The fade has been around for a long time, originating in the Forties as a way of adding style to the strict confines of a military haircut. Initially more associated with afro hair, it quickly found favor with all hair types.
It began gaining more widespread popularity in the Eighties with no small thanks to Larry Blackmon, lead singer of Cameo, whose combination of fade and codpiece will not easily be forgotten!
It was the Nineties that really saw the rise of its mainstream popularity as men’s hair moved away from the mullets of the previous decade and developed a sharper silhouette.
The fade is popular because it suits a wide range of hair types and face shapes, and is low maintenance in regards to styling, although it does need regular visits to the barbershop to maintain its shape and sharpness.
But can this look be achieved at home? The answer is yes, but you will need patience, some research, and the right tools. Read on to find out more!
Tools of the trade to achieve a fade.
Having the right equipment is essential, as any professional will tell you. If your intention is to cut your own hair regularly, then it is worth investing in decent tools. You don’t need to go to professional levels but avoid discount stores.
Here is a comprehensive list of what you will need:
- ❖ Hair clippers with a full range of guards from #0.5 to #8 and an open/close lever
- ❖ Thinning shears
- ❖ Scissors and comb
- ❖ Mirrors (not handheld)
- ❖ A neck brush
- ❖ Beard trimmers (if you are attempting a fade from a beard)
- ❖ At least a few hours of watching Youtube tutorials (try this one for starters)
Choose your fade
There are numerous types of fade, so decide before you start which one will be best for you. Consider the following things before you try to cut your own hair:
- ❖ Fades suit thick, dense hair better, if your hair is fine or fair, a traditional fade is best.
- ❖ If your scalp is a different shade from your facial skin, opt for a traditional or low shade.
- ❖ If you do need a traditional fade (scissor over comb) then this is best achieved at a barber.
- ❖ You will need to use multiple mirrors in order to achieve this look, so practice moving your hands first, it is surprisingly difficult!
- ❖ Take into account your face shape, for instance, if you have a full jaw, a high fade will only exaggerate this.
- ❖ A high fade will require more detail and shaping.
- ❖ Expect to spend at least three hours to get the perfect result (your arms will be very tired!)
- ❖ Any extra detailing, such as tramlines, is probably best done by someone else, so decide who you know with the steadiest hand.
Learn your numbers.
Knowing your way around a pair of clippers is the most important skill for learning how to cut your own hair with clippers.
You must have a pair with an open/close lever or else you have no chance of achieving your perfect fade haircut.
By moving this lever from closed to open you can increase the length of hair you are cutting regardless of the size of the guard over the blade.
As an example, a #1.5 guard becomes a #2 guard if you open the lever fully.
If you want to have a skin fade, you start with the clippers closed without a guard and progress from there.
Still a bit confused? Then let this expert explain it clearly to you!
Hall of mirrors.
As we mentioned before, setting up a range of mirrors is essential to how to fade your own hair.
You need to be able to see your head from every angle in order to make sure you have the smoothest fade possible, and of course, lighting is important too, there is nothing worse than spotting a missed patch in the men’s room mirror at work!
It does take practice though, to get all of this right and to make sure you can work out how to move your hands and clippers in the opposite direction to the way your brain sees things.
Take a look at this tutorial for the best (and cheapest) hints on how to achieve the optimum mirror arrangement for your home fade haircut.
Lift and flick
Another important skill is the lift and flick with your clippers. Keeping them flat to the scalp will not result in a smooth transition from one level to the next.
The clippers need to up and away from the scalp with a smooth movement, imagine you are digging and then flipping the soil away over your shoulder.
This creates a softer line between levels which is easier to smooth when you are learning how to fade your own hair with clippers.
The way you hold the clippers is also really important. Sounds mad? Listen to what this guy has to say.
Guidelines: the key to how to fade your own hair.
So you are all set to create your own style, your clippers are buzzing and ready, and now you need to put your guidelines in place.
Choose your base and top point and match that to your clipper guard length.
Move your clippers up the head from base to top in equal distances ( approximately one inch per length#0, #1, #2, and so on).
Then gradually work between the guidelines using the lever to blur the differences between each level.
Once they are smooth and seamless, finish the area between the top fade and hair with thinning shears.
So there you have it, how to fade your own hair!