Fade Haircut: Your Guide to the Types of Fades and More

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Rebecca Moses
Your guide to this Review is Rebecca Moses

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fade haircut

Fade haircuts have become very popular among men for their ability to blend both a clean-cut look with something a little more daring and fun on top.

While it may seem like a simple concept, the haircuts with fades are very versatile and there’s a lot that you can do to make it interesting, fresh, and all your own. This style does take some doing, so it’s never going to be as natural looking as a more simple taper cut. However, the interesting lines and attention-getting appearance can well make up for that.

Fade haircuts are a nice blend between a carefully maintained and well-kept look that sends the signal to everyone around that you care about your appearance, and a little bit of wild interest to keep your hair appearing youthful and fun.

Since there are so many style options, this article will give you an idea of what to expect and think about when considering how and what a fade haircut should look like on you.

What Is a Fade Haircut?

The fade haircut is technically a short haircut for men where part of the hair is cut very short and close to the scalp on the sides and back, and then the length gradually and smoothly changes so that the hair is longer on top. Some fades will shave all the way down to the top of the head (a high bald fade), while others will begin further down along the sides (a taper fade haircut).

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How to Do a Fade Haircut

A good haircut fade should be planned out. This includes picking out the length of your potential fade, as well as the different type of fade that you want. Types of fades generally refer to how high or low it will begin fading on the head.

If you have long hair before the cut, it’s best to trim the hair first, before you begin cutting the fade. You can do it with clippers or scissors, just make sure not to go too short so that you have plenty of hair on top to style.

The actual process of a fading haircut includes switching between different clipper guard lengths, from longer to shorter. When tapered correctly, the hair smoothly transitions between the desired lengths. 

Your stylist will generally trim the hair on top with scissors to achieve a look that complements the shape of the head and the shape of the cut. This stage is where you have the flexibility for personal expression, including a side part fade, high top fade, long top, pompadour fade, a faux hawk, curly hair on top, or just about any hairstyle you can think of.

Most people won’t be able to do their own fade haircut, and that is to be expected. It will at least require another pair of hands to help. Ideally, you will have a hairdresser who knows what they’re doing. Fade haircuts can be fairly intricate and it’s often worthwhile to trust a professional barber to do it for you.

Tips and Tricks to Know

  • The more you shave from the sides of the head to achieve your desired style, the more maintenance it will require to keep those sides shaved and the edges clean. This means that high fade types, such as the high bald fade, high skin fade, undercut fade, and other types of high fades will require more frequent trips to the barber.
  • Be mindful of any bumps, scars, flaws, or parts of your scalp that you may want to cover up with your hair, and plan these into your haircut length. It can be difficult to hide blemishes with a fade, but you can certainly plan the cut so a mid, low, or taper fade haircut will cover up what you need. Otherwise, a high fade haircut or skin fade can be revealing for your scalp.
  • Fade haircuts are one of those haircuts for men that require regular maintenance and upkeep. Meaning, if you aren’t willing to do some shaving yourself, and to see your stylist for regular visits, your fade haircut will quickly grow out, particularly a skin fade. Even if you do some of your own maintenance, such as shaving the lowest part of the fade, it’s likely that you’ll need your stylist to keep the fade in its overall shape.
  • If you’re wondering what you should tell your barber to get the best fade haircut for you this can be a pretty complicated question. Fade haircuts can be very versatile, and there are many types of fades to choose from. Different stylists may have different names for the fade hairstyles that you’re thinking of. Our advice is to always take at least one inspiration photo with you to the barber. This will help to keep you on the same page, in case the names of the styles and lengths differ. Bringing an example is the best way to make sure that you get the look that you want.
  • To add more interest to your fade hairstyle, ask your barber to accent it with hard parts, side part, a line, a long top, or even different length hair on top. Many of these additional features include shaving or trimming a hard line into the buzzed areas, as well as complex styling with the hair at the top, so it’s best to leave this kind of intricate haircut to a hairdresser. Don’t forget to give your stylist an idea of what you want, and if it’s a complicated design, always go in with an example photo.
  • Sometimes a barber might try to steer you away from a certain type of faded hair or style. This will normally be because they don’t think it will work well with your hair or because it will be too difficult to maintain. It’s a good idea to ask your barber and trust their opinion and insight when they give you advice. After all, they’ve seen a lot more haircuts than you have. Also, make sure to do some research on the hairdresser or barber you are wanting to use before making an appointment to make sure that they have done fade haircut styles.

Types of Fade Haircuts

Fade haircuts tend to fall into broad categories based on how high or low on the head the fade begins and ends. While this may at first seem like an unimportant detail, it can change the whole appearance of the cut. Fades that happen higher on the head tend to appear more eye-catching and dramatic. On the other hand, lower fades will blend in more with other more traditional haircuts and will give you a clean look with a more reserved style.

The different types of fades are some of the most interesting haircuts for men. They give a clean-cut appearance while still offering the opportunity to modify popular haircuts with longer hair on top. Furthermore, these styles range from the more subtle low fade or taper fade to the more dramatic bald fade or high fade hairstyle.

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High Fade

High fades create a strong contrast between your hair and your head, making them a striking style for those who like to make a statement with their appearance. This style also offers a way to contrast the head hair from the facial fair for men with a beard. High fades can sometimes be styled as a bald fade, a skin fade, or an undercut. A high fade haircut is a very controlled fade with clean lines.

For a high fade, the hair fades completely within two inches of the top of the head. The lower part of the hairline is most often bald, meaning shaved and kept neat.

