Undercut vs Fade: Know the Differences

When it comes to trendy hairstyles for men, undercut and fade are two of the most popular choices. Both hairstyles have a lot in common, as the sides and the back are cut short compared with the top hair and styled in various designs. For these similarities, many people believe them to be the same design. That is not the case!

There are some key differences between these two that set them apart from one another. By understanding these dissimilarities, you can differentiate between these two and identify which one is closer to your palate.

In this article, I will provide an overall discussion focusing on the differences between fade and undercut, explaining the unique features that help them stand out. Join this reading venture to find your optimal haircut and become the focal point of any crowd.

What is an Undercut?

Undercut Haircut

Undercut hairstyles are among the unique hairdos out there, often misunderstood as other styles by the mass. This striking hair design emerged during the 1920s among young working-class men for lack of good barbers who could give them a decent haircut where the sides were adequately blended.

They used to completely shave off the sides and the back while the hair on the top front would be kept long and disconnected, often worn in a slick back style. It went out of trend near the 1950s and, from that point, has become an inconsistent trend until recent times.

In the previous eras, the undercut was mainly worn with a slick back, but that has changed as well, and various other styles are incorporated with it, giving the wearer different looks to choose from.

Advantages of Undercut

  • Gender Neutral haircut
  • Gives an edgy appearance
  • Can be toned to wear in a professional space
  • An excellent option for receding hairline
  • Makes styling the hair easier

5 Variations of Undercut

Here is a list of undercut styles that should help you to understand this hair design better. They will help you to realize their difference with the fade.

Medium Side Part with Undercut

Medium Side Part with Undercut

The first hairstyle is a simple side-part hairdo with an undercut that will look amazing with straight and wavy hair. The hair on the front is kept longer, while the hair on the back and the sides are shaved, creating a disconnection.

The front hair is styled with hair wax into a side part. Even though side-part hairstyles are good choices for professional settings, this one is too edgy for that.

Sleek Man Bun Undercut

Sleek Man Bun Undercut

Man bun hairstyles are one of the popular designs among long-hair enthusiasts, and they look phenomenal with an undercut. Look at the hairstyle where the sides and the back hair are shaved.

The top hair is long, gathered near the crown area and turned into a sleek man bun. Hair wax is used to ensure no strands are left behind the bun and a polished style is achieved.

Slick Back Disconnected Undercut

Slick Back Disconnected Undercut

I have discussed earlier how the undercut looks best with a slick-back hairdo. It was the most common design during its emergence in the 1920s, and it is still one of the best combinations today.

The sides and the back are completely shaved, while the hair on the front is kept longer. Using hair wax, the front hair is brushed backward, creating a slick back undercut that will give you an edgy look.

Sleek Ponytail with Undercut

Sleek Ponytail with Undercut

Alongside man bun, ponytails are another group of long hairstyles beloved by men with long hair. A sleek ponytail is undoubtedly an excellent choice to wear your hair with an undercut that will give you a striking appearance.

The hair on the sides and the back are shaved entirely. The front hair is brushed backward using wax and turned into a sleek ponytail. By perming the loose strand of the ponytail, you can give it a curly look.

Medium Fringes with Undercut

Medium Fringes with Undercut

The last undercut hairstyle I will discuss here is undercut with medium fringes, also known as the french crop cut. The hairstyles discussed above were polished using hair wax or pomade; that is not the case for this one.

The sides and the back hair are cut short but not completely shaved. The front hair is long and worn messily, brushing forward with fingers. No matter the occasion, you will look fabulous in this style.

What is a Fade?

Fade Haircut

Fade is more than a haircut; it’s a technique of cutting hair that has been present in the hairstyle industry since the 1940s. There are different types of hairstyles out there which are often cut with this technique, creating a plethora of designs suitable and popular among men of all demographics.

