Taper vs Fade

Taper vs Fade Haircuts: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever asked for a certain haircut in a barbershop and the result was not what you expected? Well, it is actually a pretty common incident while getting a haircut. It usually happens either because the barber is not aware of the haircut or there is some sort of miscommunication.

Taper vs fade can cause a similar confusion. Though tapers and fades are very common haircuts, most barbers and clients don’t know the difference.

There’s no judgment here because there are a lot of similarities between a taper and a fade. In spite of the resemblances, the terms “taper” and “fade” are not interchangeable.

These are two distinct haircuts with some basic differences. Now, you need to learn the differences before you can choose which haircut you want to try.

Stay with this article to find out the differences between tapers and fades, which haircut is more suitable for you, some cool taper and fade styles you must try, how to maintain your taper or fade, and plenty more!

What Is A Taper?

Let’s start with a taper! Taper basically refers to a change in length. It’s a haircut where your hair becomes progressively shorter from the top of your head to your natural hairline, like your hair remains longer on the top and gradually shortens while moving down.

Note that the hair will be the shortest on the sides and on your neckline. Almost all haircuts for men include a taper to some extent. Most men want some volume on top and shorter hair on the base.

Types Of Tapers

There are basically three types of tapers. You can have a Low Taper, a Mid Taper, or a High Taper.

A Low Taper is when your hair starts getting shorter from the lower part of your head. The exact point will be the midpoint of your ear or even lower. A good portion of hair will be left on the sides and back, which will create a subtle and neat look.

In a Mid Taper, the point will be around the top of your ear or just above it. So, your hair will be shorter from the halfway point of your head. A visible difference in hair length will be seen on the top and bottom halves of your head.

High Taper is the most striking one and is bound to make a statement. The hair on your sides and back will be shorter almost immediately after the top portion of your head. The point for a high taper will be higher than your ear. The hair on the top will be much longer than the back and it will create a clear contrast.

What Is A Fade?

A fade shares the same philosophy with a taper, which is, you will end up with longer hair on the top and shorter hair on the bottom. However, the length doesn’t change progressively, rather drastically in a fade.

As the name suggests itself, your hair will fade into your skin. How much of your skin will be revealed depends on your choice but the hair will become super short at the bottom half of your head.

Fades originated in the 1940s by military personnel. It was a convenient haircut for them and still is a very common style among them.

In the later decades, fades entered mainstream culture and were adopted by all types of people. Hip-hop culture played a huge part in making this haircut popular.

Types Of Fades

Types of Fade


Similar to tapers, there are High Fade, Medium Fade, and Low Fade.

All these types depend on where the hair has started becoming short or what is called the “fading” effect has begun. Having a high, medium, or low fade means that fading has started from the high, midway, or lower part of your head respectively.

Skin Fade and Drop Fade are the two other types that belong to the Fade umbrella.

Skin fade refers to when the hair is cut severely short and the scalp is completely visible. Drop fade is when the fading starts abruptly and there is a stark look without any sign of gradual shortening.

Taper Vs Fade: The Differences

You might have already guessed some of the differences between the two. Still, let’s break them down before you can choose a side in this fade vs taper battle.

The primary dissimilarity is the length. In a fade, your hair will be extremely short on the lower part of your head. There will be a significant amount of hair left in a taper.

Your skin or scalp might be completely exposed in a fade haircut. But this will never be the case in a taper, as the hair will be much shorter than the top.

In taper haircuts, the length is reduced gradually, whereas in fades the hair is shortened very suddenly and in a bold manner. That is why you need to be much more precise while doing a fade.

A taper will only affect your sides and your neckline or nape at best. Fades usually cover a broader area which includes your sides, temple, crown, and nape.

Which One Should You Choose?

Now comes the moment of judgment. Taper vs fade, which one is for you?

Tapers and fades are both trendy haircuts and you cannot go wrong with either of them. However, keeping a few things in mind will help you in making a choice.

