A fade hairstyle looks good on pretty much everyone. That’s not to say that the same exact fade looks good on every single head. Rather, for every single head out there, a perfect fade awaits. Not only that—there’s also a perfect bald fade haircut for everyone, in which the fade goes all the way down to the skin before disappearing entirely.
The skin fade (as it’s also commonly called) can be applied to nearly any hairstyle. You can wear your hair long up top, and fade it anywhere on the sides—high, medium, low–as it grades into the beard or bare cheeks. Alternatively, you could rock short hair up top, then combine it with a skin fade at different heights on the sides. There’s a bald fade haircut that looks perfect on you—you just may not know it yet.
However, your barber probably knows best, and some visual inspiration may help give you some ideas before your next appointment. So, have a look at the 26 bald fade haircuts below—all different takes on the same technique. We asked two barbers to share their thoughts on the looks: Darius Davie, a barber and the expert grooming voice behind Groom Guy, as well as Emmanuel Garcia, a barber at Blind Barber in NYC. Here’s what they had to say about each one.
Textured Skin Fade
"A water-based pomade will keep those baby hairs in place, and will add nice shine on the shaved sides," says Davie. Try Hanz de Fuko Two Ton Pomade ($18).
Bleach-Out Mid-Skin Fade
"The tight transition on the sides allows the fade to pop even more, and has an added touch of attitude with the design on the side," says Davie. "Keeping those corners dark allows for the mid-skin fade to pop a bit more too."
Davie especially recommends this style for guys with oblong face shapes. "Also known as 'The South of France,' take the viewer for a ride by keeping the corners of this fade dark for a more defined transition," he advises.
Drop Skin Fade
"A low skin fade works well for someone with a pronounced occipital bone and prevents it from sticking out," Davie says. "The stretching of this fade can also elongate the face, thus allowing more facial balance."
Smooth Drop Fade
"Let the fade drop a bit and showcase the smooth transition from no hair to hair, without it feeling like a military high and tight," says Davie. "For added flair, apply some matte-clay pomade to showcase the natural texture." We recommend Triumph & Disaster Coltrane Clay ($30).
"As opposed to a full skin fade around the head, here you have a smaller section to work with, but can have the same result," says Davie. "This is great if you're looking to maintain curls on top (or in this case natural twists) but wish to add some flavor. Keep those corners a bit darker for a more 'burst' effect to the fade. Be sure to taper both the neckline and sides for a more symmetrical look."
French Crop High Skin Fade
"The hard transition on the sides adds some attitude to the look," says Davie. "The color of the hair should allow for a smooth bald fade that leads the eye directly to the crown."
Low Skin Fade for Flatter Back of Head
Davie recommends this one for people with flatter bone structure in the rear of the head. "Keeping the sides tight like this can also allow the free-flowing top to be styled nicely."
Gentleman's Buzz With Fade
"Remember, each time you get a skin fade with a beard, complement it by fading in the beard, too," Davie says. "You can never go wrong with some traditional pomade to lay down the straight hair for maximum control and to showcase the defined part." (We like Imperial Barber Classic Pomade, $22.)
Wedged Drop Fade
"This one has slight wedges on the sides, and the fade drops down for a more dramatic visual effect," Davie notes.
Skin Fade With Natural Part
"Most of the time, a natural part can be topped with a skin fade like this," Davie says. "For a more defined jaw structure and full beard, the drop fade adds further symmetry and balance to the head shape."
Low Skin Fade for Pronounced Back of Head
"This low fade minimizes a more pronounced occipital bone in the back," says Davie. "Consider this if you have a longer neck and face profile."
Swept Top With Skin Fade
"This skin fade is stretched and has a smooth transition, considering the top is much longer and will be the focal point," Davie says.
Gentleman's Cut With High Skin Fade
Davie likes this square cut for round faces. "The corners are cut tightly with a classic part to enhance that square shape we aim to maintain on a uniformed gentleman’s cut," he says. "Add a slick pomade and comb the sides down for your next business meeting or formal event." Try Byrd Light Pomade ($20).
Mid-Skin Fade With Side Part
"This accentuates the contours of the head," says Garcia. "It can be styled with a strong-hold, high-shine pomade to maintain the classic character of this modern cut." Try Blind Barber’s 101 Proof Classic Pomade ($22).
Mid-Skin Drop Fade With Hard Part
Garcia says that this textured cut transitions very well from the barbershop to the house, and will look great every day after the cut.
Crop With Long Fringe and Natural Texture
Garcia recommends this high-contrast look for guys with dense hair. "It can hold up to any type of styling without appearing patchy or thin. The long fringe (not bangs) is another accent piece to the haircut, which can be adjusted according to the client’s desired length and style."
Contemporary Drop Fade to Skin
"Less is more in terms of styling here," Garcia says. "But a light cream would be a nice way to enhance the curl definition." Try Pattern Beauty Styling Cream ($25).
Bald Fade With Ice Pick Sideburns
"Usually when you see a bald fade, the hair is taken down to the skin between the sideburn area and the temple," Garcia says. "This gives you the nice contrast between the sides and the top of the head. But what do you do if you want to keep the sideburns? Ice picks! That’s what you call sideburns that narrow down to a fine point along the ear. This style gives you maximum definition around the face and adds contrast to the rest of the fade. It’s sharp. It’s bold."
Crop With Heavy Fringe and Low-Skin Drop Fade
"I think that a low fade is the most versatile type of skin fade because it looks flattering on most hair types," says Garcia. "It’s my go-to if I have a client who wants to try a skin fade for the first time. This is a great fade to match with a full beard, as it gives a seamless transition from the blend to the thicker facial hair."
High Top With Skin Fade
"Here the natural texture is used to add contrast to the strong shape on top and the sharp lines along the sides and front," Garcia says. "It's a great option for someone looking for an easy-to-maintain, ready-to-wear style." Garcia adds that this cut looks great on women, too. "This is an awesome unisex style with plenty of variations. Just ask Grace Jones."
High Skin Fade
"Here the fade is taken straight along the sides and the back, rather than a drop fade that dips around the head," Garcia explains. "It’s complemented by a natural shape along the hairline, which looks great in any setting."
"The hair can be worn slicked back with a high-shine, high-hold pomade for a more polished look," says Garcia. Try Fellow Strong Pomade ($25).
Modern High Top Fade
Garcia would use a cream styler on this cut, for added moisture and flexible hold. "Hair at this length can be easily shaped with a curl sponge to add definition to the natural hair texture," he adds. "Or it can be shaped freehand for more separation." Try DevaCurl Styling Cream ($28).
Garcia likes the pompadour since it can be modified to suit so many hair textures and styles. "For extra drama, the smooth fade is offset by the bold hard part carved into the top," he says. "This adds updated style without sacrificing old-school class."
Soft Pompadour Fade
"The mid-skin fade on the sides wraps the rest of the cut with a fresh balance of light and dark," says Garcia.