The Number 3 Buzz Cut can quietly but confidently be regarded as one of the most popular and versatile buzz cut styles around.
Although it varies from one man to another, the cut is usually long enough for the scalp to not be very visible at this length. This is one of the reasons it’s so popular.
You could call it a “medium-length” buzz cut, much like you could for the Number 4. Like the Number 4, it’s a good choice for men looking to try out the buzz cut look without having to commit to a cut as short as a Number 1 or 2.
In this article, I’ll be diving deep into this length of buzz cut. I’ll be showing you examples of what it looks like, teaching you how to trim it for yourself, as well as answering some frequently asked questions about the style.
If you were unsure as to whether to go for this style, hopefully, this article will sway you one way or the other.
Let’s get to it.
What Length Is A Number 3 Buzz Cut?
The Number 3 Buzz Cut is ⅜ of an inch or 10mm. As I mentioned, in most men, this is long enough for the scalp to not be very visible. However, this does partially depend on the color of the skin and the hair.
It’s quite common to see a “3 on the top and 2 on the sides”. A Number 2 would be ¼ inch or 6mm.
This can look very tidy as the sides look tapered and tight relative to the top. It’s a great way to make sure the buzz cut grows out looking nice and natural.
But the great thing about trimming a Number 3 buzz cut all around is that it’s incredibly easy to DIY. It takes very little of your time to do and is quite hard to mess up. That’s what the tutorial below will be teaching you how to do.
If you’re looking for a hair clipper that will allow you to trim a #3 buzz cut, the Wahl Elite Pros are a great option. They’re pretty affordable and really good for DIY trims. Check them out on
But first, let’s look at some examples of this buzz cut.
The Number 3 Buzz Cut – Pictures And Benefits
As I mentioned earlier, this length of buzz cut is a great “stepping stone” for men who may be nervous about going shorter.
It can be a pretty big decision to make, so choosing a medium-length style may be a good solution.
But there are other benefits to the Number 3 buzz cut.
One benefit is that it’s incredibly easy to maintain. Men with longer hair who then choose to buzz down will eventually come to wonder why they never did it earlier. The more complex additions such as fading may require the assistance of a barber.
But a straightforward Number 3 buzz cut is something you could easily trim yourself with no trouble. This mainly refers to a military-type induction cut with all of the hair trimmed down to the same length in all directions and dimensions. This is very easy to DIY.
But even if you wanted to go for a 3 on the top and 2 on the sides, there’s no reason whatsoever why you couldn’t manage that yourself.
Washing and drying your hair is also incredibly convenient at this length. You’ll be shaving so much time off your grooming routine (no pun intended) in the long run.
It’s also long enough not to feel sharp to touch. As a general principle, the shorter the hair, the sharper the edges. The Number 3 has the benefit of being long enough to feel nice and soft to run your fingers through.
It’s a very versatile length of hair to work with. There aren’t many occasions or situations in which it wouldn’t be considered “formal enough”.
Weddings, job interviews, etc. You could walk quite comfortably into any of them knowing your hairstyle looked smart.
One of the few downsides of this length of hair is that it isn’t long enough to style. The hair is simply too short to spike or slick to the side, for example. This is in contrast to the Number 4 buzz cut which is just about long enough to style with some product.
Finally, a key benefit of this length of hair is that it works well for balding men or men with receding hairlines. Thinning hair does look less obvious when trimmed short and even. I’ve discussed this in more detail down below.
Let’s move on to talk about how you can trim a Number 3 buzz cut right from the comfort of your own home.
How To Trim A Number 3 Buzz Cut (All-Around)
This is a simple, straightforward, step-by-step routine teaching you how to trim a Number 3 Induction-Style Buzz Cut with the hair trimmed down to 10mm in all directions and dimensions.
For this tutorial, you’ll need an electric clipper. There are loads of great ones out there, but be sure to choose one that comes with a Number 3 clipper guard.
Other than that, the only tool I’d say was essential to this process was a handheld mirror. This is simply to help you trim the back – this can be awkward to DIY.
As you can see, it’s a pretty minimalist setup. That’s what makes it so great.
1. Rinse and dry
Clean hair is much easier to trim. Using a gentle shampoo, rinse out your hair with lukewarm water, running the strands in between your fingers to properly clean.
It’s important to note that the hair should be dry or almost dry before you try to trim a buzz cut. It’s much harder to trim wet or damp hair down.
Use a blowdryer if you’re strapped for time.
2. Prepare your tools
It’s important to optimize and prime your electric clipper before you start trimming.
