Ever wondered why you ask for a #1 on the back and sides and it looks shorter than it did in the guide telling you to go for it, or in the picture? Is this your barber's fault, or did you say something wrong?
Well, actually it's often down to your hair thickness and the colour of your hair. These both play a huge part in how short your hair looks, not just the guard on the clipper.
If you have light or fine hair then your hair will likely look quite a bit shorter than someone with dark or thick hair, even if you both had the same length clipper guard on the back and sides. And if you have fine and light hair then you're pretty much guaranteed to have your hair look shorter vs someone with thick and dark hair.
The reason for this is light and fine hair will both give the appearance of more scalp showing than with dark and thick hair, as there will not as much colour and density.
What can you do?
The best thing you can do when you're not sure how short your hair might look is ask your barber to start a few guards higher than you think you want to go. If you're thinking of going down to a #0.5 then go for a #1.5 or a #2 at first.
Make sure to tell your barber this is what you want to do though as you don't want to annoy them by letting them finish their clean fade and then saying "actually, can I go a little shorter..".
If you communicate this with your barber then they can do a test area on one side so you can see the length clearly, and then if it's too long just ask them to go down to the next shortest guard.
This is a sure fire way to make sure that you leave the barbershop without complaining that the haircut was too short, and waiting 2 weeks for it to grow out until you like the length on the sides.
Watch the first 4 and a half mins of the video below (until 4:31) to see how this communication would look.
It's also important to be aware that this will be much easier when you have an appointment booked in and a guaranteed amount of time with your barber. If your barbershop is walk in only then often barbers can be more pushed for time, it's good to understand this and have empathy for the barber's situation. But this will all be dependent on the shop, so talk to your barber and see what they say.