There’s one complaint we hear more frequently than anything else from our male friends, boyfriends, and fathers: I don’t know what to do with my hair. Budget men’s salons don’t provide many options, and there aren’t quite as many digital style resources made with men in mind as there are for women.
Luckily, we’re here to clue you in on a little secret. When it comes to men’s haircuts, few are as easy, perennially stylish, or flattering as the taper fade. Whether you’re working with a strong jawline or hoping to play up your facial features, there’s a fully customizable version of this cut that’s an ideal fit for you.
Not sure you’re a fit quite yet? Keep reading.
What is a taper fade cut?
In the past, the extent of your hair cuts may have been a casual snip-snip and a single length across your scalp. Unlike those styles, the fade is all about sculpting the hair to fit the head. Your barber or stylist will crop your hair close to the scalp, trimming it significantly shorter at the nape of the neck. The resulting gradient is stylish but subtle.
As far as the top section of the hair goes, you’re welcome to leave as much or little length as you’d like. Twist it up into a bun or buzz it away, because the taper fade plays nicely with almost any style.
The low taper fade is the most popular version of this cut. Your barber will fade the hair above your ears and at you neck, creating an evenly blended style that’s extremely understated. Whether you’re a college student or a corporate dad, the low fade it entirely appropriate. Consider it the khaki pants of the hair world.
If you choose a high fade, expect a haircut that’s significantly shorter than the kind you may be used to having. For this look, your barber will fade out your strands around eye level. That means a breezy, bare scalp for summer.
Because low and high fades are completely separate from the style you choose for your crown, it’s possible to pair these cuts with a variety of disconnected looks.
Working to wrangle curly hair can be exhausting on a daily basis, which is why it’s so important that a taper fade will give you an extra 10 minutes in bed. Ask your barber for a high or low fade on the sides, leaving your lion’s mane long on top.
If you’re new to the world of embracing waves, ask your stylist for his or her product recommendations.
The quiff is a more dramatic take on the taper fade, one that requires a basic knowledge of using hair styling product. Instead of clipping your top section close to the scalp, your barber will leave about two inches of length at your hairline. This section will gently taper closer to the back of the head, leaving you room for styling and creativity.
While we’re talking dramatic taper fades, it’s impossible to overlook the pompadour (literally, because this is a tall hairstyle). If you know your way around hair product and have a retro sensibility, this over-the-top look could be ideal for you.
Slicked Back Fade
Trying to grow your hair out, or just enjoy having some length? The slicked back fade is an excellent choice, combining sleek strands with tapered sides.
If you’re looking for a cut that’s cool enough for summer wear without making you look like your eighth-grade self, schedule an appointment with your barber. It’s time to consider the razor fade. Instead of using a standard trimmer to create shape, your pro will craft the style with a straight-edge razor. As a result, you’ll get an extremely close-cropped high fade.
Do you have longer natural hair that you’re tired of styling? The box fade is about to be your new go-to style. Ask your barber for a low fade that becomes a rectangle with a flat top. It’s fashion forward, graphic, and simple. This isn’t the cut that you wore in middle school, that’s for certain.
No work of art is complete without a focal point, and the same rules apply to haircuts. To add a little something extra to your taper fade, ask your barber for a hard part. Instead of simply dividing your hair in two, the stylists will carve a crisp, sharp line into your scalp.
If you're the kind of man who’s always wanted a mohawk but could never fully commit to the bald sides, the faux-hawk fade might be for you. This is a grownup take on the punk-influenced cut, one that incorporates tons of volume. If you have already thought about buying your own blow dryer, it’s time to hit “add to cart.” You’ll need it.
Buzz Cut Fade
This past year, we’ve seen the buzz cut transition from its role as a tried-and-true style to a trendy, fashionable look on both men and women. If you’re ready to feel a cool breeze on your scalp and rid yourself of those extra inches, ask your barber to trim it all (almost) off your head. He or she will leave the hair just a bit longer on top, creating a military-inspired style that’s just as appropriate on a corporate campus as it is on an army base.
Men who braid, we salute you. If you’re down to try a French braid, this look may be for you. Leaving your hair long on top, your barber will taper the sides and back of your head. Then, you’ll braid back from the hairline before securing the style in a small bun or ponytail. We call this look “Viking chic.”
Man Bun Fade
If your hair is long enough to try a braid, you’re certainly qualified to create a man bun. Simply brush your mane back from the hairline, securing it with an elastic. The second time you loop the elastic around the tail, don’t pull it all the way through. Leave it in a loop shape for an easy bun.