A traditional fade haircut leaves a certain amount of hair, trimmed evenly, on the top of the head while the hair on the sides and back of the head are trimmed in a manner that the hair gets shorter as you get closer to the neckline. Some fade cuts, such as the bald fade or skin fade, actually end up with the hair shaved near the ears and the back of the head. Giving yourself a fade haircut can be done as long as you have mirrors and the right styling equipment.
Decide how much hair you want left on the top of your head and how much you want the hair faded on the sides.
Work in an area where you have a large, stationary mirror. Have a hand mirror handy as well for close-up cutting tasks.
Brush or comb your hair in the direction of growth.
Choose a small clipper gate and attach it to a set of electric hair clippers.
Start by trimming the hair on top of your head. Trim the hair to the desired length, making sure that the length is even throughout; you can also choose to make the cut sloping from the front hairline to the back of the top of your head, if desired. Check your hair in the mirrors to make sure it's the desired length.
Remove the clipper gate and change the setting on the electric clippers to the second lowest setting. Begin at the base at the back of you of your head (at the neckline) and trim about 2 inches from the bottom, depending on the size of your head. Repeat the process above each ear, removing about 1/2 inch in a semicircle shape that matches the shape of the top of your ears.
Set the clippers to the next highest (middle) setting level and trim another 1/2 inch of hair above the cuts that you just made.
Change the clipper setting to the second-highest setting and make the same cut another 1/2 inch higher than the last cut. Switch the setting to the highest setting and finish the cut, going all the way to the top of your head. Check the cut in the mirrors to make sure that the fade cut is done evenly.
Switch the clippers to the lowest setting. Shave any stray hairs on the back of your neck and behind your ears.
Use the fine teeth of a cutting comb and scissors to trim anywhere that you see an uneven cut.
- Laura E. Carlson; Cosmetology Student: Rudy & Kelly Academy; Virginia Beach, Va.; August 2011
- Hudson's FTM Resource Guide: Men's Short Haircuts and the Barber Shop
- CoolMensHair.com: How to Fade Hair
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.