High Top Fade: Guide and Inspiration Gallery

Everything you need to know about the return of this cool 'do...

It’s become frequently more fashionable for men to look back at the hair archives in order to find inspiration. So it’s no wonder that retro ‘dos like the high top fade are back!

With this style having seen a huge resurgence on the runways, it’s time that every stylish fella worth his salt starts rocking this dapper ‘do. Feeling unsure about what a high top fade haircut is and how to get it? Then keep reading – we’re spilling all.

What is a high top fade?

The high top fade (AKA ‘hi-top fade’) is a hairstyle that was really popular with black men in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. The cut includes a high fade (a gradual fade on the sides and back of the crown) with – and like the name suggests – most of the height on the top of the head.

Essentially, the high top fade is the cooler cousin of the flattop – without the military background. Instead, its roots are based in contemporary America, during the golden age of hip-hop and rap.

1. High top fade haircut

High top fade: Black man on runway with short high top fade wearing a hoodie and jacket.
Your complete guide to a high-top fade. Credit: indigitalimages.com

If you need some visual inspiration, take a look back at Will Smith’s hairstyle in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – the high top fade was his signature ‘do. Christopher Reid, from the hip-hop duo Kid ‘n’ Play, also rocked a pretty great version, while Bobby Brown and Tupac Shakur tapped into the trend with asymmetric styles and graphic partings.

2. Tight fade

High top fade: Black man on runway with short high top fade wearing dark outfit.
How high will you go? Credit: indigitalimages.com

The comeback of this haircut is mostly due to its popularity with NBA players. Orlando Magic’s Brandon Jennings and Norris Cole (the point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans) are just a couple of the cool guys bringing this retro hairstyle back into the limelight.

3. Curly high top

High top fade: Man on runway with natural afro high top hairstyle wearing a shiny jacket.
Show off your curls with a high top fade. Credit: indigitalimages.com

If you have naturally curly, coily, or kinky hair, it’ll be easier for you to achieve gravity-defying heights. If you have fine or straight hair, you’ll need extra support from firm hold hair products.

4. High fade

High top fade: Man on runway with high top haircut wearing a slogan jumper
High top fade haircuts have universal appeal. Credit: indigitalimages.com

Also, remember that to successfully rock the high top fade, you’ll need to grow your hair on the crown of your head. So, if you have really short hair, bear this in mind and pencil in some time to let it get longer before you take the plunge.

Editor’s tip: Clarify your scalp and remove product build-up with the TONI&GUY Deep Clean Shampoo.

This hair detox shampoo can be used in alteration with your usual shampoo or with every wash.

5. Subtle taper fade

High top fade: Black man on runway with fade haircut wearing a silver grey jacket
Finding inspiration has never been easier. Credit: indigitalimages.com

Worried about looking like you’ve just stepped out of a Public Enemy music video. The classic high top fade can be easily adapted to meet today’s trends. How? Just restrain the height of your high-top (anywhere between 1 and 3 inches is good) and ask for softer edges that will make it less boxy.

You can also make it look more modern by showcasing your hair’s natural texture, so the top isn’t just a clean, straight line.

6. Simple high top fade

High top fade: Black man with afro hih top fade haircut wearing a grey jumper.
Simple but effective. Credit: Instagram.com/jesta_king

As mentioned before, the NBA is mainly responsible for the high top fade’s revival. So take a look at Iman Shumpert from the Cleveland Cavaliers – he’s a real devotee of the haircut.

Or just check out Jaden Smith, who has definitely drawn inspiration from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days of his father and does a great job of modernising the hairstyle.

For a no-frills high top fade hairstyle look no further than this classic. Credit: @jesta_king 

7. Square top fade

High top fade: Black man with square top fade haircut in barber chair.
Try this square top for a retro touch. Credit: Instagram.com/_osnap_

Make a statement with this high top fade style, complete with a flat top finish for a cool ’90s retro feel. Credit: @_osnap_

8. High top fade with twists

High top fade: Black man with twists high top in barbers chair.
Adding twists will give your style a modern feel. Credit: Instagram.com/@sleepy_cuts

Twisted styles are a popular look with black men and look great teamed with a high top fade. Credit: @sleepy_cuts

9. High top fade man bun

High top fade: Black man in barber chair with dark brown and golden brown twists in a high bun and long beard.
Work two trends at once with this man bun fade. Credit: Instagram.com/@__punkin_

Give your man bun a fresh feel by teaming with a faded cut and beard combo. Credit: @__punkin_

Editor’s tip: Wash away the day withTONI&GUY Cleansing Beard Shampoo. Massage a small amount into your beard to create a lather and rinse.

10. Box cut fade

High top fade: Black man with natural hair in high top fade with moustache and beard wearing sunglasses
Throw it back with this flat top and beard style. Credit: Instagram.com/mrnicklocke

This guy looks the epitome of cool with his box cut fade and ’70s-inspired facial hair. Credit: @mrnickloche

11. High top fade with shaved designs

High top fade: Black man with shaved design on side of his head with fade cut.
Which design will you choose? Credit: Instagram.com/tiffthebarber

Let your barber get creative with the clippers and stand out with a cool shaved design. Credit: @tiffthebarber

12. Precise shave high top fade

High top fade: Man with shaved curve design on side of his head with a high top.
This curved design gives a nice touch to a high top fade. Credit: Instagram.com/sweenytomuk

Geometric patterns a tad too much for you? Try out this precise curved shaved design for a more subtle finish. Credit: @sweenytomuk


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