If you haven’t had any of the two haircuts before, it is better to opt for a taper. It is definitely the safer option and a less risky haircut. Then again if you want to start with a bang, then a fade is the haircut for a confident and assured look.

Taper is also a more sensible choice if you spend most of your time in a professional setting. It is a more modest and sophisticated haircut. For a formal look, revealing your scalp might not be a wise decision. You should go for a fade when you want to create a strong impression on a more casual occasion.

If you are someone who wants to regularly change his look and not be committed to a hairstyle for too long, then you should also try a taper. The hair will not be that short and it will grow soon enough for you to try something new again. A fade will demand a little more time and commitment.

Finally, let the season be your guide! A taper is more comfortable in a chilly season like winter or fall and a fade will soothe you in summer or spring.

We hope you can now decide for yourself and have come up with an answer for the fade vs taper argument. No matter which haircut you choose, we have tons of suggestions for you.

Is Taper Fade Even Real?

You might still be confused between taper vs fade and thinking about going for a Taper Fade that you had heard somewhere. The question is, does it really exist?

Most hairstylists agree that there is no such haircut as a taper fade. This term was born out of the confusion of both barbers and clients.

They lacked clear awareness of the differences between a taper and a fade and it began the usage of these terms. At some point both the terms were mashed together and “taper fade” came into being.

Whenever you ask for a taper fade from a barber, you are most likely to end up with just a taper. It might just result in something that you didn’t want because there is no specific definition of a taper fade.

So, we would suggest you avoid asking for a taper fade and clarify which specific type of taper or fade you want. If you keep reading, you’ll find out some cool ways of styling your tapers and fades!

DIY: Tapers And Fades At Home

While tapers and fades are some of the most popular haircuts at any barbershop, you can easily do them at your home as well. Now, if you are not the most dexterous person, we would still suggest visiting a barber.

If you are confident that you have capable hands and good hand-eye coordination, you can do it in under half an hour. The process is the same for a taper and a fade as the major difference is only in the length.

Clippers, scissors, mirrors, and a comb are all you need. Once you’ve collected all these, go through our five-step DIY process and get your tapers or fades at home right away!

Step 1:

Wash and dry out your hair. Make sure your hair is damp and not wet. Use the comb to untangle and straighten your hair. This will make your hair easier to manage. Prepare the top section and ensure that top hair does not get in the way. You can use clips if you need them.

Step 2:

Decide where you want the fade line to be. It means the point from where your hair will start becoming shorter. Whether you choose to do a taper or a fade, the fade line depends entirely on you. For example, the fade line will be higher if you want a High Fade and lower for a Low Fade.

Step 3:

Now, decide the length of your hair. Choose whether you want to expose your skin or keep your hair a bit longer. This will decide the guard size for your clippers. The lower the guard, the shorter the cut. It’s always safe to start with a higher guard.

Step 4:

In this step, the trimming begins. Start trimming from the top portion of your head with a higher guard and gradually move down. Keep switching to a lower guard when you are moving to a lower section.

Continue until you reach your neckline. Each section should be blended in a way that the transition appears natural. The shortest guard will help you in blending. Follow the same technique for the sides as well.

Step 5:

After the blending is done, clean up your neckline and hairline with your clippers. You can style the top part according to your desire. You can also use pomade to keep the entire hairstyle in shape.


If this is your first time, you would be wise to keep your hair a bit longer. In that way, if anything happens outside the plan, you can always go to a barber to fix the problem. Another pro tip is to always use the corner of the blade while blending. It will keep the transitions clean.

9 Cool Taper Haircuts Just For You

Taper is a versatile haircut that allows a lot of options. You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic taper as you can play with different styles. Here we have some fun taper ideas for you to try out.

