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On The Sides Haircuts (0,1,2,3,4…8): A Complete Guide

Mostly the smarter of the grooming enthusiasts end up looking for ‘On The Sides’ haircuts because this is a very recent concept that’s made public knowledge.

Basically, it’s better to call it a # on the sides haircut because the # would be replaced by different numbers that are known to the professionals.

There exists a clear cut connection between your hair clipper’s number and the side haircut numbers which I’ll shed light on later on in this article.

On top of that, for each of the numbered sides, I’ll be giving you some haircut ideas that are currently trending among stylish men.

Lastly, I’ll make sure that your knowledge is refined on the matter by discussing the differences between the side numbers and the ways each demands distinct treatments as well as procedures.

What’s An ‘On The Sides’ Haircut?

On The Sides Haircuts Meaning

‘On The Sides’ haircut doesn’t actually give you the full picture because it refers to a particular number from the electric hair clipping dictionary.

There are 9 numbered gradients presented before you to choose from, #0 being the shortest while #8 is the longest among them.

If you focus on the phrase however, you can realize that this seamless cutting application should take place only on the sides and sometimes on the back as well.

Because once you extend the same length over to your crown, it ends up becoming a numbered haircut and not a numbered sides haircut.

So make sure you understand these differences between settling for one of the many available hairdos in this category.

‘On The Sides’: The Size Guide Table

Let’s take a look at this scientific guide that’ll tell you exactly how long your side hair will stand tall with each haircut. The lengths are provided both in inches and millimeters, with the preferred clipper guard size that’ll aid you in achieving your particular numbered cut!

# On The Sides Side Hair Length (mm) Side Hair Length (inches) Clipper Guard Size
0 on the sides 1.6mm 1/16” #0
1 on the sides 3mm 1/8″ #1
2 on the sides 6mm 1/4″ #2
3 on the sides 9.5mm 3/8″ #3
4 on the sides 13mm 1/2″ #4
5 on the sides 16mm 5/8″ #5
6 on the sides 19mm 3/4″ #6
7 on the sides 22mm 7/8″ #7
8 on the sides 25mm 1” #8

So you see, it’s very easy to get these ‘on the sides’ hairstyles done if you understand this table at full extent. Also, you’ll know exactly what to expect upon receiving the cut of your choice.

‘# On The Side’ Haircut Concepts

I’ll be exploring each of the numbered sides categories and provide you with ideas that you can try out from each gradient of length!

0 On The Sides

#0 is among the lowest of the hair clipper sizes. This is usually achieved by removing the comb guard and going raw with the blades. While it can generate the closest trim you could ever achieve with an electric shaver, this has its own risks as well. Because going so close to the scalp without any intervention has the risk of accidental cuts and nicks.

The risky factor aside, 0 on the side paves way for some of the most captivating haircuts! It’s low in maintenance and generates a high impact among every onlooker. Your head’s sides will render a bald-like texture without going that extent. Let’s give you a few ideas on how you can make the #0 on the sides work!

With A Buzz Cut

With A Buzz Cut

Buzz cuts are often the go to companion for a 0 on the side. You won’t always have to drag the zero length till your hair line, rather it can create a gradient from the middle part of the temple. Top hair needs to be chopped down though, but not so close as you’d get with a zero blade. It’s a prime choice for fashionable men who want to show off their face shape.

Wavy Umbrella & Shaved Line

Wavy Umbrella and Shaved Line

Who says #0 sided haircuts can only be styled with shorter hair? This wavy & medium hairdo is a prime example that almost any length of top hair can be accommodated by this unique number. You can enhance the hairline by dipping your clipper’s zero blade so that a shave line surfaces. Hang the waves over your forehead like an umbrella to complete the look.

On A Military Cut

On A Military Cut

Back again at the shorter styles that uphold a 0 on the side. It’s a modern adaptation of those classic, minimal military cuts. Zero hair surrounding your head cleans out the lower half of your head perfectly. When you place a hair body slightly longer than the buzz, it’ll always carry some styling potential. Why not spike up the frontal hair for a change?

