The buzz cut is one of the most classic and best short haircuts for men to get. Fortunately, buzzing your head is easy and simple at home. In fact, learning to give yourself a buzz cut is all about having good clippers, the proper hair cutting tools, and the patience to cut your own hair. Whether you want to taper fade the sides and back or buzz your hair one length all over, the buzz cut is a cool men’s hairstyle to do and maintain yourself.
If you’re thinking about buzzing your own hair at home to save money and time at the barber shop, this guide will help you do the perfect buzz cut. From a buzz cut fade to a 3-2-1 haircut to a crew cut, we’ll cover the best ways to buzz your head with clippers and get this clean, short style.
Get The Right Hair Cutting Tools
To do a buzz cut on yourself properly, you’ll absolutely need the right tools. Because buzz cuts are short hairstyles, you will be regularly using these tools for maintenance work, making the investment even more worthwhile.
Good hair clippers are essential when buzzing your own hair. The best clippers come with sharp blades, a powerful motor, a long-lasting rechargeable battery that allows for cordless use and maximum maneuverability, and ultimately an ergonomic design for a comfortable hold.
If you plan on cutting your own hair and want a professional buzz cut, you’ll want to invest in a top-rated machine. We recommend guys get affordable professional clippers because they last longer, provide a closer cut, and glide through all types of hair to make the haircut effortless.
Attachments, Guards, and Mirrors
Easy to acquire and essential to have, guys will need these additional tools. These items will make buzzing your hair faster and painless.
- Attachment guards are necessary to ensure the evenness of the cut. Also known as combs, clipper guards allow you to cut your hair different lengths. This can be useful if you want a #1, #2, #3, or #4 buzz cut. Most hair clippers come with these attachments. However, if you want to shave your head with clippers and get a no guard buzz cut, your haircut will be even easier.
- A hand mirror allows you to reflect your bathroom mirror, so that you can see the back of your head. Buzzing your hair in the back and cleaning up your neckline is crucial to maintaining a clean cut.
- You’ll need a hair trimmer for detail work. The hair along your hairline, sideburns, neck, and around the ears should be cut with trimmers for crisp, clean lines. Similarly, if you want to line yourself up with a nice edge up, we recommend an outliner instead of clippers. Preferred by barbers and stylists, the Andis T-Outliner is the top-rated model in the industry.
Your Work Area
Where you trim your hair can be as important as the how. The best space to cut hair is often a bathroom or room with space, good lighting, and a mirror. Consider whether you can linger as long as you need to without feeling pressured, and make sure you can comfortably clean up afterwards.
How To Buzz Your Own Hair
Check Your Scalp
Buzz cuts are very short haircuts for men, so you’ll want to check your head and scalp first. In particular, look for bumps, scars, bald spots, and signs of dryness or flaking skin. Dandruff can be particularly bad with a bald head or very short hair, so invest in a dandruff shampoo proven to work.
Start with Clean, Dry Hair
Clippers, scissors, and trimmers generally work best on clean, dry hair. Before you start buzzing your hair, you’ll want to shower with warm water. Wash your hair with good shampoo and conditioner products.
Afterwards, make sure you towel-dry your hair, but don’t be rough with your strands or follicles. Wait 10 to 15 minutes after for your hair to completely dry. Oftentimes, wet or moist hair appears longer than dry hair. This can lead to an uneven or shorter haircut than expected.
Buzz Cut Lengths
The buzz cut looks best tapered with longer hair on top and shorter hair on the sides and back. Specifically, we recommend a buzz cut with a fade haircut. By determining your intended hair length on the top of the head, you can ensure that the transition is gradual and blended.
Men also have the option of a crop top, crew cut, or even a butch/brush haircut. These short men’s hairstyles resemble a tapered buzz cut, but require different hair lengths and haircut numbers.
The standard 3-2-1 buzz cut leaves the hair on the top of the head at roughly 3/8 inch, the hair on the sides of the head at 1/4 inch, and 1/8 inch at the edges. To accomplish this, use the following clipper sizes: a #3 on the top, #2 on the sides, and #1 on the edges.
