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Low Taper Fade Haircut: What It Is & The Best Styles For 2024

This type of fade works to exaggerate the weight, flow and movement on the top and upper sides of a hairstyle, helping bring classic cuts up to date.

Words by: James Uden

A low taper fade is a section of clipper work where the hair is cut gradually shorter, working down from the temple area to the sideburn. When accurately cut, a low taper fade produces a sharp profile across the back and sides that complements a variety of hairstyles on top.

When it comes to your barber cutting it in, instead of working in a low graded line all the way around the head (like you would with an outright faded hairstyle), a low taper fade should start with a line (often a grade zero) on the sideburn. This is then blended up towards the top of the ears a short amount before meeting the rest of the haircut. The hair above the fade (both on the upper sides and top) therefore sits heavier, creating a contrast in depth that looks really contemporary.

Who suits a low taper fade haircut?

Barber giving a man a low taper fade using hair clippers

While a low taper fade is ideal for cleanly blending together head hair and facial hair, this doesn’t mean they are exclusively useful for guys with beards. Even if you are clean shaven, this type of fade works to exaggerate the weight, flow and movement on the top and upper sides of a hairstyle; be it thicker, shorter hair or longer, curly locks.

If you do indeed have facial hair, a good low tapered fade will create a sharp connection between the beard and head hair, making them look purposefully connected and helping avoid what can become quite an awkward in-between section of hair on the sides.

16 cool low taper fade haircuts for men

So now you know exactly what a low taper fade is, and why you might go for one, here are some superb examples for every hair type.

Side parting with low taper fade

Men's side parting with low taper fade haircut

Three sections work together here in order to complete this look. It starts with the low fade, which rises up and over the ears to the back of the neck. This blends into the heavier sides that sit naturally above before transitioning into a precise side parting.

Featuring some nice volume and emphasising natural texture, the top should be blow-dried and brushed over to one side then directed towards the back in order to replicate this clean, sectioned shaping.

Short curly hair with low taper fade

Men's short curly hair with low taper fade haircut

By taking the sides a little higher up, the overall shape of this French crop becomes squarer and allows the cropped fringe to really define the style. It’s a look that’s great for guys with wavy and curly hair, which thrives on being ruffled into shape.

A texturising styling paste or even a lighter cream can be used to style the hair, creating a nice, natural texture that can be reworked easily throughout the day.

Hard parting with low taper fade

Men's hard parting with low taper fade haircut

Hard partings aren’t suited to everyone but with a slicker wet-look finish like this shaping the top and sides, they can bring a hairstyle together nicely.

The above is also a prime example of how a low taper fade can add further refinement by seamlessly connecting the sides to even the shortest amount of facial hair.

Crew cut with low taper fade

Men's crew cut with low taper fade

On this short crew cut the low taper fade goes right down to the skin to create a slightly more distinct separation between the hair and beard. However, the clean, clippered edges and dark tone of the hair help maintain that fluid transition.

For the spiky texture on the top you want to be reaching for a tough matte product that’s going to lift from the roots and hold the hair firmly in place. Don’t go overlooking the importance of a beard brush to keep facial hair untangled and directed this neatly.

Long wavy hair with low taper fade

Men's long wavy hair with low taper fade and heavy fringe haircut

Long wavy texture is at the forefront of this haircut, with the sharp taper fade adding extra detail and definition at the base of the style. Going short and simple on the back and sides puts even more emphasis on the weight of the top, which has been lifted high from the back before falling in dramatic waves over the fringe.

A texturising booster such as sea salt spray or volumising mousse will help to reach the great heights of this look.

Short afro with low taper fade

Usher short afro with low taper fade haircut

Here we see a low taper fade blend perfectly with afro-textured hair that’s all about detail and shaping. The curve up and over the ear (known as a burst fade) creates a great contrast between the heavier top and back that sits above and dominates the style.

Going the other way, the fade connects with precision, following sharp lines towards the fringe and down into the beard.

Waves with low taper fade

Black men's waves haircut with low taper fade

Working with much shorter afro-textured hair, this example of a low taper fade cuts right down to the skin and rises cleanly just above the ears following an inch-perfect horizontal line.

While the cut is kept short and neat over the top, that clean edge just above the ears – merging into those razor sharp lines across the fringe – adds such an understated edge to the overall style.