Fringe Taper

Fringe Taper

Fringes are all the rage right now. Thanks to K-pop stars and their aesthetics, fringes have found widespread popularity. A high or mid taper will go really well with an Angular Fringe or a Cropped Fringe. You can choose any fringe and there will be a suitable taper for that.

Pompadour Taper

Pompadour Taper


Consider this hairstyle celeb-approved. David Beckham, Justine Timberlake, Chris Evans, and many others have recently appeared on red carpet events rocking their pompadour with a taper. If a trendy hairstyle is what you are looking for, this gorgeous combination is waiting just for you.

Curly Top Taper

Curly Top Taper


If you have curly hair, then look no further. This is the perfect look for you. It does not matter whether your hair is short or long. Just try a high taper and it will give new life to your curls.

Taper With A Man Bun

Taper With Man Bun


Now, something for all you dudes with long hair. Who knew man bun will still rule the scene after all this time? It still remains the go-to style for many men and rightfully so. A taper can be a great addition to your man bun. If you have a long beard, it will only elevate your look.

Afro Taper

Afro Taper


There is a false notion that there are not many ways of styling an afro for men. A taper will challenge this idea and prove it wrong. Just take our suggestion and try a high taper. You will realize why we are so confident. Carry your afro with pride in this hip look.

Taper In A Mohawk

Mohawk Taper


If you are worried that tapers can only be tame and subtle, we have just the style for you. Search for your inner rebellious spirit and create this edgy look. This hairstyle is only for adventurous individuals. Be confident and carry forward the punk legacy.

Slicked Back Taper

Slicked Back Taper


Let’s get back to something classy. This hairstyle is the epitome of elegance and dignity. Slicked back hair has always been one of the smoothest haircuts. Combining it with a taper will give you poise and panache like no other hairstyles.

Mullet Taper

Mullet Taper


Let us be the first to acknowledge that his retro hairstyle is not for everyone. However, if you believe that the mullet is an outdated hairstyle, be assured that it is about to make a major comeback. Stranger Things will not be the only thing coming out of ’80s nostalgia. You can be a precursor in a mullet with a taper before it becomes mainstream again.

Taper With A Hard Part

Taper With Hard Part


If a mullet is too funky for you, you can always try something dependable. In that case, you cannot have a better alternative than a taper with a hard part. It will never let you down. This risk-free decent hairstyle is always a smart choice. You can go for this style on both sophisticated and relaxed occasions.

9 Must-Try Fade Haircuts For You

Very few haircuts give you the chance of fusion and experimentation like a fade. Having too many choices can also be jarring sometimes. That is why we have handpicked some styles just for you.

Buzz Fade

Buzz Fade


It does not get manlier than this. The military-inspired buzz cut never goes out of style. A fade will only increase its appeal and give it more character. Shorter hair on top and an added skin fade will make this look even more impressive.

Crew Fade

Crew Fade


The crew cut is another hairstyle that somehow finds a way of always staying relevant.  This can be an excellent alternative to a buzz fade if you prefer a bit longer hair on the top. Skin fade will again do wonders in sharpening this hairstyle.

Fades For Waves

Fades For Waves


Consider yourself lucky if you have wavy hair because a fade looks very suave with it. You should avoid having a skin fade with wavy hair. Try to leave some hair on the sides and the back. A high fade can be a safe option for both long and short hair.

Spiky Fade

Spiky Fade


If you think that spikes should be left in the ’90s, then let us correct you. You can play with spikes in many ways and make them fresh every time. In this case, a drop fade will create a crisp contrast with the spikes and turn it into a contemporary look.

Fade With A Ponytail

Fade With Ponytail

This is a sophisticated hairstyle for men with long hair. You can add a high fade or even drop fade and it will complement the ponytail very well. Accessories like glasses or an earring can transform this into a more urbane and polished style.

Box Fade

Box Fade


We know what you are thinking and no, just having a box cut does not automatically make you a dork like Steve Urkel. It all depends on the person who is carrying the style. A box cut with a fade can be a very modern hairstyle. You only need the confidence to pull it off and we highly recommend it.

