The taper fade is a classic hairstyle that’s both edgy and professional. We’ve found the best examples of this cut to show you exactly what you need to know before hitting the barber shop.

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What Is a Taper Fade?

Man getting a taper fade has his neck trimmed with electric clippers at a barber shop
Trakto Creative Design/Shutterstock

Ah, the taper fade. It’s a look that’s as popular as it is classic. What exactly is it? Glad you asked.

A taper fade:

  • Features a long top (usually 2” to 4”)
  • Has shorter back and sides 
  • Length gradually tapers down the head

But outside of these characteristics, a tapered fade can have a lot of variation. You’ll see examples of this haircut with super long or very short tops, drop or skin fades, differently styled hair on top, and various lengths for the sides and back.

Basically, if a haircut features a longer top, shorter sides and back, and there’s a gradually shorter transition of length between the two…it’s a taper fade. With so much versatility, there’s a version of this haircut that will look great on you.

You just need to see some inspiration photos to find out the best way for you to wear this kind of fade! That’s what you’ll see next. After the examples, check out a few things you should consider before getting this type of cut.

Read Next: High Fade Haircut Inspiration

30 Taper Fades to Try

Here are our favorite examples of this popular haircut that can work for a range of face shapes and hair textures. You’ll see different types of fades (high, low, classic, drop, and skin), several hair lengths, and hair that ranges from straight to coily.

1. Combed Back Tapered High Fade

Handsome young man with a combed-back taper fade and a beard stands outside
ArtofPhotos/Shutterstock

High fades start tapering in length higher up, around the temples. This tapered cut is paired with a long top of 3” to 4” for nice contrast. 

2. Slicked Back Long Top

Man holds his head and stands in a studio wearing a long black tie
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

The hair on top is around 4 inches long in this example, giving it enough length to be slicked back neatly. The sides are tapered and faded midway down the head to keep the look clean. 

3. Styled up Tapered Drop Fade

Man with a brushed-up taper fade haircut in a casual blazer
Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

We love a good tapered drop fade as a twist on the classic. The areas above the ears and just behind them are faded down to a very short length while the longer portion dips down in the back.

4. Medium Long Taper

Older man with grey hair stands in a living room and crosses his arms while wearing an off-white tshirt
Goodluz/Shutterstock

If you’re not one for super-short hair or skin fades, try a cut like this. The hair on the sides is tapered but left a bit longer for more volume (perfect for oval or elongated faces). 

5. Brushed Back Classic Fade

Guy in a blue denim button-up shirt stands against a purple wall and holds his taper fade haircut
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

This cut tapers in length starting just above the ears for a classic fade. With very dark hair, the tapered lengths have more contrast. 

6. Faux Hawk Tapered Fade

Mid-40s man rocks a taper fade haircut and a faux hawk and holds the tips with his right hand
Goodluz/Shutterstock

Use the extra length on top to style a faux hawk for extra height in front. The sides taper and fade in length at the classic fade level between the temples and ears. 

7.  Long Tapered Quiff

Man with a long tapered quiff hairstyle wears an open-collar white button up shirt and a tan denim jacket
Unique Vision/Shutterstock

A quiff involves longer hair on top that is styled upward and forward with lots of volume. The sides and back are tapered with a longer length than usual so the contrast between the long top and shorter sides isn’t too stark. 

8. Tapered Mini Quiff

Guy with a tapered fade haircut holds the tip of his hair
The Faces/Shutterstock

This mini version of the quiff might be more practical. The length on the back and sides gradually tapers to keep the style from looking messy. 

9. Pseudo Drop Fade

Side profile of a man with a combed-back tapered fade and a beard on a guy with no shirt
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Keeping the hair on top super long will help you pull off the pseudo drop fade. It looks like the hair is long on the top and back, but only because the hair on top is brushed all the way back. You can also style this to the side for a different look. 

10. Pushed Back Taper

Against a pink background is a man with a tapered fade wearing a white crew neck shirt and smiling while looking to his right
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

One thing we love about tapered fades is how many variations there are. Keep the hair at the temple level a little longer for more volume on the sides then have it tapered down from there. 

