How to Do a Taper Fade on Yourself

Written by candace n. smith
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How to Do a Taper Fade on Yourself
Taper fades are a clean-cut hairstyle among African American men. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The taper fade, a short, layered haircut worn by many African American men, is versatile and requires little maintenance between cuts. The taper fade can be cut down extremely low, giving an almost bald effect or done in different variations of fade layers. The look is best achieved when there are no visible lines to indicate where each layer begins and ends. Clipper systems and guides allow you to create the taper fade on yourself, but doing so will take patience and practice.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hand mirror
  • Stationary mirror
  • Clippers with different size guards
  • Comb

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  1. 1

    Stand in front of a bathroom or stationary wall mirror. Make sure the lighting in the room is sufficient so you're able to see your entire head. The hand mirror will be used along with the stationary mirror to see the back and sides of your head while cutting.

  2. 2

    Cut hair, starting at the top of the head and using a larger guard. Fading down is the most effective way to cut the taper fade yourself. Longer hair on the top should be taken down first.

  3. 3

    Change the clipper guard to the next smaller size at the layer point. A fade haircut layers the hair to different levels at meeting points. The sides are shorter than the top, and the back of the hair is shorter than the sides.

  4. 4

    Cut the hair at an angle where the first and second layer of hair meets. The arm moves in the direction away from the head to achieve this. Hold the hand mirror steady to see the back of the head and ensure the hair is being cut consistently.

  5. 5

    Blend the hair at each layer point using scissors or smaller clipper guards. Hair should blend or fade in with the next shorter layer. No lines should be visible.

  6. 6

    Hold down each ear to line up the hair behind the ears. A steady hand is needed to ensure a straight line.

  7. 7

    Taper the nape using a block style or following your natural hairline. Hair at the nape is cut down to almost none and is either cut straight across if a block taper is desired or follows the pattern of your hairline.

  8. 8

    Remove the guard from the clippers to line up the hairline. The straight end of the comb can be used to ensure the line is kept straight across and along the sideburns.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice a few times to get to better results. Know where you want the lengths of the hair to start and stop before beginning to cut.
  • Leave the hair a little longer if you're not certain the back will blend in well -- you can always cut it down more but once cut, you have to wait until the hair grows back if errors are made.
  • Watch online tutorials before attempting this style on yourself.

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