We’ve posted about tons of hairstyles that have stood the test of time, from the pompadour to the classic gentleman’s side part. While the buzz cut fits into this category, it’s also a fantastic men’s hairstyle option for many other reasons. It’s a truly low-maintenance style, and you can even cut it yourself in the comfort of your own home.
The buzz cut is one of those staple hairstyles that every barber in the world knows. Some love it and others hate it, but there’s no disputing its minimal form and classic status. Perhaps the best known use of the buzz cut is for men in the military. For them, this haircut is a decision of function over fashion, as it helps them cool down faster and see better (no bangs in the way). But we at Haircut Inspiration think the buzz cut is every bit as fashionable as it is functional.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about that cut in case you’re considering this utilitarian yet trendy style.
What do I need for the buzz cut?
You don’t need very much at all to get a spiffy buzz cut. This is one of the greatest benefits of this hairstyle: You can have nearly any hair type, any hair color, and any face shape to get a buzz cut that looks good. Those cuts are generally shorter haircuts, but they can vary in length, so you can definitely have a longer cut if that’s something you’re interested in.
To get this fantastic haircut, all you need is your barber. 99% of barbers know how to cut it. Alternatively, if you want to save the trip to the barbershop and have a good set of hair clippers around, you can even give yourself a buzz cut at home. This cut is literally buzzing the hair with clippers, and that’s it.
Because of the simplicity and the ease of cutting it at home, this cut is a popular choice among frugal individuals who want a simple hairstyle. It is also a nice hairstyle for young boys, as it both keeps their hair short and doesn’t require them to leave home.
But don’t pull the trigger just yet––before you say yes to a buzz cut, you’ll have to take a few things into consideration. Feel around your head to see if you have any large bumps. Those bumps will become fairly prominent if you opt for a shorter cut (#3 guard or shorter). The same is true of any scars you have on your head. And if you have larger ears, be aware that this cut will make them stick out even more.
While there are a few limitations, the buzz cut is surprisingly versatile. It keeps you cool, and it works with most face shapes. On top of that, it is also a good cut for receding hairlines, since the nature of the cut makes your head seem fuller and more defined.
How to Get the Buzz Cut
Here’s a surprise for you: “buzz cut” actually refers to a family of haircuts. For a haircut to be a buzz cut, it has to be the same length all around the head. Within this family, there are several specific types that you can choose from. Their length and shape set them apart from one another.
Before you make a trip to the barbershop to get a buzz cut, be sure you know which variation you want and what clipper setting it uses. If you walk into a barbershop and just ask for a buzz cut, your barber might give you a super short cut or a super long one. To make sure you’re getting the exact type you want, you should know the specific name and clipper setting used for the specific cut you’re after. Some barbers also use different names to refer to certain variations, so knowing the clipper setting for your preferred variation is crucial.
Here are some of the basic variations and how to get them:
This is a classic buzz cut with the addition of the fashionable fade. If you aren’t ready to shave all of your hair off, this is a great transitional style before taking that step.
If buzzing off all your hair feels too intimidating, ask for a fade in your buzz cut. Not only is it on trend, you will still have some hair on your head. This isn’t a traditional buzz cut, but it’s an exciting way to experiment with the style.
This is the shortest buzz cut, using the clippers with no guard attached (this is sometimes known as the #0 setting). It’s the closest you’ll get to bald without actually shaving all of your hair off. The induction cut is the most extreme buzz cut variation possible, so make sure you really want it.
It’s more common to see buzz cuts without a widow’s peak, but if you opt for a burr or brush cut, you can still show it off. This will work for a variety of lengths, so use a #1, #2, or #3 guard on your clippers. Add some funky angles to your hairline to make this look even more exciting.
This is a slightly less extreme version of the induction cut. Generally, a burr cut refers to a buzz cut that is cut with a #1, #2, or #3 guard on the clippers.
This is almost the same as the burr, with the addition of sideburns. Grow them out, then have them cut to the same length as your hair. Facial hair of most lengths will compliment this look well.
This longer cut has a slight fade on the sides and bold front. While buzz cuts are often thought of as low-maintenance hairstyles, this angular version is edgy and trendsetting.
Not as short as a traditional buzz cut, this adventure style lets you show off your personality. The softness of your longer hair contrasts with the simple, precise lines.
If you want a low-maintenance but funky hairstyle, opt for a buzz cut with a fade and some artistic cut-outs. A less gradual fade will make the top of your hair, and the cut-outs, look longer.
Also called a brush cut (and sometimes a burr cut as well), the butch cut is a mid-length buzz cut that typically uses a #4 clipper setting. Our guide to the butch cut has everything you need to know about this cut.
The brush cut will need more maintenance than a traditional buzz. Since it is longer, it will need to be styled with wax. If your hair is naturally curly, this buzz cut will begin to show it.
This hairstyle is dramatic and eye-catching. Get a burr cut on top with a small fade, and a bold, short stripe in between.
Though a variation on a typical buzz cut, this simple fade is still a classic look. It is clean cut and does not require a lot of maintenance or styling.
This somewhat trendier buzz cut variation is cut in the same way as a crew cut, but it’s noticeably longer. The hair can be as long as an inch on the top of the head, which is uncommon for this cut. Read our guide to the Ivy League haircut for more information.
The high and tight is another short buzz cut style. It’s cut by using a #1, #2, or even #3 on the sides and the back. The top is then clipped with a setting two numbers higher than what was used for the sides and the back. This creates the “high and tight” appearance.
And if you want to go even more extreme, consider the high and tight recon. The whole head (except for a strip of hair in the middle of the head that goes from the forehead to the vertex) is clipped with a #0 or #1. The strip is then clipped with a #2 or #3. It’s often called the “landing strip” hairstyle due to its appearance.
The crew cut is technically a buzz cut, but it’s different from other styles because it’s tapered. This cut may use a clipper setting that ranges from #3 to #6. Our guide to the crew cut will tell you the whole story.
This look is a combination of the Caesar and crew cuts. It is long, like a Caesar cut, but the hair is not all the same length. Like a crew cut, it is tapered on the sides. This style is more of a cousin to the buzz cut, but is still in the same family.
The Caesar cut is part of the extended buzz cut family. It shares a lot of similarities, and perhaps the most notable is the fact that with a Caesar cut, the hair is cut to the same length all over the head. While it can go up to 3 inches in length, many guys choose to opt for a much shorter length, around half an inch to an inch. Read our guide to the Caesar cut for more information.