What Is a Men’s Fade Haircut? + 17 Different Types of Fade Cuts

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As time goes by, hairstylists come up with new trends and techniques for cutting tresses. 

So with all the new haircuts and styles out there, it’s easy to get confused when asking for the haircut you want.

Sometimes it’s easier to just have a picture ready when you sit on your barber’s chair and tell him, “I want this cut.”

A man is getting his hair shaved with an electric shaver at the barber shop

One of the popular haircuts you might have seen in magazine photos and social media posts is a fade cut. But what is a fade men’s haircut?

To briefly answer that, it’s a fresh and modern look that works for all hair types. Moreover, it can give you an edgy look or enhance your hair structure.

Keep reading to find out more about this style and see which type of fade haircut is perfect for you.

What Is a Fade Men’s Haircut?

The term “fade” originated from black-owned barber shops. 

This refers to aggressively tapering the edges of the hair using a clipper. Using this technique makes it seem like the hair is gradually fading.

Additionally, the short sides and back make the look similar to a military regulation haircut.

Fade cuts for men are highly requested nowadays because they’re cool and low-maintenance.

However, fade isn’t really a haircut on its own. Rather, it’s the way the back and sides of the head are styled.

For a fade haircut, the top of the hair may vary, so it can be combined with any hair type, length, and style.

Taper vs. Fade vs. Taper Fade

You might have heard of the taper fade. Many individuals mistakenly refer to it as a particular type of fade you can get.

However, we’d like to clarify that this is a misconception.

The taper fade isn’t actually a specific style of hair. It’s a term that gained traction because most people mixed up the fade and the taper haircut since they’re so similar.

But these two haircuts are different from each other. So what are the distinctions between a taper and a fade?

A taper is done on only two areas: the sideburns and the neckline. The hair gradually gets shorter as it goes down the end of the haircut.

Remember our answer to the question, “What is a fade men’s haircut?” Let’s review. A fade has the sides and back of the hair tapered to the skin in a more dramatic manner.

Basically, a fade is a really short taper. That means all fades are tapers, but not all tapers are fades.

Fade Levels

Fades are classified into three levels, depending on how high the shortest part of the hair starts to transition into another longer length.

Simply put, the level is determined by where the fade starts.

Low Fade

young man standing on a blue light looking at the side with a low fade haircut

A low fade focuses on the bottom inch of your hair, fading just above the ear. With this cut, the hair on top could be any length.

This fade style looks subtle and understated, making it great for those who don’t want a harsh contrast but still prefer transition.

Mid Fade

back view of man's mid fade haircut inside the salon

A mid fade haircut will start halfway up the head. That’s several inches above the ear or your eyebrow height.

This fade level also frames the eyes well.

Additionally, if you have a long face shape, the mid fade is the highest you can go for a fade haircut.

High Fade

close up photo of a young man having a high fade a haircut in a barber shop

This is the highest and also the harshest of all fades.

The transition suddenly starts near the temporal area or where the head begins to curve toward the crown, creating a dramatic effect.

A high fade is similar to a military cut and can give length to round or square faces.

6 Different Types of Fade Haircuts for Men

Any barber will tell you that the question “What is a fade men’s haircut?” is hard to answer. 

Why? Aside from differences in height, fade cuts often vary in the way they are done.

Some barbers make slight changes to the process of creating fades to add character or customize the look based on the client’s needs.

Because of this, it can be hard to keep up with all the kinds of fades you see.

To help you identify which fade type suits you, we’ve narrowed your choices down to the six best fade haircuts.

Skin Fade

side view photo of a man with skin fade haircut on a plain background

Also known as bald fade, a skin fade is a zero-grade cut where the bottom edges of the fade are shaved bald.

This type of fade is usually done with a straight razor or a foil shaver to get the ultra-close shave.

You can opt for a low, mid, or high skin fade haircut. Just take note that this style creates more contrast.

A skin fade will last around two to three weeks before needing a touch-up.

Drop Fade

Fades are typically done with a straight hairline all around the head.

But a drop fade is done differently. This one curves from the ears down to the back of the head.

When viewed from the side, the fade seems to drop. And at the back, you’ll see that the sides are connected like a U.

Drop fades look best with low to mid fades, as they tend to look strange when done at a high level.

Temp Fade

The temple fade, as the name suggests, focuses the taper on the temples. This is a good starting place to try a fade cut for the first time.

It creates a sharp and unique look. It’s also great for enhancing the hairline and elongating the head.

Burst Fade

The burst fade tapers the hair around the ear in a semi-circular pattern.

Unlike the drop fades, this one doesn’t continue down the nape, so it looks edgy.

The longer the hair at the top is, the more contrast the cut has. This is why a burst fade is perfect with a mohawk.

Fade With Details

side view photo of a man  with a fade with details haircut on a white background

The fade cut already looks good on its own, but it can be even better when you add more details.

A blurry fade makes a good canvas for carving hair designs like shapes, lines, or even images. Some even go the extra mile and dye the details with unnatural hair colors.

This will bring out the artist in your barber. Plus, it’ll draw more attention to your hair.

Beard Fade

photo of a smiling man with a short hair and a properly trimmed beard fade

Fades aren’t just for your hair. The beautiful transition can also be applied to your facial hair, specifically the beard.

A beard fade usually starts with well-trimmed and evenly faded sideburns, and the facial hair grows longer gradually as it goes down.

11 Fade Hairstyles

Now you know the answer to the question, “What is a fade men’s haircut?” 

So your next move may be to look for a fade hairstyle that matches your preferences. 

Luckily, a fade is a versatile hair-cutting technique that can go well with any hair length and style.

