Originally worn in the 40s and 50s in the US military, and continued in black and hispanic barbershops, the fade really got elevated into "popular culture" in the 90s with people like Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The fade haircut would have previously been seen as an edgier hairstyle that may not have been accepted in the workplace, but with the resurgence of the fade in the last few years has come a great acceptance for rocking these sort of styles.
And with that it wasn't until the last few years the fade haircut has taken a huge leap into all hair types with more and more gents looking to rock it combined with almost any hairstyle imaginable.
Tapers, skin fades, low, medium & high fades are all types of fade haircut and it's easy to get confused by what they are and how to ask for them.
So here's our guide to what a fade haircut is and all you need to know about them.
Haircut by @tuckercuts
A fade essentially means a transition of lengths and colour on the back & sides of the hair. This means that the hair is not all buzzed to one length and has some sort of variation of lengths blended in together.
A fade can essentially be split up into 4 key categories based on how high the fade goes up the head.
We've seen a lot of definitions of taper vs fade, but the way we see most barbers describe a taper is when it's a fade around the neckline or sideburns. This should be a small subtle fade that is the lowest and least harsh of all of the fade types. It is often worn to fade out a beard into the hairline or with longer hair on the sides to add something different!
Haircuts by Top left: @nickbarford Top right: @drewrys_ Bottom left: @nickbarford Bottom right: @nickbarford
Next up in terms of height on the side of the head is the low fade. Let's use a skin fade haircut as an example - if you went down to skin, then the skin would be kept very low and the fade into longer length would start around a third of the way up your head. This is great for those gents that don't want a harsh haircut, but who still want to add some transition to the back & sides.
Haircuts by Top left: @jakelansley_jbs Top right: @nickbarford Bottom left: @tuckercuts Bottom right: @zeke_the_barber
As with all of these it's pretty self explanatory. The fade will start around half way up the head and somewhere between a third to two thirds of the side of the head. This will often be just above eyebrow height and can frame the eyes nicely. It's also around the maximum height you want to go if you have a longer head, as a high fade can make the head appear even longer.
Haircuts by Top left: @anthonythebarber916 Top right: @nickbarford Bottom left: @zeke_the_barber Bottom right: @patty_cuts
You guessed it, the highest of all of the fades! The high fade will start anywhere in the final third or so of the head and is the harshest of the four fades. When worn high and tight the high fade can almost reach the crown before transitioning into longer lengths, which makes it a lot more harsh.
Haircuts by Top left: @hayden_cassidy Top right: @nickbarford Bottom left: @nomadbarberldn Bottom right: @hayden_cassidy
When talking about the fade, the skin fade haircut is often mentioned. A skin fade once again does what it says on the tin. It means that the side of the hair is taken down to the skin to bald. A skin fade haircut though can still be split up into the four categories above, so it's up to you and your barber whether you go for a low, mid or high skin fade.
Haircut by @patty_cuts
No. As we mentioned, a fade is just transitioning from one hair length to another so it does not mean that you have to go down to skin to have a fade. A lot of people won't want to go down to a 0 so you can still ask for any guard length fade. The skin fade is the most defined fade however as it's very clear to see hair going from bald to say a 0.5 into a 2 at the top of the sides. Whereas when you start at a number 2 and work into a 3 it may not be as clear and obvious, depending on the colour and thickness of your hair.