Sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, a fade is essentially a next-level short back and sides. “It’s actually a form of tapering the hair, but the hair is cut drastically lower than a regular taper haircut,” says Adam Gore, founder of UK Barbershop of the Year, Barberology. “The hair is gradually tapered into nothing [i.e. an exposed scalp] from the head’s upper recession to the nape of the neck, giving it a spray-painted effect.”
The Taper Fade, The Low Fade, The Mid Fade, The High Fade
Of course, he doesn’t mean spray-painted in the Sisqó circa 1999 kind of way. Instead, it’s a masterful cut that involves subtly blending hair lengths – with a clipper, scissors, or often both – to give the hair at the back and sides of the head a smoothly graduated or ‘faded’ effect.
Best Mens Fade Haircut
The Taper Fade
Clean, classic, and versatile, the taper fade haircut is a crowd-pleaser. It’s sharp, but not severely so, meaning it’ll work as well at your desk as when you’re off-duty.
“A taper fade haircut goes from nothing into a blended length,” says Gore. “The taper starts from the nape of the neck and extends to the parietal ridge, gradually getting darker as it gets higher (the parietal ridge is the top of the head which is defined as the widest area of the head, where the head starts to curve away).”
The Low Fade
Less subtle than a taper fade, a low fade haircut puts a little more skin on show, offering a finish that’s clearly demarcated, but is still far from a skinhead.
“The low fade haircut starts extremely low, with skin at the very bottom, and then blends up from that point, following the natural curvature of the head,” says Gore. “It’s is a great way to showcase hair with more texture, or achieve a wavy look on top, so the hair is often left longer on top for styling.”
The Mid Fade
More noticeable than a low fade haircut, but not as scalp-exposing as its high variant, the mid fade haircut is unsurprisingly one of the most popular styles men plump for, and ideal for creating a harder skin-hair blend line should you want to take a more old-school approach to your fade.
“The mid fade haircut starts at the point above the ears, making it distinctive, yet still adaptable to different styling approaches,” says Gore. “It comes with a lot more styling options for, say, the pompadour or a longer quiff, where length on the upper sides is needed.”
The High Fade
Like the Fresh Prince, but bolder, the high fade haircut (also known as a high and tight) is a high-contrast style where most of the hair on the back and sides of your head is shorn back to skin using a foil shaver.
“For the high fade haircut, the natural shape of the head isn’t taken into account and a new base line is created around the area from the upper recession to the lower crown,” says Gore. This results in a highly stylised finish that’s anything but subtle, but is sure to turn heads
The Scissor Fade
Not keen on clippers? Or want a style that will definitely fly in a smart-casual office? Then swap a buzzed fade hairstyle for a softer, scissor-cut style.
“The scissor fade is a basic fade hairstyle that doesn’t use clippers, but scissors, cutting around the nape and progressing upwards using a taper comb to get as close to the skin as possible,” says Gore. “This technique is usually used when a more custom shape is needed to suit the specific head shape.”
Four Tips To Get The First-Rate Fade
Resist the need to save cash by cutting your own hair or choosing for a six quid shearing. Always entrust your fade into a excellent barber who has put time to learn the art (and it is an art). Although it may appear easy, a fade’s anything but, requiring exact scissor and clipper work and a lot of eyeballing to perfect that graduated look.
Beware Of Bumps
Award season might be a great place to get a brand new hairstyle to test out, but everything you finally opt for needs to be informed by more than whatever The Gos is currently sporting. If you have any noticeable lumps or bumps in a specific area, then keep that in mind when choosing which design works best for you.
Want to keep that professionally mixed finish? Then be ready to visit your barber regularly. Due to the speed your own hair grows at, fades — especially fades with a lot of scalp exposure like bald and high styles — have to be cut back in every couple of months.
Take A Visual
One man’s disconnected undercut should never be the other’s Harvard clip, however, the ideal haircuts can happen to the wrong folks (just examine the nineties).