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What is a Buzz Cut?

Haven Esme
Haven Esme

The buzz cut was named after the sound an electric razor makes when it is shearing the hair off the scalp. This cut goes by many names. For example, in Australia it is called a crew cut. In America, buzz cuts are sometimes called wiffle cuts.

Buzz cuts vary in length and can be as long as a quarter of an inch (0.625 cm) or as short as stubble that is barely seen. When the cut is performed on the hair, the stylist must first remove the guard from the electric clippers. This allows the razor to have closer contact with the scalp and shear the hair more efficiently. An experienced stylist should be able to create a buzz cut in a matter of minutes. A good cut requires a high quality razor and steady hands.

A buzz cut may bring less attention to hair loss or balding.
A buzz cut may bring less attention to hair loss or balding.

Many people prefer a buzz cut because the haircut is extremely low maintenance. If the cut is particularly short, individuals may be able to save money by cutting their hair in the comfort of their homes. Buzz cuts require less shampoo and styling is not required. The hair style brings less attention to hair loss and can make the face look more defined.

This style looks tidy and clean, which is why the buzz cut was adopted by the United States military. The military version of the buzz cut is called the “high and tight” and is commonly worn by men in the Marine Corps and Army. Military members employ the haircut due to its functionality and the authoritative appearance it gives.

The music industry has also highlighted the buzz cut over the years. During the 1970s, the buzz cut became popular when British punk rockers begin to wear the hair style. Later, during the late 1980s, the hairstyle was adopted by the African-American community, and the style became popular in hip hop culture. During this time, the hairstyle was often accompanied by a variety of hair accessories such as bandanas or baseball caps.

The buzz cut has also had political implications. During the mid 1960s, hair was readily identified with political opinions. Buzz cuts were generally seen as the mark of someone with conservative political views while long hair was attributed to liberals.

Discussion Comments


I remember when buzz cut styles were very popular in my hometown. Some kids could still get their hair cut in other styles, but most of us got the standard buzz hair cut from the same barber just before school started. I actually talked my dad into letting me get a less severe crew cut when I was 14, but until then the only decision I could make was a block or tapered buzz cut.

The block cut meant the barber shaved a straight line in the back of my head, and a tapered cut meant he would fade the back into my neckline. I really didn't care what he did, because I was going to look like a dork either way.


I was forced to get a buzz cut every summer when I was a kid, and I swore I'd never get one again as long as I live. My dad was more concerned about getting his money's worth out of our haircuts than how we felt about having buzz cut hair. I could usually let it grow out during the winter and spring months, but in June there would be another forced buzz cut.

There are times when I wish I had a buzz cut style I could live with, since it is so much easier to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about brushing my hair. But I don't like the overall impression a buzz hair cut creates. I'm not a conservative, and I'm not pro-military. I will cut my hair fairly short sometimes, but never "high and tight".

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    • A buzz cut may bring less attention to hair loss or balding.
      By: maska82
      A buzz cut may bring less attention to hair loss or balding.