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Clipper Guards: What Do The Numbers Mean?

Clipper Guards What Do The Numbers Mean

It is amazing to me how many men come into our Salt Lake City barber shop and ask for haircuts by clipper guard numbers.  They will say they want a number two on the sides and maybe a number 6 on the top.  When I convert the measurements of these clipper guard numbers to actual lengths in inches, most men are not sure what I am talking about.

So I thought it might be appropriate to talk a little bit about how those clipper guard numbers convert into actual measurements in inches.  Most skilled traditional barbers do not use those clipper guards.  They usually have acquired the technical skills to cut freehand to the desired length requested by the customer.

Clipper guards are plastic attachments which snap on to barber clippers which prevent them from cutting shorter than a certain length.  For example, if a plastic clipper guard is rated at 1/2 inch, then in theory it should only cut hairs longer than 1/2 inch and leave hairs shorter than that length uncut.  For those who use them it is important to realize that they can pop off while cutting and cause some real damage to a haircut.  Clipper guards must be securely attached and managed so that this embarrassing moment doesn’t happen to you.

Clipper guards are usually looked at as crutches for newbies and those with less skills as a professional barber.   But due to the number of quick-clip salons which have sprung up in recent decades, the clipper guard numbers are referred to frequently.  Therefore, I am going to explain what each number converts to in the clipper guard numbering system.

When you purchase a set of barber clippers these days they often come with four cheap clipper attachments or guards.  If you insist on using clipper guards,  I would suggest buying an upgraded higher-quality set of eight attachments.  Andis makes several upgraded clipper guard sets which can be purchased at a beauty supply shop.

The following list shows the lengths of a typical set of eight clipper guards:

GUARD # ZERO   ————  1/16 INCH                 GUARD # FIVE    ————–  5/8  INCH

GUARD # ONE     ————  1/8  INCH                  GUARD # SIX     —————  3/4  INCH

GUARD # TWO     ————  1/4  INCH                 GUARD # SEVEN ————-   7/8  INCH

GUARD # THREE ————  3/8  INCH                  GUARD # EIGHT  ————   1.0  INCH

GUARD # FOUR   ————  1/2  INCH

So if you want to impress your barber the next time you go into the shop, tell him you want your hair cut to about 1/4″ on the sides blended up to about one inch on top.  If you have been using clipper guards and telling him a #2 on the sides and a #8 on the top, this will be a pleasant surprise and should cause a big smile on his face.  I know it would make me smile and I would know that you have been doing your homework!

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