Barbershop Blog


February 19, 2021

There is often confusion around the different types of fade hairstyles and what to ask for when visiting the barbershop. The term ‘fade’ actually describes the area where short hair ‘fades’ into the skin. Therefore any fade will always start at zero or skin, what changes is how much skin shows and where.

Skin Fade Hairstylesmid Fade Hairstyle for boyshigh fade hairstyle

Taper or Fade?

Some of the confusion around the name ‘fade’ or ‘skin fade’ stems from the incorrect use of terminology. Mostly people using the terms taper and fade interchangeably when in fact they are technically two different things. 

Fades and tapers are very similar and they are both a gradual reduction in the length of your hair. There is some form of tapering or blending in most men’s haircuts and put simply this is the visible gradation between longer and shorter hair down to the hairline. A fade differs because it ‘fades’ down to the skin and finishes above the hairline.

The most confusing part of all of this is is probably the term ‘taper fade’, here you have a taper or blending of the hair down to the hairline and and a fade to skin at only the sideburns and nape of the neck.

Depending on where you are geographically and who you talk to, you may hear different names getting thrown around to describe the different types of fade hairstyles. There really are endless combinations for what happens to the length on top. Most fades can be combo’d with a pompadour, crop top or messy quiff but generally a high fade leads to shorter hair on top and lower fades support longer lengths up top.

Know Your Fades 

Taper Fade

This is the lowest of all the fade hairstyles, the fade to skin only appears at the sideburns and the nape of the neck before tapering up to longer lengths.

Taper fade Hairstyle

Low Fade

Starts at skin length just above the ear and runs low down around the back of the head.

Low Fade Hairstyle

Mid Fade

This style will start around the temple or eyebrow level and dip a little around the back of the head at the optical bone.

mid fade hairstyle

High Fade

Starts higher up again, the high fade reveals a lot of skin that may almost reach the crown of the head before it starts to get longer.

high fade hairstyle

Drop Fade

This term is used to describe a fade that drops down behind the ear to create a curved arc that follows the hairline. The low and mid fade are both drop fades.

Drop Fade Hairstyle

Ask The Barber

Being up to speed on the correct terminology is a step in the right direction of a killer haircut. If you’re not afraid to talk to the barber, then not knowing won’t be an issue either. Don’t be afraid to try and explain in detail the features you’d like to see in your haircut. It can also be a good idea to bring a reference image if you have found a style that you’d like to try out for yourself.