Knowing the different hair clipper sizes and haircut numbers is the best way to ensure you always end up with the cut you want. Learn about the different clipper guard numbers and see examples of haircuts with each in our complete guide to hair clipper sizes.
- Why Hair Clipper Sizes Matter
- Hair Clipper Sizes vs Haircut Length
- Haircut Number Examples
- Finding the Right Hair Clipper Size
Standard Hair Clipper Sizes
Getting a haircut you’ll love starts with knowing what to ask for. The easiest way to ensure you get the cut you want is telling your barber or stylist the hair clipper sizes or haircut numbers you prefer.
This allows you to be a lot more specific about the length you want rather than saying something more subjective like, “Take a little off the top.” Instead, you could say you want a #4 haircut and walk out with precisely that.
If you cut your own hair with clippers, learning about the different clipper guard sizes will make a big difference in your results. Understanding the different clipper sizes is the basis of learning to do more complex cuts like tapers and fades.
The only problem is that hair clipper sizes/haircut numbers can be a little confusing to figure out at first. These numbers (usually 1-8) correspond to different guard lengths, ranging from as short as ⅛” to 1″ or longer.
And while clipper guard sizes seem to have very small differences in length, there’s a huge visual difference between hair that is ⅛” long versus ⅝” long. Choosing the wrong guard can really mess up a haircut.
See what hair clipper sizes and haircut numbers are, view examples of what each haircut number looks like, and learn what to ask for to get the haircut you want in this guide. We’ll start by going over the different clipper guard sizes and what they mean.
What Are Hair Clipper Sizes and Haircut Numbers?
Hair clipper sizes and haircut numbers both refer to the number on the clipper guard a barber attaches to an electric hair clipper. These electric hair clippers have removable, numbered clipper guards that attach over the blades of the trimmer.
The hair clipper size or haircut number is the number you’ll find on each clipper guard. They are typically numbered 1 through 8, but you can find clipper sizes that go up to 12. The number on each clipper guard tells you the length it will cut your hair to.
Hair Clipper Size Chart
Generally, the larger the hair clipper number, the more distance it leaves between the blades of the clippers and your scalp. So larger clipper sizes create longer haircuts, while smaller clipper sizes result in shorter haircuts.
Below, we have an overview of the haircut length you’ll get from each clipper guard size. Number 1 guards offer the shortest cut (⅛”), while #8 guards will leave you with a longer cut (1″).
You might also hear about number 0 cuts, which are just clipper trims with no guard attached. These cuts are as short as you can get with clippers, or about 1/16″ long.
A barber or stylist may use a single clipper guard for your entire haircut. Or they might switch out clipper guards on different areas of your head to give you a fade or a tapered cut that’s long on top and shorter on the back and sides. It all depends on what you ask for!
If you have a clipper set at home and cut your own hair, you’ll definitely benefit from knowing which clipper size to use for each section of your hair.
But if you don’t have a lot of experience cutting your hair with clippers, or if you’ve always done simple buzz cuts, it’s hard to visualize the finished hair length from each clipper guard size without photos. Keep reading to see photos of haircuts using each clipper size.
Haircut Examples with Different Hair Clipper Sizes
If you’re not sure which hair clipper size or haircut number to ask for, seeing pictures of the different lengths each guard creates is helpful. Below, you’ll be able to see what a haircut with each clipper size looks like.
The #0 haircut is done with the trimmer blades only and no guard. This cut is considered shaved because it is very short – about 1/16″. The #0 guardless length is typically used to shave the head all over or for the shortest part of a skin fade.
A #1 haircut uses the #1 clipper guard, which leaves the hair about ⅛” long – pretty short. The #1 clipper size will leave some scalp peeking through.
In this example, the man has a high skin fade where the hair on the top of the head is cut with the #1 guard. The hair on the back and sides is cut without a guard (#0) and blended with the top.
A #2 haircut uses the #2 hair clipper size, which leaves the hair about ¼” long. This is a popular haircut number for buzz cuts, and it’s often used in fades to transition different lengths together. The #2 guard length doesn’t leave any scalp showing, so it’s a good choice for anyone with thinning hair.
A #3 haircut uses the #3 clipper size, which leaves the hair about ⅜” long. It’s a popular haircut number for all-over cuts and fades. In this example, the man has a #3 haircut on the top (this length dips down in the back to form a high drop fade) and a #1 (⅛”) cut on the sides.
A #4 haircut uses the #4 clipper size, which leaves the hair about ½” long. This is a medium-length cut that can be worn all-over as one length or used in a fade or tapered cut. If you want to keep your styling easy without going too short, a #4 haircut is perfect.
A #5 haircut uses the #5 clipper guard, which leaves the hair about ⅝” long. This clipper size is beginning to get into the longer haircut territory, so it’s typically used on top with shorter lengths used to fade the sides and back.
A #6 haircut uses the #6 clipper guard, which leaves the hair about ¾” long. This clipper guard length is usually used on the top of the head for more length up top, while smaller guard sizes are used on the back and sides for a tapered or faded look.
A #7 haircut uses the #7 clipper size, which leaves the hair about ⅞” long. Just shy of an inch long, this is a longer haircut that is still short enough for easy styling and maintenance.
If you like short sides, long top haircuts, a #7 guard on top leaves you with enough length to brush and style. You can keep the back and sides shorter for a cleaner look.
A #8 haircut uses the #8 clipper size, which leaves the hair about 1″ long. This is the biggest clipper size that most barbers and stylists use. It’s also the biggest guard size you’ll see in most at-home clipper kits. Beyond the #8 guard, most professionals will begin cutting with scissors instead.
In most cases, you’ll want to combine the #8 guard on top with a few shorter guard sizes on the back and sides for a taper or fade haircut. It’s helpful to use this clipper guard size to keep a longer top evenly trimmed for a neat, clean look.
How to Ask for the Haircut You Want
Now that you’ve seen what a haircut looks like when each clipper guard size is used, you’ve probably got a good idea of the type of cut you’d like. The final thing is learning how to ask a barber or stylist for the exact cut you want if you’re not doing it yourself.
The first thing to consider is whether you’d like one length all over or a blend of different lengths. If you’d like your hair to be the same length all over, you can simply ask for it by saying the haircut number of the clipper size in the length you want.
For example, if you like a nice medium length all over, you could ask your barber for a #4 haircut. If you’d prefer a shorter buzz cut, you can just ask for that or specify the guard number (length) you want.
If you’d like a cut that is longer on top and shorter on the back and sides, you can tell your barber the guard size you’d like on top and the shortest guard size you want for the back and sides.
For example, you could say you want a #3 fade, which tells the barber you want the top (the longest part) cut with a #3 guard, and the back and sides faded shorter. You could specify further that you’d like a #3 skin fade, which tells your barber to cut the top with a #3 guard, then fade the back and sides with #2, #1, and #0.
If you’re not sure what to ask for, don’t worry. Your barber will be able to determine which hair clipper size or number to use if you can show them examples of the cut you want or tell them how long you’d like each section to be.
There’s no shame in saying, “Can you make it about an inch long on top and a little bit shorter on the back and sides?” It’s always helpful to have photos to show your barber to ensure you get the cut you’re envisioning.
Don’t have a go-to barber yet? Find the best barber near you with our salon locator. Just type in your zip code to see info on all the salons and barbershops in your area. Then, use what you’ve learned about hair clipper sizes and how to ask for the haircut you want to ensure you walk out of there with a cut you love.