Faux Hawk Concept

Faux Hawk Concept

Let’s get radical for a change because this haircut will most certainly blow up your mind! Don’t confine your 0 sides till the hairline, rather push it half an inch further to isolate the hair body. With the remaining medium length hair, apply some gel on the strands. Then use your fingers to merge everything down the middle to create a faux hawk spike!

Crew Cut Variant

Crew Cut Variant


I’m sure you were wondering when I was going to drop the crew cut bomb as soon as I mentioned premium short haircuts. Well, here’s your chance to keep things short yet not too short to seem like you have nothing on your scalp. Similar side region will build up the platform for the crew’s hair body to stand as a short updo.

1 On The Sides

Now it’s time for you to bring out the stash of your comb guards and snap in the #1 guard! If you’ve got a good clipper or trimmer, it’s possible that the setting can be adjusted without any guard swapping. Once you’re set at your desired length, it’s time for you to do some fancy bladeworks. But this time, there will exist a minimal gap between your scalp and blades.

As opposed to zero cuts, 1 on the sides usually promote slightly longer hair concepts. But it doesn’t mean you have to refrain from adapting a few tricks. Like, deviating from the original buzz cut idea to fuse it with a #1. Otherwise, I’ll be showing you a few authentic haircuts that are usually sketched out using this length.

Loose Brushed Back

Loose Brushed Back

You might not believe that this professional grade, fashion model level haircut has been made possible with the help of a 1 on the sides. If you look closely, you’ll find the lower ridge of the temple exposing your scalp with a couple millimeters long strands. As per the top hair, brush them back loosely so that a seamless flow flaunts those beautiful layers!

Short Frontal Updo

Short Frontal Updo

Although this haircut in particular may resemble a quiff style, the aesthetics don’t fully comply with the frontal pushed up concept. Rather, the updo is shorter and less aggressive than of a quiff with rest of the crown hair flowing toward the front to highlight that section. A #1 cut till halfway up the sides creates a nice textured effect and separates the stubble from the rest of the hair.

Soft Side Part

Soft Side Part

Some of the less sharp hairstyles are possible to be composed holding hands of the #1 guard all around. Drop the height around the nape to add more character to this haircut. While trimming the sides, stop long before you reach the hairline because you’ll need some volume there for the partition. Guide your comb to distribute hair in opposite directions for a soft part style!

Thick Top & Mustache

Thick Top and Mustache

This concept resembles the loose brush but it’s more focal toward the individuals with wavy hair. I’m mentioning this because firstly, wavy haired men can borrow this idea for an easygoing yet impactful haircut. And secondly, you’ll realize the 1 on the side’s existence under a better light. As wavy hair beside the ears can disrupt your daily activities, cutting them short at this length sets you free from these troubles.

For Afro Hair

For Afro Hair

I believe the ‘on the sides’ haircuts, no matter which size you pick, are a grand choice for afro haired men. Because it cleans out the temple region up to the nape, giving you a less volume of tight curls to deal with everyday. If you’re not someone who has the patience to grow out your hair and settle for a protective style, these haircuts will make your life significantly easier.

Limited Mohawk

Limited Mohawk

While regular mohawks consume a thin patch of hair starting from the front to the very end of the nape line, this limited variant however only plays around with the crown portion. You’ll need to remove a hefty amount of hair using the #1 guard at the height of your hairline. Once finished, you’ll realize the true potential of a masterclass 1 on the side haircut that renders you dashing!

2 On The Sides

This length on the sides contains much more functionality than just being a haircut enhancer. Rather, it can be useful for men who have balding patches or receding hairlines. The size that this trim keeps is ideal to merge with hair bodies as such and makes it look natural & sharp. I often advise my clients that 2 on the sides should be tried out more as it’s one of the most underrated lengths.

The hair length on the sides remains at 6mm, so you can tell that it’s not too short. I mean, your upkeep duties would still be minimal yet your scalp won’t be fully apparent. This is also a handy choice for people who have little time to treat their hair regularly but are prone to sunburns. Because this thin patch will keep your scalp protected from the sun rays.

For Receding Hairline

For Receding Hairline

As I mentioned, individuals with receding hairline will find their benefit if they choose to go at this length with their surrounding hair. Even a beard of the same size helps you to enhance the look. Sharpen up the edges and even at the front so that it looks like this is a planned hairstyle, and not something you were forced upon. You’ll find your confidence coming back to you in due time!

