By: Stephanie M., PHD/Barber at Hair Saloon in Richmond Heights
In our never-ending quest to help our clients become the best version of themselves, we’re introducing this column to pull back the curtain and help you better understand the services we offer so you can answer with confidence when your PHD asks “So what can we do for you today?” Today we’ll be discussing fades.
The fade hairstyle has been a staple of men’s grooming since the 1940s. Today, the fade is more popular than ever, and we continue to see a growing number of clients requesting it. Young or old, it’s a contrasting style that can work for everyone and give you a refined, crisp, and sharp look. In this article, we’re going to explore the vocabulary of a fade haircut to help you understand exactly what you’re asking for the next time you are in the chair.
Zero Fade vs. Bald/Skin Fade
These two terms are often used interchangeably, even by industry professionals. While both a zero fade and a bald fade feature longer hair on top that gradually fades down to shorter hair at the base of the neck and around the ears, they have a very distinct and noticeable difference:
Zero Fade: A zero fade is a taper fade style that leaves some hair near the base of the neck. Like all fades, the hair is longer at the top and gets shorter as you get closer to the ears and neck. A zero fade haircut is a clipper cut that leaves some stubble even at the lowest and shortest points of the head. We will use one or a couple of our tools depending on the client’s expectation and our professional consultation. We will use anything from an outliner to one of our detachable clipper blades to take it down close to the skin or as short as you’re wanting leaving a tight, close finish.
Bald/Skin Fade: Like a zero fade, a bald/skin fade is a style where hair is longer at the top and gets shorter as you get closer to the ears and neck. As the name suggests, a bald or skin fade is a straight razor cut that takes the hair down to the scalp at its lowest point leaving no hair on that portion of the head. For us to perform this service, it requires a licensed barber to use a straight razor and therefore requires some additional time and skill. This service we call the Bald Fade. And it can be added to any service with a fade performed by one of our licensed PHD barbers.
*Note, when booking these services, be sure you are selecting the Men’s Haircut + Zero Fade or add the Zero Fade or Bald Fade to a Premium, Executive, or Jr. Men.
One characteristic worth noting about both the zero fade and the bald fade is that they aren’t just a “regular haircut.” Both require precision and attention to detail. And with the bald fade, a straight razor requires some safety considerations as well. If you’re looking for a 20-minute service, a traditional trim might be more your style.
High vs. Mid vs. Low Fade
Once you’ve decided how close to the skin you’d like your fade, it’s time to determine how high up your head the lowest part of that fade will transition. The three typical options are low, medium, and high.
The Low Fade gradually exposes the scalp starting just above the ears. If you’re debating if a fade is right for you, we suggest starting with a low fade because it will be the least drastic cut and allow you to determine if this look works for you.
The Mid Fade gives you a more defined transition about half an inch above your ears. It’s somewhere in the middle and generally works well on a wide variety of head shapes and sizes.
The High Fade is the most dramatic of the three, featuring a short back and sides and typically a longer top. The high fade might start at the temple (or even higher) and leaves you with a variety of options for how to trim and style the hair on top.
So which one is right for you?
Some of that is based on your personal preference, and some of it is dependent on the anatomy of your head. By examining your head shape and hairline, your Hair Saloon PHD can show you the transition points for each option and help you make an informed decision about how short and low you should go with your fade cut.