Difference Between Fade and Taper

Does the difference between fade and taper confuse you? The most common debate among hairstylists regarding the difference between fade and taper can be very confusing.

And so it happens, that you walk into the barber shop around the corner, and ask your hairstylist for a tapered haircut. But you end up with a fade. Don’t worry. You’re not the only one who thought you’ve got it all figured out. But, not really.

Many men have difficulty in effectively communicating with their barber about the kind of look they want. But let’s put a full stop to that. As if the terms like fade vs tapered fade were not enough to send us down a mind-boggling spiral; the variation and different types of fade haircut add more salt to the wound and make our lives more complex.

Without much ado, lets put this confusion to rest once and for all.

Page Contents

What is a Fade?

Understanding a fade hairstyle for men is important because there is only a slight difference between fade and taper.

Both fade and tapered haircuts tend to have a gradient from longer to shorter hair. However, the hair on the top of the head are much shorter for a fade haircut, when compared to a tapered fade.

In comparison to a taper fade, a fade haircut requires lower maintenance that helps to maintain a clean military, army cut, type look.


Types of Fade Haircut

There are two major types of fade haircut: low fade and high fade. Different variations of the fade haircut are then used to give shape according to the individual’s face shape, personality, and the style they want to carry.

The pictures below should add further clarity to the different types of fade.

Low Fade vs Mid Fade vs High Fade

While the high fade remains above the ear, the low fade tends to reach down close to the hairline.

High Taper Fade


Mid Fade
Low Fade with Side Part


Bald Fade

The hair is longer at the top and tapers down to the sides (and the back of the head) shaved right around the last part of the hairline as a gradient. This is the most common type of fade haircut, and is known as the bald fade.

Bald Fade


Temp Fade

Fade just around the temples without the dramatic variation in size is called a temp fade.

Temple Fade


Disconnect Undercut Fade

Sharp demarcation line added after the top hair to define margins of the fade along with very short top hair is Disconnect Undercut Fade. A fade effect can be added to a faux hawk and pompadour as well.

What is a Tapered Fade?

If fade and taper alone weren’t confusing enough, I introduce you to the tapered fade haircut.

Putting it in simple words, a tapered fade is a combination of a fade and a tapered haircut. But if you were to tell that to your barber the chances are he’d probably do one of the two rather than a proper tapered fade.

Whether you decide to go for a high, mid, low or a variation of a fade hairstyle, a tapered haircut can go from a side part to low drop fade.

But instead of talking about the whats of a tapered fade, let’s talk about the part that concerns us the most. How are you going to explain it to your hairstylist?

The next time you visit your hair salon and are looking to get a tapered fade haircut, make sure to tell your stylist to shorten the hair with a clipper as he goes down the sides blending and fading the hairline into the skin. Right at the end of the hairline.

Low Taper Fade with Waves


Low Taper Fade

Taper vs Fade

Let the battle begin!

  • The major difference between taper and fade lies in the length of the hair on the top. For taper, the top is longer as compared to the fade haircut.
  • The fading effect for the fade haircut begins quickly with the end above the natural hairline, blending into the skin and hiding the hairline.
  • The fade is for people who are busy for repeated visits to the barber while the taper is for the trendy individual who would maintain the look day in and out. Fade requires no touch-ups while the taper will be asking for touch-ups every week or so.
  • Ideal for individuals with square, long or oval face, tapered haircut suits them perfectly. A fade haircut suits people with oval and square shaped face.
  • A tapered haircut does not give the bald look, where the hairline is visible as compared to the fade haircut, that is incomplete without the skin showing.
  • Fade is suitable for a wide variety of hair, whereas the tapered haircut is ideal for long hair

But again are we actually concerned with the difference between Fade and Taper haircut. The real reason we are here is to explain this to our barbers. So following are simple steps that can be explained to the barber for a perfect Fade haircut putting all confusions to rest.

Steps to Get Your Hairstylist to Give You a Fade vs a Tapered Haircut

Steps to Get a Fade Haircut

  1. Dampen hair with water and comb thoroughly.
  2. Using a higher guard size for the clipper, shave the sides and back of the head.
  3. Clearly, mark the fade line for a seamless transition.
  4. For a closer shave, move the shaver vertically.
  5. At the fade line, move sideways for a smooth transition.
  6. Work in short sections for accuracy.
  7. Cut the top of the hair to the desired length.
  8. Add final touches to the fade line.
  9. Style with the desired hair products.

Steps to Get a Tapered Haircut

  1. Dampen hair with water and comb thoroughly
  2. Using 1/8th of the blade, move from the crown to the forehead slowly.
  3. Cover all areas, moving from the back to the front in the direction of the train to avoid the uneven look.
  4. Start tapering from the temples.
  5. Go from the longest to the shortest.
  6. Repeat on all sides until the desired length.
  7. Mark the tapering point.
  8. Make an arc around the temple and sideburns.
  9. In the end, outline the back of the head and taper properly until smooth.
  10. Style with your appropriate product.

Whether you choose fade or tapered haircut, the idea is to perfect the look that suits you the most.

The difference between fade and taper may seem subtle, and may still be a stylist’s dilemma. But, if you haven’t tried either of these, you should try both and send us your photos.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.