You’ll want to make sure it’s fully charged. When a clipper starts to run out of battery, it slows down. It starts to pull and tug, leading to an uneven trim and an unpleasant grooming experience.
Hair can also accumulate around the blades. You’ll want to clear this out after each trim as it can start to clog and affect the functioning of the blades.
You’ll also want to ensure that the blades are well lubricated. Most clippers do come with some lubricating oil which you can directly apply onto the blades.
This makes your trims more effective in the short term and also ensures that your device is looked after and lasts longer.
Set your clipper to the correct length. Attach the Number 3 (10mm) clipper guard and make sure it’s securely fastened on top of the blade.
Besides your clipper, make sure you have your handheld mirror ready. Although this isn’t strictly essential, I’d say it almost was. It’s really the only way to properly visualize and trim the back of your head.
When trimming the top and sides, however, you’ll be using your usual bathroom mirror.
Finally, be sure to lay some newspaper on the ground to make cleaning up a little easier afterward. Try not to clog the sink with clumps of hair.
3. Start trimming
With your Number 3 clipper guard attached, start trimming. Where you choose to start is up to you. Let’s assume you’re starting with the top, moving onto the sides, and then finally the back.
You’ll be trimming against the grain, which means against the direction of hair growth. This is the quickest way to get a nice, short, even trim.
Get into the habit of feeling for the direction of hair growth wherever you trim. For the top and sides, it’s usually pretty straightforward. The top will usually be trimmed backward, and the sides will usually be trimmed upward.
Start trimming the top – go slow and try to ensure you don’t leave any patches or areas untrimmed.
The hair around the frontal hairline and temples can be quite easy to miss because it’s generally thinner here. Go over this area a couple of times to try and get all of it.
When trimming the sides, pull the ears backward and forward to reach the trickier areas. In general, you shouldn’t have much trouble here.
The back, however, is a different story. It can be awkward to get an effective trim here, mainly because of the difficulty in visualizing it. So, hold the handheld mirror in one hand, turn around so the back of your head faces the bathroom mirror.
You should be able to see the back of your head in the handheld mirror as it reflects off of the bathroom mirror. It’s a pretty basic trick that people can sometimes forget to use.
You’ll mainly be trimming upward along the back of the head. However, the crown area can be awkward as hair tends to grow in all sorts of directions. Do your best, and try to feel for the general direction of hair growth to effectively remove it all.
4. Even it out
Tilt your head forward and backward, and look at your buzz cut from all angles – sides, front and back. Use the handheld mirror to help.
What you’re doing is assessing your work from different angles to try and spot any patches you may have missed. It can be easy to miss these bits, so be sure to review it all in good lighting.
If you do find any uneven areas, trim over it with your clipper again. These are the finishing touches that’ll help you attain perfection.
5. Consider lining up the neckline
The neckline will be looking pretty natural at this point. You may well want to square or round it off.
You could do this using the naked blade of your clipper. However, this can be difficult to do by yourself. Not impossible, but difficult.
If you wanted to do this, it may be the only part of this tutorial you may want to ask for some assistance.
However, a lot of men are pretty happy keeping their neckline looking natural. Others do want it lined up neatly, with underlying neck stubble and hair removed as well. It all depends on personal preference.
You’re done. Hop into the shower, rinse off that excess hair, and towel-dry.
Stare deeply into the mirror and admire your work. You’ve just trimmed a pretty phenomenal Number 3 buzz cut.
The Number 3 Buzz Cut With A Fade
Yes, the Number 3 buzz cut can look fantastic with a proper fade. A “fade” is when the hair gradually increases in length. It’s commonly done at the sides and at the back.
If you’re just starting out, it can be tricky to get this right by yourself. It would probably be best to visit your barber a couple of times to watch how they do it first. Then, you can venture out and DIY it.
The Number 3 works well with a low fade (ending just above the sideburn) or a high fade (ending around the temple area). A high fade would be more obvious and attention-grabbing, but either one would make a buzz cut look more interesting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some FAQs asked by men on this glorious buzz cut length. I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible.
Is A Number 3 Buzz Cut Good For Balding Or Receding Men?
Yes, it definitely is. In fact, most buzz cut styles are. What makes it so good is the fact that all of the hair is trimmed down to a short and even length.
Doing this makes thin hair on top look less thin overall. It’s an interesting phenomenon and works pretty effectively.
Making the hair shorter and more even also reduces the contrast between the forehead and the hair.
If you’re a balding man, the Number 3 buzz cut may be the perfect solution to your struggle. It can be frustrating trying to find a style that’s flattering and easy-to-maintain.
