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Last updated: February 09, 2024

Your Complete Barbering Guide To Clean Fades

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2018 #ONESHOT Fade of the Year Winner // Instagram via @staygold31

Fading Tips & Techniques For The Men (Or Women!) In Your Chair

Whether you’re looking to grow your men’s grooming biz or just want to feel more comfortable with clipper work, stepping up your fade game will help you get there. That’s why we’re rounding up some of BTC’s top fading tips on line work, blending and easy ways to improve your barbering skills from top influencers and educators. Get the tips below, then keep scrollin’ for the ultimate resource for more men’s education! 



1. Three Ways To Fade From @mattyconrad

  • Top-Down: Fading from the top of the head down creates a nice blend, but this technique makes it difficult to balance the cut and create fade variations. Use this technique for fine-haired men—it will erase visible lines as you work!


  • Bottom-Up: Fading from the bottom-up allows control of buildup and creates balance. This works great on thick or ethnic hair to create a better finish.


  • Middle-Out: Technically this creates more of a taper than a fade, but Matty prefers to work from the middle of the head and then out because it creates a visual roadmap. Start by setting the weight line and shape at the middle of where you want, then blend up and down. This is Matty’s fave because you use both techniques and establish an easy-to-follow-guide.


Instagram via @mattyconrad



2. Low Or High Fade?! Here’s How You Know

Paul Mitchell International Trainer @iliketocuthair uses this guide to determine the final look:


  • Strong occipital = low fades to cover the bulge.
  • Medium fades are versatile and work well for anyone.
  • Longer heads and flatter occipitals can rock high fades.


3. Determine the Fade Line

“Always start by determining your fade line,” shared @hosseinsarv on Instagram. “Use the bare shaver to ‘draw’ it out. This will help you ensure that your fade is at the same height on both sides.”



4. Control The Clipper Blend

The most common men’s grooming mistakes are often a result of not knowing which tools work best for each technique. MVRCK barber @fernthebarber 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.


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



Enroll in Kevin Luchmun (@kevinluchmun)’s BTC-U-exclusive class on barbering a perfect midlength, textured cut!


5. Don’t Go Too Hard

What’s the most important factor in achieving cleaner, easier line work for fades? “Light pressure when dealing with lines, easy in and easy out,” recommends @staygold31.


6. Brush & Blend

When a client has hairs that won’t cooperate (like growing sideways) Matty suggests using a small brush like the Victory Barber & Brand™ Barber’s Brush to blend hairs into your clippers. Unlike a comb, a soft bristled brush is more comfortable to your client and is small enough to grab all the tiny hairs that just won’t line up with clippers. Keep in mind, “brushing is blending” and this will also help you spot any imperfections.


7. Beard Fading Tips

For a simple beard fade, try using the shortest length of the hair by the top of the ear as a guide. Don’t fade past the middle of the ear.


Pro Tip: For a more dramatic fade, you can take the transition lower, but make sure you consult with your client first!



8. How To Handle A Cowlick

Harder parts can be intimidating when fading (tbh they’re always intimidating), but here’s a tip from @iliketocuthair: “If a client has a cowlick, take the hard part to the cowlick so it looks natural.”


9. Focus On The Outline

“You can do a super blended fade, but if the lineup is off, the client isn’t going to like it,” dishes @fernthebarber. “And you can do an OK haircut with a nice clean lineup, and the client’s going to love it. We look at our lineup the way women look at getting their eyebrows done.”


fern andong @fernthebarber paul mitchell education barber


Want more from Matty? Join his Barbering, Beards & Men’s Grooming course at BTC University for the rest of his insider tips!


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