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Last updated: December 10, 2019

4 Tips To Master Taper & Fade Haircuts

Men's Grooming Fade Taper Haircut Tips Fern Andong Paul Mitchell
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@fernthebarber: 4 Men’s Clipper & Trimmer Cutting Tips
Whether you’re a student, barber or stylist trying to grow your men’s grooming biz in the salon, elevating your services always starts with one thing—more education. So, when MVRCK barber Fern Andong, aka @fernthebarber to his 147k Instagram followers, demoed his best taper and fade tips at the JPMS Hawaii Seminar, you know BTC was there to share them with the rest of the fam. Keep scrollin’ for it all. 


1. “Zero Gap” Clippers & Trimmers
Fades call for precision and detail. Before you start your next haircut, always adjust the blades to make sure they are not crooked—shifting blades will cause inconsistencies. “I have mine zero gapped, so there’s no gap between the blades,” shares Fern.


  • Here’s How: Adjust the blades, so the moving blade is almost flush against the still blade for super close-cutting. “Typically barbers always carry a screwdriver in their kit to constantly make sure the blades are even and balanced.”
  • For Clean Lines: “The ‘line up’ or ‘edge up’ is an important part of the haircut to make sure the lines crispy,” shares Fern. “Having your trimmers zero gapped will help you achieve those crispy clean lines.


2. Control The Clipper Blend
Common men’s grooming mistakes are often a result of not knowing which tools work best for each technique. Fern recommends fading with a clipper that has an adjustable lever. When using your clipper, always work in a C-shaped motion.


  • Hand Position: Hold the clipper using one hand with your thumb on the top and two fingers on the back, so you can rock the clipper with a fluid C-shaped motion.
  • Lever: “Anytime you put on a guard, start with an open lever,” shares Fern. “Blend down gradually closing the lever like this—open, half and closed.” Use bigger strokes with the open lever and smaller strokes as the lever closes.


Watch The Technique & See Fern’s Lever Diagram Below

Men's Grooming Fade Taper Haircut Tips Fern Andong Paul Mitchell


Men's Grooming Fade Taper Haircut Tips Fern Andong Paul Mitchell


3. Reduce Unwanted Shadows
“Lighting is the most important factor in doing men’s fades,” says Fern. Typically salons have lights that come from the top-down and barber shops have lights that come from side angles to illuminate the head. Overhead lighting can create shadows that will throw off your visual map, so try moving by a window and use the natural light.


4. Bald Fade Without A Straight Razor
“A foil shaver is a great tool to create a bald fade or razor fade without actually using a straight razor,” says Fern. “But first you need to knock the hair down pretty short to catch in the foils and avoid tugging.” A foil shaver features fast-moving oscillating blades that lift up the hair and cut super close to the skin in less time.


Men's Grooming Fade Taper Haircut Tips Fern Andong Paul Mitchell


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