the natural grooves in the back of the head.
A handheld mirror is important here.
Hold it in your other hand and turn around so your back is facing the bathroom mirror. This should allow you to see the back of your head in the handheld mirror as it reflects off of the bathroom mirror.
Start clipping the back and do your best to get as even of a trim as possible.
The crown area can spiral due to hairs growing in different directions. Try to feel the area and assess the different directions of growth.
Vary the angle of the clipper here until you think you’ve got as even of a trim as possible in this difficult area.
Now, step back and look at your work under good lighting. If you don’t think you can see any patches you might have missed, have a feel too.
Sometimes, you can feel missed patches that you couldn’t actually see.
6. Shape Up The Neckline (If You Want)
The neckline is the lowest border at the back. That line that separates your hair from the neck.
When the hair is as short as a number 2, you don’t necessarily need to shape up the neckline because it’ll probably look pretty tidy in any case.
It’s also pretty difficult to do by yourself.
But if you wanted perfection, you could use a neck shaving template like this one on
It’ll allow you to straighten up the neckline and trim any stray hairs beneath it.
Just make sure you don’t leave it too high before you start trimming – this could be disastrous. In addition, make sure it’s straight before you start trimming too.
Remember, you don’t have to do it. But if you wanted to, a template would be the best way to go instead of trying to freehand it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently answered questions on the number 2 haircut to really hone in on the topic and round things up.
Is A Number 2 Haircut Too Short?
A number 2 haircut may be too short for men with rounder or shorter face shapes. This is because the hair is too short to add any vertical height at the top, often leading to an even rounder or shorter appearance.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however. I don’t want to put anyone off from trying it.
However, it may be wise to go for a slightly longer haircut length first to test the waters. Perhaps a number 3 or even a number 4 instead.
If after this you feel as though you could go even shorter, by all means – go for it.
The #2 length does bring about a lot of benefits – both in terms of aesthetics and maintenance – that can’t be denied and shouldn’t be ignored.
Number 1 Vs Number 2 Haircut: What’s The Difference?
The number 1 haircut consists of hair that is 3mm long (1/8 of an inch) and trimmed using a #1 clipper guard. In contrast, the number 2 haircut consists of hair that’s 6mm long (1/4 of an inch) and trimmed using a #2 clipper guard.
Both lengths are very short, but the number 1 haircut isn’t one that should be rushed into without a few stepping stones.
What I mean by this is that it’s so short that you should test out a few longer ones first before jumping into it.
Go for a #4, #3, or even a #2 before going as short as a #1.
It can be difficult to predict what hair looks like when buzzing everything down so short.
Take it slow and work your way down over time to avoid any rushed decisions.
Is The Number 2 Haircut Good For Balding Men?
The number 2 haircut is often an excellent option for balding men and men with receding hairlines. Trimming the hair this short reduces the contrast between thin areas and thick areas, overall making thinning hair and receding hairlines appear less obvious.
It can sound strange at first – trimming everything down super short to make balding appear less obvious.
I’ve written about this effect in more detail here, if you’re interested.
But ultimately, it comes down to the fact that thinning hair often looks more obvious when thin and bare patches are surrounded by long and wispy hairs.
It’s the contrast that makes them look more obvious.
Trimming everything down to a short and even length reduces this contrast and makes the thin areas look less noticeable as a result.
It’s definitely worth trying out.
Is A Number 2 Haircut 2mm?
The number 2 haircut is not 2mm long. It is clipped using a number 2 clipper guard and for most brands, this will equate to 6mm in length.
Confusing the clipper grade number for the actual length it’ll trim down to is a common mistake to make.
It’s an important mistake to avoid, however. You really do need to have a good idea of how short you’re trimming before you start the trim.
I’ve written more about how clipper guards work elsewhere if you wanted to learn about this in more detail.
Does The Number 2 Haircut Work Well With A Beard?
The number 2 haircut often works very well with a beard. Facial hair can add structure and length to the lower half of the face, preventing the number 2 haircut from making the face look too round or too short.
Following on from this, it is men with rounder or shorter face shapes that would benefit the most from a beard.
As you won’t be able to add any length to the face from the top end when the hair is as short as a #2, you can use a beard to do this for you from the bottom end.
As you’d expect, the longer the beard, the more pronounced this effect. But even a short or medium-length beard can add some length.
Even heavy stubble can add some structure and definition.
There you have it. Hopefully, everything you wanted to know about the number 2 haircut.
As I mentioned, it’s so short that you don’t want to dive right into this length without having a good understanding of what you’re getting into.
But overall, it’s effortlessly neat and tidy and has too many aesthetic benefits to ignore.