Side Swept With Beard

Side Swept With Beard

Side swept looks are often composed with longer hair overall, but what if the sides were shortened with a #2 comb? It would only look better as the top design would be isolated from the hair body to draw focus toward itself. Ones with wavy hair can most certainly consider this cut. Growing a beard will most certainly up the edge of this makeover by a few notches!

Slicked Back & Stubble

Slick Back and Stubble

It’s for those who are losing hair growth at the corners of your forehead. This cut mimics the ones of the Mafia dons from back in the days. Slicked back hair fastened with hair cream is how you should proceed with this look. The sides will receive the same treatment as usual. You are free to add a stubble to the mix, because either way it’s a fitting look for office or other formal spaces.

A Wavy Mullet

A Wavy Mullet

The concept I’m about to show you might leave you wondering how amazing this 2 on the sides technique is! It’s true that this length is highly versatile and it even accommodates the likes of a short mullet style. For this to work, everything all the way around must be trimmed down to the quarter inch length. Then a longer patch of hair will tightly move up and flow back before ending at the nape.

Top Slicked Patch

Top Slicked Patch

You can call it an adaptation of the mullet style I just showed you but this one is more sleek and tighter. The top hair patch needs to be drenched in hair cream to radiate that shiny texture. Brush tightly so that the hair remains hugged to the scalp without straying anywhere. If you manage to grow a beard and bleach it slightly, it’ll push your look through the roof!

3 On The Sides

It’s a length for the sides that allow you to remain minimal with your haircut and avoid attention from the surrounding people. This isn’t too short to show scalp but not too long to let stray hair get inside your ears. Most of the cuts from this gradient endorse a seamless length till the hairline while some of them deviate to try out something new.

Temple hair is left at almost 10 millimeters length so this is the point where you can start to grab your strands. It means, the roots need to be shampooed & oiled with the hair demanding slight conditioning. However, avoiding these won’t harm your hair, but you’ll have to keep refining the length every week or two.

Modish Short Layers

Modish Short Layers

Do you remember all those college football players who used to wear some of the most captivating looks that others would just die for? Here’s your chance to replicate that idea onto yourself with this layered hairdo. Sides are going to be too short for layers, but the top will most certainly oblige. Congest most of the hair on your crown to look as handsome as ever!

One For The Old Men

One For The Old Men

Is your old grandpa looking for a new and easygoing haircut that doesn’t make him feel old? If yes, then it’s time for you to bring out your gadgets and give him a good makeover with a 3 on the sides cut. Attach the #3 comb guard and maintain the same pressure while clipping. As elderly men have sensitive skins, make sure your device specializes on their age to ensure comfort.

A Minimal Look

A Minimal Look

This one is such an eye soothing hairdo that you’ll give people solace just with your presence among them! Instead of going with #3 everywhere on the sides, contain it within just the temple part. The rest of your hair can endorse a seamless length from the crown till the nape. Thin out your beard to make it look minimal and complement your already suave hair design!

High And Tight

High and Tight

Ones who struggle with your low volume hair and don’t want to constantly use hair volumizing techniques, I got you covered. You’ll need to do some subtle adjustments to get this done right. You know what goes on the sides for this hairdo, so won’t linger over that now. Go for a side swept look on the top so that the crown hair starts from one line and ends on the other.

Smooth & Gray Mullet

Smooth and Gray Mullet

If you think that all these minimal and subtle cuts are quite boring, then let me spice things up for you! For starters, give a #3 treatment to the side hair. After that, bleach everything down and apply this premium gray tone with variable saturation. Smooth out the hair body and comb it back to mimic a mullet style. This is one of the most appealing Asian hair concepts of the year!

4 On The Sides

This is when things start to get interesting as the #4 stands at the middle point of these lengths. It’s an invisible threshold that separates the longer sides from the shorter ones. And this length itself is placed within a unique position that gives you the best of both worlds. That’s why this gradient holds the most authentic haircuts on the list!

If you think about it, half an inch of hair is long enough to leave even on the crown, let alone the temple. The length variance will start to feel less contrastive from this point onward. I’d ask you to explore more fusions with this 4 on the sides because it has the tendency to generate some unprecedented haircuts!

