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How to Give a Taper Fade Haircut

Fade Haircut

A popular technique and styling staple of haircuts for men and occasionally women, is the fade. In its simplest form the fade or taper haircut is the gradual transition on the sides and back of the head from shorter to longer length hair usually in the upwards direction.

Throughout the most recent decades the fade has seen many variations from high top fades of the early eighties to present-day bald fades adorned with intricate motifs. Most fade haircut styles offer a clean, low maintenance appeal that can lasts for weeks between barber visits.

Learning how to give a fade haircut is a practical skill that has personal and monetary benefits. On a personal level, you’ll be cutting your hair the way want it once the proper skills have been developed. Financially, you’ll be saving yourself the cost of a haircut which seems to always be rising in this tough economy.


If you have never attempted to cut your own hair, then one of the most important things to consider beforehand is how much trial and error you are willing to tolerate. Although mistake may happen you can take comfort in knowing that your hair should grow back. Taking it slow and easy is a good idea for anyone who is about to cut their own hair for the first time.

Hair Clippers

Andis Improved Master

The choice of clippers not only can make a difference in the overall look but can also affect the actual comfort of the cut. Some lower end hair clippers tend to pull hair rather then cut, even after just a few haircutting sessions.

A couple examples of good quality hair clippers that would work well for fading include the popular Andis Improved Master or the Oster Fast Feed. Both feature powerful high-speed motors, clean cutting adjustable blades and can be outfitted with guide combs as needed.

Detachable blade clippers like the Andis BGRV or the Oster Power Line can also be used for fading but may require multiple blade swaps or numerous guide comb changes. If planning on a skin or bald fade then consider using zero gap trimmers or dedicated balding clippers for a very close non razor cut.

Fade Haircut

Where to start the base line or point where the blending will start is usually the first step for a taper fade haircut. If high and tight is the planned style then the fade line is going to be above the ears all the way around and nearer to the crown of the head. A blowout fade starts blending right where the hairline starts at the base of the neck. A low to medium fade sets the fade line slightly above the ears.

Taper Fade

With the desired blade length set on your clipper, cut up the sides and back of the head up to the point where the blending will start. A hand held mirror in combination with a vanity or other type of large fixed style mirror is practically a must if you are planning to cut your own hair. Try to keep the fade line height uniform and straight all the way around the head. Use consistent pressure and avoid digging into the head when working the clippers through the hair. This helps prevent uneven cutting.

With the initial fade line established, adjust your clippers incrementally and begin cutting upwards through the existing fade line with a quick but controlled pull away motion. You could also blend from the top down starting with larger length blade adjustments and incrementing smaller as you get nearer to the base fade line. The hair may need to be combed downwards after each pass of the clipper in order to ensure proper blending against the natural lay of the hair. Another technique is to create additional lines at different lengths above the initial base line then blend them all together.


Whichever technique suits your ability or desired result, you should see improvement over time with consistent practice and perseverance.

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