How to Do a Taper Fade

Updated April 17, 2017

The taper fade is a popular hairstyle among men. This type of fade is necessary if you're giving a high-and-tight, military-type haircut. Taper fades require precision --- if you're not used to giving this type of cut, you'll have to be patient until you get more used to it. Taper fades work with many hairstyles, so mastering this technique will help you be able to give several other types of haircuts as well.

Place the highest clipper guard on your clippers, and cut the sides and back of the hair. It's possible that the highest guard may not actually cut any hair --- if this is the case, switch to the next highest guard, and continue until you are able to cut the hair. You can also switch to a lower guard if you want a shorter haircut.

Comb the hair in order to get rid of excess hair that's been trimmed. At this point, you can also cut the hair, if necessary.

Change your clipper guard to the next lowest guard. Trim the hair using the clippers, making sure to stop at the area where you want to start the taper. To make sure you get a straight haircut and taper, follow the imaginary line around the sides of the head at the spot where you want to start the taper. Then comb the hair downward.

Switch the clipper guard to the next lowest and trim the hair again. This time, end your stroke one-eighth of an inch from where you ended your first cut. Follow this line around the head, then comb the hair downward.

Repeat the above step until you have finished tapering the hair. Each time, remember to switch clippers to the next lowest guard, and comb hair between trims.

Comb and rinse the hair in order to get rid of excess hair and clearly see the taper fade.


If you don't like how the taper came out, you can start the process over until you get it right. The hair should get shorter and shorter without any defined lines showing where each layer was cut. The hair may just end up being shorter than you originally planned, but at least the lines will be blended. When cutting hair using clippers, start from the bottom and trim upward, instead of trimming in a downward fashion. Use a scoop motion as you trim with clippers.

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About the Author

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.