The striking skin fade originated in the US Military during the 1940s and 50s. Today, the skin fade remains an extremely popular haircut and is highly requested in barbershops all around the world. A precise skin fade is flattering, suits almost everyone and can immediately elevate your client’s look to one that is stylish, sharp and well-groomed.

Here, we’ll share everything you need to know about skin fades, including the best barbering equipment to help you create a precise skin fade, as well as skin fade examples from barbering experts.

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What is a skin fade?

A classic skin fade involves the hair gradually increasing in length from the shortest hair at the nape of the neck to the longest hair at the crown of the head. A sharp skin fade should be expertly blended so that it is difficult to see where the fade ends. Creating a precise skin fade haircut requires skill to ensure that the haircut looks even and sharp.

Skin fades by @sean_the_barber_

What are the different types of skin fade?

There are a few variations on the skin fade cut. It is always recommended that your client brings a photo with them to their appointment so that you can gauge what kind of skin fade they are looking for. You can then work with your client on a suitable outcome depending on their hair type, length and texture.  

High skin fade

In a high skin fade haircut, the transition from short hair to long hair sits higher up on the head. A high fade will typically sit in the final third of the head and is the most striking and dramatic of all skin fade cuts.

Mid skin fade

Clients can also ask for a mid-skin fade haircut, which is typically the most universally flattering skin fade. This skin fade style involves an even balance of short and long hair with the transitional gradient sitting in the middle of the head. 

Taper fade

Next up is the taper fade haircut. This graduated cut runs from a longer length to a shorter length, with the shape focusing toward the nape of the neck.

Low skin fade

Finally, you have the low skin fade; this cut offers a low fade that traditionally begins just above the ears.

Step-by-step skin fade tutorial by @andrea.amighetti.barber

Related: How barbering can pave the way for mental health conversations

What equipment do you need for a skin fade?

To create the perfect skin fade, alongside your scissors, you will need:

  • Clippers.
  • Shaver.
  • Fading brush.
  • Comb.

Read on to discover our bestselling recommendations…

What clippers do you need for a fade?

Choosing the right clippers is essential for perfecting your fading technique. You need to have a good selection of guards so you can easily blend different hair lengths.

Another feature you need to look out for is an easily adjustable lever that allows you to open and close the blade smoothly. A cordless clipper will make the job easier, too, while a powerful motor will allow you to work with the highest precision.

Clipper with comb guard

Wahl 5 Star Cordless Senior Clipper Kit



For the majority of the skin fade, you will be using a clipper. You will need to change the comb guard as you set out your guidelines, opening and closing the lever as required to blend them as you go.

An open blade cuts longer, while a fully closed blade cuts as close as possible. Use both to create a seamless transition between each guideline, being careful with a closed blade to avoid blockiness. The Wahl 5-Star Cordless Senior Clipper Kit is a great option for skin fade haircuts. With a powerful motor and high blade speed, the battery holds up to 70 minutes of runtime to allow you to do your best work.

The adjustable thin profile blade allows for the ultimate precision. In addition, this clipper comes with ten comb attachments, taking you from grades 1 – 8, plus 0.5 and 1.5. The Andis Master Cordless is another solid recommendation to create effortless skin fades.

Foil Shaver

Andis TS-1 Copper Edition Shaver



To bald out the hair at the baseline, you will need a foil shaver to get the closest result. The Andis TS-1 Copper Edition Shaver is ideal for this as it has staggered blades to allow you to get as close to the skin as possible.

You will likely need to cut the hair down a little first with a trimmer before going in with the shaver. Thin it out up to the weight line to make it easier to work with. Some barbers even like to use a cutthroat razor to bald out the bottom – though it’s only recommended that you do this if you are confident you won’t cut the client. Be aware that it will likely also take longer. Shave the hair in this way up to your first guideline, flicking up to begin the fade.

Skin fades by @hayden_cassidy


To keep the cut sharp, you will also need a smaller trimmer to see the details. If you have trouble blending in your initial guideline, using a trimmer can sometimes offer you a little extra control. You can also use it to shave around the ear if your foils can’t quite reach some stray hairs.

Fading Brush

Jack Dean Fade Brush Black



A fade brush is specially designed to help you remove any clippings from the head, allowing you to see how your fade looks and check for imperfections. You can also use it to lift the hair up from the scalp by brushing upwards. This can help you get a smoother fade. The Jack Dean Fade Brush by Denman is a classic barbershop tool, though barbers also love our Wahl Fade Brush and Dark Stag Fade Brush.

Skin fades by @jay_barbersno1


Barber Comb

As you get to the top section of the hair, you will need a good barber comb to continue the cut. Whether you are using a clipper-over-comb technique or trimming with scissors, you will need a comb that allows you to grip the hair easily.

See our blog on our best professional cutting combs for hairdressers and barbers for our top recommendations.

Styling Products

You can’t let your client leave your shop without giving them that final suave finish! Depending on their style, you should have a few men’s hair products to match them. A matte clay is great for moulding the hair, though if they prefer a slicker look, then a pomade or wax might be better. Texturising sprays and powders are perfect for creating a messy look.


How often do clients need to come into the barbershop for a skin fade?

Skin fades typically last one to two weeks depending on how quickly the client’s hair grows. This haircut certainly requires regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure it looks its best.

What are the advantages of a client getting a skin fade?

Depending on the style of skin fade your client opts for, the skin fade offers two haircuts in one, and the client will get the best of both worlds with low maintenance yet stylable hair.

Is a skin fade hard to do?

Due to the technical clipper skills required, skin fades require practice and skill. If you’re just starting out, ensure you have a qualified barber with you to guide you.

See our blog on the best men’s styling products for barbers for some of our best sellers.

Don’t forget to check out our full range of barbering equipment online at Salons Direct.

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More barbering advice…

Our best professional hair-cutting combs for hairdressers and barbersHow to be a mobile barber | How to make your barbershop stand out from your competitors.

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