Buzz Cut Maintenance

Young man before and after a buzz cut
Photo: Vikafoto33/Shutterstock
Q: My girlfriend would like me to get a buzz cut. Our only concern is the maintenance of the cut. How often do you think I’ll need to go the barber for maintenance cuts? I have an electric beard trimmer. Could we use this for re-shaves and save on barber visits?
A: Well, the only trouble with a buzz cut is that the hair is usually so short that it requires more-frequent maintenance to keep the hair at the desired length. Depending on how short you go with the cut, keeping the hair at that length could take “maintenance” as often as once or twice a week.
For instance, if you go with a “0” length cut, which is clipper-cut with no cutting guard. The hair is cut to approximately 1/16th of an inch (if the bare clipper blade has an adjusting lever, you may get a range from 1/100th inches to 1/16th).
Since the average person’s hair grows at a rate of ½-inch per month, the hair would grow approximately 1/8th of an inch each week. This is double the length to which a “0” cut leaves the hair. To keep the hair at a near-constant 1/16th inches, you would want to re-cut the hair every 3 to 4 days. This assumes cutting the hair by the point at which it doubles in length.
Going with a #1 guard (1/8th inches), you would need to cut the hair at least every week to maintain the length, using the “doubles in length” rule. Even when you go with a “longer” buzz cut style (#4, or ½-inch, cut), you will probably want to get a maintenance haircut every two to three weeks. While the cost of a clipper cut service is generally cheaper than a typical salon cut, the frequency with which the hair must be cut to keep the style looking optimal can certainly add up.
You can certainly use a trimmer to touch-up your buzz cut, as long as you have the attachments necessary to get the lengths you need. You may find difficulty in self-maintenance if your cut is of a particular type (i.e., flattop, high & tight, etc.) or if there is a dramatic difference in the lengths in different areas of the head.
On the plus side, even a flat-top cut could be granted a longer break between barber visits if you are able to keep the sides cut shorter at home. Just remember that the longer the hair, the less noticeable a few weeks’ growth will appear.
See also:
Men's hairstyles
Clipper cutting techniques
How to shave your head
Hair lengths according to the clipper guard numbers