Which Looks Best – Taper vs. Fade?

Jan 15, 2020

Man giving another man a haircut

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How do you choose between taper vs. fade?

It’s refreshing to walk out of the barber’s with a new haircut. A different look can boost your confidence and make you feel like a better version of yourself — but only if it looks good. Of course, what’s “good” to one person may not be “good” to another. Most of it comes down to preference.

If you’re looking to change your hairstyle soon, it’s important to know your options. You have an idea of what you like, and it might even suit you, but preferences are often biased and uninformed. Once you do your research, you’ll have a more objective view of what looks good and what doesn’t.

We’ll start by answering a few simple questions.

1. What’s a Tapered Haircut?

You may have found yourself checking out hairstyles that are shorter on the sides and longer on top. It’s a fashionable look right now and heavily relies on a tapered style.

When you ask for tapered hair, your barber will start cutting by your natural part and buzzing the sides. As the razor descends, the buzz will get a closer cut. It’s a neat way to enjoy longer hair on top without dealing with long strands sweeping around the sides of your face.

2. What Does a “Fade” Entail?

Faded haircuts are similar to tapered ones because they begin at the same spot. Once the razor sweeps down from your natural part, it quickly gets closer to your roots. Your hair will completely disappear anywhere from the middle of your head to the bottom of your hairline.

You’ll frequently recognize fade haircuts when you search for pictures of mohawks, but they work with any hairstyle. The most significant benefit is that your hairline vanishes, which is appealing for those who don’t have a naturally uniform look.

The idea of a faded style might interest you, but it also might make you nervous. Some men struggle with close shaves because they have dry skin that easily nicks. The key is to learn how to exfoliate to reduce the chance of cuts. Once you take care of your skin, you won’t have to worry about trimming.

3. Is Long and Wavy Still a Good Look?

Long manes have become popular once again, but only if you do them the right way. Straight, long hair can appear greasy if you don’t style it correctly, so aim for a favorable trend.

Wavy hair re-entered the world of pop culture when Kit Harrington stepped on-screen in 2010 as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Now, men want the same curly look, which you can get with the right shaping and curl defining cream.

4. What If I Want a Buzzcut?

Maybe you grew up with a standard buzz cut, but the modern style works for any man. Depending on the length you prefer, you can work a couple of different features into this look.

Trim your hair to the same length as your facial hair to blend it with your sideburns and beard. A brush cut will show off your natural curls without you needing length. Then there’s the Caesar cut, where the bangs bend slightly over your forehead and rise to three inches on your crown.

5. What About a More Professional Hairstyle?

If you want a polished hairstyle that flows well with your work attire, consider the Ivy League look. Worn by men from John F. Kennedy to Ryan Gosling, it’s a variation of the military crew cut. It shows that you know how to dress up and look suave, which is why it works so well in professional settings.

Keep it longer on the top and ask for a grade five around the sides of your head. Taper those locks down to a three or two and use a styling product to hold the top hair in place.

Consult Your Barber

Even after reading about different men’s hairstyles, you might have a few lasting reservations. Talk with your barber about what they’d recommend for your face shape and lifestyle. They’ll help you decide between taper vs. fade.

You’re sure to discover a haircut that flatters your appearance and requires the right amount of maintenance, no matter what you prefer.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.