Hair Clippers Numbers Guide
The BasicsFirst, let’s get the basics out of the way. Most guys tend to know that the smaller the number, the less hair (or the closer the cut), they’re going to end up with on their head. These infamous numbers actually refer to the clipper guard sizes, with the number printed on the guard itself. Most sets of clippers come with 8 guards, which dictate the amount of hair removed when clipped. The biggest brands (Oster, Wahl, and Andis) use 1/8 inch increments between guard sizes. As an example, a #1 haircut will use the #1 guard and leave 1/8 inch of hair, whereas a #3 will use the #3 guard and leave 3/8 inch of hair. The only exception to this rule is when asking for a #0, which doesn’t use a guard at all, and cuts directly with the clippers leaving about a 1/16 of hair left, looking almost shaved – a buzzcut. You’ve just learned enough to get yourself into trouble but that’s a good overview of the basics. Later I’ll include images that show each different look, and explains the differences between the manufactures, as that’s where things get complicated.
Hair Clippers Numbers GuideFirst, let’s lay out all the haircut options and the clipper guard sizes just as a point of reference:
#0 cut (no guard) — 1/16 inch (1.5mm)
- #1 cut — 1/8 inch (3mm)
- #2 cut — 1/4 inch (6mm)
- #3 cut — 3/8 inch (10mm)
- #4 cut — 1/2 inch (13mm
- #5 cut — 5/8 inch (16mm)
- #6 cut — 3/4 inch (19mm)
- #7 cut — 7/8 inch (22mm)
- #8 cut — 1 inch (25mm)
The Different Looks of Each Cut
Number 0 Haircut
Because a number 0 haircut uses no guard and cuts directly with the blade you’re getting a very close 1/16 inch (1.5mm) cut which leaves almost no hair, as shown in image pictured above.
Number 1 Haircut
A number 1 haircut uses the closest guard possible. This cut isn’t hugely different from a number 0 in terms of look or feel.
Number 2 Haircut
A number 2 haircut is still in the buzzcut territory but leaves the scalp covered and works well for those with thicker hair.
Number 3 Haircut
A number 3 guards trim your hair down to 3/8 inch which tends to be used for a longer buzzcut (often called a burr cut). It’s also used to trim down the sides to a shorter length while retaining a longer length up top.
Number 4 Haircut
The number 4 cut leaves your hair ½ inch long. It’s about the longest cut you can get that still vaguely resembles a buzzcut area. A number 4 starts to give a more brushed or crew cut look. These cuts work well for both long and short hair and are an easy choice for many that want short hair, but don’t want anything too short.
Number 5 Haircut
The number 5 haircut gives you a 5/8 inch look. The #5 is mostly used for tapering and styling rather than anything simpler like a buzzcut.
Number 6 Haircut
Much like the number 5, the number 6 is mostly used for layering and styling. It’s a reasonable length that rivals what many could do with a pair of scissors if they were looking for a shorter scissor cut.
Number 7 Haircut
A number 7 cut is a 7/8 inch cut which is often used for styling for men with thick hair. The #7 guard is normally used in conjunction with a smaller size guard to fade hair on the sides for a more styled look.
Number 8 Haircut
Lastly, the number 8 guard is the largest commonly included with a pair of clippers and cuts hair to an inch in length. Similar to the number 7, it’s mostly used to trim the hair on top with a smaller guard being used on the sides.
Oster Blades and GuardsOster is the first brand I’ll cover and easily holds their own with quality. Their blades are made of carbon steel with renowned levels of quality assurance and testing. Any Oster blade should last, and stay sharp for a good while too. [table id=2 /]
Oster Clipper Guard Sizes
Oster’s clipper guards work a treat too and work with the same sizes available as standard in the first chart. Commonly people ask if they can get Oster magnetic guards which isn’t something they produce. Andis’ magnetic guards work fine with the Oster Fast Feed clippers and make the cutting way easier in my experience.
Andis Blades and Guards
With some of the most popular products in the industry, some might wonder why, and for good reason, they’re high quality. Their magnetic combs are at the top of that perch, they make cutting hair easier, they’re durable, they fit well, and as I mentioned earlier they fit other clippers (like Oster’s Fast Feed). Andis splits them into two groups, the five short guards, and the four longer ones. Below are the guards and their respective sizes.