5 types of Fade haircuts for men: The ultimate tutorial
A lot of folklore surrounds the fade haircut and I have read some pretty horrible advice on the internet about each of the 5 types of fade haircuts. You see, the act of fading hair is a skill on its own and is pretty much the ultimate feat of skill for a barber. Any barber who can fade hair with mastery and confidence is a barber that will get a lot of business; trust me on that.
Likewise and even if you don’t intend on getting a fade haircut for your curly hair, having a barber (or hairdresser) who is great at fading hair will be an asset for you as your barber will be able to cut just about anything that you ask him for, since the fade haircut requires tenacity, attention to detail, great hand-to-eye coordination, plenty of hair-cutting experience and creativity. And those are the characteristics needed for a great curly men’s haircut.
In order to continue with my mission of helping all of you curly guys to get relevant information and inspiration for your curls, I’m publishing here at CurlyHairstylesForMen.net this ultimate guide on the fade haircut. That way, you folks can finally have a reference to use any time that you’re going to be going to the barbershop to get your hair faded. Moreover, I will be posting plenty of our pictures from the barbershop so as to show you what the different fade haircuts look like fresh from the b-shop!
In total, there are 5 types of fade haircuts for men:
- Regular fade
- High fade
- Low fade
- High Top fade
- Temple fade
I will now go through these 5 types of fade haircuts in this guide, and you’re free to ask any questions that you may have in the commenting section below. Let’s start.
Regular fade haircut
The fade haircut (sometimes called a “bald fade cut”) is something akin to the flagship haircut for black guys. It’s also the flagship haircut for curly dudes; that’s how useful as a haircut it is to us curly dudes. After all, you really want to keep the hair on the sides and back of your head short if you have curly hair and you aren’t intending to grow your curls long.
Due to the prominent vertical manner in which curly hair grows, the aesthetics of short-to-medium curly hair on the top can easily be ruined by puffy hair on the sides and back of the head. Thus tapering or fading the sides and back is the best option to be able to sport cool and aesthetic curls on the top.
In a regular fade haircut, the sides and back of the head are buzzed in a tapered manner so that the length of the hair decreases gradually the lower you go down the scalp. Unlike scissor-tapered haircuts, a fade haircut finishes off “on the skin” or is done “to skin”. What this means is that the hair on the sides and back of the head “disappears” into the skin right where the natural hairline of the ears and nape is set. Your barber or hairdresser will be finishing the fade haircut with the lowest hair-clipper length possible on your hairline.
The hair on the top of the head in a regular fade haircut is to be at any length longer than the hair on the sides and back, so you can pretty much have the hair at the top as long as you want.
High fade haircut
A high fade haircut has the hair disappearing (i.e. done to skin) high on the sides and back of the head. The fade in a high fade cut will finish some 2 to 3 inches below the upper-most section of the sides and back of the head.
For the record, the imaginary line that is created when the hair on the top of the head meets the hair on the sides and back of the head is called the disconnected haircut line or the “perimeter” of a disconnected haircut. There’s no need to remember these haircut terms when telling your barber what sort of short hairstyle you want, but I’m just letting you know of them so that you can better understand the dynamics of a high fade haircut and of all fade hairstyles.
As with the regular fade, the hair on the top of the head in a high fade is to be at any length ranging from the buzzed length on the sides and back of the head all the way up to as long as you want. If you want to grow your curls long (i.e. over 6 inches in length) then the high fade haircut is the best option for you. Do remember that you must use a good conditioner for men if you want to grow your curly hair long; not using a good men’s conditioner will result in awfully-tangled hair and misshapen curls.
Lastly, make sure that you do not confuse the high fade haircut with the undercut haircut which is a very common mistake and which is one of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen posted in other websites.
Low fade haircut
A low fade haircut finishes lower on the sides and back of the head than the high fade haircut. However, a low fade haircut also finishes higher than a regular fade haircut. Ergo, a low fade haircut will usually finish some 2 to 3 inches above the hairline of the sides and back of the head.
The hair on the top of the head follows the same haircut and hairstyle references of the regular fade and high fade haircuts (i.e. you can have the hair on the top as long as you want).
