Everything You Need to Know About Taper Fade Haircuts
Nothing is quite as transformative as getting a new haircut. There's just something about cutting your hair that feels like the culmination of main character energy, and there's no better time to make a change than the start of a new season. With warmer weather approaching, specifically, now is when getting a short cut sounds especially appealing. If you want something edgier than an octopus haircut or a bixie, we have a suggestion: a taper fade haircut.
Unlike buzz cuts, which are closely shaven at the scalp, taper fades are almost like a gradient on the head. You can add different designs and colors to your choosing, and it also works across hair textures. If you're intrigued, we reached out to a pro hairstylist to answer all your questions about taper fade haircuts — including what they are, what to ask for at the barber or salon, and how to get the look at home. Read ahead for a full breakdown on the look that definitely needs to be on your radar, as well as inspiration pictures to take with you to your next hair appointment.
What Is a Taper Fade?
To understand a taper fade, we should start with understanding a general tapered haircut. "A tapered haircut is a cut that is shortest at the edges, such as the sideburns and nape," says David Ruiz, a barber at Boston Barber Company Beacon Hill. "A fade can either be low, medium, or high but a tapered fade is when the tightest — or shortest — sections of the haircut are just at the nape and sideburns."
Though "a fade" is generally the most well known name for this haircut, some areas of the world "may also refer to this haircut as a blowout," Ruiz says.
How to Grow Your Hair For a Taper Fade Cut
While there are no prerequisites for growing out your hair specifically for a fade, Ruiz adds that regular hair maintenance is key for getting any haircut. "General maintenance of hair is good for everyone, specifically washing and using conditioners that don't irritate your scalp," Ruiz says. Regardless of whether you are cutting your hair at home or going to a professional, make sure to do your haircut on clean hair.
Taper Fades For Textured or Curly Hair
There should be no difference between getting a tapered fade on curly or textured hair, but to make sure you nail the look that you want, Ruiz says that there are a few best practices to keep in mind. "Maintaining good and open communication with your trusted hairstylist is key," Ruiz says. "Discuss how your desired taper fade could look, and bring photos to give exact examples."
Unfortunately, sometimes hairstylists are not versed in kinky, curly, or coily hair. If you don't have a regular hairstylist that you trust, make sure that they are "well-rounded and equally skillful in all hair textures and patterns," Ruiz says. Additionally, do not be afraid to ask for previous examples of the style that they have done on other clients.
Recommended Styling Tips and Products For Taper Fades
Ruiz always recommends going to a professional to get a taper fade, but if you want to do the cut at home, he has some tips that will make the process a bit easier. "When approaching this haircut, you want to start big and work your way down," Ruiz says. But the most important part of doing a taper fade at home is remembering your numbers. "With your at-home clippers, usually every clipper guard will equate to that many eighths of an inch. For example, a #1 guard will cut the hair down to 1/8th of an inch, which is extremely short. So start with the biggest guard you have, and with an upwards C motion, begin at the sideburn and flick the clipper away from the head as you begin to remove hair."
Depending on the length of hair you have and how tight of a fade you are aiming for, the amount of hair that you will take off varies; however, once you start cutting with your largest guard, "keep working down from this initial guideline with smaller guards following the consecutive smaller numbers — 4-3-2-1 and so on." Specialty guards in half sizes are also available, for those who feel more comfortable with cutting their own hair, and they follow the same rule of thumb: follow the numbers.
For clippers, Ruiz recommends looking for ones "with the taper lever" from your favorite trusted brands or beauty supply stores, and some of our editors even have a few that they swear by.
Whether you are looking for a spring reset or just want a new look, use the of the pictures ahead to inspire your taper fade haircut.