Hair Length Categories: Near-Shaved, Short, Medium, Long

Near Shaved, Short, Medium and Long – The 4 hair length categories

To make the most of your hair, you must know it to a T; that’s why knowing your hair length and specifically your hair length category is important. When it comes to putting your hair into a category, its “extended length” (length measured when the hair is extended and flattened, from the scalp to the tip) is the one that matters.

The extended length of your hair will fall under a range of lengths and there are 4 ranges of lengths, with these ranges being known as “extended length categories”. The lengths that fall under each extended length category share similar approaches to hair grooming and hair care, which is why when you work out your extended length, it is easier to just remember your extended length category rather than your precise extended length. Furthermore, because your hair grows an average of 0.5 inches of extended length per month, then remembering your extended length alone is futile as this particular length is constantly changing; ergo, knowing your extended length category is much more useful for your hair grooming and hair care efforts.

A measuring tape to measure men's hair and the different length types

You can use a measuring tape or a ruler to measure the extended length of your hair

Please note that from here onwards, I will refer to “extended length” as “length” without mentioning the “extended” bit. As I have yet to cover the other type of length available to men in this site, I rather you keep in your mind the fact that extended length is what people normally refer to the length of their hair. In my bestselling books, The Curly Hair Book and The Men’s Hair Book, I dedicate big sections to describing the different lengths and length categories, and, even then, I note that extended length can be used as “length” alone so as to keep things simple and confusion free.

Alright, now that we have the above clear and you are aware of what “extended length” really is, let’s continue.

There are 4 length categories that we men can put our hair into: near-shaved, short, medium and long. Each category encompasses a range of hair lengths; you can move up in category by letting your hair grow for a sufficient amount of time and you can move down in category by cutting your hair. These are the actual hair-length ranges for each of the length categories:

  • Near-shaved: up to 0.125 inches
  • Short: from 0.125 inches to 2 inches
  • Medium: from 2 inches to 6 inches
  • Long: over 6 inches

Near-shaved length category

A near-shaved length goes from freshly shaved up to 0.125 inches, which is a #1 in guard length. This length is the most convenient of all lengths to sport as no styling of the hair or looking after it is needed and you can also give yourself this length by trimming your hair with a hair clipper.

The near-shaved length is most useful for balding men, especially those whose hair is at a Norwood IV and above. The Burr Cut is a haircut that has the whole of the scalp clipped at a #1 guard length.

Bruce Willis with his balding head in a near shaved length

Some useful men’s hair products for near-shaved length hair include:

Short length category

The short length category spans from 0.125 inches to 2 inches of length. The hair lengths falling under the range of the short length category are obviously not as convenient as the lengths of the near-shaved category, yet a short length no matter the hair type is still convenient for a man to sport.

Hair can be styled as soon as it reaches the 0.5-inch length mark, which means that short hair can usually be styled while at the same time offering much convenience. Since the attributes of “ability to style the hair” and “high convenience” are not so optimally balanced in the longer length categories (i.e. medium and long), the short length category is a category that is chosen by most males to have their at. Many haircuts and hairstyles fall under the short length category and, together with the haircuts and hairstyles available in the medium length category, both these 2 length categories provide the bulk of a male’s hairstyle repertoire.

Cristiano Ronaldo with short curly hair length

Some useful men’s hair products for short hair include:

Medium length category

The medium length category goes from 2 inches to 6 inches. This particular length category allows for more elaborate styling of the hair at the expense of convenience. However, the medium length category still offers convenience, especially when compared to the long length category.

Straight hair will hang down (entirely) at the lengths encompassing the upper range of the medium length category (i.e. 4-6 inches) while wavy hair will have begun to hang down at these same medium lengths. Coiled and kinky hair will still defy gravity no matter which medium length.

Justin Timberlake with his curly hair in a medium length

Some useful men’s hair products for medium length hair include:

Long length category

The long length category goes from 6 inches of length and beyond. In this length category, the efforts needed to look after and groom the hair grow in intensity for every inch the hair grows longer by. In other words, the longer your hair is once you surpass the 6-inch length barrier, the more your hair-management efforts will be. Thus, long hair is worn by only a small percentage of the male population.

With the long length category, the actual lengths tend to be described not with numbers but with regions of the body. For example, hair that reaches the shoulders will be described as shoulder length rather than being described as, say, 12 inches long.

Kenny G with long curly hair to shoulder length

Some useful men’s hair products for long hair include:

The 4 Hair Length Categories – Conclusion

Well, that’s it; the above are the 4 length categories available to men. I ecnourage you to get the measuring tape or ruler out and measure the extended length (and thus “length”) of your hair; then, put your length into its equivalent category and you will have, right there, an important piece of your hair grooming foundation that you can then relate to the learning of your hair!

All the best.

For your male grooming needs, visit the Barbershop Forums, the mens style and fashion community with some epic male grooming stuff thrown in!

1 comment for “Hair Length Categories: Near-Shaved, Short, Medium, Long

  1. Cowboy Bro
    October 9, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Excuse me, I have a question.

    I’ve recently bought a #12 clipper guard from Wahl. And while I’m waiting for my hair to grow out, I was wanting to see how it would look with one length for all of the hair. Do you know?

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