A taper fade – often referred to as a taper – differs from a classic fade in several ways. Both involve gradually cutting the side and back of the hair short while leaving the top section longer. However, a taper fade is cut shorter and can result in fading down to the skin at any point. We have rounded up many types of taper fade haircuts to help you determine which style will suit you best.
1. Low Taper Fade
More subtle than other fades, the low taper fade starts at your ears and follows your hairline back to the nape of your neck. While it doesn’t have the same high-contrast effect as other taper fades, it does make your hair look more neat and structured. That’s because it ensures there are no messy or flyaway hairs around your ears or neck. It’s also a great way to draw attention to your cheekbones.
2. Mid Taper Fade
A balanced option that suits almost all men and hair types is the mid taper fade. More striking than a low fade and less intense than a high fade, it looks stylish yet casual. If your hair is thick or wavy, a mid taper fade will reduce your styling time and make it more manageable without overwhelming your face.
3. High Taper Fade
A high taper fade starts further towards the crown of your head than other fades. Because it draws the eyes up, it’s the perfect fade to pair with a voluminous hairstyle like a pompadour or quiff. A high taper fade can also act as a subtle frame for your face, making it look slimmer – especially if you connect it to your beard.
4. Regulation Cut Taper Fade
Sometimes the simplest haircuts are the most appealing and a regulation cut is ideal for men who want a low-maintenance and fuss-free hairstyle. It is practical, easy to wear, and is defined by the short length and side parting. The regulation cut is inspired by the military and is known for its masculine and polished appearance. To create a modern edge and let the haircut better reflect your preference, you can pair it with a taper fade.
5. Curly Taper Fade
A taper fade is a great way to give your curls some structure. Because the sides and back are cut short, you won’t need to spend time styling those sections. As well as being a low-maintenance cut, it also looks clean and professional. However, the curly taper fade is far from boring – the short sides create a fresh visual contrast with the curly top section.
6. Faux Hawk Taper Fade
A more subtle version of the mohawk haircut is the faux hawk – and one of the easiest ways to get the look is with a taper fade. Instead of shaving the sides down to the skin, your barber will instead create a graduated effect while leaving the top center section medium length. You can then style the longer hair into a faux-hawk. To make it stand out even more, ask for a disconnected cut.
7. Taper Fade Comb Over
A modern yet classic hairstyle, the taper fade comb over looks professional, sophisticated, and mature. Because a taper fade is longer than a classic fade, the effect is more subtle. It’s perfect if you want to give your traditional comb over a fresh twist or are going from medium to shorter length hair. It’s also a great option if your hair is naturally thick, as you’ll only need to style the top section.
8. Afro Taper Fade
A taper fade is an excellent choice for men with Afro hair. It’s less high maintenance than a full Afro and helps frame your face, making your features look sharper. The Afro taper fade is also versatile because it can be styled to look clean-cut and professional or more casual and relaxed.
9. Crew Cut Taper Fade
The crew cut is a no-nonsense haircut that is practical and easy to wear. The hair is kept short and trimmed close to the head but is longer on the front. It will gradually shorten around the back and sides. This look will naturally complement a taper fade, and you can experiment with slightly longer or shorter lengths, depending on your preference. The result is a masculine haircut that requires little styling time or grooming products ideal for the busy man.
10. Bald Taper Fade
A bald fade, also known as a skin fade, never goes out of fashion. Because it looks so smart and stylish, men worldwide come back to the cut year after year. To nail the bald fade, your barber will precisely blend your hair into the shaved section, creating a striking contrast. For a fresh take on the cut, leave the top part of your hair longer, with waves or curls.
11. Caesar Taper Fade
The Caesar is one of the oldest and most traditional cuts for men with short hair. It involves brushing the hair forward into a short, blunt fringe that covers the hairline. The Caesar is perfect for guys with naturally straight or textured hair and has a classic and timeless appeal. When paired with a taper fade, it looks even cooler.
