3 ½ Ways to Rock A Fade Haircut

Light, easy and great with the ladies, we're calling this your next summer 'do.

A fade haircut (a.k.a. a “taper”), a style that, as the name suggests, starts off longer on the top, fades down and disappears as it reaches the neckline. This trendy cut has become increasingly popular because it not only looks good, it’s also surprisingly easy to maintain.

The industry is, thankfully, following suit as more and more barbers and hairstylists have stepped up their fade haircut game by getting creative with newer versions of the traditional taper. The good news is that guys now have more options. The bad news? Guys now have more options.

Don’t panic—we’ve broken down the ins and outs of this killer cut to ensure that you get the perfect fade:

All About the Fade Haircut

Regular Fade

classic fade haircut
Classic fades get some edge with some tousling up top (and some expertly groomed facial fuzz!).

If you’re the vanilla of fade haircuts (and proud of it), you’ve probably been a loyalist to this simple, straightforward version. This involves using clippers for a regular, steady taper on the back and sides which can go as high or low as you want. Those who want a twist on a classic can opt for what stylists call a temple fade—or “Brooklyn fade,” as popularized in the 2000s on popular New Jersey and East Coast-based reality shows—which features a more angular transition between lengths, especially prominent at the temples.

High and Tight

high and tight fade haircut
The high and tight: roots in the military, staying power care of no-nonsense guys everywhere.

Ah, the crowd-­pleaser. One of the most searched for terms online last year, a popular iteration of the fade cut is called the “high and tight,” which to most of its loyal clientele is quite self­-explanatory. It’s a very short kind of fade cut, with the hair strands being only around 1­1.5″ max at the top,and gradually shortens downwards into oblivion or until you reach your nape, whichever comes first. Super low­-maintenance, it’s a more extreme version of the crew cut, the latter being just slightly longer on the back and sides. Tiny disclaimer for guys with lighter skin: It might take a few days for your paler, newly-­exposed scalp to catch up to your regular skin tone, so spend some time outdoors if you can to even things out.


comb-over fade haircut
All you need for the perfect comb-over: a comb and a hard part.

A comb-over fade haircut is characterized by longer hair on top with a gradual fade on the sides and back. This isn’t your grandpa’s 1950s comb-over however: The name comes from how it’s styled, as some men choose to wear the longer lengths slicked back or combed to one side. The comb-over fade is a versatile compromise for men who want the edginess of the faded haircut but work in more conservative offices—simply gel the lengths back for a neater appearance in the boardroom, and muss them up with some wax or putty for some fun texture on the weekends.

Bonus Round: Pompadour and the Undercut

pomp undercut fade haircut
The pomp-undercut-temple fade may sound out there, but looks pretty darn fun. Photo credit: Dvora

For those who go where most fear to tread, undercuts and pompadours are your badass bet. Although equally popular, they aren’t classified as fades since they involve little to no taper at all—instead, hair is completely shaved across or under a topmost layer (hence the “under” in “undercut”), and these longer lengths are then left to just happily flop around or pouf up as you please. The upside is that you’re left with a lot of volume to play with: blown out and swept sexily back the metrosexual way, or even styled in a complete man pouf, a.k.a. the Williamsburg Barista, guaranteed to get hearts a­flutter. Downside: this look involves more styling skills and needs more touching up on the shaved parts. If all else fails for the day though (or when you’re at the gym), this style is also a perfect segue to testing out that trendy man bun—but that’s another story.

What fade haircut style are you ready to check out?