What they are and the best versions for 2021

Fades have eclipsed traditional short back and side hairstyles for over a decade. They’re sharper, more modern and, perhaps best of all, there’s more than one way to run them. Take the drop fade for example.

You may not have heard of this wavy take on the favorite embellishments of the 21st century, but it’s been gaining traction among trendsetters for a while now. From Premier League footballers to rap royalty, some of the biggest trendsetters of men’s hair have embraced this contemporary cut. So if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next visit to the hairdresser, this is definitely worth considering.

So, what exactly is a drop fade, is it the right one for you and what different ways of trimming are there? Below, we answer all these questions and more with a forensic look at the best drop fade hairstyles for men.

What is a droplet blur?

A drop fade is an intricate, characterful haircut that leans quite youthful. But before we get into the details, it’s helpful to get back to the basics.

A ‘fade’ is the name given to a particular way of cutting the back and sides of the hair. It is defined by a gradation in length, from short at the bottom to longer higher, and can be worn with all kinds of hairstyles. In general, this gradation in length is the same all over the head, but here a drop fade differs.

As the name suggests, a droplet fade descends around the back of the head, giving the impression that the hairline ‘falls’ behind the ears. From the front, this helps to outline the face while adding more hair coverage around the crown of the head. It also adds a bit of drama to the back and sides of a haircut, which usually play second fiddle to the haircut on top.

Who goes with a drop fade?

Think a drop fade could be your next hair update? There are a few things to keep in mind before you take the plunge.

As is the case with most things, a drop fade won’t be for everyone. Certain hairstyles are better suited to certain face shapes, so the first thing to do is determine yours and decide if this style will be a good match.

There are five main face shapes: round, oval, square, rectangle and heart. The proportions of your face will fall within one of these. Stand with your face in front of a mirror and judge which of these shapes best describes the outline of your face.

The basic nature of faded hairstyles means they are short on the sides. This makes them very suitable for people with rounder, wider face shapes. This is especially true when worn with a hairstyle that adds some height, such as a pompadour, as it balances out the dimensions of the face.

If your face falls on the longer, slimmer side, avoid overly-raised styles, which elongate the face further. Instead, keep it short and trimmed. Those with rectangular faces have carte blanche. This face shape goes well with almost any hairstyle, so there is room for experimentation.

It is also worth thinking about your lifestyle. Like all faded hairstyles, drop fades need regular maintenance to keep them looking sharp. If your schedule doesn’t allow for regular visits to the hairdresser, it may be best to stick to something more relaxed.

5 Key Drop Fade Hairstyles

One of the great things about a drop fade is that it can be used as a base for hundreds of different hairstyles. To save you from sifting through all the combinations, we’ve put together a handful of fail-safe, future-proof options that showcase this tech gear at its best.

Round cut with drop fade

A classic round cut is probably the most sensible haircut out there, but it can be led astray by adding a drop fade. This traditional military style has been the standard “man’s haircut” for nearly a century, but a little clipper sculpture is all it takes to bring it up to date.

The haircut is short on the top and shorter on the sides with the bangs often styled up and slightly to the side. Traditionally it is worn with a short back and sides, but a drop fade is perfect for a more contemporary look.

Just ask for a crew cut with a drop fade and any good barber will know exactly what you mean.

Textured Crop with Drop Blur

This short haircut is a choppy take on a classic and has become hugely popular over the past decade thanks to his starring role on the hit show Peaky Blinders.

Tommy Shelby’s signature trim has a loose undercut, creating a sharp contrast between the shaved back and sides and the longer hair on top. Adding a drop fade is a great way to soften the look while keeping it up to date.

There isn’t a hairdresser alive who hasn’t been asked to replicate this haircut in the last ten years, but it’s still a good idea to bring a photo and explain that you want a drop fade rather than an undercut.

Short Sponge Curls with Drop Fade

Combining sponge curls with a drop fade is a great way to wear afro hair in a contemporary way. The short sides create a tapered silhouette from the front, while the length at the top adds volume and height. This makes it a great option for those with rounder face shapes; for long faces, the curls at the top should be kept shorter to balance the proportions.

Maintenance is central to this style. You will need a curling sponge to style the hair on top of your head. Move it in a circular motion to roll up the hair and shape the twists. You should also visit the hairdresser regularly to keep the fade looking fresh and fresh.

Smooth back with Drop Fade

A smooth back with a buzzed back and sides is a standout style that’s bursting with attitude. Might not be the best cut for those working in strict corporate environments, but if you’re looking for a distinctive, alternative finish, this is a good option.

The key to getting this style right is to let the hair grow long enough to begin with. You need enough length at the top to allow the hair to lie flat against the head when combed back, without sticking up.

When the hair is long enough, go to the hairdresser and ask for a classic smooth back with a drop fade. You can style it at home with a comb and your hair product of choice, but you’ll need to go back to the store every few weeks to keep the fade under control.

Pompadour with drop fade

The pompadour is a classic mid-century cut that was popularized by the rock ‘n’ roll movement. Replacing the traditional slicked-back or tapered sides with a drop fade is a great way to give this throwback trim a distinctly modern edge.

The pompadour is characterized by its voluminous front, which is styled away from the face and towards the back of the head. Because of this height on top, it is best suited for those with round or oval faces. The short sides of the drop blur can extend the face even further, so be careful if you already have a long face.

Any hairdresser worth seeing already knows his way around a pompadour, but it’s always a good idea to bring a photo just in case.

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