What I love about buzz cuts for receding hairlines is that the focus is on embracing what you have and making it work, instead of trying to cover up and comb over.
What About The Number 3 Buzz Cut With A Beard?
This combination can work very well. The reason for this is that both components (the glasses and the beard) can be used to add balance to the shape of the face.
Buzz cuts do carry the disadvantage of not allowing you to style it and alter the shape. Longer hair can be styled in a way that adjusts the overall shape of the face – this is actually a great stylistic device.
However, buzz cuts are just too short to allow you to do this. Because of this, the shape of your head and face is pretty exposed – this may not be your ideal outcome.
But it’s amazing what a beard can do.
For example, a pointed beard could be used to make the chin look longer and more prominent. Beards are commonly used to add prominence to structurally “weaker” areas of the face.
In short, the difficulties a buzz cut could impose may well be solved by the simple addition of a beard. It doesn’t even have to be a full beard. Some stubble alone could go a long way.
Number 2 Or Number 3 Buzz Cut?
It can be pretty difficult to choose between a Number 2 (6mm) vs a Number 3 buzz cut. At the end of the day, it really depends on your objective.
The biggest decision would actually be whether you want to go for a Number 2 instead of a Number 3, and not vice versa. Because if you were to go for a Number 3 and then feel as though you want to go shorter, this can be done quite easily.
However, if you go for a Number 2 and then wish you’d gone for a Number 3 instead, unfortunately, you’re not able to reverse it.
Before going straight into a Number 2, it’s important to note that at this length you’re almost certainly going to see the underlying scalp. Some men wouldn’t want to go this short for this very reason, whereas others may not be bothered at all.
For men going for their first buzz cut, going for a Number 2 buzz cut could be a pretty big decision. It’s a more obvious and stark change for him to go through, especially if he’d previously had long hair.
Testing the waters with a Number 3 and judging over the course of a couple of weeks may be a better approach than diving headfirst into a 2.
A Buzz Cut With A 3 On The Top And 2 On The Sides?
This may well be the perfect compromise and is extremely popular for that reason. Having the hair a grade shorter on the sides does give the style a nicer shape, with the sides tighter relative to the top.
The buzz cut may also grow out more impressively as the shape is just more natural-looking.
Plus, it’s a great way to safeguard yourself against the scalp being too visible on top. Keeping the top at a Number 3 will have it long enough to cover up most of the underlying scalp.
Number 3 Or Number 4 Buzz Cut?
The decision of whether to go for a Number 3 vs a Number 4 (12mm) buzz cut is usually less nerve-wracking. Both of these lengths can safely be labeled “medium-length” and the difference between them, although noticeable, isn’t as obvious.
The Number 4 is a more conservative selection for a man who really wants to test out the waters before going shorter.
What I like about keeping it a little longer to begin with is that you can really get an idea of the shape of your head. It can be very difficult to guess what you’d look like with a buzz cut when you have a full head of hair.
We have an idea, but we usually don’t have a very accurate picture of what we’ll look like by the end of it.
To get a taste of the shape, the texture, and the style, a Number 4 would be a good choice. Short enough to get a good picture of what we’d look like with even shorter lengths, but still long enough to not draw a huge amount of attention to ourselves.
The Number 3 Buzz Cut On Females
If you were wondering whether a Number 3 buzz cut would work on a woman, the answer is yes, most definitely.
The principles one should consider before going for it are the same as they would be for a man.
The fact that it’s much less common to see it on a woman than on a man does lead to it being paid more attention overall. This may make it a bigger decision and may not be something you want.
Plus, a woman with long hair who chooses to don a buzz cut is potentially trimming down years of growth. This amplifies the weight of the decision even further.
But on the whole, it can look pretty phenomenal. It often looks very stylish and fashionable and on the whole, is being seen more and more often now.
Although it’s a very personal decision, it’s worth getting the opinion of trusted family members and friends to get an idea of what you might look like afterward. As I mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to judge for yourself with a full head of hair.
This versatile, comfortable, and effortlessly stylish hairstyle isn’t as rigid as you may have initially thought.
There are many different variations of the Number 3 buzz cut. As you’ve now learned, the term “buzz cut” refers to a variety of different styles. Plus, fading has become very popular and has introduced a whole new dimension of interest into buzz cuts.
If you were on the fence, hopefully, this article has helped you make your decision one way or the other. If not, hopefully, you’ve found the pictures and explanations valuable.
Thanks for sticking around until the end.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.