How to Fade Hair with Clippers Yourself

The “fade” hairstyle is a popular haircut and it’s also known as the “military reg”. this type of haircut means that your hair tapers from the bottom to the top, being as close to the skin as you want.

What is “fade haircut”?

The “fade” term comes from the ethnic barber shops and it has become popular over the years, as it refers to an extremely tight paper in men’s hair. The hair on the sides and back is cut quite close with some clippers, while fading into any length you may want on top. You may style the hair on top neatly or leave it messy with some gel, pomade or paste.

Don’t mistake the fade cut with the “military reg” as each of them presents various rules when it comes to the hair length.

Can you do it at home?

The fade cut is very popular these days, but it may difficult to do it right at home. You need to gradually change the amount of hair you cut, while you’re moving upwards along your head.

You should start by washing your hair and continue by using some adjustable electric clippers. You should start with the bottom of your hair, using the short length setting on the clipper. Switch to a higher length setting and cut above that. Keep on doing it with higher lengths, until you get the fade that you wanted in the first place.

Of course, fading your hair at home with clippers is a bit more complicate than that and here are some tips to follow for a successful fade haircut.

  1. Start the fade

Here are some things to do in the beginning:

  • Wash and comb your hair

It’s going to be a lot easier to cut your hair if it’s full and manageable. You should clean it with your regular shampoo and conditioner, combing it for getting rid of any tangles. Your hair may dry while you’re cutting it, but you may simply dampen it again with a spray bottle.

  • Use a handheld mirror

Cutting your hair on your own may not be as easy as you thought in the beginning. When there’s no one else around you to give you a hand, you should use a handheld mirror. The best way to do it is to hold it as you work towards the back of your head, so that you can actually see how you’re doing. You should always check from time to time to correct any leftovers.

  • Use different clipper lengths

If you’re going for a fade haircut, the adjustable electric clippers may be the best tool for you. You should invest in some that come with multiple guards that you attach when you want to get various lengths on your cut.

The different lengths are going to be essential for obtaining the gradual length transition that fade hair cut actually means.

You may also find clippers with a bracket setting. As you flip off the setting, the blades are going to cut off around an extra 1/8 inch, which is great for getting lengths between the cuts by guards.

  • Balance the fade

Balance is also fundamental for a successful fade haircut. If the fade starts too high on the head, may not work well with the longer hair on top. Your face is going to look longer or you may get an undercut instead of a fade cut. You should know how long you want the hair on top to be. You should cut short the hair at the tops of the sides only if you’re going for a short fade.

It’s a good idea to trim the top of your head, as it’s going to give you an idea about the balance. You should always cut your hair longer first, as you can always go shorter. And you can’t do it the other way around.

You may also use the scissors if the hair is very long. You should get rid of the bulk with the scissors before you actually start the fade. Pull your hair back into a low ponytail (if that’s the case) and use a clip to secure it. Continue by cutting the ponytail right below the clip/elastic and cut the sections to the length you want.

It’s important to know the length you want so if you want the top of the hair to be 2.5 inch, you shouldn’t cut your long hair shorter than that.

  • Trim the top

You should begin with the hair on the crown. Hold the comb flat and sweep it over your hair to gather hair. Cut the hair to the length you want using the scissors. Work until you reach to the rounded area of your hair and don’t go any lower than that.

  1. Create the fade

Here are the steps to do it

  • Begin with the low-numbered guard

You should start with a low-numbered guard. You should get an electric clipper as it comes with adjustable guards. Keep in mind that low numbered guards cut the shortest. Just to give you a hint, a #2 guard leaves hair 1/4in long.

You may also obtain a fade if you begin with a high-numbered guard and create layers from the tops down. This is a method to use when you’re keeping your hair too short.

  • Use the clippers

You should take care of the sides and the back of your head, while holding the clippers vertically. It’s important to press the clippers down and softly sweep upwards and off your head, using a scooping motion. Move slowly and nicely from the bottom of your head, as you don’t want to take off too much of your hair.

It’s also a good idea to only do one side first so that you can figure out which cutting motion and length you want to use.

  • Switch to the next guard

The next highest-numbered guard is going to leave you hair a bit longer. You should move up a size or two. You can also keep the same guard and simply flip on the bracket setting, in case you got clippers like this. The brackets are going to give you around 1/8inch to the length of each guard.

  • Clip the hair once again

You may place the clippers above the last cut and simply cut the hair the same way you did last time. Use the scooping motion for the short and accurate cuts. Do it all over the head and to the other side. You’re going to notice how the fade starts to form.

  • Take care of the layer lines

Take the mirror and check the lines that makes the difference between the two cuts. You want your fade to look smooth, so you need to blend the two cuts everywhere you see the line.

If you’re using clippers with bracket setting, it’s easier for you to do it. You should hold the clippers horizontally, begin at one end of your head and smoothly cut over the line.

  • Clip again with the higher guards

Now it’s time to switch back to another guard size or to change the bracket setting. Continue the cut by cutting above the last cut, in order to make another layer. You should switch the guards or the bracket setting on your clippers more than just once, until you actually get to the top of your head.

  1. Finish the fade

Get back to the handheld mirror and use it for making the fine adjustments. Take a good look at all sides of your head, looking for the fine lines from layering. You also need to make sure the hair length on the top of your head is matching the length of the fade.

You may have to get back to the clippers for more adjustments and you should consider using some trimmers or even a razor for the difficult areas around your ears or your neckline.

Don’t get your hopes up the first time you’re trying a fade cut. Practice makes perfect and if you don’t get the results that you wanted, you may also cut your hair short, leaving it to grow until you can try again.

Some final tips

When you’re done with cutting, you may style the top of your head with some gel or anything you normally use.

As fade cut refers to short cuts, hair growth is very easy to notice. The layers start to disappear as your hair grows so you need to consider to cut it every time it’s necessary.

Here are some notes to review before you go even shopping for clippers:

  • Get good clippers and tools as they can sure make the difference between a good and a bad fade cut
  • There are several types of haircut fade so make your homework before you actually do it
  • Always cut in opposite direction to hair growth for increased traction
  • Make an idea about the overall look before going for the finest adjustments
  • Start with the back and sides and leave the top last
  • Use the right shampoo and conditioner
  • Style your hair when you’re done with some gel, clay or wax.