Taper and Fade haircuts are the most common type of hairstyle at any barbershop. You probably must have gotten some or the other variation of taper or fade style at some point in your life. But do you know what actually Tapers and Fades are and what constitutes taper or fade?
Often the two hairstyles are confused, and the terms fade and tapers are used interchangeably. At one glance, they might look the same, but there are certain key differences that make each one of them unique. So let’s dig into this debate of Taper vs Fade!
Taper vs Fade- The Key Difference
The Taper vs. Fade debate has raged for years. In fact, some barbers also cannot clearly explain the difference between a fade and taper because they use the terms interchangeably. In just one look, you cannot make out which is taper and which is fade. But they do have some subtle differences that change the style and look.
The Taper is when the hair length and depth change from lower to higher, gradually giving it a smooth transitional look.
Whereas the Fade is typically shorter on both sides than a taper. A fade finishes fading into the skin of the sides.
If you want to get the taper haircut, you will get a longer buzz cut the hair on the sides with a tapered back that gradually smoothes downwards but is not faded into the clean skin.
And if you think that you want to fade haircuts, you must specify to the barber if you want the low fade or bald fade. These typically work best with both long and short-length men’s haircuts. That’s the key difference here.
History of the Fade and Tapers
The modern fade and taper hairstyles might look much trendier and customizable with the shaved sides and back designs, creating unique hairstyles for each. The Tapers and Fades have their roots in the U.S. military from the 40s and 50s. These styles reemerged during the 80s and 90s by the likes of Grace Jones and Dough E Fresh. It started gaining popularity in the early 2000s as it became more mainstream.
The Fade Haircut
The fade haircut is a much shorter version of the taper cut, which traditionally begins with a low cut or a clean shave and blends into the longer hair. These fade haircuts also have a noticeable fade line that is shaven around the entire head.
Both hairstyles use a graduated style that blends into your natural hairline. The type of fade you receive is based on the fade line, which starts with a skin fade, unlike taper, in which it is shaven down to a focal point on the back of the head. Your fade line typically starts above the ear, but you can also apply for a low fade or taper fade instead.
The skin fade starts with the clean shave approach. It starts from the fade line and blends with the skin into a fade on the bottom side. Skin fade can also be low skin or high skin, depending on the length of the fade.
The low fade may start with a small bald approach which gradually blends to a low fade. The low fade line starts from just above the ear.
The mid-fade line comes somewhere between the high and low fade line. The mid fade line is above the ear but not quite up the top of your hairline.
The high fade line is above the ear at the top, too near to the hairline. This high fade gives it a blend right below the hairline to the skin.
The Taper Haircut
The Taper haircuts are the ones where the hair transitions gradually from long hair to short-length hair. The fade is a short and more dramatic variation of the tapers.
Tapers and fades were confused a lot when they first became popularised in the 2000s. Taper cuts need longer hair around the back and ears. Barbers typically use clippers to clip the hair down to a focus point in the back. The fade is minimal but not clean shaved like in fades.
Mostly the fades start with a clean skin shave, while tapers prefer following your natural hairline, cutting with a longer #2 or #3 guard clipper around the sides and back. The hair is typically tapered in the back, forming a clean short hairline.
You can customize your taper to find into any look you want. Both tapers and fades use clippers, but tapered haircuts are mostly blended and trimmed with barber shears and fingers.
The hair is tapered more and kept short in the lower section. The blend is smooth, with medium-length hair on the upper back and top of the head.
The mid taper has longer hair but is gradually blended into a buzz cut around the ears, back, neckline, and the top of the head.
The high taper starts mostly from the hairline and smoothly blends with the neck. The bottom is tapered very short and not clean shaved. The hair on top can be medium to long length.
The Taper Fade
A taper fade is a perfect fusion between the fade and taper. It has a long, gradual look with a clean fade around your neck and the bottom of your hairline. In contrast to the low fade, the taper fade happens much lower down your neck.
Classic tapered styles tend to have longer, buzzed hair down the neck and around the ears. The taper fade combination is best for you if you are looking for neat lines and edging as well as a clean-to-skin fade.
Taper Fade Combover
The taper fade combover is the perfect example of how your hair gradually changes to the sides and back. The tapering fade cut along with medium-length hair on the top combed over is the look you want for a formal event or occasion.
Classic Taper Fade
The hair is faded gradually at the bottom as it follows a tapered back. It fades the thick hair gradually down and the hair on the sides to a point on the back.
Faux Hawk Taper Fade
As the name suggests, when the tapered fade on the back and sides is mixed with a faux hawk on the top, it becomes this amazing amalgamation of taper, fade, and a faux hawk haircut.
Terms and Styling Guide
So now that you are sure of what are taper cuts and fades are not the same exactly. They are similar in some aspects, which makes this confusing. However, the subtle differences between the two make all the divergence if you want to ask your barber to get you this haircut.
To Get The Fade Haircut
Start by asking for a fade haircut specifying your depth, like a skin fade or guard size. Then specify the fade line to get low, mid, and high fades.
To Get The Taper Haircut
When asking the barber for a taper, start by getting a higher buzz cut all around the ears, back, and neckline. Then choose the taper line to get the low, mid, and high tapers.
To Get The Taper Fade Haircut
A modern barber can easily combine a fade on both sides and get a taper in the back, making it the tapered fade style. Do specify your fade line and ask for the back to be tapered undercut with long to short fade or clean cut.
Both the men’s hairstyles- taper and fades are very versatile and can be sported in pretty much any social or formal occasion ignoring the difference. So which one wins the Taper vs. Fade battle?
Let’s be honest, with a taper, the overall look will be of longer hair, and with the fade, the gradient of your hair will be much shorter. This is the primary difference. Taper looks decent on the head, whereas fade might look bold on the head, so select accordingly. You can always ask the barber what they recommend. An experienced barber will know the difference between both styles and suggest one of them based on your face shape. Also, the Taper fade style is just the option to go ahead with if you are confused between both. It has the features of the taper and fade and makes the best of both worlds.