While the high fade is usually mistaken for an undercut, a low fade is usually mistaken for an executive contour haircut. This is another haircut that many websites get wrong time and time again and hairstyle-name errors like these ones are, in part, what made me publish this fade haircut guide. For those of you interested, an executive contour haircut is a scissor-trimmed haircut with a hair-clipper finish; the use of scissors in the executive haircut already prevents this haircut from being one of the fade haircuts as a fade haircut is always done with a hair clipper only!
High Top fade haircut
The High Top fade haircut is a cool 1980s hairstyle that was popularized on TV by none other than WIll Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Other dudes like Kid Reid and Christopher Play Martin also sported the High Top Fade haircut during the 1980s and 1990s, which helped immensely in popularizing the High Top fade haircut in the African-American community as well as in the Caribbean countries. I even remember my cousins from Jamaica sporting their High Top fade cuts in the early 1990s when they were only 8 and 9 years old respectively!
The High Top fade haircut has the hair on the sides and back of the head buzzed into a high fade, as the name suggests. The hair on the top, however, doesn’t follow the free-styled approach of the other fade haircuts and instead the hair must be up and smoothly flattened or curved. These days, though, a shaggy “high top” is still accepted as a High Top fade due to the popularity of this hi-top alternative in the 2010s.
The length for the hair on the top of the head in a High Top fade haircut is to be between 2 inches and 6 inches. With that said, the top of a High Top fade can be as long as 10 inches and more!
The popularity of the High Top Fade among black males stemmed from the fact that kinky curly hair stands up on its own with hardly any product use. Actually, if your were to grow a natural Afro hairstyle with 2 inches all across your head and then you faded the sides and back, you would end up with a High Top fade. Like with the High Top fade, the Afro hairstyle is a natural hairstyle for most black men as the Afro shape of the hairstyle occurs naturally due to the kinky curls growing up and out. Coiled curly hair, which is slightly-less curlier compared to kinky curly hair, also shares this hair-type trait.
Despite the hair on the top standing by its own in the High Top fade for curly guys, I still recommend that you use a strong-holding hair product and some hair spray to add a cool texture and finish to you Hi-Top mane. The best men’s products for curly hair and thus for the High Top fade are hair waxes for a high shine, hair gel for a wet look and hair-styling pomade for a slicked look.
One note of caution: try to use a water-based pomade for your slicked High Top Fade as oil-based pomades can make your hair greasy really fast. Remember the movie “Coming to America” (released in 1988)? Well, now remember Darryl Jenks (played by Eriq La Salle) with his greasy “Soul Glo” Jheri curl hairstyle leaving sofas and headrests stained with the grease-like tincture of the Jheri curl product! So, fellow curly dudes, use a water-based pomade for your curly hair and for your High Top fade, and leave the oil-based pomades to the dudes with straight-haired manes.
As a last note, do not confuse a High Top fade with a flat top haircut; the latter has the similar “high top” trait but doesn’t have the high fade haircut on the sides and back of the head. Here’s a picture depicting several High Top Fade haircuts and flat top haircuts.
If you’re going to the barbershop to get a High Top fade haircut, make sure to emphasize to the barber that you want the hair on the sides and back faded high, as otherwise he may give you a flat top hairstyle and not a High Top fade. I’ve seen this happen too many times to not be warning you about it.
Temple fade haircut
The Temple fade haircut was a men’s haircut of the 1990s which was quite popular with black men and Latino men from the East coast and, in particular, with black men from New York and New Jersey. Back then, the Temple fade was also known as the Temp fade, the Brooklyn clip or the Bronx fade, and these names are still tossed around in barbershop jargon to this day. And, while the Temple fade was primarily a 1990’s haircut, it has started to become popular again in 2015 among curly kids with hip parents.
In New Jersey, the Temple fade is known as the Blowout fade and it was made popular in the 2000s by New-Jersey-native Pauly D, whose real name is Paul DelVecchio. I’ve heard some other less-popular hairstyle names for the Temple fade, but just stay with those names that I’ve mentioned as they will become handy to you if you want to get this type of fade haircut.
