The high fade vs low fade discussion is raging quite a lot recently, with all types of fade haircuts being very popular amongst men and even with some women. Furthermore, with the popularity of fade haircuts, a lot of unique designs have popped up, all named in different ways even when they actually look quite similar to one another.
Because so many hair stylists are coming up with their own designs and styles, and because they are all rushing head over heels to give them their own names and brands, it’s common for different fade styles to be named similarly or for virtually identical fades to have different names, depending on who you ask.
So, it’s not surprising that if you show 10 or 20 fade pictures to several people – even if they have experience with this hair cut – they won’t all be able to name them correctly. This may all seem confusing at first, especially if you’re new to this niche, but don’t worry – at the end of the day, a fade haircut is a rather simple thing, whether it’s high, medium or low, whether it’s short or long, and whether it’s styled or plain.
Besides, if you’re not 100% sure how the fade you’re looking for is called, you can always just explain what you want to your barber or hair stylist with words and gestures until he or she knows exactly what you want.
Still, to try and bring at least a bit of clarity to this whole situation, let’s go over the basic differences between a low fade vs high fade haircut. But first:
What is a fade haircut, anyway?
Quick and simple, a fade haircut is any haircut that has a varying hair length, starting from bald or near-bald at the bottom and slowly increasing in length as it continues toward the top of the head. From there on, a fade haircut can be almost anything you want it to be – it can be extremely thin and short, it can be thick and long, it can be very narrow and stylish, quickly going into a full set of hair, or the fade can go through your entire hair.
Either way, if your hair’s length changes and fades from the bottom to the top in any way, it’s a fade.
What’s the difference between a low fade vs high fade haircut?
The main difference between a low fade and a high fade is how far above the ear the fade actually begins. A standard low fade will usually start either just above the ear or up to an inch above it at the most.
A medium fade, on the other hand, which is generally the mid point between a low fade and a high fade, will start anywhere between one and two inches above the ear. This essentially means that even if a fade haircut starts about an inch above the ear, two different hair stylists may name it differently – one may call it a low fade, while the other may call it a medium fade. Subjectivity will always play a bit of a part here, but that’s all right, as long no one is calling low fade a high fade and vice versa.
As for the high fade itself, you’ve likely guessed that it just starts further higher than the medium fade, which is more than two inches above the ear. Most high fade haircuts will usually start around or just below the temple line of the skull.
What other ways to differentiate between a low and a high fade are there?
As we’ve shown, subjectivity can play a role when referring to different fade haircuts, with high and medium or medium and low haircuts often being mixed together. Are there other, more concrete ways to differentiate between two different fades, however, in addition to where above the ear they begin? Well, yes, there are.
The other major way to differentiate between a high and a low fade is how high or low it is at the back of your head. Some fades can keep a nearly horizontal line between the sides and the back while other fades (most, really) tend to drop beneath the ear at the back of the head.
How much a fade is going to drop depends entirely on your preferences – it can drop as low as the lowest part of your hair or it can remain as high as the sides of a high fade haircut. With that in mind, a medium fade haircut, in terms of where above the ear it starts, can be characterized as a “low fade” if it drops very low at the back, as a “medium fade” if it stays relatively horizontal, or even as a “high fade” if it starts at nearly 2 inches above the ear and remains that high at the back.
What to choose between a low fade and a high fade haircut?
So, is one better than the other? Or is the medium fade haircut superior to both? The answer is that it’s entirely up to you, your hair, your skull’s and face’s features, and your personal preferences.
Now, we could say that, for example, having a high fade that starts at the temple of the skull and then drops at the back as low as the lowest possible point is technically a “mistake” but who are we to judge? If that particular look suits and you like it – go for it. The same goes for pretty much any other type of fade – if you like it, then it’s a good fade haircut.