Telling your barber what you want doesn’t have to be difficult. But the key to leaving the salon with the haircut you had in mind is to know what to ask for. After all, your barber might be a whizz with a pair of scissors but they’re (probably) not a mindreader.
This is where knowing your haircut length numbers comes in handy. But what are the numbers in haircuts? Let’s dive in.
Haircut Length Numbers: The Basics
Let’s start with the basics. Haircut numbers are connected to the plastic guards that are attached to electric hair clippers. The majority of hair trimmers come with eight different sizes of guard.
The clipper guard AKA haircut number refers to the length of hair that is left after the clipper has been used, with each number representing one eighth of an inch of hair.
This means that the lower the number, the shorter the hair, and vice versa.
So what number do you need to ask for to get the haircut you want?
What Are the Numbers in Haircuts?
If you ask your barber for a number one cut, you are asking them to cut your hair so it is an eighth of an inch long. If you ask for a number eight cut, the hair left on your head will be one inch.
Here are all the haircut length numbers and their corresponding clipper guard size:
- Zero: 1/16 of an inch
- One: 1/8 of an inch
- Two: 1/4 of an inch
- Three: 3/8 of an inch
- Four: 1/2 an inch
- Five: 5/8 of an inch
- Six: 3/4 of an inch
- Seven: 7/8 of an inch
- Eight: 1 inch
How Do Haircut Numbers Work?
Let’s break down the styles that asking for a particular haircut length number will result in so you know exactly what to ask your barber.
You don’t get any shorter than the zero haircut. A zero cut means your barber won’t use a clipper guard. This hairstyle is basically a skin fade or a shaved head.
Number one haircut
Only a fraction longer than a zero cut, a number one haircut is a very short buzz cut. The number one clipper guard is also used to create faded sides.
Number two haircut
Although still very short, the popular number two clipper guard is also used for buzz cuts and fades. However, because the hair is a quarter of an inch long the scalp is not exposed in the way that it is with a zero or one cut. This makes it a good cut for guys who have thin hair or who are balding.
Number three haircut
Also a popular choice for men who like to keep it short and neat, the number three is the highest number used in fades. Again, it’s a good choice for anyone with thin hair, although a three also works well with thicker hair types.
Number four haircut
If you’re looking for something a little closer to a crew or brush cut as opposed to a fade, try asking for a number four haircut. Less edgy than the numbers that precede it, size four clipper guards allow for a slightly longer and more conventional cut.
Number five haircut
Ask for a number five if you want a longer cut that can be styled. The number five haircut length will result in a look that is groomed and slightly more classic than the four. It’s also a good cut to ask for if you want the sides of your hair to be tapered without the extreme contrast of a zero or skin fade.
Number six haircut
We’re now moving firmly out of buzz cut and into crew cut territory. Like the five, this is a hairstyle that can be brushed and styled. The size six clipper guard is also often used to create a more subtle tapered side.
Number seven haircut
Barbers usually opt for the size seven clipper guard for customers who are looking for a crew cut that can be styled. It’s similar to the six haircut length number before it, just with that added extra one eighth of an inch of hair.
Number eight haircut
If you’re still looking for a stylish men’s haircut that is on the shorter side but you want more freedom to play around and create different styles – for example a side parting or a slicked back look – a number eight cut will leave you with a full inch of hair.
How to Prepare for Your Next Trim
Now you know what the numbers in haircuts are and how they work, there’s just one other thing you need to be aware of.
Making sure your scalp is healthy is a must for any type of haircut, regardless of length. But it is especially important if you’re going for a zero or number one haircut length as both of these are so short, the scalp is visible through the hair.
We recommend using a shampoo such as Aveda’s Invati Men™ Nourishing Exfoliating Shampoo which not only refreshes hair, but the scalp too.
Follow this with the Invati Men™ Scalp Revitalizer which invigorates the scalp and instantly makes hair look thicker, making it ideal for those with thinner hair who still want to go short.
Book Your Next Cut at Cutters Yard
Our barber services in London Bridge and Southwark are tailored to men who know what they want when it comes to a great looking haircut.
And now you have everything you need to know about how haircut numbers work, there’s nothing stopping you from booking your next appointment.