What is a crew cut?
The classic crew cut is a masculine haircut once worn by American university rowing teams. Its main feature is short faded hair on the back and the sides, and longer length on top.
Its scholarly origin is the reason there are so many different names of this haircut that are named after universities (Ivy League, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Brown).
If you want very short hair, but don’t want it to be a basic buzzcut, then the crew cut hairstyles are the thing for you. This cut demands little care once it’s done. It’s perfect for those who don’t like to spend too much time styling your hair.
Who is this haircut for? This cut will work well for any head shape and all hair types, but it’s more recommendable for thicker hair.
How to do a crew cut
The standard crew cut is cut by buzzing the sides and back with a hair clipper and then fading the transition between the top and the sides. The haircut is pretty flexible, allowing you to cut a long crew cut or a short one.
If you’re not into cutting your own hair, can get it at the hairdresser’s the first time. It’s not too hard to touch it up at home after 2 weeks and make it hold its shape just a little longer. Maybe you’ll eventually feel more confident in your skills to completely do it yourself after touching it up a few times.
For this haircut it is even more important than with other buzz cuts that you look through some reference photos and try to imagine how you will cut your hair. Spend some time in front of the mirror, see your hair growing pattern, and try to visualise how you would cut it with clippers.
This haircut requires a great deal of crew cut fading, which is difficult but not impossible to do at home by yourself. You will need a comb, a pair of scissors and multiple guards and blades ready.
1. Buzz the sides and the back
To do a crew cut, you will need to cut sides and back to a short uniform length (#2 or #4). Ask a friend to help of simply use a second mirror to see what’s going on at the back. You’ll get a hang of it in no time.
Work from bottom up, starting on one side of your head, then do the other, and only then cut the back. This will ensure you remember what you did on the first side.
You’ll want to clip in the opposite direction of your hair growth pattern, especially if you have thin hair. If you’re unsure what is your growth pattern, carefully buzz in every direction.
2. Shorten the top
Depending on your hair length, you’ll likely want to shorten the top as well. You can do that with clippers using large plastic guides that typically don’t come with the clippers but can be purchased separately.
Alternatively, use scissors to shorten your hair on the top. This is an optional step if you’re simply touching up a professionally-cut crew cut.
3. Create a smooth fade
Create a transition from the bottom to the top of the head and taper the lower part by switching to a guard size in between the one used on top and the one on the sides. This is perhaps the hardest thing to master, so don’t rush.
As you did earlier, work on one side and then the next, and only then focus on the centre, all from the bottom up. This will help you create a uniform cut. You can find more on this in our tutorial on cutting your own hair. Before rushing to cut the top, make sure the back and areas around your ears are even and look good.
The top will be the most visible part of this cut, and depending on the length of your hair you can get very different results. You fade the top from the front to crown. The hair will be longer at the front. You can later style it into a pompadour, bangs, or even a side swept crew cut, depending on your hair length and structure.
After you’re done with sides and back, create the top fade. Decide how long you want that segment to be. Then, gradually start cutting horizontal segments of hair with different guard sizes. Make sure the transition between the bottom and top is smooth. Alternatively you can also use a pair of scissors to trim your hair or to do the final touch ups.
Pro Tip: Fixing Mistakes
Are the transitions in your cut too obvious? Do you need to fix the fading? Or, are you simply a perfectionist and want to make sure your cut is uniform and well done?
Grab a pair of thinning shears! They can be great for fixing mistakes. They work because the cuts they do aren’t obvious and so can blend out pretty well. Place the scissors horizontally in the ”line” that you see needs blending and do a quick snip with the shears. Stick with them to help you fade any transitions you weren’t quite able to get right.
You can also run them horizontally bottom up around your head and on the back for a smoother taper fade. If the top of your haircut still has too much volume, you can use the same type of scissors to take some of it out or alternatively, resort to side parting the hair.
How to style a crew cut?
You can style this haircut quite easily with some wax or gel for a matte finish or leave it as it is. This cut is pretty low-maintenance, you’ll need to refresh it regularly as all short men’s haircuts.
Putting some effort in styling it will also increase the duration of the cut and will make it look neat. Do keep in mind that very short is prone to sun burns.
Due to the skin fade, there is a lot less hair covering your scalp. Sun rays will get to you unless you use sunscreen or wear a cap on sunny days.