If you want to make a statement, you can add a fade to your usual haircut.

Below are the best styles that can be paired with a fade.

Pompadour Fade

side view photo of a man  with a pompadour fade hairstyle isolated on a white background

The classic comb-over look can be made chic and modern when styled with faded sides.

In this hairstyle, the hair on top is thick and long and is brushed up toward the back.

If you want to have length on the top of your head but keep the back and sides short, this is for you. 

Pompadours look great with a mid and high fade. Make sure to avoid a skin fade because it may look too harsh.

The best way to style this hairdo is with traditional pomade.

Buzz Cut Fade Haircut

portrait photo of a man with a buzz fade haircut in front of a white wall

A buzz cut is a short hairstyle with the same length on all parts of the head. But a more trendy way to wear it is with fades on the back and sides.

In this look, the hair is clipped short to the head. The fade, which is usually high, is made even shorter as it fades.

It’s a no-fuss cut because there’s really no need for styling products. However, it’s best to keep your scalp in good shape since most of your skin would show.

Military Fade

photo of a man having a military fade haircut in a barber shop

For a short and practical look that goes all out on style, you can get a military fade.

It’s different from a buzz cut in that the length is longer at the top. But it still makes for a short and polished look.

Side Part Fade Haircut

photo of a handsome young man with a side parted fade haircut

The classic gentleman style is the side part haircut. You can add a modern element to this look by pairing it with faded sides.

The top part is long enough to be parted neatly at the side, which works best for straight hair.

Undercut Fade 

back view photo of a man's undercut fade hairstyle looking at the mirror

An undercut is a versatile look that can work for any hair type or texture. It’s best paired with a skin fade.

The hair shortens very suddenly and then tapers gradually.

This is a stylish and practical cut that will remove excess volume.

Mohawk with Fade

close up photo of a man's mohawk with fade hairstyle isolated on a white background

A mohawk haircut is an edgy and rebellious style that’s usually worn with the sides completely shaved off.

But for a modern and unique approach, you can go for faded sides. This makes the contrast less dramatic.

Crop Haircut with Fade

photo of a man with short crop haircut standing on a plain light background

A crop is a short haircut that can be worn in several ways, and one of those is with a medium fade. A skin fade looks good with this cut too.

This is a great choice for adding texture. When you ask for a crop cut, your stylist will give you a blunt fringe on top of the forehead with faded sides and a faded back.

You can use hair clay to style this cut.

Afro Fade

portrait photo of an African-American man with afro fade haircut

Whether you have a short or long afro, you can embrace your natural hair and make it look more interesting with a fade on the sides and back.

Moreover, the afro fade is particularly striking when paired with drop fades.

Quiff Fade

photo of a handsome man with quiff fade hairstyle while wearing a suit standing on a gray background

A quiff haircut has short hair on the sides and longer hair on top. The strands are styled in a messy, voluminous way.

You can add texture to your hair using hair clay or make the strands stand up using hair spray or hair spray alternatives.

Different fades can work with a quiff cut, but the best for us is a high bald fade.

Flat Top Fade Cut

A flat top haircut is angular and, as indicated in its name, has a flat top.

This comes in different variations, but it’s almost always worn with a high fade and about one to two inches length of hair on top.

In addition, the flat top fade haircut will suit those with round and oval face shapes. It’s also more popular among men with thick hair.

Man Bun Fade 

side view photo of a man with a bun fade hairstyle

Who says men with long hair can’t ask for a faded haircut? For those with shoulder-length or longer locks, try the man bun with a fade.

Keeping the sides shorter is a great way to give your style a fresh update.

When you gather your hair toward the back, the fade features will show. Opt for a skin fade to pair with your man bun.

How to Ask Your Barber for a Fade Haircut

When you want to have a fade haircut, you can’t just say you “want a fade.” 

You have to remember that the term “fade haircut” doesn’t refer to one specific look. It comes in different styles.

While it’s good to have pictures as inspiration for the cut you want, it’s still best to communicate with your barber about what you want and what he thinks would work for you.

Here are a few questions you need to consider when getting a fade haircut.

  • What fade level do you want?
  • How short or long do you want the hair length on top to be?
  • Will the cut flatter your face shape?
  • Is the style easy or hard to maintain?

Your honesty about what you want, paired with your barber’s expertise, is the key to having a great fade haircut.

Fade Haircut FAQs

Which is better: low or high fade?

Low fade and high fade are equally great-looking levels of fade, and each work with different styles. 

Low fades offer less contrast and would work for natural-looking styles, while high fades look best with edgy haircuts.

Do fades suit everyone?

Fade is a popular tapering technique that’s so versatile it can complement different hair types.

Plus, there is a type of fade for any length of hair at the top.

Get a Fade Hairstyle

“What is a fade men’s haircut?” is a common query among guys looking for a new cut, so we’re glad to have answered it for you. 

Barber cleans the neck of a young guy with a brush with talc after a haircut on a brick wall background

If you’re one of those men who want to add style and draw attention to your hair, opt for a fade.

Just take note of the different fade types. Remember as well that fades vary in levels, which indicate where the fade will start. This will help you determine if your chosen fade goes well with your current hairstyle.

Want to learn about other haircuts?

We’ve got more to show you:


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Anna Mastenbrook

    Amanda Mastenbrook is an accomplished beauty professional and salon owner with a decade of experience in the industry. Educated at NDSU and licensed from Josef's School of Hair Design, she's a master of color and balayage. Amanda founded The Chair in 2015 after launching a successful mobile spray tanning service. Known for her award-winning avant-garde styling and expertise in toning, she continues to redefine beauty standards and client satisfaction through her work.

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