About Buzz Cuts

Updated March 23, 2017

A buzz cut, sometimes also called a wiffle cut or a crew cut, is a hairstyle named after the sound of an electric razor, the essential tool used to create it. A buzz cut can have hair as long as a quarter of an inch and as short as mere stubble, achieved by removing the guard from the electric clippers. Buzz cuts can be had in a matter of moments if the stylist is experienced, the hands are steady and the clippers are decent quality.


At one time considered mostly a cut for people in the military, the buzz cut has evolved to become the style of choice for men and women from various walks of life. British punk rockers sported extreme buzz cuts in the 1970s, inspiring the name skinhead. In the 1990s, buzz cuts became popular among hip hop artists and fans, typically accessorised with a baseball cap, do-rag or bandanna.


Types of buzz cuts basically correlate with the setting in which the hair cutter sets the electric clippers. Buzz cuts can be measured by grades, starting with the shortest, 0, done with a bare blade. The remaining six grades are #0.9 (2.7 millimetres), #1 (3 millimetres), #2 (6 millimetres), #3 (9 millimetres), #4 (12 millimetres), #5 (15 millimetres) and #6 (19 millimetres). Some buzz cuts maintain fringe, which can then be spiked or styled with gel. Other buzz cuts maintain sideburns.


Buzz cuts are the perfect style for various lifestyles. They are a no-fuss, on-the-go style. They look tidy and dry quickly after washing. People with buzz cuts keep cool in summer and can wear knit caps without getting hat hair in the winter. Many African-American people wear buzz cuts because their hair typically stays closer to the head rather than sticking out. Buzz cuts are good for people who spend a lot of time outside and for athletes. They can brighten the eyes, define the face and make the jaw look wider. A buzz cut is a cheap style to get and costs little to wash, style and maintain.


Some people assume all buzz cuts look like a shaved head with a little stubble growing in. Military and athletic buzz cuts tend to have this look, because the people wearing them also wear helmets. For others, though, a buzz cut can have enough length to be brushed forward, gelled and styled. Longer buzz cuts do have the misfortune of growing out more quickly, requiring more trims to maintain their shape.


Before booking an appointment for a buzz cut or begging a friend to clip your hair, take into consideration the fact that your skull's structure is about to be on public view. Singer Grace Jones is a prime example of someone who knew how to rock a buzz cut, with her elegant neck and scalp at an advantage for such a style. That said, if your hair is thinning and the scalp is going to show anyway, a buzz cut can be a great option, looking neat and trendy while bringing less attention to hair loss.

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About the Author

Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.