The Difference Between A Fade And A Taper

A lot of people get the term fade and taper confused. I hear it all the time at the barbershop with new clients. A new client will tell me they want a “taper” but really want a “fade” or vice versa. So I make sure to have a detailed client consultation so that the client and I are on the same page. Usually I will pull up a picture on my phone or have them pull up a picture on their phone because most clients don’t know what they want. Which is understandable, because they didn’t go to hair school for 1600+ hours. They don’t know hair like we do, I feel it is part of our job to educate them. Below I have broken down the different type of tapers and fades. I hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to send me a DM on Instagram (@Tyler_Kelbert).

Types Of Tapers: 

Low Taper

A low taper is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a fade. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It can be located on the sides of the head by the ear or in the neck area. If you are creating a low taper on the sides of the head, the starting point will be a horizontal line at the tragus area of the ear going towards the front of the clients face. It gradually blends upward into the hair on the sides of the head. If located in the neck area, the low taper will start at the bottom of the nape and gradually blends upward into the hair on the back of the head. Try to keep the blend condensed as much as you can.

Medium Taper

A medium taper is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a fade. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It can be located on the sides of the head by the ear or in the neck area. The starting point lies between a low and high taper. If you are creating a medium taper on the sides of the head, the starting point will be a horizontal line at the helix root area of the ear going towards the front of the clients face. It gradually blends upward into the hair on the sides of the head. If located in the neck area, the medium taper will start about one fingers width higher than the bottom of the nape and gradually blends upward into the hair on the back of the head.

High Taper

A high taper is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a fade. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It can be located on the sides of the head by the ear or in the neck area. If you are creating a high taper on the sides of the head, the starting point will be a diagonal line from the temple peak point to the helix root of the ear. It gradually blends upward into the hair on the sides of the head. If located in the neck area, the high taper will start about two fingers width higher than the bottom of the nape or at the bottom of the ear lobe and gradually blends upward into the hair on the back of the head. 

Burst Taper

A burst taper is a variation of the high, medium and low taper. It can start at the same starting point as a high, medium or low taper but the shape is different. Instead of it being a horizontal or diagonal line, it is in either the shape of a half moon or triangle. It gradually blends upward like a high, medium or low taper but it is important to maintain the half moon or triangular shape. 

Types of Fades:

Low Fade

A low fade is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a taper. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It wraps around the entire head from one side of the head to the opposite side of the head. Starting about one fingers width above the ear and gradually blending upward into the hair on the sides and back of the head. Some clients prefer to have their fade stretched out while others prefer to keep the fade condensed. 

Medium Fade

A medium fade is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a taper. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It wraps around the entire head from one side of the head to the opposite side of the head. Starting about two fingers width above the ear and gradually blending upward into the hair on the sides and back of the head. Some clients prefer to have their fade stretched out while others prefer to keep the fade condensed.

High Fade

A high fade is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often confused with a taper. While both are types of blends, the area they live at are completely different. It wraps around the entire head from one side of the head to the opposite side of the head. Starting about three fingers width above the ear and gradually blending upward into the hair on the sides and back of the head. Some clients prefer to have their fade stretched out while others prefer to keep the fade condensed. 

Burst Fade

A burst fade is a type of blend where the hair starts at a short length and gradually gets longer. It is often paired with a faux hawk haircut. The starting point is behind the superior helix of the ear. It starts in a half moon shape and gradually blends into the rest of the hair on the sides. It is important to maintain the half moon shape as you gradually blend from short to long.

Drop Fade

A drop fade is a variation of the high and medium fade. It starts to drop behind the ear usually to preserve length in the crown or for a stylish spin on the classic medium and high fade look.

Shadow Fade

A Shadow fade is any type of fade the does not start from skin. For example instead of starting with your electric shaver, you could start with a number 1 attachment guard on your clipper and gradually blend upward.

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