The style first emerged as a military style in the early years, but recently, it is the most popular technique for cutting one’s hair, and the popularity is not fading anytime soon is obvious. The sides and back hair are short similar to an undercut, but they are blended nicely.

The lower part would be the shortest, and the size will gradually increase as it reaches the top hair. Different types of fades would provide drastic changes to a hairstyle from implementing them.

Advantages of Fade

  • Can be worn with different length styles
  • One of the most versatile techniques
  • Suitable for every hair type
  • Low-maintenance
  • Perfect for wearing in a professional space
  • Unisex haircut

5 Variations of Fade

Here is a list of 5 variations of fade that should help you to understand this technique better than you currently have. Look at their visuals, and you will understand their differences from the undercut.

High Skin Fade with Crew Cut

High Skin Fade with Crew Cut

The hairstyle I am focusing on is the crew cut with a high skin fade. This hairstyle is very close to an undercut, but look at the sides, and you will see the differences. The hair on the sides and the back are cut short, but they are not disconnected.

They are blended with the top hair, which is kept comparatively long and styled in a crew cut.

Buzz Cut with Mid Skin Fade

Buzz Cut with Mid Skin Fade

Mid-fade is another fade technique where the hair is cut short on the sides and the back and blended with the top. This is a mid-skin fade where the front hair is cut with a buzz cut, giving a polished look to short hair.

Shaping the side and front edges creates a sophisticated appearance, providing a confidence-boosting design.

Curly Top with Low Drop Fade

Curly Top with Low Drop Fade

Here is another variation of the fade technique; this time, it is a drop fade style. The hair on the sides and the back are styled in this faded technique and blended with the hair on the front. The hair on the top is worn messily in its curly state.

That creates a curly top with a low drop fade that will give you a distinctive look, an ideal choice for men with curly hair.

Edgar Cut with Low Taper Fade

Edgar Cut with Low Taper Fade

Edgar cut, also known as takuache cut, is a Mexican version of caesar cut. This hairdo is one of the most popular hairstyles in the Mexican community, mostly worn with a taper fade on the sides and the back.

The hair is cut with a taper fade near the sideburns and the napes, creating a low taper fade, while the rest is styled in the takuahce style.

High Skin Fade with Crop Cut

High Skin Fade with Crop Cut

The last fade hairstyle I will discuss is a crop cut with high skin fade. This simple hairstyle is an excellent example of a faded haircut and its difference from the undercut. The sides and back are short, but they are not entirely shaved.

They are perfectly blended with the hair on the top, creating a high skin fade. Cutting the front hair in a crop cut, it is styled by brushing forward, a perfect fade style for regular use.

What Are the Differences Between Undercut and Fade

There are a lot of similarities between these styles for sure, but there are some core differences between them, making them different from one another. In this section, I will pinpoint these dissimilarities so you can easily differentiate between these two.


Undercut and fade are pretty different in terms of their visuals. The sides and the back are cut very short for an undercut style, often shaved, creating a very edgy style.

On the other hand, different fades will provide visually different looks. Hairstyles with a high skin fade will look similar to an undercut, but a hair design with a low fade or a taper fade will give a very different appearance.

Fade Styling Process

Styling Process

The styling processes for an undercut and a fade are really different. For an undercut, the sides and the back are usually shaved and disconnected from the top hair. This separation or disconnection gives a striking and edgy look.

On the other hand, different fades are styled differently, but most have a similar styling process. The hair on the lower sides is the shortest, gradually increasing in size and blending with the top hair.

Hair Length

Even though it might seem both are suited for every hair length, that is not the case in reality. Undercut hairstyles are mostly done for long hair, while fades are suitable for short, medium and long-length hair. Let me explain in detail.

The distinction between the size of the sides and the top hair in an undercut is very apparent and easily recognizable. The front hair is usually way longer, whether slicked back or turned into a man bun.

Fades are worn with different lengths of hair, which start from a buzz cut and can be as long as shoulder length.

