The Complete Guide to Clipper Lengths for Men’s Haircuts

Men’s haircuts come in all shapes and sizes these days, from short buzzed styles to longer flowing locks. However, the length of your cut often comes down to specifying the right clipper lengths and haircut numbers from your barber or stylist.

Choosing the appropriate clipper size can make the difference between a stylish, shapely cut and an unbalanced mess. Clipper lengths refer to guard combs used on clippers that allow cutting hair to specific lengths. Selecting the right numbers is crucial for achieving your desired style.

Understanding Clipper Lengths

Understanding Clipper Lengths

Clipper lengths refer to the guard combs used on electric hair clippers. The combs attach to the clippers and allow cutting the hair to specific lengths in fractions of inches or millimeters. For example, a #2 guard comb will cut hair to around 2/8 inch or 6mm.

Clipper sizes usually start at #0 and go up to #8 or #10, with each number increasing the hair length. Common clipper lengths include:

  • #0 – Trims hair to 1/8 inch or 3mm, leaving a very short cropped finish.
  • #1 – Cuts hair to 2/8 inch or 6mm, perfect for short styles.
  • #2 – Trims to 3/8 inch or 10mm, a popular clipper length for cropped looks.
  • #3 – Cuts hair to 4/8 inch or 12mm, great for classic short back and sides.
  • #4 – Leaves hair around 5/8 inch or 15mm, starting to add shape on top.

The higher the clipper number, the longer the hair is left. For example, #8 will leave hair around 1 inch or 25mm long.

Barbers may use different terminology for clipper lengths, such as “fingers” e.g. a “number one all over.” However, the numbers relate to standard clipper combs.

Choosing Clipper Lengths

Deciding on the right clipper lengths for your hairstyle is key. Here are some tips:

  • Shorter clipper sizes like #0 to #2 work well for very short, minimal styles like crew cuts and buzz cuts.
  • #2 to #4 guards are perfect for classic short back and sides, undercuts and pompadour cuts.
  • Longer lengths like #5 and above allow for more shape and styling on top for quiffs and textured crops.
  • Fading and blending clipper lengths e.g. #2 up to #4 can create smooth transitions.
  • For longer hair, use higher clipper sizes like #6 and above just to neatly trim around the neckline and sides.

Think about your hair type and head shape too when choosing lengths. For example, curly hair often looks better a little longer on top. Similarly, longer clipper lengths help add height if you have a rounder head.

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Common Clipper Length Combinations

There are some standard clipper length combinations that work well for classic men’s hairstyles:

Short Back and Sides

Short Back and Sides
  • #2 or #3 on the back and sides
  • Scissor cut on top

This combo creates the standard short back and sides, brush up style. The #2 or #3 keeps the back and sides neat and tidy. Scissor cutting the top then allows for longer hair to style into a textured crop or quiff.


Undercut-clipper lengths
  • #1 to #3 on the back and sides
  • #4 and above on top

Undercuts pair very short back and sides with longer length on top. A #1 – #3 trim on the back and sides contrasts well with longer top haircut to #4 and above. This allows the length on top to be styled tall.

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Fade Cut

Fade Cut-clipper lengths
  • #0 faded up to #3 or #4 on the back and sides
  • Scissor cut on top

Fading from the lowest clipper lengths up to #3 – #4 blends the back and sides smoothly. Again, scissor cutting the top maintains flow and shape to style. This works great for afro hair types.

Short Textured Crop

Short Textured Crop-clipper lengths
  • #4 all over
  • Optional scissor texturizing on top

Going for a #4 all over cut leaves a nice short finished length all over the head. This can then be styled into a textured crop with wax or clay. Using scissors to add chopped texture on top also adds shape.

Clipper Lengths for Curly Hair

Clipper Lengths for Curly Hair-clipper lengths

Managing thicker, curly hair types requires some specific clipper length considerations:

  • Use slightly longer lengths like #4 – #6 to allow the curls to pop naturally.
  • Graduate the lengths from bottom to top e.g. #1 on the neckline up to #4 on the crown.
  • Texturize and shape the hair on top with scissors rather than going too short.
  • Avoid going too short on the sides as this can accentuate the hairline receding.
  • Use rounded shapes rather than square back and sides to complement curl patterns.

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Q: Is a 3 or 4 Shorter Haircut?

A: A #3 clipper cut is shorter than a #4 cut. A #3 leaves hair around 1/2 inch long, while a #4 leaves it around 5/8 inch long.

Q: What Length is a 7 Clipper Haircut Numbers?

A: A #7 clipper leaves hair around 7/8 inch or 22mm long, which is about 3/4 inch long.

Q: How Long is a 3 Haircut?

A: A #3 clipper cut leaves hair around 1/2 inch or 12mm long. This is considered a short haircut length.

Q: How Long is a Number 4 Haircut?

A: A #4 clipper cut leaves hair around 5/8 inch or 15mm long. This is a medium-short haircut length.

Q: What does a 7 Haircut Look like?

A: A #7 cut is a longer haircut, around 3/4 inch or 22mm in length. This allows for some height on top to style the hair.


Getting the right clipper lengths for your hairstyle is crucial. Think about your hair type, head shape and the overall style you want. Go short for a buzzed finish or longer for choppy texture. Faded clipper lengths also create modern undercuts. Work with your stylist to pick the ideal clipper numbers for your next haircut.

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