What do the numbers on hair clipper guards mean?

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

If you have ever sat down in a barber or hairstyling chair and been asked, "What number?" you might have been a little confused. The number refers to the guard that is used on the clipper that the barber or stylist uses to cut hair.

Some popular hairstyles for men, including the fade or high and tight require the use of a clipper and it is useful to know what the number means when asking for a clipper cut.


Zero is not using a guard attachment on the clipper at all. It leaves stubble equivalent to a day or two of beard growth. It is often used for cutting around the edges of the hairline, and then longer clipper guards are used to blend the hair until it has more length towards the top of the head.

Numbers one and two

A number one clipper attachment leaves hair an 0.3 cm long in the clipped area. Generally the scalp is clearly visible when using a number one clipper guard. It is also often used to blend to a longer length at the top. The number two clipper is used to leave hair 0.6 cm inch long. Usually, unless the hair is unusually thick, there will be some scalp exposure with the number two clipper guard.

Numbers three and four

The number three clipper guard leaves hair 1 cm long. Depending on the thickness of the hair, some scalp might be visible with a number three clipper guard. The number four clipper guard leaves hair 1.2 cm inch long and is one of the most popular clipper guards. It gives the appearance of the hair being clean cut, and the scalp cannot usually be seen at this length.

Numbers five and six

The number five clipper guard is 1.5 cm long, and is generally indistinguishable from the number four visually. It is not generally included in clipper kits, and is often purchased separately.The number six guard for the haircutting clipper leaves hair 2 cm long. It is sometimes used on the top, and is often used to blend shorter to longer clipper lengths from the side to the top.

Number eight

There is no number seven clipper guard, mysteriously enough, so that brings us to number eight. The number eight clipper guard is the longest available guard for haircutting clippers. It leaves the hair 2.5 cm long and is often used on the top, while a shorter clipper guard is used on the sides.