A Guy’s Guide to the Shadow Taper: 10 Ways to Rock The Trend

The secret to hair that's instantly on trend. 

One thing most people can agree on is that when it comes to fashion and style, men have the easier end of the deal. A little bit of effort goes a long way, and minimal energy yields highly impressive results. The same principle can be applied to both men’s fashion and hairstyles: Just a touch of conscious effort relays the impression that your style matters to you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! When it comes to hairstyles, there’s one style in particular that has this ‘trend conscious’ effect: the shadow taper. Chances are you’ve been seeing the shadow taper everywhere lately, as this classic style has been making a huge comeback and is easily spotted as an on-trend look, even to the untrained eye. (Scroll to the end to see our pick of the best shadow taper cuts on Instagram.)

10 Ways to Wear the Shadow Taper

classic shadow taper with beard
This is definitely a case of “two is better than one” when it comes to trends.

1. Shadow Taper with Beard

Two trends are better than one, right? Working off of this principle we have to get on board with pairing a shadow taper with a full beard. The two meet in the middle at the lightest part of the fade for an on-trend look we can’t get enough of.

shadow taper almost bald facial hair
Consider how your facial hair plays into this equation.

2. Cohesive

The key to nailing a shadow taper is making sure to take the overall impression of the look into account. Pair a closely shaven taper fade with light facial hair to create a balanced and cohesive look.

shadow taper black closely shaven
A slow gradient still counts as a shadow taper.

3. Closely Shaven

Keep your look clean and fresh by opting for a closely shaven shadow taper. This keeps the look professional while still maintaining a subtle nod to the trend.

shadow taper classic fade
This look is clean, fresh and trendy.

4. Classic Taper

The classic taper is almost universally flattering for a reason: It doesn’t get any simpler than this. The classic taper is the best way to rock this trend while still maintaining a sharp, day-to-night neatness.

shadow taper gelled longer top
Slick the top of your hair back with the right products.

5. Juggling Trends

Slick back your longer strands up on top with the hair gel of your choice. We love Bed Head for Men TIGI Plower Play Gel for all-day hold and strands that smell incredible.

shadow taper wild overgrown fade
Proof that a shadow style still works when overgrown.

6. Wild and Overgrown

If you’re not into the idea of investing too much time and money into a haircut, then you may want to opt for an overgrown look. Your shadow taper will grow out into a slightly bushier and more overgrown fade. With the right upkeep at the barber’s every six to eight weeks, it can make for the perfect seamless transition from one trend to another.

shadow taper shaved part brunette close shaven beard
Add an unexpected edge to your look.

7. Shaved Part

Consider adding a shaved part to add some unexpected edge to your classic shadow taper.

shadow taper heavier top black fade
Pair a classic shadow taper with a heavier top.

8. High Contrast

Grow out the top of your style to nail a high-contrast look. Make sure to ask your barber to keep the sides short while letting the top grow out to achieve this style.

shadow taper grown out style
Embrace the mess with a grown-out version of this classic style.

9. All Grown Out

Sometimes messy is a good thing! Consider a grown-out version of this style if you’re not quite ready to commit to regular upkeep.

shadow taper gelled spiked top
Not ready to let go of your gelled up front? That’s okay.

10. Defying Gravity

If you’re not interested in letting go of your gelled-up hair in favor of the taper, have no fear. You can rock both trends at the same time and this look proves it.

The Best Shadow Fade Taper Haircuts from Instagram

Still wondering whether the taper fade is for you? We’ve rounded up all the best shadow taper styles from Instagram for a collection of stylish cuts to suit everyone. Regardless of hair type or length, there is a shadow taper style with your name on it.

Taper Fade With Quiff

side view of quiff hairstyle with shadow taper finish
Give your quiff a unique spin with a shadow taper finish. Credit: Instagram.com/javi_thebarber_

The classic men’s hairstyle has been given an update with this tapered finish. If you’re thinking of trying the much-loved haircut, give your quiff a unique twist by adding a contrasting tapered finish. Credit: @javi_thebarber_

Editor’s tip: For a long-lasting hold in your quiff, we suggest using the AXE Messy Look Matte Gel. Remember: a little goes a long way!

Shadow Taper Wave

short brown hair with wavy finish and shadow taper cut
Team your shadow taper with a wavy finish. Credit: Instagram.com/q.thebarber.7

If you’re a lover of 360 wave styles, you will know how much hard work and patience it takes to perfect the style  so once you have it, you will hardly want to cut it all off for a new style. Which is why we love how this Instagrammer has opted to upgrade their waves, choosing a shadow tapered finish. Credit: @q.thebarber.7

Undercut + Taper Fade

shadow taper undercut on male with light brown hair
This Instagrammer mixed two of the hottest men’s hairstyles together. Credit: Instagram.com/chrischampagne

Get ultimate styling points from your pals with this undercut and shadow taper combo. Whether you wear your undercut in a top knot or leave it loose, there is no denying how cool you will look. Credit: @chrischampagne

Curly Taper

back view of curly brown hair with shadow taper from nape of neck
The best thing about a shadow taper is that it works for all hair types. Credit: Instagram.com/tyzcutz

We all know how popular curly hair for men has become recently. From fashion bloggers to your favourite sports stars, it seems like everyone who’s anyone is embracing their curly strands. Team yours with a shadow taper at the nape of the neck for a curly high-top finish. Credit: @tyzcutz

Editor’s tip: To help stop your curls from drying out and to bring out the best of your natural hair texture, apply a few pumps of the TRESemmé Flawless Curls Hydrating Anti Frizz Oil, before you step out of the house.

Swept Back Shadow Taper

side view of swept back brown hair with shadow taper finish
Even a smart swept back style can rock a shadow taper. Credit: Instagram.com/rpb_nq

If you need a hairstyle that’s smart enough for the office yet still has an added extra touch of personality, we couldn’t recommend this swept back look enough. Complete with a soft shadow taper finish, it’ll carry you from the office to post-work drinks in one. Credit: @rpb_nq

Looking for more trendy men’s styles to try?  Check out 40 of the best haircuts for men to try this season.

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