Nothing is as transformative as getting a haircut. There’s just something about your haircut that feels like the culmination of the main character’s energy, and there’s no better time to make a change than the start of a new season. With warmer weather approaching, in particular, now is where a shortcut looks especially appealing. If you want something edgier than an octopus haircut or a bixie, we have a suggestion: a taper haircut.
Unlike buzz cuts, which are shaved close to the scalp, taper fades almost look like a fade on the head. You can add different patterns and colors to choose from, and it works on all hair textures as well. If you’re intrigued, we’ve reached out to a professional hairstylist to answer all your questions about fade haircuts – including what they are, what to ask at the barber or salon, and how to get the look at the House. Read ahead for a full breakdown of the look that absolutely needs to be on your radar, plus inspirational photos to take with you to your next hair appointment.
What is a taper fade?
Image source: David Ruiz
To understand a taper fade, we need to start by understanding a general taper haircut. “A taper haircut is one that’s shortest at the edges, like the sideburns and the nape of the neck,” explains David Ruizbarber at Boston Beacon Hill Barber Society. “A fade can be low, medium, or high, but a taper fade is when the tightest – or shortest – sections of the haircut are right at the nape and sideburns.”
While “a fade” is usually the most well-known name for this haircut, some parts of the world “may also refer to this haircut as a blowout,” Ruiz says.
How to grow out your hair for a tapered cut
While there are no prerequisites for growing your hair out specifically for a fade, Ruiz adds that regular hair maintenance is key to getting a haircut. “General hair maintenance is good for everyone, especially washing and using conditioners that don’t irritate your scalp,” Ruiz says. Whether you cut your hair at home or go to a professional, be sure to do your haircut on clean hair.
Taper Fades for Textured or Curly Hair
There should be no difference between getting a taper fade on curly or textured hair, but to make sure you get the look you want, Ruiz says there are a few best practices to keep in mind. “Maintaining good and open communication with your trusted hairstylist is key,” says Ruiz. “Discuss how your desired taper fade might look and bring photos to show exact examples.”
Unfortunately, sometimes hairstylists are unfamiliar with frizzy, curly or frizzy hair. If you don’t have a regular hairstylist you trust, make sure they’re “well-rounded and equally adept at all hair textures and patterns,” Ruiz says. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for past examples of the style they’ve done on other clients.
Styling Tips and Product Recommendations for Tapered 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 little easier. “When you approach this haircut, you want to start big and go down,” Ruiz says. But the most important part of doing a taper fade at home is remembering your numbers. “With your home clippers, each clipper guard is usually that many eighths of an inch. For example, a #1 guard will cut hair up to 1/8 inch, which is extremely short. So start with the greatest guard you have, and with an upward C motion, start at the sideburns and move the trimmer away from the head as you begin to trim.”
Depending on the length of your hair and the degree of bleaching you are aiming for, the amount of hair you will remove will vary; however, once you start cutting with your biggest guard, “continue to work from that initial guideline with smaller guards following the smaller consecutive numbers – 4-3-2-1 and so on. ” Specialized half-size guards are also available, for those who feel more comfortable cutting their own hair, and they follow the same basic rule: follow the numbers.
For trimmers, Ruiz recommends looking for some “with the taper lever” from your favorite trusted brands or beauty supply stores, and some of our editors even have a few they swear by.
Whether you’re looking for a spring reset or just want a fresh new look, use the images ahead to inspire your fade haircut.