Who said people who have long hair get to have all the fun when it comes to hair styling? Gone are the days when you head to the barber, sit down, stare at yourself in the mirror and have an existential crisis trying to figure out if that’s what you actually look like, while your hairdresser asks if you want a 1,2,3 or 4.
These days, everyone’s asking for the taper fade (while still wondering why they look so damn terrible in the hairdresser’s mirror). From Conor McGregor to Brad Pitt, Beckham to Idris Elba, the taper fade is a truly ionic cut sported by the elite, and it’s a great haircut that suits most men – celeb or not. So, if you’re looking for some taper fade inspo, we’ve rounded up a list of the best taper fade haircuts for men, from low taper to high, alongside some bushy curls and short edges.
In this Taper Fade Hairstyles article…
- What Is A Taper Fade Haircut?
- Best Taper Fade Haircuts for Men
- Taper vs Fade: What’s the Difference?
- How Man of Many Chose the Best Fade Haircuts for Men
- General FAQS
What is a Taper Fade Haircut?
You can probably put two and two together and figure out what a taper fade is but to save you the brain power, a taper fade is just a taper haircut where the edges are faded to below a 0 blade. It’s sometimes also known as the temple fade.
- A taper refers to the gradual transition of hair length from top to bottom, usually only noticeable on the sideburns and neckline.
- A fade is a more drastic version of a taper that goes around the entire head, ending above the natural hairline and blending into the skin.
Put two and two together and the taper fade involves gradually fading the hair from longer to shorter towards the bottom of the head. The hair on the sides and back is cut shorter with clippers, while the hair on top is left longer, resulting in a clean and sharp look that’s both versatile and very modern. The great thing about taper fades is that they can be customised to suit different preferences and face shapes. You can even combine them with other styles like a side part, quiff, or pompadour. Plus, there are different types of fades to choose from, such as low, mid, high, or even skin fades where the hair is shaved down to the skin.
Best Taper Fade Haircuts for Men
- Best Traditional Style: Mid Taper Fade
- Best Modern Style: Taper with Natural Flow
- Most Extreme Haircut: Burst Taper
- Easiest to Maintain: Low Taper Fade
1. Low Taper Fade
If you’re not into dramatic changes, a low taper fade might be the best choice for you. This style starts the fading process at the bottom near the ears and has a gradual shift in length. It’s important when you ask for this haircut to establish the ‘blend’ point. In the above photo, you can see the point where the edges and sideburns meet the maximum hair length on the sides and back sits just above the ear line.
For men, a low taper is the best way to keep your hair looking neat without too much effort. Utilising a taper, rather than the square-back cut which is favourites by hairdressers, allows the hair on your nape and sideburns to grow out more naturally. This will ultimately give the haircut more longevity and keep you looking neater for longer. The low taper fade is safe option that won’t leave you feeling too exposed, and it’s perfect for side parts, pompadours, comb-overs, and undercuts.
Here are the key characteristics of a low taper fade:
- Low Fade Point: Where the taper begins is quite low on the sides and back of the head, typically around the hairline at the nape of the neck.
- Longer Hair on the Sides and Back: Compared to a high taper fade, you can leave the hair on the sides and back of the head a little longer.
- Gradual Transition: As this is the least aggressive style of the cut, the hair on the sides and back of the head gradually fades into longer hair on the top of the head. Similarly, the transition between the shorter and longer hair is more natural and subtle, without a distinct line as in a high taper fade.
- Versatility: A low taper fade is perhaps the most versatile of the taper fade styles. It can be paired with a variety of hairstyles, such as a textured fringe, a side part, or a slicked back undercut.
2. Mid Taper Fade
Moving up the fade ladder, we have the mid taper fade haircut, which typically starts an inch above the ears and gradually fades up to the eye line. It’s still formal, but definitely has a modern edge to it. The mid taper fade is a versatile style that pairs well with a range of short-to-long haircuts, including crew cuts, French crops, faux hawks, and pompadours.
Like other styles on this list, the hair gradually fades from longer on top to shorter on the sides and back of the head. The fade can start at various heights, but typically it starts at the middle of the head, hence the name “mid taper fade.”
With this kind of taper fade, you’ll generally receive a defined line that sits a few centimetres above and behind the ears. The mid-taper haircut is a slightly more stylish version of the low-effort cut, but is still neat and classy enough to wear in all formal settings.
Here are the key characteristics of a mid taper fade:
- Gradual fade: The hair on the sides and back of the head gradually tapers down in length from the longer hair on top. The fade can be smooth or more abrupt, depending on personal preference.
- Length on top: The hair on top of the head can vary in length, but it’s usually longer than the hair on the sides and back. This length can be styled in a variety of ways, such as slicked back, messy, or textured.
- Clean line: A mid taper fade typically has a clean and defined line where the longer hair on top meets the shorter hair on the sides and back. This line can be straight or slightly curved, depending on the desired look.
3. High Taper Fade
More of a gung-ho ‘let’s give this shit a real hot crack’ kinda guy? Go for the high taper fade. The super short version of a taper fade is near the temple. The high fade haircut starts about two inches from your hairline and tapers down on the sides and back. This edgier style is perfect for those who want a bold look and works best with high and tight haircuts like quiffs, comb-overs, and high tops.
