Temple Fade Haircut: What Is It & The Best Styles For 2023
A temple fade is only applied to a small section of a haircut, but it can alter it dramatically - transforming a classic style into something much more contemporary.
A temple fade can really enhance what might otherwise be considered a fairly mundane haircut. And this detailed clipper work can be added to a variety of styles and lengths without taking attention away from the hair on top.
When it comes to the cutting, the focus for the barber’s clippers should be fading out a nice clean area around the temples (obviously). The aim is to remove some of the bulk through this lower side section while simultaneously establishing an edge line that runs just above the ear, angled either straight or curved down towards the nape.
“A temple fade is in essence a contemporary way of fading the ‘outline’ of most classic men’s haircuts,” says Luca Ionut-Mihaita, Senior Barber at Dan’s Barbershop in London’s Waterloo. “They can [be used to] create a sharp edge or dramatic finish to plenty of familiar styles. They can also help hair grow out in a neat and tidy fashion by keeping the length shorter around the ears and neck.”
As opposed to cutting up as far as you would with a high fade, a temple fade is much more subtle. By sitting closer to the edges and generally following a line just above the ear which leads to the back and nape, it doesn’t expose a fully faded area all the way around the head. Instead, it creates small yet impactful faded section just above the sideburn.
So, if you’re looking for an easy way of bringing your current ‘do up to date, read on to find out whether a temple fade is for you, then check out our gallery of the best temple fade haircuts we’ve seen recently.
What is a temple fade haircut?
“A temple fade is very similar to a standard fade,” says Luca. “But it’s defined by focusing the outline on a ‘V’ shape that starts at the temple and arrows down straight past the back of the ear to the nape of your head.”
This clean clippered section sits just above the sideburn and creeps over the ear, but soon blends into more notable length at the top of the sides. While other types of fade (think high fades and skin fades) tend to dominate the overall cut, requiring a super-short back and sides all the way up and around, a temple fade can range anywhere between a grade two and four depending on your chosen hairstyle.
“With just the temple area in focus, this fade can create a burst-out effect in front of the ear, establishing a mohawk- or mullet-like shape with plenty of texture left running through the back,” explains Steven Chapman, founder of The Hoi Polloi barbershop. “The gradual, lower blend of a temple fade achieves a nice sharp contrast in a subtler way to, say, a high taper fade, which takes pretty much all the weight out of the sides.”
How to get a temple fade haircut
To achieve a temple fade, your barber should clear out the section of hair in line with the top of the ear and up from the sideburn, so this is essentially cut down to skin. This area can then be blended up into the rest of the haircut, and cleanly down into the sideburn if you have facial hair. The faded section will often move up in clipper grades from 0 to 0.5 to 1, then 1.5 before reaching the 2 line that begins the flow up into the rest of the cut.
As Luca noted, to achieve the best possible temple fade, it should follow an angled V-shaped template from the front to the back of the head. Restricting the clipper work to these areas is what stops it crossing over into a different style of fade altogether.
For the sharpest possible finish, your barber should use the clippers to cut cleanly into the edges of the hairline, too. This will not only produce some crisp shaping towards the fringe, but also create additional contrast against any texture on the top. To maintain the flow of the faded edges, the back will usually be rounded off, but it can be cut square if you prefer.
What you need to know before getting a temple fade haircut
“As a client, it’s important to consider how short you want to take that bottom level,” says Steven – emphasising the need to spend time researching and gathering inspiration (we’ve got you covered below) before your next appointment. This is particularly true if you’re considering a totally new hairstyle.
With a temple fade it’s possible to achieve two different finishes, depending on how much of a statement you want to make. “Fading right down to skin can achieve that burst effect in contrast to the rest of the hairstyle, but you can also cut in a more subtle blend that works really well if you’ve got a beard,” says Steven.
From the barbering side of things, Luca adds: “Just make sure you remain within the boundaries of a temple fade to provide the extra pizzazz it’ll give someone’s trim. Otherwise it can morph very quickly into a low fade.”
To gain the unique benefits of a temple fade, it’s all about establishing the right template and only taking the clippers as far as they need to go.
Who does a temple fade haircut suit?
A temple fade is the perfect option for someone looking to achieve a sharper look while maintaining a good amount of length on top and across the back and upper side sections. This makes a temple fade the ideal addition to a variety of longer styles such as pompadours, quiffs and slick backs.
However, depending on your hair type, there may be some shaping elements to consider. “With most hairstyles you’re looking to achieve a nice square silhouette to suit a masculine jawline. A temple fade is generally always going to be better for softer hair that sits down and flows back rather than hair that stands static on its ends,” says Steven.
Therefore, if you have particularly thick and straight hair, you might want to consider an alternative fade that’ll keep your locks in check. “By leaving more weight through the sides, from the front profile, thicker and straighter hair isn’t going to work as well with a temple fade as you are at risk of cutting in a wedge shape that will also grow out quickly,” advises Steven.
“In this instance you can remove that bulk and create a nice square silhouette with a high taper fade, whereas by just fading the temple on straight thick hair, that triangle is going to throw the whole silhouette off.”
17 cool temple fade haircuts for 2023
If a temple fade does indeed suit your hair type, they can be incredibly versatile when it comes to styling. So whether you’re looking to add a bit more complexity to a buzz cut or clean up the edges and bring more definition to a texturised look, you’re sure to find the inspiration you need in the gallery below.