12. Flat Top Taper Fade
The flat top involves cutting the hair so it appears smooth and leveled on top. Popular in the 1950s and ‘80s, the flat top cut is traditionally paired with a short back and sides. However, it also looks great with a taper fade, which takes it from retro to modern. A masculine and athletic haircut, the flat top with a taper fade is also a great way to make your face look longer and more angular.
13. Comb Back Taper Fade
If classic hairstyles are for you, look no further than the comb back. As the name suggests, the hair is combed backward from the hairline. This will create volume and keep the hair out of the face. It is a look that will complement all hair textures but is easier to style on straighter hair that is medium length. Pair the comb back with a taper fade to create an even more polished and sophisticated finish. It will contrast the hair on top, making it appear fuller and thicker.
14. Fringe Taper Fade
A fringe taper fade is a great option for guys who want to stand out. The combination is unexpected and gives you the best of both worlds: the quick styling of short hair with the cool, artistic look of a fringe. There are many different ways to style a fringe, from a French crop to long bangs or asymmetric. Choose one that suits your face shape and balances your features.
15. Taper Fade Long Curly Hair
Like short curly hair, long curly hair looks great when paired with a taper fade. An eye-catching and stylish look, the taper fade long curly hair is all about contrast. For a dramatic and bold finish, maintain the natural volume in your curls and sweep them forward to create a pompadour effect.
16. Blowout Taper Fade
The blowout is a classic retro hairstyle. Adding a taper fade gives it a modern update while still maintaining the ‘50s Elvis vibe. A fade also makes the top section of your hair look longer and thicker, so it’s an excellent choice for those with thinner hair. If you like the old-school style, the blowout taper fade could be the perfect cut for you.
17. Mexican Taper Fade
The Edgar haircut is sometimes referred to as the Mexican Caesar cut and is an edgy and undeniably cool hairstyle. It is similar in appearance to the Caesar, with short hair cropped on top and the same shape around the head. The difference is that the Edgar is with a high skin fade. However, this modern cut can be adapted to suit your preference by opting for a more subtle fade like the taper, which will gradually reduce hair length on the back and sides.
18. Hard Part Taper Fade
If you’re looking for a simple way to update your short haircut, add a hard part with a taper fade. Neat, smart, and sharp, these details will give your hair more definition and polish. A hard part involves razoring your parting to make it stand out, while a taper fade gives your haircut more structure.
19. Taper Mullet Fade
The mullet is a controversial style defined by the short top and sides and the length in the back. It is not a haircut for the faint of heart and is not considered professional, but it is expressive, fun, and surprisingly versatile. The mullet complements most face shapes and will give you a youthful appearance. You can give your hair structure and dimension with a taper fade which will gradually shorten on the sides.
20. Mini Pompadour Taper Fade
The mini pompadour is a more everyday and casual version of the classic one that retains its bold attitude and style. A mini pompadour looks excellent paired with a taper fade. The fade gives it a modern update and adds a subtly edgy feel.
21. Undercut Taper Fade
An undercut is any hairstyle that pairs a longer top section with a short back and sides – whether buzz cut, faded, or completely shaved. Once common in the early 20th Century, the style reached new heights of popularity with the TV show Peaky Blinders. When paired with a taper fade, the undercut looks more casual than other versions, such as a skin fade. Style the top section with clay or slick it back with pomade for best results.
12. Mohawk Taper Fade
Looking for a haircut that stands out? A mohawk is a timelessly cool style that will make you the center of attention in any situation. Adding a high taper fade instead of a skin fade or straight shave makes the mohawk more wearable and casual while still maintaining its bold, punk aesthetic.
23. Taper Fade with Quiff
The quiff never goes out of style. Classic and timeless, it’s a flattering cut for men of all ages and is particularly popular with celebrities. Adding more volume at your hairline balances out the proportions of your face and draws attention to your eyes. A taper fade transforms the quiff into the perfect clean-cut yet stylish look for any occasion.
24. Skin Taper Fade
Skin fades combine sophistication and style with edgy swagger. There are many skin fade options, including high and low versions. The skin taper fade is the best choice if you’re trying it out for the first time. That’s because your barber will give you a more subtle gradient between the longer section of your hair and the fully shaved section.
