Sharpening your image doesn’t have to be difficult. All you really need is the right haircut. Take the high fade: a modern styling touch that can be incorporated into almost any short haircut, instantly creating a cleaner, more dynamic look.
Fades are well on their way to becoming ubiquitous in the world of men’s hair. These graduated embellishments have become the de facto setting for men around the world and are often used by hairdressers and stylists to give new life to classic cuts. There are many different types – low fades, skin fades, taper fades, scissor fades and drop fades to name a few – but the high fade is the most notable of them all.
If you want a modern and distinctive new style, read on as we explore the what, who and how of the high-fade. From who it fits to what variations to consider, here’s everything you need to know about one of the coolest cuts in today’s barbershop.
What is a high blur?
Before we get stuck, let’s take a look at the basics. The first thing to understand is that a fade isn’t actually a haircut in itself. What it is is an element that can be incorporated into any hairstyle to achieve a sharper, more modern look. The term “fade” actually refers only to the hair on the back and sides of the head.
In simple terms, a fade is the mixing of hair of different lengths. A fade runs from your neck and ears to longer hair further down, creating a smooth transition from the shortest hair on the back and sides of the head to longer hair on the top. It gets its name from the faded look it results in.
So, what about the ‘high’ part? This refers to how far on the head this mixing of lengths begins. With a low fade, the gradation starts around or just above the temples. In a high fade it starts much further in the head. This makes for a more striking, aggressive look, with David Beckham, Michael B Jordan and Ryan Reynolds among the A-list proponents. (For something softer, try a taper fade instead.)
Will a High Fade suit me?
A high fade does not suit everyone. So how do you know if this is the best option for you? The first thing to determine is what kind of face shape you have. There are five main shapes: round, square, rectangle, heart and oval. Look in a mirror with your head straight ahead and decide which of these best describes the contours of your face.
High-fade styles are characterized by their short back and sides. Often they have a certain amount of length or volume on top. This means that hairstyles with a high fade can often lead to the head lengthening. If you already have a long, rectangular face, this may not be the best option for you. Or at the very least you want to consider a variant that is also short.
For everyone else, the high fade should work well, depending on the kind of style it’s paired with. Those with wider faces, such as round or heart-shaped, will benefit from the short sides combined with some height on top. Styles like pompadours and tufts work well for this.
If you have an oval-shaped face, you pretty much have carte blanche. You can choose whatever combination of high fade and hairstyle you like (within reasonable limits) and it will suit you just fine.
Main High Blur Styles
It is possible to combine a high fade with almost any short haircut. However, there are some cuts that always look good. If you’re struggling with inspiration and need a nudge in the right direction, consider these high-fade styles that will never let you down.
High fade pompadour
This classic mid-century hairstyle has seen a massive revival over the past decade. This is partly due to the increased prevalence of fades and the fact that they have been able to bring a throwback trim bang up to date.
For the uninitiated, a pompadour is a lofty hairstyle that uses a blow dryer and pomade to style the hair on and off the face, creating volume at the front of the head. Elvis did it. Beckham did it. Chances are your grandfather did it. Traditionally the hair would also be left longer on the sides and combed back to a point at the back, but a high fade in gives the pompadour a cleaner, more modern edge.
Regular maintenance will keep the fade looking fresh. Other than that, it’s just a matter of brushing up on your blow-drying and combing skills.
High and sleek with high blur
Everyone knows that many classic menswear items have their origins in the military. Hairstyles are no different. A surprising number of classic men’s cuts started life in the armed forces, including the high and tight.
This traditional military haircut has successfully invaded civilian life, but unlike the crew cut or the ivy league, it still screams the Marine Corps drill instructor. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is a matter of opinion. What is not up for debate is that this is a timeless classic of a hairstyle that looks even better with a high fade.
This is a low-maintenance haircut that requires little to no styling, but you’ll need to get the fade touched up regularly to keep it from growing out.
Round Cut with High Fade
The round cut is about as classic as hairstyles. It is another style whose roots are firmly planted in the military, but over the years it has become a sort of standard hairstyle for men. Go to a barber shop, ask for a cropped back and sides and you’ll probably end up with a curvy cut.
It’s hard to improve on such a timeless hairstyle, but a high fade can bring a contemporary touch to this traditional hairstyle. It’s a great option for anyone looking for a cut that’s sensible without being stuffy.
Use a wax, clay or pomade for styling and visit the hairdresser regularly to keep the back and sides in check.
Textured crop with high blur
Tommy Shelby has a lot to answer for in our opinion. Some of the more questionable style trends of the 2010s—we think flat caps and pocket watches—belong to the early 20th century. But Peaky Blinders made them look cool, so what are you going to do? However, the resurgence of the textured crop is something we’re happy to let slip.
This short, jerky style was re-popularized by Shelby in the gang in the British series. He wore his with an undercut, but if you’re looking for something more sophisticated and modern, a high fade would be a great way to go.
This cut can vary, so it’s best to take a picture of exactly what you want with the hairdressers. That way you won’t be faced with unpleasant surprises in the mirror at the end. In terms of styling, it is fairly low maintenance. Simply work your favorite styling product through the hair to achieve a tousled look.
Afro with high blur
The trend of proudly growing natural hair and reviving past afro styles shows no signs of letting go. And why should it? They can take a lot of work to maintain, but the look is full of character. It also works with a high fade, the sharply tapered sides add clean lines and drama to the style on top.
There are endless possibilities to finish the look as you can keep it in shape and sculpted or let it grow out. For inspiration, check out what Marcus Rashford, the Weeknd, Khalid or Odell Beckham Jr have done with the style.
High blur buzz cut
Once upon a time, when a barber brought the clippers to your head, they gave you the same grade everywhere. The fade has changed that. But old and new combine in this style, sharpening up the classic buzz cut with some contrast between the top and sides.
For best results, go a little longer on top. If you have afro hair, consider a wave to make the style even more distinctive.
High fade dreads/twists/braids
Dreads, braids and twists are among the most individual hairstyles you can get. Add a high fade and you’ll bring out the personality even more, as the sharp-edged sides bring out the style on top dramatically.
Again, the options are wide and you can style the same cut in a number of ways. Stack or tie the hair up, braid it or let it all hang over an undercut a la A$AP Rocky.