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Taper Vs Fade Haircut: Differences, Ideal Face Shapes, and Style Options (2024)

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taper vs fade haircutThe taper vs fade haircut debate boils down to contrast levels.

With a taper, you’ll get a smooth, gradual change from longer hair on top to shorter on the sides and back.

A fade, however, creates a stark, almost shaved line where the top meets the cropped sides.

Both styles work for most face shapes, but fades highlight defined facial features better.

Tapers are lower maintenance, offering more styling flexibility.

If you want that clean, modern look with regular barber visits, go for a fade.

But if versatility and less upkeep appeal to you, opt for a taper.

The choice ultimately depends on your desired look and grooming routine.

Key Takeaways

  • The taper fade is a balanced combo—the taper’s versatility with the fade’s fresh, clean lines. Like having your cake and eating it too, my friend!
  • For the dapper gent seeking a polished yet modern look, the taper haircut offers endless styling potential. No need to visit the barber every two weeks like a fade demands.
  • If your face is as square as a brick, opt for a taper to soften those chiseled features. But if you’ve got a nice oval mug, feel free to rock either style with confidence.
  • At the end of the day, finding the right barber who understands your vision is key. Good communication paves the way for a haircut that’ll turn heads and make the ladies swoon!

What is a Taper?

What is a Taper
A taper gradually shortens your hair from the top down to the neckline, creating an evenly blended look that’s versatile and low-maintenance. With variations like low taper, high taper, tapered neckline, and skin taper, you can achieve a variety of clean-cut styles fitted to your preference.

Low Taper

A low taper haircut starts just above the ears, offering a polished, everyday look that’s ideal for various face shapes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Styling Options: Versatile and classy.
  2. Maintenance Tips: Trim every few weeks.
  3. Face Shape Suitability: Complements oval and heart shapes.
  4. Variations: Can be paired with side parts and comb-overs.

High Taper

A high taper haircut is ideal if you want a dramatic look with more contrast. It begins above the ears and pairs well with styles like comb overs, high tops, and even faux hawks. Best for square or oval faces, the high taper suits varied hair types and offers a sleek, modern appearance .

Tapered Neckline

A tapered neckline creates a smooth, clean passage from your hair to your neck. It’s a subtle blend that eliminates harsh lines, unlike a lineup or shaved neckline. Ideal for a professional look, the neck taper keeps your haircut tidy for longer, seamlessly blending into a longer top and sides—a classic choice for versatility and style (Source).

Skin Taper

A skin taper, also known as a bald taper, gradually reduces hair length until it merges seamlessly into the skin. You’ll notice variations in blending techniques and clipper sizes customized to your hair density and texture, creating a personalized look. This cut offers a clean, stylish finish, suited for various styles and fades .

What is a Fade?

What is a Fade
A fade haircut shifts dramatically from longer hair on top to skin at the sides and back, offering a modern, clean look. You have varied options like low fade, drop fade, skin fade, undercut fade, and faux hawk fade, each bringing a unique flair to your style.

Low Fade

A low fade starts just above the ears and gradually blends down to the skin for a sleek finish. It’s a versatile style that works with curly hair, adding definition and flair. Pair it with a beard or a sharp line for a fresh, modern look. Ideal if you prefer a low-maintenance, classic yet trendy cut .

Drop Fade

A fade haircut is a modern twist where the fade starts high but drops behind the ear, creating a curved shift. It’s versatile, complements all hair types, and provides a sharp, edgy look. With numerous variations like the low drop fade, it’s easy to personalize. This style requires regular maintenance for that fresh, clean appearance (Source).

Skin Fade

A skin fade, known for its clean, sharp look, involves fading the hair down to the skin around the sides and back. Ideal for defined facial structures like square or diamond shapes, it suits various hair textures. Regular trims every 1-2 weeks and products like leave-in conditioners or hair oils keep it sharp.

Undercut Fade

An undercut fade combines high contrast and defined style, creating a sharp look where the hair changes abruptly from long to short. This style works well with various facial hair and clothing styles, fitting personal preference and current trends. It suits most hair types but demands regular maintenance and skilled barbers for the perfect execution.

