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What Are They
Are you thinking of cutting your hair at home? You should get a good quality electric hair clipper if you are. With a clipper around, cutting your hair will be so much easier. In that case, the first thing you need to learn is the size of the guards that come with the clippers.
Your hair clipper comes with a set of guards – each with a number stamped. The numbers usually range from #1 to #8. Some brands even have the corresponding hair thickness beside the number. These guards go over the clipper’s blades and serve as a guide to control how much hair is removed.
The size of the hair clipper guide is the number stamped on it. Although you usually get 8 guides, other hair clipper brands can go up to #12. Each number corresponds to a specific length of hair they will leave behind.
Most hair clipper brands use the same guide numbering system, so you can be sure your barber will already know what you want if you ask for a #2 haircut.
Types of Guards
This is not a hair clipper guide that comes standard with every hair clipper set. You will need to order these guards separately. These guards are designed for tapering around the ears. This will automatically crop closer to the ear and tapers outward. Because of how they are designed, you will need a different guard for your head’s left and right sides.
The usual clipper guards have tabs on the sides that clip over the blade. Meanwhile, magnetic guards use strong small magnets to attach to the blade. They attach a lot more securely compared to clip-ons, plus they have a higher level of durability. Use these guards with the best cordless hair clippers to make cutting your hair more manageable.
The color-coded guards are just regular hair clipper guards. However, aside from the numbers, they also come in different colors to make them easier to tell apart. Most professional barbers use these guards as they are less likely to use the wrong one if they memorize the color codes.
The general rule followed by clipper guard numbers is that the larger the number, the more distance it allows between the blades and your scalp. In other words, the bigger the number, the longer the hair clippers for fades leave behind.
So, when you ask your barber for a #1 haircut, you want the hair on top to be only 1/8-inch long. To help you get familiarized with the usage of Oster clippers and the guides that come with them, here is a quick guide.
- #1 Guard – 1/8”
- #2 Guard – ¼”
- #3 Guard– 3/8”
- #4 Guard – ½”
- #5 Guard – 5/8”
- #6 Guard – ¾”
- #7 Guard – 7/8”
- #8 Guard – 1”
If you can no longer afford bi-monthly haircuts since the amount barbers charge per haircut has recently increased, you can give yourself a haircut using regular hair clippers. Let’s discuss the kinds of haircuts that you can get with each clipper guard so you can choose which one to go with first.
As the name suggests, the Number 0 haircut uses the clippers without any guard. When you request this haircut, you get a concise buzz cut. This is also called a bald fade if the barber uses the blade adjustment. Essentially, it will be like shaving your head but living a bit of stubble.
The Number 1 uses the #1 guard, so you will leave the top 1/8-inch thick and sometimes the sides as well. However, most men prefer getting a razor fade when getting a Number 1 haircut. The sides and back are lightly blended with the top.
A Number 2 haircut will leave you with hair on top about ¼-inch thick. This is the usual thickness of crew cuts. Even though military service members traditionally use this haircut, crew cuts never go out of style, even with civilians. If you are feeling quite insecure with your thinning hair, it is time for you to embrace it and get yourself a Number 2 haircut.
The Number 2 haircut leaves the hair short but thick enough to cover the scalp. This haircut also looks great with the sides tapered or faded.
The Number 3 haircut leaves the hair on top around 3/8-inch thick. This is the longest guard that most barbers use for fade haircuts. Although the #2 and the #3 guards are almost identical in thickness (you cannot notice a 1/8” difference), it makes it easier to fade. This is excellent for people who opt for buzz cuts but still want it a bit long so it can grow out quicker.
This haircut will leave you with hair that is ¼-inch long. This is the ideal length if you want a clean and conservative haircut. It could be short enough to look respectable but not relatively as short as a crew cut.
The Number 5 leaves you with hair that is 5/8-inch long. This is long enough that you can comb and style it differently. With hair this long, you should pair it with tapered sides. This is one of the go-to haircuts for most men as it provides many styling options.
Number 6 is almost identical to Number 5. This is a bit longer, so you can still use the same styles.
The Number 7 haircut is almost an inch long at 7/8-inch in length. This means you will get even more styling options. If you like short sides, you can get an undercut haircut with a high fade.
The Number 8 is the longest cut you can get with the regular guards that come with your hair clippers. You will be getting hair that is an inch long, thereby giving you plenty of options. You can use the number 8 guard to trim the top. On the other hand, the smaller guards should taper the sides. This haircut is typically the base for most short-sides long top haircuts.
How to Find the Right One
When choosing the guard size, you must first identify the length you want the hair on top. Once you decide on the length on top, select the size of the guards to use for the sides. Ideally, use a guard two sizes below what you used on top. This will give you a somewhat conservative haircut that will be easy to style.
What do numbers mean for haircuts?
When you tell your barber that you want a Number 2 Haircut, the hair on top of your head will be cut using a #2 guard on the hair clippers. It also indicates that the hair will be around ¼-inch long. You can see it is often used for crew cuts and buzz cuts.
Can buzz cuts be done with different guard sizes?
Yes, you can use different guard sizes. For instance, you can use a #2 guard for the top. You can do a high fade on the sides using a #0 guard. It is also possible for you to get premium balding clippers so that you can make impressive razor fades.
What is the biggest clipper guard size?
In most standard hair clipper sets, the biggest guard size is a #8, which usually leaves 1-inch-long hair. However, there are also clipper guards for those with long hair. They can go up to #12, which leaves 1-1/2 inches.
What guard size is best for doing fades?
Fade haircuts usually start with a #2 clipper guard. It would then gradually decrease to #0 or a shave.
How can I cut my hair with clippers alone?
Start with the thickest clipper guard that you want to use. This will be the length of hair on top of your head. Use this length to trim all the hair on your head. After that, use a two sizes smaller guard to trim the sides of your head. One of the grooming mistakes to stay away from is not trimming the sides unless, of course, you want an afro.
Hair clippers have truly revolutionized haircuts these days. Professional barbers no longer have to use scissors to cut hair to the same length painstakingly. These days, you can even use them to give yourself a respectable-looking haircut in just minutes using good quality clippers for at-home use.
However, you do need to familiarize yourself with your equipment, namely the guards that came with your hair clippers. Once you know how they work, you can style your hair in whatever way you like.