What do you typically associate with a buzz cut? I'm talking imagery here. What comes to mind? For us, it's the military men and Zayn Malik when he shaved his head (RIP to the long top quiff, we'll miss you!), the incredible Slick Woods, and honestly ... that's it. It's not much, but that's because we've yet to show you what a buzz cut really means.
Confused? Hang on, allow us to explain. As it turns out, a buzz cut is more than a singular close-cropped 'do, and it extends way past the standard military look. In fact, some really rocking celebs have stepped out with majorly inspiring buzz-cuts—or variations of the look. And honestly? We're coveting their confident and edgy styles enough to book a trip to the salon ourselves.
"Buzz cuts are making a comeback for 2020, absolutely," says Savannah St. Jean, a beauty expert and the owner of Savannah Rae Beauty. "We are seeing an influx of buzz cuts for both men and women, in the salon and in Hollywood (think everyone from Brad Pitt and Kristen Stewart to Cara Delevingne and Kate Hudson)." We spoke to St. Jean and fellow hairstylist Stephen Marinaro of TheSalonGuy, for their tips on buzz cuts.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the buzz cut and see our top celeb inspirations when it comes to this short style.
Meet the Expert
• Savannah St. Jean is a a beauty expert and the owner of Savannah Rae Beauty in Miramar Beach, Florida.
• Stephen Marinaro is an experienced hairstylist and media personality with over 20 years in the beauty industry.
The Classic Buzzcut
A buzz cut can be almost any length between a close clipper shave, like here on Michael B. Jordan, to one inch off the head. Most people tend to lump all forms of short, all-over clipper cuts into the buzz cut category, but there are some distinct differences between each type of haircut.
"The beauty of buzz cuts is there are so many ways to customize this cut and make it unique to you," says St. Jean. For a classic buzz cut, the hair is clipped all over the head—when properly done, there should be a bit of a taper on the sides and back.
This is the shortest variation of the buzz cut, and it's probably the easiest to perform at home if you prefer DIY over visiting a stylist. It's also a great cut for those of us who are confident enough to go without the security blanket of longer hair, like Slick Woods. "Short hair evokes power and confidence, and who doesn’t need more of that?" says St. Jean.
The burr is basically a one-length clipper head shave in which the hair is cut uniformly close all over the head using no guard (or a number 1 guard) on the clipper. As with most buzz-cut variations, it looks great tapered down to nothing at the nape of the neck. This haircut is also a great option for those losing their hair, as the shortness will help hide bald spots. If you spend a great deal of time outside, sunscreen (or a hat) is a must with a burr.
The Number 1 With a Fade
As seen on singer Zayn Malik, this cut goes all the way to the skin, but with a fade cut on the sides and shorter, trimmed hair on top. "Sometimes, if the buzzed length is still too long, it may look like it’s grown out from day one, or you will be back in a week to get it shorter," says Marinaro. "You also don’t want to go too short unless you can pair up the look with a new clothing style or it already suits you."
A Bleached Buzz
Everyone from David Beckham to Kanye West has rocked a bleached buzz cut with ease. It's a look with major personality, but it does require more maintenance, as the roots begin to show within weeks. You'll need to make regular appointments with your stylist to ensure hair stays trimmed and well-bleached.
You'll need touchups every two-to-three weeks to maintain the bleached buzz style.
The Crew Cut
One of team Byrdie's favorite haircuts, the crew cut (the Ivy League's shorter cousin), is clipper-cut short all over the head, with a distinct taper on the sides and back. On top, the crown is cut shorter than the bangs, with a smooth transition from short to slightly longer between the two areas. This cut can be worn dry, as shown, or styled with a bit of gel or pomade so that the front stands up a bit. Because of the variance in lengths, this is not a haircut you should try at home. Maintain the style with a trip to the barber about once every two weeks.
Buzz With Cutouts
As seen on Lena Waithe, this style is artistic and involves a gradual fade and cut-outs for interest. Leaving the cut-outs on one side only allows for more of an avant-garde look. For maintenance, you can either grow the style out into more of a classic buzz or continue getting trims every few weeks to maintain the cut-outs.
The brush cut (which resembles a rounded flattop, as seen here on Chris Evans) is essentially a crew cut with a slightly flat shape on top. For the brush cut, the hair is styled straight up on top, so the hair resembles a brush's bristles. This is a better buzz cut option for people with rounder faces, as the square shape provides a balance against a round face.