Faux Hawk Fade

A faux hawk fade marries edgy sharpness with a modern cut. It features short sides and a long top, creating a bold contrast.

  • Ideal for those seeking a standout style.
  • Suitable for heart-shaped or round faces.
  • Requires regular maintenance.
  • Versatile styling options with gel or pomade.
  • Enhances defined bone structures.

Combine creativity with a trendy faux hawk fade!

Taper Vs Fade Characteristics

Taper Vs Fade Characteristics
Fades offer a closer-cropped, trendy look that demands more frequent barber visits, while tapers provide a clean-cut appearance with fewer maintenance requirements. If you prefer versatility in styling, tapers are ideal as they offer more options compared to fades.

Fades Are Closer-Cropped Than Tapers

Fades cut much closer to the scalp than tapers, giving a crisply defined look. This sharp, modern style often requires frequent trips to the barber to maintain. Various fade types, like the high fade or fade comb-over, cater to personal style preferences.

Aspect Tapers Fades
Length Longer Closely-cropped
Cut Style Gradually shorter Abrupt change
Maintenance Less frequent barber visits Requires regular trims
Versatility High Moderate

Tapers Are More Clean-Cut, Fades Are Trendier

While fades offer trendier, modern appeal, tapers excel in providing a timeless style with a clean-cut look.

Tapers gradually decrease hair length, making them versatile and suitable for various hair textures and personal preferences.

accommodate all scalp shapes and result in a polished appearance that enhances a gentleman’s look, making trims less frequent and maintaining a classic yet contemporary men’s haircut.

Fades Require More Barber Trips

Fades require more trips to the barber, necessitating frequent maintenance to keep that sharp, clean look due to the drastic hair length difference. The styling effort involved is higher, as fades often need a skilled touch to achieve a seamless change. This high-maintenance characteristic makes fades perfect for those who prioritize a trendy, fresh men’s haircut.

Tapers Have More Styling Options

You can enjoy greater flexibility with taper haircuts, which are adaptable for numerous styles.

Whether it’s taper fade requests or different taper fade variations, you’ll find tapers offer diverse lengths and styling opportunities.

They’re easier to maintain compared to fades, ensuring your look stays fresh with minimal visits to the barber and suited for various taper hair length and styling preferences.

Ideal Face Shapes for Taper and Fade

Ideal Face Shapes for Taper and Fade
Understanding your face shape can help you decide between a taper or fade haircut, optimizing your look and style needs. Oval faces work well with either cut, while square faces suit tapers, round faces suit fades, heart faces look great with tapers, and diamond faces benefit from fades.

Oval Face Shape

If you have an oval face shape, both tapers and fades are excellent choices because they can be adjusted to compliment your facial structure. Pairing these cuts with styles like comb overs, high tops, or even crew and buzz cuts can really demonstrate your versatility.

With tapers, you get a clean, classic look, while fades offer a more modern, edgy appeal (Source).

Square Face Shape

For a square face shape, your best bet lies with taper haircuts. They complement your strong jawline perfectly. Keep maintenance low with regular trims and easy care. Styling these cuts is a breeze.

Here are some taper haircut variations:

  1. Low Taper
  2. High Taper
  3. Tapered Neckline
  4. Skin Taper

Round Face Shape

For round faces, fade haircuts can create a more defined bone structure and add edge to your look. The versatility of fades, be it low, high, or skin fades, allows for customized styling options that elongate your face. A fade can provide a modern, trendy appearance, ensuring you always look fresh and sharp.

Heart Face Shape

For heart-shaped faces, taper haircuts are the preferred option. They blend naturally, adding a balanced look without emphasizing the broader forehead. Opt for low or high tapers based on your style preference. Discuss your desired taper with your barber to guarantee they capture the subtle change that suits this face shape perfectly. Regular trims maintain the style.

Diamond Face Shape

For those with a diamond face shape, consider a fade haircut. It’ll accentuate your features with:

  • Shorter sides that slim the cheekbones
  • Longer top that balances a narrow forehead/jawline
  • Clean lines that offer a fresh, modern style

Discuss maintenance needs with your barber. Frequent trims keep the fade crisp. Ultimately, choose what best fits your personal preference and lifestyle.