The Temple fade is a low fade haircut that includes the fading of the hair on the hairline of the forehead. As a matter of fact, all the hair on your scalp’s hairline is faded, so that includes not just the hairline of the ears and neck (as per the rest of fade haircuts) but also the hairline of the forehead as I’ve mentioned earlier. Here’s an example of a redhead curly kid with a Temple fade haircut and the hairline of his forehead faded too.
The fading of the forehead’s hairline is done on the first inch of the hairline towards the vertex (i.e. the direction of the fading is as if going towards the vertex). What this all means is that, in a Temple fade, there’s a one-inch wide band of faded hair running parallel across the forehead’s hairline. However, over the last 20 years, the one-inch band of faded hair has gotten narrower and narrower, and nowadays most barbers will do a tiny fade or taper on the scalp, while fading the hairline of the ears and neck with a textbook 1-to 2-inches band of faded hair.
Fading the hairline of the forehead requires some skill so make sure that your barber is fully acquainted with all the types of fade haircuts for men. As you’re getting the forehead’s hairline faded, you can also ask for a “shape up” trim which basically squares off the hairline of the forehead and makes it sharper.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Temple fade has deviated quite a bit from its humble beginnings in that nowadays the hair on the forehead is not faded and is instead tapered with a hair clipper and scissors. While such a technique would not be a Temple fade per se (since there’s no tapering to skin on the forehead), you can still get away with calling a scissor-tapered front haircut a Temple fade, but make sure that you explain to your barber how you want him to use the scissors in the tapering of your forehead’s hairline if getting this newer version of the Temple fade haircut.
On top of the above (no pun intended), this newer tapered version of the Temple fade has been used over the last decade as an induction haircut for “wolfing” and creating 360 waves on the hair. You can see in the picture below how the hair of this barbershop customer is ready to start the brushing process to create waves; this is known as wolfing. Incidentally another popular haircut for the 360 waves hairstyle aside from a Temple fade haircut is the Caesar haircut.
On the next picture below, we have another example of a kid with a tapered (and not faded) hairline for his Temple fade haircut. The pictures on the left are before the Temple fade, while the pictures on the right are after getting the haircut. Notice how the forehead’s hairline was barely shaped up.
This spin-off haircut from the Temple fade which incorporates the tapering and not fading of the hairline is what’s usually referred to as a Blowout fade in the East coast; it was extremely popular in the 2000s in New Jersey (specifically) among the Guido male community (of which Mr. Pauly D was a proud member). The Blowout fade remains still strong in popularity in the 2010s among the self-proclaimed Guidos, while the textbook done-to-skin Temple fade has lots much of its 1980s’ appeal among black males in the East coast. However, there has been a brief-but-ongoing popularity renaissance of the Temple fade for curly boys in the East coast.
Technically, the hair on the top of the head in the Temple fade can be as long as you want it to be. The Blowout fade typically has hair that exceeds 4 inches in length; on the other hand, the classic (old-school) Temple fade haircut typically has a length of less than 4 inches, as otherwise the faded hairline looks out of proportion with the hair on the top of the head. Here’s an example of a Temple fade with out-of-proportion hair on the top.
For those of you with wavy curls and not kinky curls, a celebrity guy whom you can look up for inspiration on the wavy Temple fade haircut is soccer player Jese Rodriguez who plays for Real Madrid. Jese Rodriguez has been wearing a Temple fade for his wavy hair for many years (that’s him in the picture below).
Conclusion to our fade haircuts guide
This guide will get you started on the 5 types of fade haircuts and will help you to decide which one of these fade cuts you really want to get. Remember that not all fade haircuts are created equal and that the skill of your barber (or whoever is going to fade your hair) is the most important factor in getting a good fade or a bad fade. And, above all, now that you have this fade haircut guide as your hair-cutting reference, you’re no longer at risk of being mislead by other websites calling the high fade an undercut (among other silly hair-cutting idiosyncrasies)!
Any questions that you may have related to any of the 5 fade haircuts are welcome.
This guide was last updated on the 6th September 2015
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