The Buzzed Pixie
As seen on actress Jodie Turner-Smith, the buzzed pixie is a shorter version of the classic pixie we've come to see on a host of celebrities. "We are seeing some short all-over buzz cuts all the way up to some really edgy, shattered pixie cuts coming back in 2020," says St. Jean.
The Mohawk Buzz
For those who want to inject a bit more personality into their everyday 'do, á la actress Marija Abney, there's always the option to add a bit of punk rock flair. For a mohawk buzz, ask your stylist to shave the sides all the way to the skin, leaving a wider strip of buzzed hair in the center.
The High and Tight
While the buzz cut is certainly low maintenance, many prefer to have a little more style. "In that case, you can opt for a high and tight, which is a cut with very short sides and back and length left on the top to play with," says St. Jean. "The beauty of this cut is that you have the shortness on the back and sides, just like a buzz cut, but you are left with a longer top to style." As John Cena shows, the look is put-together and stylish.
The Clean-Lined Buzz
Arguably the most artful of the buzzed cuts, the clean-lined buzz allows the barber to get a bit more creative, playing with dimensions and shapes on the head. This angular look usually sees a bold front style, with longer sides, as seen here on Drake.
The Parted Buzz
Similar to a high and tight, this buzzed style (seen here on Tom Hardy) allows for a part in the hair—either soft or hard. "A soft part is where you would part your hair and it leaves a disconnect between the short side and your hair on top," says St. Jean. "A hard part is where the part is cut right down to the scalp in order to accentuate the hard line."
The Number 3
The best way to ask for a buzzed style is to request the style by number. "Ask for the guard number you want as your haircut," Marinaro says. "For example, a number 3 guard all over." This will ensure hair is cut down to 3/8 of an inch, similar to what is pictured on actor Dave Franco.
Like the burr, the butch haircut is basically a one-length all over clipper style, pictured here on actor Asia Kate Dillon. Like most buzz cuts, it's a "simple, clean, masculine and powerful style," says Marinaro. For this haircut, the hair is buzzed to a uniform length all over using a number 2 clipper blade (PSA: learn more about the blade types here). Again, this is a fairly easy haircut to do at home.
With this length, you have to make sure the hair is tapered down neatly in the back, both to prevent it from looking like a home job and because you want it to grow out neatly. This cut works well for athletes, construction workers, or any very active lifestyle or profession. The cut requires no styling and—unlike the burr—the little bit of length allows some cover from the sun, although you should still protect the scalp from the sun by using some sunscreen.
To maintain this look, simply re-buzz the head about once every week to ten days.
Also known as an induction cut, this is your standard, military-grade buzz (as seen on actor Stephan James). But you can add some flair, as seen here on James, who pairs his short cut with a shaved side part. As for how often you'll need to get touched up, Marinaro says buzz cuts do require a bit more effort. "Maintenance is key, as you can expect to get a buzz every two to three weeks, to maintain a fresh look," he says.
The Silver Buzz
Actress Cynthia Erivo's look—which veers more silver than gray and therefore doesn't age her in the slightest—is pure glamour. Because the hair is so short, invest in a hair primer with UV protectors, so both your color and your scalp stay safe.
Longer Crew Cut
Adding a bit more length to the top of a crew cut, and styling it off to one side, adds a slightly more casual look. Ask your stylist to keep the length less than two inches on the top and tapered for styling purposes. The cut seen here on Matt Damon is mature and stylish (and, better yet, requires little maintenance).
The Widow's Peak
With this cut, you can actually show off a receding hairline, à la actor Colin Farrell, by ensuring your widow's peak remains prominent. For this look, hair is shorn close to the head, so expect to visit the stylist every few weeks—or take on the job yourself. "You can invest in a pair of clippers and do it anytime you wish at home, which may not be as precise as a professional, but you just may eventually become your own barber or stylist," says Marinaro.
The Nearly Shaved
Here, producer Sidra Smith proves that a nearly shaved buzz can be sophisticated and feminine. Even better, it requires no styling at all (though you will have to get touch-ups every two weeks to maintain the length). Also important is to invest in sunscreen, as your scalp won't be protected from the elements.
The Longer Buzz
When Kate Hudson shaved off her long blonde locks, she created waves. But it growing it out, she settled on a new style: not quite a pixie but longer than a classic buzz. The look allows her to show off her features and looks as great with an evening gown as it does with jeans and a tee.