25. Slick Back Taper Fade
A favorite among those who love the rockabilly or retro style, the slick back gives you an effortlessly cool aesthetic and makes a stylish statement. While the slick back can be adapted to suit any hair length or type, the slick back taper fade is one of the most popular options for short hair. Adding a taper fade gives the slick back a modern update and adds a subtle edge.
26. Spiky Hair Taper Fade
A favorite of celebrities and footballers, spiky hair has attitude and edge. One of the most masculine hairstyles, spiky hair, can be shaped to balance your face and make your features look sharper. When paired with a taper fade, the cut looks like a blend between a faux hawk and a tapered spiky quiff. It’s a flattering style if you have a small widow’s peak or a big forehead.
27. Taper Fade with Beard
While a taper fade looks great with a clean-shaven face, it also complements a beard. While maintaining a beard’s rugged, masculine feel, the taper fade adds a clean-cut and polished element. For that reason, many bearded men choose a taper fade when attending a formal event, like a wedding.
28. Taper Fade with Dreads
Dreadlocks are a versatile style for men with Afro-textured hair. One option is to pair short locs with a taper fade. More subtle than a high fade, the taper fade gives the style more structure and draws the eye up. Start with a taper fade before you begin to loc your hair, and visit your barber for regular trims to keep your fade in shape.
29. Wet Hairstyle Taper Fade
Looking for a super sleek and stylish twist to your classic taper fade? Try a wet hairstyle, which combines water and gel to create a slicked effect. While a wavy slick-back is one option, you could also try a side part, comb over, or quiff. Ensure you finish it with lots of hairspray for a high-shine look.
30. Taper Fade Long Hair
The taper fade gradually shortens the hair on the back and sides while leaving length on top. It helps to play up proportions and is a great way to give a classic haircut a modern edge or to create structure and contrast. This will be especially visible when paired with long hair. Long hair for men is expressive and has versatility with styling, including trying updos like braids or ponytails.
31. Taper Fade for Black Men
The taper fade can be created with most haircuts and will complement all hair textures and types. This includes Afro-textured hair and the taper fade will let you show off your natural texture and give the hair structure. The taper fade removes thickness and bulk and will make the hair look neat and polished. It will also contrast the hair on top and the back and sides, making the hair look fuller and full of volume.
32. Buzz Cut Taper Fade
The buzz cut is a popular short hairstyle for men. It will complement most face shapes and all hair types and textures. The cut is the same length all over the head, making it an ideal choice for men who want to reduce grooming time and embrace a fuss-free hairstyle. It is a simple cut but versatile and will be easy to adapt to suit your preference. This includes personalizing it with a lineup or fade. The taper fade is a great choice because it relies on dimension and will create a subtle contrast with little or no hair around the years and slightly more length toward the top of the head.
33. Taper Fade Afro with a Twist
The taper fade can be added to various hairstyles. It is a popular and expressive addition to your haircut and will give your look a modern edge. An afro with a twist style is functional and will help prevent breakage. It is also a great way to keep the hair in place and is a welcome alternative to braiding because it will put less tension on the scalp. The length of your hair and how you style it is up to you, but in general, twists work best with medium-length hair to create volume while still being easy to maintain.
34. Wavy Hair Taper Fade
The taper fade can be achieved with hair of all textures and added to most hairstyles. This makes it an incredibly versatile look. Tapering means that the hair will gradually shorten on the back and sides, which creates the illusion of fuller, thicker hair on the top. It also gives your hair structure and makes it appear neat and professional. When worn with wavy hair, it will create a brilliant contrast with the texture on top of the head.
35. Bowl Cut with Taper Fade
The bowl cut has undergone a modern update in recent years, taking it from the mushroom-like territory into a modern and effortlessly cool look. The cut has a short straight fringe and is often the same length all around the head. It can be challenging to pull off, but you can adapt it to suit your preference. This includes pairing it with a taper fade, which will gradually shorten the hair on the back and sides to create a blended finish that feels clean and modern.