The high-taper fade is best suited to darker hair colours, allowing the cut to demonstrate a greater contrast. It’s a far more extreme variation of the cut and may not be suited to more conservative workplaces, however, it is one of the most stylish interpretations of the taper fade.
Here are the key characteristics of a high taper fade:
- High Fade Point: The bald point of the fade begins high up on the sides and back of the head, usually around the temple or ear area.
- Defined Line: A distinct line is often created where the short hair meets the longer hair on the top of the head.
- Maintenance: A high taper fade requires regular maintenance to keep the fade looking sharp and defined. You might need to get a touch-up every few weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows.
4. Afro Taper
Men with naturally curly, coil-like, or kinky hair textures hair are perhaps the most suited to taper fade haircuts. This style of cut accentuates the contrast from the sideburns and nape, giving a clean look that lends itself well to waves, blowouts and tight curls. Like others on the list, the afro taper removes some of the weight from over the ears and around the back of the neck, resulting in a neater appearance.
You can customise the level of taper fade you want, from a low to a higher fade, but we suggest going with a low fade for the best look. Additionally, removing hair from the sides of the head can help highlight your facial structure, so if you’ve got great cheekbones, this is the perfect haircut to show them off.
Here is what to consider for a taper fade on Afro hair:
- Tightly Curled Hair: Afro hair is typically tightly coiled or curly, which requires a skilled barber or stylist with experience working with this hair type. You might want to do your research and check if your desired barber has done this kind of cut on Afro hair before.
- Different Fade Styles: A taper fade on afro hair can be a low fade or high fade, depending on the desired look.
- Length on Top: The hair on the top of the head is left longer and can be styled in a variety of ways, such as a curly Afro, twists, or locks.
5. Taper Fade Curly Hair
Want the most modern version of the taper fade? If you’re one of the lucky chosen ones with wild curly locks, you can easily give the taper fade curly haircut a go. A fade is especially great for curly hair as it removes some of the weight from your curls, while still maintaining volume on top. To style your curly hair taper fade, consider a forward style such as a Caesar cut or a French crop. Once you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without a taper fade.
Here is what to consider for a taper fade with curly hair:
- Tightness of Your Curls: Curls on Top: Everyone has different hair density, so this kind of cut is best suited to someone with a fairly unruly set of curls. This hair type allows for greater contrast between the short and long sections of the hair.
- Styling the top: You can wear the hair on the top of your head practically any way you want. We definitely recommend keeping the curls loose and wavy, to give some flow and movement to the style.
6. Burst Taper
For the most extreme variation of the taper haircut, ask your hairdresser for a burst taper. The burst fade haircut stands out from other fade haircuts thanks to its unique and dramatic features. This style involves tapering the hairline behind the ear while leaving the hair at the back longer, resulting in a burst effect at the neck that follows the curve of the ears. It’s a flattering cut that works well on both short and medium-length hair.
As this kind of cut is more likely to stand out, it’s not recommended for the conservative office worker. It’s like to grow out in a strange manner, so be prepare for some serious maintenance.
Here is what to consider for a burst taper fade:
- Burst Effect: The hair around the ears and neck is cut very short, creating a burst effect where the hair appears to be “bursting” out from the head.
- Regular Upkeep: As different sections of your hair will grow at different speeds, the burst taper is likely to grow out quickly and no uniformly. As a result, you’ll need to head back to the barbershop at least every two weeks to get this sorted.
7. Taper with Natural Flow
If you’re very into your mullet and want to take it to the next level with a fade, we recommend a taper with a natural nape/flow haircut. In this style, the sideburns are faded completely and the back is left longer to create a modern mullet style. If you don’t like the “boxy” or squared-off look, then this is the best fade haircut for you.
Here is what to consider for a taper fade with natural flow:
- Hair Length: Unlike the other cuts on this list, you’ll need to have a bit more length to make this style work. It’s best characterised by its flick at the nape, which is only achieved with some added growth.
- Hair Type: The taper with natural flow style is best suited to those with straight or wavy hair as it allows from some free-slowing movement.
Taper vs Fade: What’s the Difference?
With a fade, all the hair around your head is cut at the same length. But with a taper fade, only the hair on the sides of your head (over the ears and neckline) is cut shorter, gradually fading from longer hair on top.
What’s great about a taper fade is that it’s super versatile. You can choose to go all the way down to skin level (which is more common with regular fades), or keep it longer on top.
The classic taper is a bit different from the taper fade. With a classic taper, the hair is kept at a similar length around the sides, gradually getting a little shorter towards the ears. But with a taper fade, the change is more gradual as you move down to the ears and neckline.
How Man of Many Chose the Best Taper Haircuts for Men
When it comes to choosing the best taper fade haircuts for men, it’s simple. We know hair better than anyone, our Editor-in-Chief, Nick Hall, is a qualified barber and men’s stylist. He holds a Cert III in Barbering and has personally chosen every haircut on this list with the help of the wider editorial team.
What is the difference between low taper fade and high taper fade?
When it comes to taper fades, you can go for a low taper fade or high taper fade. A low taper involves cutting the hair at the bottom of your head, around the neckline. Meanwhile, a high taper means cutting the hair above your ears. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal style and preference.
Which is better - fade or taper?
It really comes down to personal preference, your face shape, and your hairstylist's expertise in creating the look you want. Both haircuts are popular and can look great depending on the individual. It's best to do some research, bring some reference images to your stylist, and discuss with your stylist what would work best for you.