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Barbering What's the difference between a fade and a taper haircut

Barbering: What’s the difference between a fade and a taper haircut?

If you are going to cut hair for a living, it’s important to know the difference between a fade and a taper haircut. Unfortunately, many people – including barbers – use the terms interchangeably. And while a fade and a taper are similar, they are not the same thing.

Both a fade and a taper share the same general premise. The hair is cut so that it is longer on the top and gets shorter on the back and sides as it transitions from top to bottom. But let’s take a look at the differences and some variations on each style.

Fade Haircut

A barber typically uses clippers to achieve a fade haircut which goes from long to super short – so short, in fact, it may “fade” to bare skin to minimize or eliminate the natural hairline altogether. A fade is considered an edgier, trendier haircut than a taper, and can be done in numerous variations that include line work, undercuts, and more. Fades may also be “choppier” than tapers, changing abruptly from long to super short. Here are a few different types of fades that are popular right now.

Low Fade

A low fade – similar to a taper cut – fades close to the ear, but it may fade less evenly and gradually than a taper.

High Fade

A high fade, as the name implies, means that the fade occurs higher up on the head – close to the top. This can be a more dramatic look if the hair on the top is left long (think modern pompadour).

Drop Fade

A popular variation of this haircut is a drop fade, in which the fade “drops” low and behind the ear, creating a curved style.

Bald Fade

While most fade styles keep the hair on the top of the head relatively long, a bald fade involves cutting the hair at the top very short, and then fades only slightly on the back and sides.

Skin Fade

A skin fade is a fade that eliminates the natural hairline and fades completely into the skin.

Taper Haircut

A taper haircut is more conservative and traditional than a fade, and is usually achieved primarily with shears instead of clippers. A taper gradually and evenly shortens the hair length on the back and sides as you go down from the top. This cut allows for longer hair on the back and sides, is never uneven, and works with the natural hairline. A few variations of the taper cut include:

Low Taper

A low taper gradually and gently tapers down towards the natural hairline.

High Taper

A high taper is cut fairly high on the back and sides – usually around two inches above the top of the ear.

Would you like to learn how to achieve these various cuts and techniques yourself? It’s time to consider a career as a barber. Check out Sunstate Academy’s Barber Styling Program at our Clearwater campus or Cosmetology/Barbering Combination Program available at our Fort Myers campus to learn all about haircutting, tapers, fades, straight razor cuts, and much more. To get on the path to this career, visit our website, schedule a campus tour, or contact us today!