Taper Haircut Explained

Taper Haircut Explained
Taper haircuts feature gradually shorter hair from the top to the bottom, with the length seamlessly blending into the nape. They come in low and high tapers, accommodating various styling preferences – the low taper starts tapering above the ears for a modest look, while the high taper tapers higher for bolder contrast.

Different Types of Tapers

When choosing a taper haircut, consider the length you prefer. A natural taper gradually blends longer hair on top with tapered sides for a clean, versatile look. Alternatively, a blended taper features a more drastic length contrast between the longer top and shorter sides, offering a bolder style.

Styling and Maintenance Tips

When maintaining a taper, embrace its versatility. Use lightweight products like pomades or creams for flexible styling. Air-dry for a natural finish. Routine trims every 4-6 weeks keep it sharp. Since tapering requires precision, find an experienced barber who’ll consistently nail the length and blend you desire.

Fade Haircut Explained

Fade Haircut Explained
With fades, you’re exploring the edgier side of men’s haircuts. There are several fade variations to choose from—low, drop, skin, undercut, and faux hawk fades. Each offers its own unique look and requires proper maintenance for that fresh, close-cropped style.

Different Types of Fades

With fades, you’ve got options – mid, high, skin, burst, temple fades. Mid fades fall between low and high. High fades are cropped tight from the temples up. Skin fades seamlessly blend into your skin. Burst fades have arched lines around the ear. Temple fades focus on the sides, leaving length on top.

Maintenance and Care Tips

You’ll need to maintain your fade with regular trims—every 2-4 weeks works best. Here are some tips:

  • Use a mild shampoo and conditioner
  • Avoid daily washing to prevent dryness
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner or hair oil
  • Style with a wide-tooth comb for control

Following a consistent routine keeps your fade looking fresh between barber visits.

Taper Fade Overview

Taper Fade Overview
A taper fade offers the best of both worlds, combining the gradual length change of a taper with the bold, skin-tight flair of a fade. This versatile cut provides length and style versatility on top while maintaining a clean, fresh look on the back and sides.

Definition and Characteristics

You’re considering the taper fade – a combo of longer hair on top tapering to shorter sides and back. This blends the versatility of a taper with the clean lines of a fade. The key differences? Fades are closer-cropped, trendier, require more barber visits, while tapers are longer, cleaner-cut, lower-maintenance – it’s about finding your perfect balance.

Styling Options

With a taper fade, you can style it with pomades or waxes for an everyday polished look. Yet, it leaves length on top for special occasions, allowing you to slick it back or style a pompadour using stronger-hold products. The short sides complement most hair textures while keeping it practical and fresh-looking.

Combined Benefits

You get the best of both worlds with a taper fade haircut:

  • Versatility – long hair on top for styling, clean faded sides
  • Maintenance – taper requires less upkeep than a full fade
  • Options – combines elements of various taper and fade types

It’s the perfect balance, giving you a fresh, modern look that’s adaptable to your style and lifestyle. Talk to your barber about achieving this winning combo.

How to Choose Between Taper and Fade

How to Choose Between Taper and Fade
When choosing between a taper and fade haircut, you’ll want to examine your hair type and face shape. These factors, along with your desired maintenance level, will help determine which style best suits your needs and preferences.

Considering Hair Type

Your hair type plays a key role when choosing between a taper or fade. Tapers suit most hair types, allowing versatility for thick, coarse locks. However, fades work better on thinner, straighter hair—the shorter length prevents puffiness. Consider your hair’s density and texture; if it’s thick or curly, opt for a taper’s gradual length.

Evaluating Face Shape

Your face shape greatly influences the ideal taper or fade haircut for you. For example, oval faces suit both styles, while square faces excel with tapers, as the length offers versatility. Round faces often favor fades, as the blended length complements circular features. Ultimately, choosing involves blending face shape with desired look and maintenance needs.