Mr. Crisp & Clean

Mr Crisp and Clean

The first cut of this length is a treat for men who prefer to look clean and composed at all times. It’s not demanding when it comes to the styling process. Everything depends on how you dry your hair and the orientation during air drying. To improve the quality of hair strands and make it last the day, you can seek refuge in good hair creams suitable to your hair type.

A Confined #4

A Confined Number 4

Although in hindsight it doesn’t look like there’s much of a #4 trimming job on the sides, but in reality this short length is hidden underneath longer locks. You’ll need to separate the top half from the bottom before giving it a #4 sized trim. Then, allow the crown hair to flow past the surrounding regions as an overspill which should make it look like the #4 has been confined.

Ivy League Hairdo

Ivy League Hairdo


Remember all those Ivy League haircuts that were very popular once? As the grooming industry keeps on reviving the older hairdos, this one has found the ticket to be brought back using a 4 on the sides haircut! Frontal hair is slightly bleached so that the length variance is reinforced with a tonal variance as well. A short and good looking cut always collects adoration from all!

Teenage Haircut

Teenage Haircut

Even your teenage kid can be brought under the banner with this #4 sides cut. And the best part is, you can be the one to treat him this way without having to rush to the professionals! It’s very easy to do on the sides since the right clippers suffice to get it done perfectly. Make sure to blur the length variance from side to top so that your kid can keep some sizable hair there.

A Messy Combover

A Messy Combover

Usual cases of combover styles see the frontal hair flicked upward looking like an updo style. But if you’re someone who thinks absolute concepts to be restrictive, feel free to mess things up on your scalp. You can’t follow this principle everywhere because the sides will still be quite short. With some nifty comb work, the combover will reside on the latter half of your scalp with fronts lying down.

5 On The Sides

Now we embark upon the longer variants of on the sides haircuts. Before buying a new clipper to get this length done perfectly, make sure that the package includes a #5 comb guard. Ones who usually like longer concepts within short variants, this length sits at the prime spot to satisfy your taste bud.

The rule of thumb for this 5 on the sides is that it usually keeps the front hair longer. Whether you want to create bangs or go for some spikes, I reckon this particular side length would be the perfect canvas to sketch that upon.

Flowy Frontal Hair

Flowy Frontal Hair

You can notice how 16 millimeters of side hair can drape over your skin and minimize the scalp’s visibility to the naked eye. As I mentioned, the top part of the hair hosts some fine textured hair that is flowing toward the sides. However, the frontal bit goes through some mousse application to curl it upward and maintain the shape for the longest time.

6 On The Sides

At this point, you’ll be able to show some textures on your hair as the sides will allow it to explore at full extent. Three-quarter inches of hair is to remain visible on the surrounding region. Some may encourage you to apply this length all over your head, I’d say there are better alternatives to choose from that flaunt much longer hair.

Textured Hairstyle

Textured Hairstyle

The haircut I’m about to show you is one of the finest instances of 6 on the sides haircut. Top portion of the hair is a couple inches longer than the sides. With such allocations, fashionable men used to spike everything up to resemble a rockstar look. However, the modern rendition is more toned down as the strands are kept toward gravitational pull and produce a fine textured hairdo.

7 On The Sides

If you were looking forward to going for a longer haircut created with only electric devices without a single touch from the scissors, it’s the starting mark. There are cuts like 7 on the sides with 8 on the top. Since there is a minor variance between the two lengths, you’ll notice some great results to form before your eyes. Otherwise, going with scissors for top remains as a valid option.

British Mod With Thick Bangs

British Mod With Thick Bangs

I hope you’re familiar with British mods who displayed some highly alluring haircuts during the 70s and 80s. Modern interpretations style these cuts with thick bangs that cover up almost the entirety of your forehead. 7 on the sides make sure that your surrounding area is free from stray hair. The fringes don’t demand sharp lining up, you can still do it regardless if you have a knack for it.

8 On The Sides

We’re on the verge of the shorter side haircut concepts with a #8 applications. Most standard clippers maintain this 1” length as their maximum capacity for trimming. This is the length that cannot be paired up with another numbered cut on the top because it would resemble something like a balding patch. Scissor work is of essence for this reason and that’s why it’s widely used only in barber shops.