Shag Fade

Shag Fade

This is an extremely out-of-the-box hairstyle. It is not every day you see someone in a shag with a fade. So, by its very nature, this experimental hairstyle is bound to turn some heads. Whoever looks at you, will definitely look twice. If standing out is our goal, shag fade is the hairstyle for you.

Fades With Braids

Fades With Braids


If you already have braids, we would suggest adding a high fade to your hairstyle. This will make your braids even more striking. Do not worry about the type of braid you have. A fade can accompany all of them. You can put the braids in a bun if you want or just let them fall freely.

Comb Over Fade

Comb Oval Fade

You have gone through some not-so-ordinary suggestions and a lot of them are not suitable in a formal setting. If you are looking for a professional look, you can choose a comb over fade hairstyle. This will be a reliable style in and out of your workplace.

How To Maintain Your Tapers & Fades

Despite tapers and fades being two easy but amazing haircuts, the only downside is that after a week they do not look so fresh. Now, it is not possible to get a haircut every week. Still, we offer you some tricks and tips which will help you to maintain some freshness.

You can maintain your fade haircut with only a straight razor. You can clean the messy areas by shaving with a razor. You should sharpen the edges. Be extra careful and do not mess up the predefined lines while doing it.

For maintaining a taper, you have to do the same things with scissors.

You must also regularly shape your neck hair, ear hair, and eyebrows. Having a taper or a fade actually highlights these areas. So your overall appearance will not be tidy without shaping these.

If you use any tool to heat your hair, you should be alert about not overheating your hair. You should also avoid over-brushing the top hair. Keeping these in mind will keep your haircut fresh and protect your hair from any kind of damage.

Some Products To Help You

These suggested products will help you to get your desired fade or taper look and maintain it.

  1. You will need clippers to trim your hair. You can choose Philips Norelco Multigroomer. Any other trimmer with similar functionalities will do just fine.
  2. Scissors will be needed to create the hairstyle and maintain it. Seki Edge Haircutting Scissors is a great option.
  3. You will also need a three-way mirror to look at the front and back of your head at the same time while cutting your hair. You can go for 3 Way Mirror for Hair Cutting.
  4. Pomade will help you in keeping your hairstyle in shape. Man Made Hair Pomade will be a smart choice.
  5. Finally, a straight razor will be necessary to maintain your fade. You can rely on DOVO Straight Razor.

Taper And Fades For Women

Women are gradually getting more engaged in the taper vs fade debates and these are gaining popularity among them.  The major reasons behind this interest are the ease and simplicity of the haircuts and the boldness that these can add to their entire appearance.

We would highly encourage women with short hair to try a taper or a fade at least once. You can easily apply these haircuts to your short hair. These are guaranteed to bring an edge to your style and make you stand out from the crowd.

These can be great solutions for women with long hair as well, especially for those who are tired of managing their long hair. If you are looking for a more low-maintenance hairstyle, you should definitely consider a taper or a fade.

The process of creating and maintaining tapers and fades is the same for women. In fact, most of the styles suggested for men can be adopted by women as well.

There are also some specific styles for women. For example, a Choppy Taper is when a taper is contrasted with choppy layers.

Womens Chopy Taper


There is also Pixie Fade, where a pixie is combined with a fade.

Womens Pixie Fade



There will be no stopping the fade vs taper argument. Now that you have thoroughly read about both the haircuts and learned their differences, hopefully you realize that neither of them is worse than the other.

These are both very popular and trendy haircuts. It only depends on your taste and choice, which one you would like to have. Like, a taper for a more subtle look and a fade for a more assured appearance.

You can choose either without any worry. Their versatility will keep them relevant and sought-after for a long time.

Your knowledge about both haircuts will help you to better communicate with your barber and achieve the look you actually want. So visit your barber with less fear and more confidence from now on!

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