Hair Length and Specific Style

Specific Style vs Process

The terms ‘undercut’ and ‘fade’ differ in functionality. When the term undercut is used, it means the hairstyle in general, where the sides and the back are cut short while the hair on the front is kept longer and has an apparent disconnection.

On the other hand, when the term fade is used, it usually means the process where the hair gets gradually longer as they reach the top and is blended with the top hair. Hair is usually cut in this process to style in different designs that give an excellent striking look to the wearer.


In terms of maintenance, a fade is way better than an undercut. The undercut usually has shaved sides and back, while the top hair is kept longer. The longer hair needs more care and maintenance; otherwise, it will become frizzy. To keep the hairstyle pristine, you must redo the hairdo once a week. Otherwise, the hairstyle will be ruined, and the shaved sides will grow hair.

On the contrary, most fades will require less maintenance. Amidst every fade hair design, skin fade will need the most care as you will need to redo the skin fade every two weeks to keep the bald/ shaved look.

Fade vs Undercut: Which One is for You?

Now we have come to the most crucial section of the article, where we need to find out which style should be better for you. Both undercut and fade amazing styles that are trendy and will provide a striking look to the wearer; it all depends on which one is better suited for you depending on your face shape, hair type and personality.

Undercut hairstyles will be suitable for bold men looking for an edgy appearance. It is a versatile hairdo for sure, but there are some limitations as these haircuts are ideal for long and medium hair. If you are a short-hair enthusiast, undercut styles are definitely not your cup of tea. In that case, fade will provide you with much more choices.

Undercuts are better suited for straight and wavy hair types. The meaning behind this statement is not that undercuts can not be worn with curly or kinky hair; instead, it means straight and wavy hair looks much better with these designs. Fade is suited for every hair type, and as it is a process, there are styles suited for every face shape as well. Fade is undoubtedly a lot more versatile than the undercut.

If you are looking for an edgy appearance with long straight, or wavy hair, an undercut might be the perfect style for you, even though maintaining it is time-consuming. You can choose fade styles if those criteria are not suited for you. This low-maintenance style will provide you with more versatility and flexibility to style your hair.


Many of you might have questions lurking around your head about these styles. Worry not; I will answer some of the frequently asked questions about this topic which might provide you with some of the information you were searching for.

Question: Which hairstyle will cost more between a fade and an undercut?

Answer: The cost of a hairstyle depends on many factors, and all of these factors play a crucial role. Considering all that, a fade and an undercut should cost similar amounts of money. Both styles are very similar and have the same difficulty in implementing properly.

Question: Which hairstyle is hard to maintain between an undercut and a fade?

Answer: An undercut is more challenging to maintain than most fade styles. The top hair is often kept way longer for an undercut than a fade. That will need more care. The same goes for the sides and the back, which must be redone every one or two weeks, while most fades can go for four weeks without redoing the fade.

Question: Which style is better for curly hair, between undercut and fade?

Answer: Both fade and undercut are excellent options for curly hair, but most fashion gurus agree that fade is the better option, and there is a solid reason. The undercut is most suitable with a slick back, man bun or ponytail, all of which are better for straight and wavy hair.

On the other hand, low fade, taper fade, and high fade are some of the better styles to wear with curly hair on top, providing a much better look to the wearer.

Final Words

Undercut and fade are two of the most popular hairstyles at these moments, and even though they have a lot of similarities, many differences make them unique. In an undercut, the sides and the back are shaved, while the hair on the top is kept longer. There is an apparent separation between the top hair and the shaved sides, creating a disconnection between these two.

Even though they are high maintenance, they provide a fantastic look to the wearer, making them an exceptional hair design. They look phenomenal, with long straight, and wavy hair, providing an edgy look.

Fades are very low maintenance and way more versatile than undercuts. Different types of fades can be worn combined with different designs, and they are suitable with every face shape and hair type, making them one of the most sought styles in the modern era.

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