36. Curtain Bangs Taper Fade
Curtain bangs are the hottest look right now. The bangs feature a middle parting, with the hair cut shorter at the top and longer toward the bottom. How the hair parts will frame the face and highlight your features. The style is flattering and youthful and can be adapted to suit all hair textures and lengths. It is also a great addition to most haircuts, and for a unique finish, you can pair it with a taper fade which will gradually shorten the hair on the back and sides.
37. Ivy League Taper Fade
The Ivy League is a classic and stylish short haircut for men. The hair on the top is slightly longer than on the back and sides. For this reason, the style will benefit from a taper fade, which will shorten the back and sides but in a gradual way, creating a blended and modern finish. The Ivy League is a popular choice because it is a low-maintenance haircut and is ideal for all occasions, including a corporate environment.
38. Straight Hair Taper Fade
Straight hair can look healthy and be easier to maintain, but it has its styling challenges. However, the right cut and grooming products can help create volume and texture, transforming your hair and keeping it from looking dull or limp. Pairing your chosen cut with a taper fade will create a slick and sophisticated appearance that gives the hair structure. It will also create contrast with the hair on the top of the head. You can choose from various taper styles, including the low, mid, or high taper, depending on your preference.
39. Cornrow Taper Fade
The appeal of a taper fade is that it can be added to most hairstyles. This gives you versatility with how you style it. For men who like braids, you can pair cornrows with a taper fade, which will contrast with the texture on the top of the head and give structure to the back and sides. Cornrows are braided close to the scalp using the underhand braiding technique. This gives them their raised appearance. Cornrows are a versatile protective style that looks great when paired with a fade.
40. Ponytail Hairstyle Taper Fade
The ponytail hairstyle can be simple or detailed depending on your hair length and skill level. Regardless of your choice, it is an excellent look for men who want to keep their hair off their neck and can be practical and effortlessly cool. For a modern finish, pair your ponytail with a taper to gradually reduce length on the sides and back of the head. The taper fade shortens from the top to the bottom and will create a contrast.
Taper vs Fade
A fade is a broad term used for a look that will shorten the hair on the back and sides of the head. There are many faded hairstyles to choose from. Some with a bold and contrasting finish, and others have a more gradual transition, like the taper. The taper will shorten the hair on the back and sides of the hair. It will gradually reduce in length from longer to shorter. There are different taper versions, including low, mid, and high tapers. It is also an incredibly versatile style that looks good with most haircuts and is ideal for creating structure and contrast.
How to Taper Fade Your Hair
The taper fade is a versatile fade style. It will gradually reduce the hair on the back and sides. It can be created on the hair of all textures and added to most hairstyles, giving you a fresh and modern finish. The difference in length between the hair on the top of the head and the back and sides will give your haircut structure and create a subtle contrast. This can be incredibly flattering and youthful. If you want to learn more about how to taper fade your hair, watch the YouTube video below.
Taper Fade Haircuts FAQs
What is a taper fade haircut?
A taper fade haircut features hair that gradually changes from long to short, with a fade down the skin. There are many different types of fades, such as a low fade, mid fade, high fade, drop fade, bald fade, and skin fade.
What does a taper fade haircut look like?
The taper fade is instantly recognizable, thanks to its timeless' longer on the top and shorter on the bottom style. This classic haircut is versatile but typically features a gradual fade to the skin from the middle section of the head. This style looks sharp, elegant, and neat, with clean lines and a soft fade down the neck.
How long does a taper fade last?
Depending on how tight you'd prefer the fade, you will typically need to refresh your hair every two to three weeks. If you opt for a skin or bald fade, you can stretch the next appointment out to six weeks, but if you leave it any longer, the gradient and lengths will begin to blur, and the effect will diminish.
Arabella Roden is a skilled writer and sub-editor with over ten years of experience across print, digital, and B2B. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and specializes in beauty, hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle topics. Arabella is currently the Chief Sub Editor at Mecca Brands and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2019.
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