Hard side parting with temple fade
This balanced hairstyle showcases superb precision cutting and natural finishing. The temple fade creates a seamless transition from skin up into the longer sides, while the naturally-kept beard benefits from the crisp edges that blend fluidly down from the sideburn.
With the swept texture and hard side parting on top, you’ve got a seamless flow of cleanly shaped sections running right the way through.
Textured hair with temple taper fade
With additional weight and texture kept through the top of this style, a more severe fade (like a bald fade or high fade) would have been too jarring.
Instead, the clipper work here establishes the sharp edging you’re looking for without having to go down to skin, and blends seamlessly through to the natural buzzed texture at the back.
Short buzz cut with waves and temple fade
The temple fade makes a huge impact on this short afro-textured hairstyle by disconnecting the beard, while also directing a sharp, curved edge over the ear and down to the neck.
Putting the time in to detail some clipper work at the edges of the hairline around the fringe is essential if you want to achieve such a crisp, clean finish.
Comb over temple fade
Despite the top on this style being heavily swept over to one side from the hard parting, a balanced overall shape is maintained thanks to the tightly cut sides that run straight down before meeting the V-shaped edge of the temple fade.
Creeping the fade just up and over the ear, by not going down to skin it ensures the cleanest possible blend both up into the sides and straight down into the sideburn.
Pompadour with temple fade
The length left through the fringe on this cut allows you to create lots of healthy volume, with the hair swept back nicely into the shorter, flatter texture at the back.
The temple fade only covers such a small area, but it really helps to refine the lower section of this top-heavy cut; providing a clean blend around the ear and a smooth transition down into the sideburn.
Buzz cut with temple fade
Buzz cuts absolutely do not signify a lack of creativity. There’s some great work that can be done to enhance such a short, simple look.
Case in point: this one-grade-all-over cut, with the clinical temple fade introducing a deeper contrast below the sides and allowing those sharp edges around the hairline to make an even greater impact.
Long wavy hair with temple fade
If the texture of your hair allows for such a bold, creative style, you might as well go for it. Without the temple fade on this cut, that top section – despite its dramatic, voluminous flow – simply doesn’t have as much impact.
Sharpening up those edges around the temple and maintaining some short, natural length at the back works well to define the overall shape and create a clear contrast with the top, which is then free to thrive.
Short afro with temple fade
The curls on this afro-textured style are lifted up with plenty of natural volume – an effect only enhanced by taking the temple fade down to skin.
Cutting the sides so short gives the front-on profile an extra sharpness, while the curve of the fade creates a rounder silhouette that perfectly complements the curls.
Faux hawk with temple fade
This cut proves how useful a temple fade can be for more dramatic hairstyles. Note how the fade hasn’t been cut down to skin, with the extra length helping to tie together the facial hair and choppy sides smoothly.
With such an exaggerated fringe and longer messy texture running through the top, you need that extra bit of length on the upper sides for balance, which is why a temple fade is preferable to something that would completely wipe out this section, like a high fade.
Full afro with temple fade
This natural, rounded afro is shaped all the way around the head with such crisp, clean balance.
The temple fade only serves to emphasise the immaculate shaping, arching from just above the ear down into the nape of the neck, perfectly contrasting and defining the ‘fro above.
Sweep back with temple fade
This clean, voluminous sweep back shows how a temple fade can bring a unique twist to a relatively familiar style.
By going down to skin, this small but notable clippered area curves up and around the ear, mirroring and emphasising the shape of the top while bringing the whole look into the 21st century.
Slick pompadour with temple fade
By fading in a little notch around the temple area on a slick and straight hairstyle like this, you bring an extra edge to an already refined look.
Mad Men cool meets military precision.
Curls with temple fade
Curly hair can really thrive when it’s encouraged to flow freely. Maintaining such a prominent amount of length and texture from front to back creates such a strong silhouette, as shown here.
The temple fade works wonders to clean up the lower sides, blending down into the facial hair and hairline detailing, establishing a tighter front profile in the process.
Wavy side sweep with temple fade
A long wavy fringe like this relies on shorter, tighter sides to counterbalance it. If every section was left long enough to bulk out or ruffle through, you would lose all sense of shaping.
Instead, by introducing a temple fade you create that clean contrast against the messy top, with the more natural back and sides brining further structure to the cut.
Modern mullet with temple fade
The mullet revival shows no signs of stopping. Here, the fade work around the temples transforms what is widely considered one of the worst men’s haircuts ever created into something altogether cooler and more contemporary, tidying up the profile and contrasting nicely against the extra length and weight on top.
On such a distinct hairstyle, the cut is what really sets the shape. With a clean sweep of the fringe, the hair can be styled with a lightweight product as for the most part it will fall perfectly into place.
Bleached blonde curls with temple fade
The lifted, bleached curls maximise texture and volume across the top of this cut while creating a rounded outline that complements the model’s face shape.
By taking the back and sides much shorter and styling this section flatter, you establish a straighter, more rigid base and a really effective contrast. This is only enhanced by the sharp edge of the temple fade, which also cleanly disconnects the beard.
Messy mop with temple fade
By cutting a low taper fade into this forward-flowing, texturised style, you create a hint of faux hawk about the shaping without taking things too extreme.
A nicely balanced, rounded silhouette is maintained across the whole cut, as the subtle texture ruffled through the back follows up through the crown and continues to lift towards the fringe.
The longer length hanging loose over the fringe is a nice touch, falling neatly in line with the curve established by the temple fade along the side. The perfect balance of precision and creativity.