Since the majority of the hair is cut very close to the scalp, you have a limited amount of leeway for experimentation with the fade style on the sides and the back of the head. Most of the variation has to do with what’s happening at the top of the head, as well as the shape of the fade. For example, you can keep the hair on top long with a curly hairstyle, make it a faux hawk, or you can vary the shape with a burst fade.

This type of fade is frequently preferred by black men.

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Low Fade

Low fades tend to be the most natural-looking fades since they tend to be more similar to other hairstyles for men. For a low fade haircut, the shortest part is very close to your hairline, and the rest of the hair fades up gradually from there.

The hair fades halfway up the sides and back of the head and only starts to fade out about an inch before the hairline, giving more length and fullness on top.

This type of fade is most recommended for men with diamond or triangular facial shapes.

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Taper Fade

For a taper fade, the hair tapers down the neck in a smooth fade and becomes shorter in an even taper down the sides of the head.

The taper fade is the most classic haircut of the fade types. The actual fade is subtle, and generally does not become short enough to expose the skin, as one would expect with a bald fade. Most taper fades are also low fades. Taper fades are often scissor cut or buzzed. Overall, this is a less dramatic fade than either a mid or high fade.

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Mid Fade

Mid fades tend to be a popular men’s fade haircut since it’s subtle and doesn’t look too extreme. At the same time, a taper fade offers a distinctive style and wide range for different types and variations. You can easily combine a mid fade with other haircuts for men, including long hair on top or other short hair options. It tends to be a nice middle-ground between the more subtle style of the low fade and still not as dramatic as a high fade.

The mid fade hairstyle begins right below the temples and quickly fades close to the skin.

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Scissor Fade

A fade cut that requires the skilled use of scissors as opposed to clippers, generally for those who do not like to use clippers on their hair. The effect tends to be a much softer fade than those achieved by clippers. Since it’s less likely to have hard edges, it can also be a more natural version of the cut. The scissor fade hairstyle requires a skilled barber.

Best Fade Haircuts

Different fade hairstyles for men set themselves apart based on the shape of the faded part itself as it appears on the sides and back of the head, such as an undercut fade, as well as the way that the longer hair is styled on the top of the head, such as a high top, side part fade, or faux hawk.

You might be wondering what’s the best fade? Well, we don’t have an easy answer for you.

Fade haircuts are so versatile and there are so many interesting styles that it might take some experimentation for you to find the hairstyle that works best for you. It all depends on your hair type, facial shape, willingness to maintain the cut, and most importantly, what you like.

Here are some of our favorite ways to style your fade haircut. Each type can sport a variety of different styles, all to best suit the individual.

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Bald Fade or Skin Fade

Sometimes called a zero fade haircut, the bald or skin fade is a very high fade where the hair is cut and quickly tapered right at the top of the head. The rest of the hair is cut or even shaved down to the scalp.

Many guys use this style can draw a strong contrast between their head hair and the lines of a beard, in case having a full haircut and full beard is crowding out their facial features or making your features appear too heavy or not clean-cut enough.

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Drop Fade

A drop fade begins right behind the ear. The fade line of a drop fade will discernibly arch from the temple to the ear, giving it a slightly different feel from the straight lines of the other cuts. This is often a mid fade due to where the line falls.

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Burst Fade

The burst fade might be one of the most distinctive of the fade haircuts. This can give you a bold look while still maintaining the clean lines of the fade haircut.

To create a burst, the fade line tapers behind the ear to leave the back of the hair longer. The line should replicate the ear curve, and have its burst at the base of the neck. This style works with both medium and short hair cuts and is often preferred by black men and men with tight curly hair.

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Temple Fade

The temple fade tapers around the temple and creates sharp lines that mark a sharp contrast with tightly curled hair. This is a difficult hairstyle to do and generally requires a barber who knows what they’re doing.

A temple fade creates clean lines and is popular among black men as well as guys for men with very tight curly hair.

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Comb-Over Fade

The comb over fade is all about what you do on top of the head once you have your fade at the desired height. In most cases, this will be a mid or high fade to give the face an oval appearance. The smooth comb-over look, however, doesn’t magically happen when you wake up in the morning, you will have to style the hair daily to keep it looking as good as it did when stepping out of the barber’s.

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Undercut Fade

For an undercut, the hair is kept long in the front and shaved on the sides. Combining this with a fade simply gives you a longer taper and a little more hair on the sides and back of your head.

The undercut is a skin fade cut that gives you a bald side and back of the head while offering leeway on top for a fun style. This style is high maintenance, and it may require shaving to keep it looking sharp.

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Pompadour Fade

The pompadour has longer hair at the very front of the head, which is then brushed back into shorter hair. A classic pompadour is smoothed back. However, modern pompadours are a little less dapper and clean-cut, preferring a more wild or relaxed style. Combining pomp with a fade is another way of updating this look and keeping it fresh.

One type of beard that pairs particularly well with a fade is the circle beard. The circle beard, also known as the “standard” beard or the “door knocker” beard, is a combination of a mustache and a rounded goatee that connects to form a circular shape around the mouth. This style can add definition to the jawline and create a sleek and sophisticated look. Pairing a well-groomed circle beard with a clean fade can create a sharp and modern style that is sure to turn heads.


  • Rebecca Moses

    Depending on the day, you’ll find Rebecca in a well thought-out ensemble that she handcrafted herself, or in hiking and rock climbing gear. An avid outdoorswoman, cyclist, and cat lover, Rebecca reminds us all on the Groom+Style team just how much we need to get outdoors. She’s worked in spas and salons off and on before going full-time with the G+S team. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-moses-3158b914b/