The alternative is to get a buzz cut with one uniform length all over. Guys can pick a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 buzz cut depending on the guard they use.
Buzz The Top
The top will determine the length of your haircut. If you are going with our length recommendation, place the #3 guard on the clipper. This will cut your hair to 3/8 inch. If you’re unsure about how short you want to cut your hair, start longer and you can always trim shorter.
Begin by holding the clipper guard flat to your forehead, facing the hairline. Then, with slow and deliberate movements, move the clipper front to back. Repeat until you’ve buzzed your entire head.
To avoid an uneven buzz cut, once you’ve finished the front to back direction, start trimming side to side. Pay special attention to the hair at the crown. Because hair in this area grows in a circular pattern, it is important to buzz from all directions to get an even cut.
Buzz The Sides
The sides of your buzz cut will require a little more attention to detail. Because we will be tapering the length, you’ll need to create a clear start-stop point. Again, make sure to move the clippers slowly and deliberately, taking your time to avoid messing up your DIY haircut.
To begin buzzing the sides of your head, replace the attachment on the clipper to a #2 guard. A number 2 will cut the hair to 1/4 inch.
As before, rest the guard flat against the head. Begin at the bottom of the sides near the sideburns. Push the clippers up along the sides, from bottom to top. Trim the sides straight up; you’ll know when to stop shaving the sides because the clippers will leave the head. Repeat this on the other side of the head.
Review the gradient from the top of the head to the sides. The transition should be tapered without a distinct difference in length. If there is a visible line where the hair gets shorter, blend the hair using a scooping motion with the clippers. This can be done by gently rocking the clipper outward.
Buzz The Back
The most challenging part of the buzz cut is cutting the hair on the back of the head. This section requires maneuvering, which is the benefit of buying cordless clippers.
When you’re ready to cut the back, you’ll want to stand with your back to the bathroom mirror and then hold up the hand mirror. You’ll want to get comfortable with the positioning, but the vanity mirror should now be reflecting the back of your head. If you have bad lighting, be sure to make adjustments as appropriate.
Using the same #2 guard (1/4 inch), begin at the base of the neck and move in even strips up the back, meeting the clipped part on top. Follow the natural curve of the head.
Before, the round part of the skull was used to delineate where to stop buzzing the top of the head. Now, that same boundary will give you a natural blend.
Taper and Trim The Edges
Some men like to trim and taper the edges for that final touch. Replace the guard with the #1 guard, so that it will cut the hair to 1/8 inch.
The same scooping or rocking motion as before will be used here to fade the hairline. To taper the sides, begin with the hair at the sideburn. At the back of the head, you can shave up the neck.
Clean Up Your Sideburns and Neckline with Trimmers
You’ll want to clean up your sideburns and detail your neckline with trimmers. This step is all about defining your hairline and neckline with sharp, crisp lines that will detail your cut.
Start by cutting a clean line at the sideburns. Your cut should be informed by your natural hairline so don’t go too high up on the sides and ears.
Now reversing the position of the blades, hold the trimmer so that the teeth face up, and shave everything underneath your newly defined sideburn.
You can keep the neck rounded or blocked, depending on your style. Detailing your cut will give it a clean, polished look.
Review Your Haircut
Once you’ve finished cutting your hair, run your hands through your buzz cut. In addition to enjoying your newly buzzed hair, you should be feeling for inconsistencies. Make use of the hand mirror once more and inspect the crown of the head and the back, turning to see the haircut from all angles.
Once you’re satisfied that the cut is even and perfect, wash and shampoo your hair. To keep your hairstyle fresh, buzz your head every two to three weeks.
As you grow out your hair, guys can style a French crop with a fringe, an Ivy League hairstyle with side swept bangs, or a crew cut with a messy finish. Use a matte hair product such as pomade, wax, or clay to give your hair texture for a natural look.