Gentlemen, a head’s up: Undercuts and fade haircut styles have been two of the hottest men’s hair trends this past season. And not that they’re anything new—our grandpas have certainly been rocking those tapered comb-overs since forever—but a growing number of hairstylists, fashion designers and even celebrities have been bringing old-school sexy back.
Maybe it’s a nostalgic love for a good throwback, but not only is the fade haircut not going anywhere, it seems like it’s gaining even more ground. Which means, good news, that we’ve been coming across a lot of fade haircut styles for guys, and it isn’t that hard to find one that fits your taste, job and lifestyle.
The Best Fade Haircut Styles for Work
Dress and grooming codes for the office can be somewhat stuffy and conservative. And although we’re all for freedom of expression, there’s also still a difference between going with your heart’s desire and being a kooky distraction to your boss or coworkers. Showing off your individuality? Awesome. Looking inappropriate? Never bueno.
Below, we list some common fades and techniques that are equal parts cool and generally office-friendly (and, bonus, take only seconds to style):
1. Scissor Fade
Hair stylists use scissors (yes, it must be said) rather than clippers to achieve this mild fade, resulting in a neat but non-shaven neckline. Because of the higher level of skill needed to achieve an even fade with scissors, your best bet is to go to an actual salon or barbershop you trust if this is what you’re looking for. No last-minute, get-it-over-with walk-ins with this style, please—this takes precision, but the end result is a soft, flattering clean-cut appearance that keeps on givin’.
To style: Rub a finger-swipe amount of regular pomade like AXE Signature Clean Cut Look: Classic Pomade to mat down the sides and back. Rake any leftover product on the top lengths and comb back at an angle for a dapper look.
2. Low Fade
A barber uses clippers to achieve this look, which is considered one of the more conservative fade haircut styles. It is characterized by hair that disappears or thins out midway on the sides and near the nape, until disappearing an inch before the actual neckline. Stylish yet work-friendly, it’s also a good haircut to wear with a full beard—simply ask your barber to fade your sideburns into your facial hair for a neat look. Slick back for a modern gangsta feel, or apply some texturizing paste, such as Bed Head for Men by TIGI Pure Texture Molding Paste, and work a fun, modern quiff (as above).
3. Classic Fade
Like your scissor fade but using clippers, this is the more shaven version and is quite straightforward. The tops of the head are left rather short, and are faded down around the parietal ridge, a.k.a. that bony slope at the back of your head where your skull begins to slant down. Styling the cut is quick and easy: Rub a dime-sized amount of wax such as Bed Head for Men by TIGI Matte Separation (it works best with this) onto hands and rake both hands through hair, finger styling in whichever direction. Ed’s note: We recommend a brushed/neat look for work and funkier looks for after-hours.
4. Mid-Fade/”High and Tight”
One notch tighter than the classic fade is the mid-fade, more popularly referred to as the “high and tight.” It gets its nickname from the higher and shorter start of the taper, which sometimes begins even above the parietal ridge. Style with a dime-sized amount of gel or putty on top, like AXE Signature Spiked-Up Look: Styling Putty, just for control.
For my ladies’ men out there that can’t seem to part with their bedhead lengths up top, ask for a taper. This is the haircut you’ve probably seen on younger guys who love its after-hours versatility. Have your barber taper the top gradually to the neckline—no full disconnect as in a regular undercut—and keep the top lengths around 2” long or more: the better to play with (or comb-over), my dear. Rake some gel or pomade, like Dove Men+Care Defining Pomade, through the top and direct an angled flick to one side much like a quiff, but not as high.