In a demanding world where a man’s expected to manscape as well as meet his mortgage repayments, smash his squat PB as well as salary ceilings, and be as good a listener as he is able to stand his own in a scrap, it’s sometimes best to keep things simple. To that we say start with your hair. Or more specifically, start by buzzing it all off. The buzz cut – a firm favourite of everyone from leading men to army recruits – is the ultimate in classically masculine, low-maintenance men’s hairstyles. Cut short and usually uniform in length, buzzed hair doesn’t kink, curl or lie lank across your forehead, which means you won’t spend half an hour wrangling your locks into submission every morning. Not only that, but it works everywhere too – from the boardroom to a black tie ball. Buzzing to give it a go? Here’s everything you need to know, from what to ask for in the chair to what you need to do it at home.
Is A Buzz Cut Right For You?
As versatile as a buzz cut is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all style. Lumps, bumps, scars and the curvature of your cranium are all things that play a part in determining how suited you are to a buzz cut, and which style of buzz cut works best with your head – so before committing to one, consider the shape of your bonce. “If your head has a protruding occipital bone [otherwise known as the bone at the lower-back of your skull], it’s best to opt for a blend on the sides, rather than a uniform length,” says Adam Gore, founder of UK Barbershop of the Year, Barberology. “This helps to create a more masculine, squarer shape.” Before sitting in the chair, take a good look at yourself in the mirror (you could even try snapping selfies from different angles) to get to know your head and face shape better. If you’re still unsure after that, ask a barber for their professional opinion.
What You Need
- Quality clippers. These give you the precision to the nail those subtle tweaks for different takes on the standard buzz cut.
- A set of guards. The smaller grades are the most important here, ranging from #1 to #4.
- A soft-bristled brush. Keeping clippers clean and hair-free is crucial in getting a clean, even finish.
Types Of Buzz Cut
The shortest of all buzz cuts, the induction cut gets its name from its military origins. Achieved using clippers without a guard, if you’re after anything shorter, you may as well take a straight razor to your skull.
A buzz you can take home to your mum, the crew cut isn’t as severe as other shorter variations. “The hair is tapered on the sides and back of the head, while the top is either clippered evenly with a longer guard or is tapered towards the back of the top of the head so that the hair is slightly longer on the front,” says Gore.
Want to tweak your look so it doesn’t scare the neighbours? A slightly less skinhead variation on the induction, the burr involves cutting the hair the same length on the back sides and top with clippers set on a #1, #2 or #3 guard.
A buzz cut is a great get-up-and-go hairstyle, but that also means losing the ability to switch up your look for different occasions. For a cut with more styling potential, opt for a ‘Butch’ style, which is longer than a burr, but still short. It’s done using clippers set on a #4 guard.
Strong-lined and striking, the flat top is as close to an artistic sculpture as men’s hairstyles get. “It’s a high fade haircut where the hair on the top is clippered in a way that produces a flat surface when product like a gel or pomade is added,” says Gore.
High & Tight
Like an undercut, but with less hair on top, a high and tight cut is achieved by clippering the back and sides of the head using a #1 or #2 guard, and using a guard two sizes up on top to create contrast.
How To Get A Buzz Cut At Home
Start by ensuring your hair is both clean and bone-dry. Wet hairs stick together, not only making it difficult to track your progress, but also causing the clippers to clog up. Then, try grabbing some. “If you’re able to grab your hair with your hand, then it’s best to cut the bulk down first,” says Gore. So if you’re rocking hair that’s over an inch or so long, start with a #4 all over and then move down to your desired length; hair longer than that should be trimmed with scissors first. When you’re ready to shave, start at the top of your head and – using straight, front-to-back motions. Gradually work your way through your hair, taking care to go over the same area several times until it looks uniform. Once you’re happy with the overall length, go one down on your guards and carefully clipper the edges of the neck and around the ears (a handheld mirror comes in handy here) to help streamline your style.
How To Style A Buzz Cut
The beauty of a buzz cut is you don’t really need to worry about styling it. Simply give it a rub with a towel once you’re out of the shower and you’re good to go. That said, some products can help keep your buzz looking its very best. “All you need is a little product like a light pomade or even a splash of coconut oil to keep your scalp healthy and smelling sweet,” says Gore.