High and Tight: 10 Ways to Wear Your Short Fade

Let's get those sides crisp, gentlemen.

One of the most popular men’s short hairstyles we’ve come across time and again is the high and tight haircut. This hairstyle is the combat version of a fade or taper, which in civilian terms, means it starts off short at the top and goes shorter until it “fades” into next to nothing at the neckline. As the name suggests, “high and tight” is taken from its appearance.

The shaven part reaches high on the head and is buzzed to a really short length via clippers on the lowest setting. Despite its super-short length, it’s overall a pretty cool hairstyle with a lot of sex appeal potential, not to mention perfect for hot summers!

We’ve scoured the market for different variations of the high and tight that the everyman can rock in daily life without looking like you demand a salute from your peers (though we know you deserve it, you weekend warrior you). Click through for a demilitarized version of the short fade:

1. The Modern Slick-Back

high and tight gelled fade
Ask your barber to keep the tops long, then style it by slicking it straight back for a cool, modern-mafioso look. Photo credit: Dvora

A version of the high and tight popular during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s is the fade with a slightly longer top. Guys with straight hair will have the easiest times styling this look, as all it takes is some gel or pomade, such as Dove Men+Care Defining Pomade, and a comb. Ask your barber to keep a taper on the sides but to give you some length at the crown. For a retro throwback, keep the sides and edges blunt or almost completely shaven, especially at the temples. To style, run a finger-width swipe of product into damp hair and comb the top, either slicking it straight back or to the side. Best with suits, shiny shoes and while running your own boardwalk empire.

2. The Actor/Barista

high and tight actor barista
Tousled fades have an effortlessly sexy feel. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Instead of rolling your eyes at that punky young celebrity that your girl is going crazy over, take a second to hone in on his ’do: Chances are he’s sporting a sexified Hollywood version of the high and tight that features a tapered fade and a poufier top. This style is a more boyish, playful version of the buttoned-up comb-over and is popular with those in sports and entertainment because of its versatility: brushed to an angle for hanging with the lads, and moussed up in a hot bedhead for the ladies.

3. The Hot Rod

high and tight pomp
A pomp-fade hybrid is easiest to recreate on straight hair textures.

You might know this as the greaser hairstyle, or a longer high and tight-pompadour hybrid. Instead of the iconic pomp where the sides, back and even sideburns are left rather thick, this modern take has a fade or taper all around and only the top is angled back. Volumize your modern pomp by raking through some high-shine pomade—yes, as shiny as the rims on your brand-new BMW— and mold the “wave” to your desired height.

4. The Fast Quiff

high and tight rumply fade
Textured quiffs require a surprisingly low daily upkeep. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

A quiff is a mix of an undercut and a fauxhawk, and enters into high and tight territory depending on how high the undercut or faded portion starts. Contrary to the pompadour, which is styled in a front-to-back motion, the quiff is a high and tight hybrid that is styled from the back to front. Creating a quiff is quicker than you think: First, blow-dry your pouf, then coat your strands with a texturizing product such as AXE Adrenaline Spiked Up Look: Styling Putty. Next, comb everything to the front, volumizing and creating height at the hairline. This look is equal parts fratty and fashionable and has been seen on many male models due to its avant-garde details. 

5. The Spiky High and Tight

high and tight: spiky
Spike it up for an edgy look.

This spiky version of the high and tight is best for those who are after a super quick and easy hairstyle idea. After applying your styler to clean hair, pinch the ends of your hair to clump strands together and up the ante on the spiked up effect of your look.

6. The Ruffled Look

high and tight: ruffled look
Try this easy and carefree style.

Not into stiff styles? We totally understand. Create a free-flowing style like this one with minimal use of product or opt for those that have light-weight formulas. Use AXE Messy Look: Flexible Paste to give your style a medium hold with just the right amount of texture.

7. The Hard Part

high and tight: The Hard Part
Classy with a twist.

The high and tight style is all about keeping your sides low and your top high. However, you can totally sport a high fade cut like this one as well. Throw is a side part to make it look cool. To sleek your hair down you can use a gel or for shine, use a shine pomade like AXE Smooth Look: Shine Pomade.

8. Curly-Textured High and Tight

high and tight: textured
Accentuate your textured styles. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

This look shows a high fade that reaches almost near the temples, with the crown area cropped short to showcase your curls.

9. The Voluminous Quiff

high and tight: voluminous quiff:
Pump up the volume with this quiff style. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Pump up the volume in your style by recreating this voluminous quiff hairstyle. The key to nailing this look is all about your blow-drying routine. Blow hair in an upwards direction to create height and volume within your look.

10. Brushed Out

high and tight: brushed out
Brush it out to make make it fluffy.

Embrace natural hair texture with a brushed-out, slightly longer style.


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