Gliding Back & Thick Beard

Gliding Back and Thick Beard

Since your side hair is set to exist at 25 millimeters length, you’ll find it pleasing to finally be able to use some combs on the temple hair. Glide everything toward the back for this hairdo which includes the medium length top hair as well. Use hair setting creams to maintain the form and a thick beard could carry the momentum forward. Refine the 8 on the sides regularly to hold all of it together for the longest time.

# On The Sides & Their Basic Styling Principles

Let me tell you some of the basic techniques & principles you can follow to create some of the most authentic haircuts you could ever hope for!

# 0-4 On The Sides Can Hold # 5-8 On Top

If you didn’t know this already, then let me tell you: once you throw in a shorter variant of cuts on the sides, you can complement it with the longer haircut numbers on the top. This makes your styling procedure almost effortless.

Longer # On The Sides Often Require Scissor Works

We usually look forward to length variances, thus the top hair needs to be trimmed at a higher length than the sides. So, if you pick the longer numbers to cut your sides, there isn’t any clipper guard left to trim the top. Thus, it becomes essential to use scissors to get these done.

# 3-6 Demand The Least Maintenance Of All

While the shorter numbers on the sides need to be trimmed regularly to maintain the shape, longer ones grow out of proportions faster than the rest. That’s why the four numbers in between are placed at the least upkeep zone due to their unique side length.

Maintenance Differences Between The Numbers

Throughout this article you’ve noticed all the differences between these numbered cuts on the sides. However, there’s one area still left to be explored in terms of distinction, and that’s the maintenance protocols.

Maintaining # 0-4 Haircuts On Sides

As these cuts tend to expose your scalp on the sides to different extents, it’s important that you make sure you live in an area that isn’t prone to UV emanation. Otherwise, I strongly urge you to apply sunscreen before going outdoors.

And also, you’ll need to refine the lengths very frequently because the growth is more noticeable for the shorter sides.

Maintaining # 5-8 Haircuts On Sides

Upkeeping of these haircuts are very different from the shorter ones. Although the last two numbers on the sides need to be kept in check before growing too far out, for most cases the maintenance remains at cleaning and hydrating.

Because this length of sides have some sizable hair that holds dirt and builds residue at the roots. So make sure to shampoo regularly even all around and apply keratin treatments or oil therapies so that these extended hair remains healthy and lasts long.


I can tell that there are many questions still lingering in your mind. So I’ve taken it upon myself to answer some of the most common queries to reduce as much of your confusion as possible.

Q: Which ‘On The Sides’ haircut suits you?

A: It’s a difficult question to answer really. The rule of thumb is to go for shorter numbers on the side with the longer faces. As you gradually go up in length, your face shape can be more oval. You don’t always need to follow this though, but it’s the guiding principles that gives you haircuts suiting your face shape.

Q: How to ask your barber for a 1 on the sides haircut?

A: If your barber has grooming literacy, speaking it out once should suffice. However, not all of them might have the necessary information, so it’s better to show them a few clear pictures.

Q: Can an ‘On The Sides’ haircut be faded?

A: This question has been asked many times. While there’s no definite answer for this, modern stylists these days have faded on the sides haircuts according to the customer’s demands. So it’s safe to say that you are free to tie fades with numbered sides.

Q: Is the number 8 on the side haircut good for balding men?

A: For aggressive balding, I’d say #8 is an overshot and you should settle for much shorter sides like a #3 or #4. However, if it’s only receding hairline with the density intact, 8 on the sides can be a valid option for that.


I hope you haven’t become exhausted after consuming so much knowledge about ‘On The Sides’ haircuts and their consecutive maintenance information.

This is meant for those who are looking into new haircut ideas into this complex field and are aspiring to uncover the secrets of men’s grooming.

Now that you’re equipped with expertise, running the operation from your washroom using your instruments would be a piece of cake for you.

Gone are the days when you’d have to tell your barber the side hair number and hope for the best, because now you have the power to guide them according to your preference.

How amazing is it to reach the depths of modern hair styling!

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