Textured pompadour with low taper fade

Men's textured messy pompadour with low taper fade

Taking the volume of your hair this high can only benefit from a slim and straight side profile. Here we see the low taper fade help achieve this shaping by connecting the beard and sides, before reaching the top which erupts with volume.

Similar results can be achieved using a hairdryer and sculpting paste, which will also add a healthy amount of shine.

Ivy League with low taper fade

Classic Ivy League haircut with low taper fade

From top to bottom, every section of this contemporary take on an ivy league hairstyle fits together and flows so neatly – even with such a bold disconnecting side parting. It clears the way for the top to push forward and lead into the lifted fringe while the low taper fade does a great job connecting the facial hair and directing such a neat curve around the ears.

This style works as a smart option for anyone with short, finer hair. A hairdryer and vented brush should be able to work the majority of this look in place, but reach for an extremely light cream or paste to get that lift in the fringe.

Crew cut with subtle low taper fade

Nick Jonas short crew cut hairstyle with subtle low taper fade

This is just about as subtle as a low taper fade can get. However, without this added touch you run the risk of losing that definition around the ears that helps blend the hair and beard together.

When it comes to styling thicker hair such as this, natural weight can be a great advantage. This short, boxy look works so well ruffled forwards from the crown, producing a stylish, easy-going aesthetic.

Quiff with low taper fade

Men's side swept fringe hairstyle with low taper fade

While the bulky lifted fringe sits heavy at the forefront of this cut, having less length on top towards the back helps to create a more rounded and refined overall shape.

To style, use a lighter wax or clay to ensure you can shape those backwards sweeps in as straight as possible using a brush or comb. A dose of hairspray will be key in making sure a quiff this bold doesn’t budge an inch throughout the day.

Slick pompadour with low taper fade

Men's slick rockabilly quiff with low taper fade

This old-school pompadour juxtaposes sleek retro charm with sharp contemporary style thanks to the introduction of the low taper fade.

The sides are swept neatly towards the back and part cleanly away from the top, which peaks to an almost triangular shape. That little bit of length left in the fringe only enhances the lift.

This hairstyle can be slicked into place using a classic pomade or styling cream. A comb will be essential to achieving those impeccable lines and ensuring not a wisp of hair falls out of place.

Wavy side sweep with low taper fade

Men's wavy side swept hairstyle with disconnected low taper fade

Sweeping texture like this is perfect for guys with finer, medium-length hair. Keeping the bulk of the sides scissor cut and natural before graduating down to the taper fade ensures a tight profile, allowing the messy waves on top to dominate the style.

These can be worked in with a light paste or cream, or you could consider just shaping the bed hair you wake up with by adding some dry shampoo.

Slick back with low taper fade

Men's slicked back hair with low taper fade

Big beards can often take attention away from a great haircut, but here the low taper fade does its job as the contrasting bridge between the two. Furthermore, the shaved sides allow the top to be slicked back cleanly without overhanging, keeping a nice tight shape.

To style, sweep hair like this in straight lines from the roots of the fringe all the way back using a pomade and comb. Facial hair of this length should really be washed using a good beard shampoo and the moisturised with beard oil to avoid dryness and irritation.

Medium afro with low taper fade

Black men's grown out, medium length shaped afro with low taper fade

The shaping of this hairstyle and beard combination is absolutely impeccable. While the lifted curls on top do a lot of the talking, there’s something to be said for how the low taper fade completes the cut.

The hair and beard would still totally work disconnected, but by fading the sideburns up to the crisp, clinical lines along the temple and fringe, this look is taken to the next level.

Sleek quiff with low taper fade

Men's sleek quiff hairstyle with low taper fade

Here we see a low taper fade contrast with the darker and heavier back and sides it joins up to. But even these sections are overshadowed by the dramatic height that’s been created by the fringe on top.

This bold and vibrant style can be achieved by leaving a great deal of length in towards the fringe and ensuring there is enough weight in the back and sides for it to blend backwards. You will need a volume-enhancing booster to achieve such height – add before blow-drying and then comb the fringe back into place with the help of a styling product that offers a good amount of hold and shine.

Once the style is set, hairspray will keep a glorious, sleek quiff like this held in place no matter how lively your surroundings get.