Understanding Maintenance Needs

In addition to face shape, you’ll want to evaluate the maintenance requirements of a taper versus fade. Fades require:

  1. More frequent barber visits (every 2-4 weeks)
  2. Consistent product use (pomades, waxes, etc.)
  3. Proper at-home styling techniques

Tapers, on the other hand, are lower maintenance – lasting 4-6 weeks between cuts. They offer versatile styling with minimal product needed. Assess your lifestyle and grooming preferences to make the right choice.

Communicating With Your Barber for a Taper or Fade

Communicating With Your Barber for a Taper or Fade
When communicating with your barber, clearly explain the type of taper or fade you want and provide visual references if needed. Discuss your desired hairstyle, face shape, hair type, and maintenance preferences to make certain the barber understands your desired look.

Tips for Effective Communication

Effective communication with your barber is key. Listen actively, ask clarifying questions, and use clear language to describe your desired taper or fade style. Pay attention to body language and nonverbal cues to guarantee you’re on the same page. Don’t be afraid to provide examples or reference images to eliminate any ambiguity.

Ensuring Desired Results

You’ve done your research, you know what you want – a taper or fade that complements your features.

Now make sure your barber understands your vision by providing clear examples, like photos or specific terms from their training.

Be upfront about hair growth patterns and personal styling preferences too.

With open communication, your barber can execute that fresh, trendy cut flawlessly.

Asking for Specific Variations

Don’t just settle for a generic cut; learn to ask for specific variations that suit your style. For example, request a taper vs fade neckline, pompadour, beard, undercut, or even hair tattoos. Here are 4 tips:

  1. Bring visual references
  2. Discuss desired length and gradation
  3. Specify hairline shape and sideburn length
  4. Communicate your preferred look and vibe

Being clear about your desired look guarantees you leave the barbershop feeling confident and fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is better, fade or taper?

Doth thy locks seek a princely taper or a dashing fade? The choice rests upon thy whims – go forth and conquer with a style fit for a ruler.

What face shape suits a taper?

For a face with a square or heart shape, a taper haircut is ideal. The gradual length change softens sharp jawlines and flatters slender features effortlessly.

How do I ask for a taper?

Like a master craftsman, confidently tell your barber, "I’d like a taper haircut, please – keep the length on top while gradually tapering the sides and back." They’ll sculpt a timeless, versatile look worthy of your refined tastes.

What does a taper look like?

A taper haircut features a gradual decrease in hair length from the top of your head down to the neckline, creating a smooth, blended look. The longer hair on top allows for versatile styling, while the neatly trimmed sides and back give a polished appearance.

How often should you get a taper/fade haircut?

Take a seat, my friend. You’ll want to revisit your barber every 2-4 weeks for a fresh taper/fade – these sharp cuts demand regular upkeep. After all, don’t you want to stay on the cutting edge?

Are taper/fade haircuts suitable for all hair textures?

Taper and fade cuts work with most hair textures. Skilled barbers can adapt techniques to achieve clean lines on straight, wavy, or curly hair. The key is using the right products and styling methods for your specific hair type.

Surprised at the popularity of these cuts? Popular taper/fade styles include the crew cut, buzz cut, Mohawk, pompadour, and quiff. Show off your personality while looking fresh and clean-cut.

Can taper/fade haircuts be styled without product?

Absolutely, you can rock a taper or fade without product. The key is to let your natural hair texture shine. Just use a spritz of sea salt spray or leave-in conditioner for touchable hold and definition.

Which celebrities rock taper vs. fade haircuts well?

Celebs like David Beckham, Brad Pitt, and Zayn Malik rock tapered cuts, while rappers like Drake and Kendrick Lamar slay with fades. The right cut highlights your unique features and personal style.


The taper vs fade haircut debate has no definitive winner – your choice relies on desired contrast, styling versatility, and upkeep commitment.

Fades provide a crisp, dramatic separation but demand frequent trims.

While tapers offer more flexibility with longer-lasting shape.

Consider your face shape, hair type, and lifestyle when deciding which modern men’s cut complements you best.

Discuss your preferences thoroughly with your barber to guarantee the perfect taper or fade haircut.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.