11. High Drop Fade With Long Top

Handsome young man with a chain and earrings and a mustache and light beard wears a high tapered fade
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Coily hair is the perfect candidate for a taper fade style. We like this example where the top is longer with a defined hairline. The long portion dips down in the back and the fade starts high up near the temples. 

12. Over-and-Back Taper

Guy in a barber chair wears a cape while his barber gives him an up and over tapered fade haircut
Oleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock

Your hair should be around 4 inches long to pull this look off. Use a dab of styling gel in the hair then brush it back and over to the side to show off the tapered sides. 

13. Pushed up Bangs

Man with a pushed-up taper fade looks up at the tips of the hair in a studio with a white background
Alberto Zornetta/Shutterstock

Create some height at the hairline with pushed up bangs. Keep the style neat with gradually tapered sides and back at a slightly longer length than a typical fade. 

14. Caesar Taper Fade

Man with a caesar tapered fade haircut holds his left finger up to his nose and thinks about something while sitting on steps
Deaniil Cherepanov/Shutterstock

The Caesar cut is edgy and suitable for a range of face shapes. It features short bangs, a longer top and crown, and very short taper faded sides and back. 

15. Tapered Drop Fade With Shaved Part

Tapered drop fade with stylish part hairstyle
Vladimir Trynkalo/Shutterstock

A shaved part will set any haircut apart! This tapered fade dips down in the back and fades to the skin above the ears in front. 

16. Tapered Skin Fade

Guy with a tapered fade gets the back of his neck styled with help from a barber in a black shirt and gloves
Vikafoto33/Shutterstock

For the ultimate cool hairstyle – seriously, your head will feel even the slightest breeze – try a tapered skin fade. The top’s longer length gradually tapers into the shorter sides and back. Then the sides and back are faded super-short down to the skin. 

17. Pushed Back Top With Short Sides

Front portrait of a man in a heathered grey shirt and a beard with a pushed-up spikey hair
Mimagephotography/Shutterstock

You can level up any taper style cut by leaving the top a little longer than you normally might. The hair on the sides of the top is tapered in length then faded to a shorter length on the back and sides. 

18. High Taper Fade With Hard Part

Metrosexual man wearing a shirt that says happiness looks gorgeous on you and wearing ray ban glasses with his hands in his pocket
Alones/Shutterstock

Side parts really show off a nice tapered haircut. Start the fade up high near the temples, tapering down in length to the skin on the back and sides. Make sure to leave the top long enough to part the hair over. 

19. Wavy Long Taper

Man with a black leather jacket tilts his head to the left and smiles
ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Get the greaser look with a longer top (bonus points if you have waves or curls) and slightly shorter sides and back that taper down in length. Use some gel to comb the sides backward. 

20. Faded Combover 

Man with a tattooed neck looks to the right with a gnarly beard and a taper fade haircut
FSQuadro/Shutterstock

This is how you make a combover cool. Short faded back and sides meet up with the longer, side parted top and the high-contrast long beard. 

21. Spiky With Brushed Back Sides

Man with a spikey tapered fade wears a white shirt with a popped collar
Laaad/Shutterstock

There are so many ways to wear a tapered haircut. While this one doesn’t fade down super short, the brushed-back shorter sides and back perfectly contrast with the spiky, forward-styled top. 

22. Balanced Side Part Taper

Man stands in front of a teal green background in a studio and grins at the camera
Atstock Productions/Shutterstock

A side part that isn’t too deep gives your hair more balance, evening out the volume on each side. Tapering the length of the sides and back gradually, leaving them just slightly shorter than the top around the temples, gives this cut a rounded-off and neat look. 

23. Faded Casual Waves

Guy looks in confusion as he wears somewhat professional clothes and holds his right hand up to his face
Juice Team/Shutterstock

Give casual waves a more grown-up vibe with tapered sides that fade in length down the head. With the longer hair parted to the side, the waves are front and center while showing off the classic faded sides and back.  

