Skin is in! Crisp crew cuts, sleek comb-overs, even an artfully done man bun get top marks in the day-to-night swag department. These looks, together with our latest obsession, the classic taper fade, are classics in their own right: All are seasonless styles that have stood the test of time—not to mention held their own amidst the dozens of campy viral trends we’ve seen online.
Scroll on down for a bunch of our favorite skin fades, from natural to high and tight, sure to keep you (quite literally) looking fresh. We love a great fade, and these skin-baring versions are as sharp as it gets, my friend! Read on to check out some of the hottest taper fades out there:
The Classic Taper Fade, in 22 Looks
Long Taper Fade
Yep, fades can run on the longer, more natural side, and there’s no reason to assume you need to chop it all off to sport a shaven hairstyle. It’s all in using the proper clipper guard (but go to the pros for this one) and seamlessly blending the top with the bottom. Natural fades that start thinning out below the temples/near the sideburns are a popular choice. As for the crown? Afros, pomps, short dreads, a bowl-cut undercut—the sky’s the limit, provided that it turns into skin gracefully near the neckline. A soft styling cream, like AXE Natural Look: Understated Cream, can help you blur those edges!
Want to keep your fluff, but need to edge it out? Get a cut that can do both. This genius mashup features a tapered baby ’fro on the crown that blends into a skin fade near the nape.
2. Bowl Cut
Funnily enough, this ’80s staple went viral again fairly quickly last year—but we’re not complaining. Cut with the right angles (like a shorter crown comb-over and cleanly faded sides, as shown), it turns from cheesy to cool in no time.
A nice-guy fade, if there were such a thing, would probably look like this: A simple, almost floppy, angst-free shape met with some even texture, with some slight edges for good measure.
4. Short Dreads
Chock-full of personality, these wiry curls somehow perfectly set off a cool Brooklyn fade (or a fade haircut with angular temples).
Want to show off that thick, full mane while keeping on trend? Keep some length up top that you can easily style into a high pompadour, and just take the clippers to the sides and back.
Medium to Short Taper Fades
A bit of tuggable length styled in a quiff, or maybe even a true-blue high and tight fade—these shorter cuts are meant for the guy with confidence in his angles (and his head shape!). The bald taper fade with a tiny bit of length up top offers some versatility in style, so go for a casual quiff or something razor-parted for a bit of a street style kick, and give it some oomph with some non-greasy wax, like Bed Head for Men by TIGI Matte Separation.
6. Long High and Tight
A neatly styled look, this high and tight is longer than your regular version and is a winner for both the office and after hours.
This cool hairstyle is a clever twist on a bald taper fade: It features a razor part on one side before it fades out.
8. Natural Neckline
In case you were shopping around for a casual cut with an easy grow-out, a clean, low skin fade might be just up your alley.
9. Subtle Undercut
Create a fade that leads into a subtle undercut for the best of both worlds on one cut. Create some hold for this style by adding a little bit of AXE Texturizing Cream to the top.
We can see this no-nonsense high and tight looking on-point with a business suit as well as casual or even sportswear.
If length (or lack of it) ain’t a thing, then nothing is sharper—or more straightforward—than a legit buzz cut. Although oftentimes of uniform length all around, some like to play around with a marginally longer top area for contrast or even play around with some strategic clippings on the side for added interest to your classic taper fade. Product-wise, a drop of gel, like Dove Men+Care Control Gel, is all you’ll need for shine and control.
11. Two-Toned Taper
Takes a bit of personality to pull this off (we’ve even seen some celebs rock a bleached blonde version), but it’s doable even without any hair dye, provided you’ve got a base color darker than your scalp. Achieve this by using longer clipper guards for the top than the back and sides.
Everything about this clean, natural look is correct—from the well-blended side fade to the subtle temple notches.
13. High Temples
If you need to mimic some angles, some 90-degree notches buzzed high into the temples can help give your face a squarish shape.
Deliberate or nah? This buzz is equally cropped all around, giving it a nice, clean look even a few weeks after the cut.
15. Devil’s Horns
Guys starting to recede at the temples can still squeeze a great year or two of fades by opting for a short buzz that’s cut straight across the forehead.
We’re totally digging the subtle temple clippings in this bald taper fade, which do the double duty of transitioning the hair as well as providing a visual quirk. This style is a totally cool variation of the classic taper fade, and we’re here for it.
17. Widow’s Peak
If you’ve been blessed with a widow’s peak (as well as a finer, peach-fuzz texture), keep it less severe with a longer buzz at the top.
No hair is apparently too short to benefit from some product. We’re digging this deliberate cowlick, which, in addition to the natural, almost Caesar-cut hairline, is giving us serious 1990s vibes.
Fadeception? Although we think this result was this guy’s natural density pattern, those with thinning hair can certainly employ this strategy to mimic some fullness where they need it most. The trick is using multiple guards to give you longer hair on the tops.
20. Straight Part
Look closer, and you’ll see that a hard part is razored in from the temples to the back of the head, adding more interest to a regular buzz.
A super-short squarish crop is a handsome option for men with a natural or curly texture who want to give more structure to their buzz.
22. 360 Waves
Though not completely grown in yet, a natural texture cut in a skin-faded buzz is a great starting off point for a trendy wave.