The Fade Haircut: A Complete Guide

All Things Hair | 24 September 2016

Barbershop terms got you down? Educate yourself with our comprehensive guide that’ll help you pick the fade style for your next visit.

You know how the men’s hair game works. You drop by to see your stylist, picture in hand of the latest celebrity haircut you’ve been secretly admiring. It’s exactly what you want, and you’ve been told by a magazine that it’s some sort of a fade haircut. But, truth be told, you’ve no idea what that is.

Well, you’re not alone. So first: the basics. Usually created with clippers or scissors, a fade is achieved when there’s a clear gradual transition between two lengths of your hair. It’s been reinterpreted in various ways over time and is fast becoming the go-to cut among legions of stylish gents. Why? Well, because of its finish: a seamless, sharp look that – depending on the cut – can give rise to a lot of hair creativity. Plus, it’s suitable for all hair types and lengths, too.

But choosing the right fade haircut doesn’t need to be one-dimensional. With so many variations out there, you don’t have to stick to just one. Not sure which is which, or what to pick? Don’t worry: we’ve created a fade haircut guide to help you discover the right style for you.

A Complete Guide to the Fade Haircut

classic fade cut asian man
Clean, classic fade. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. The Classic Fade Haircut

A classic fade cut usually maintains longer hair on top, gradually tapering down the sides and back. Hair and skin usually merge up until a point where the hair starts to disappear. The result? A subtle and sharp finish that is still able to pack a punch. If you decide to keep your hair longer at the top, make sure to style it damp with a wax-based product, like the Bed Head for Men by TIGI Matte Separation Workable Wax, for firmness and malleability.

high fade
Be daring with a high fade. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

2. The High Fade Haircut

A high fade cut is typically more daring. Using a trimmer or a straight razor, the hair is cut to the skin halfway up the head and fades into a longer length at the top. The result is a striking juxtaposition between the top and the distinctive buzzed sides. Just a tip: the high fade has a better effect on gents whose complexion and scalp are closer in tone. So if you aren’t afraid to show some skin, this daring interpretation of the fade is the one for you.

This is an excellent look for gents with naturally wavy, curly or thicker textured hair, so make sure to style with a product like the Dove Men+Care Sculpting Paste to help add texture, definition and keep frizz at bay.

a mid fade
Crisp mid fade. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

3. The Mid-Fade Haircut

Once the standard haircut for cadets enlisting in the military, the mid fade is a cut that starts at the point above the ears and takes hair completely skintight, meaning the sides and the back are shaved very close to the skin, leaving a clean, crisp outline. This cut is great for guys with shorter and straighter hairstyles. Not much styling is needed if you have shorter hair, but if you want a slicked-back look, try some of the Axe Spiked-Up Look: Extreme Hold Gel for best results.

low fade
Subtle low fade. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

4. The Low Fade Haircut

For every high, there’s a low. This variation of a fade is cut higher than the classic, but positioned lower than the high fade. Sounds complicated right? Basically, the hair usually starts to fade at the halfway point through the sides and back, but stops an inch before the natural hairline and goes into a skin fade. This distance can be altered depending on what you prefer. Tip: the low fade cut is especially well-suited to those who have beards and facial hair, as it creates a cool accent between the two textures.

taper fade
A slick taper fade.

5. The Taper Fade Haircut

The taper fade is one of the trendiest and most common cuts around. The main difference between a taper fade and a regular fade is the finish. While hair merges and disappears in a regular fade, a taper fade gradually reduces the length of hair from the top of the head to the nape of the neck and the sides. Hair is shorter, but subtly blended for a groomed and stylish effect.

So, next time you’re due at your barbers, you can ask for a cool fade haircut with confidence.

Looking for more ways to style your fade haircut? Check out some of our favorite fade haircuts for fall.

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