24. Shaved Part High Fade

African american gentleman with a shaved part high fade check out his new 'do
Fizkes/Shutterstock

Define the edge of the long top with a shaved part. After the shaved part, the hair tapers in length into a high fade that begins at the temples. 

25. Tousled Top and Tapered Sides

Portrait of a model with a tapered fade in a blue shirt posing for a somewhat candid woke up like this style
Mimagephotography/Shutterstock

Stark contrasts are a surefire way to take your look to the next level. Pair a tousled top with short, neat sides. The top is unlayered while the sides gradually taper in length all the way down. 

26. Shorter Top With Taper Fade

Man with a high tapered fade in a grey shirt stands and looks directly at the camera
F8 Studio/Shutterstock

Who says your hair has to be super long on the top? You can keep the top shorter for a more easily managed haircut that still features the popular tapered sides. 

27. Side Swept With Classic Fade

Man with a tapered fade gets a cut from a hairstylist
Oleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock

The medium-length top is long enough to sweep over to the side. The sides and back start tapering in length midway down, making this a classic fade. 

28. Clean Cut Tight Taper

Man with a taper fade haircut and a red shirt holds his hands up to his chin and ponders something in a studio
Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Don’t want much length on the top or sides? This could be the perfect cut for you. With 2” to 3” length on top, a little gel and a comb are all you need to style it. The high faded sides blend out the longer top seamlessly. 

29. Classic Tapered Skin Fade

Sporty young man with a fade haircut shot with a camera from the back
Vikafoto33/Shutterstock

Skin fades offer a high-contrast look and are so easy to maintain with regular trims. Here, the hair is tapered midway down the head, just above the ear level. 

30. Brushed Back Fade

Guy with a side part haircut and glasses looks straight ahead while shot from a side profile
Nuttadol Kanperm/Shutterstock

The tapered lengths are perfectly blended in this example of a classic fade with a nicely defined hairline. This cut fades down to skin just above the ears. 

Things to Consider With Taper Fades

Don’t hop in the barber’s chair without considering a few important things first. Here’s what you should think about before you get this kind of haircut.

You’ll have to commit to regular trims. If you’ve previously worn your hair long or in an at-home buzz cut, you’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to need to visit a barber regularly for trims.

Unless you’re skilled at cutting your own hair at home and have quality clippers, taper fades are going to be very difficult to trim yourself. Plan to visit the barbershop every 4-6 weeks for a quick trim to keep it looking good.

Let your face shape dictate the length. If you have an oval or elongated face shape, you’ll need to avoid excessive length on top. That makes your face look longer.

If you have a round or square face shape, too much volume on the sides can make your face look fuller at the cheeks. If you have a heart-shaped face, a shorter top with longer tapered sides will make the bottom half of your face appear more balanced.

Your hair characteristics matter. The texture of your hair, whether it’s fine, coarse, straight, or curly, should be top of mind before you get this cut. Also consider your hair’s dryness or oiliness, any cowlicks that might be exaggerated.

And areas you might feel more comfortable keeping hidden (like moles, scars, etc.). Be sure to tell your barber as much as you can about your hair’s characteristics so they can style the cut specifically for your needs.

Make sure you have style versatility. Complex styles look great, but can be time consuming in the mornings. Make sure the cut you choose can be worn more than one way so you have other options on mornings when you don’t feel like styling it.

Taper fades are great for versatility because the longer top can be worn brushed forward, back, to the side, or pushed up. Overall, this is a haircut with more options than most. You’re sure to find one that works perfectly for your hair type and face shape.

A skilled barber can help point you in the right direction if you’re still not sure how long you’d like the top, sides, and back to be. Need help finding a barber you can trust? Use our salon locator to see hair salons in your area now.

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Debra Carpenter
Author: Debra Carpenter

Debra is a Nashville-based content creator and strategist. As the daughter of a long-time hair stylist and salon owner, she’s spent most of her life as a guinea pig for new color and cut techniques. Writing for respected publications like Forbes and HuffPost, she’s committed to bringing her passion for great hair to the masses.