The epitome of men’s hairstyles, taper haircuts serve as the cornerstone upon which trendier looks are crafted. These styles effortlessly merge classic appeal with a contemporary edge. Their versatility is unparalleled, outlasting many heavily clipped variations. Notably, luminaries like Beckham, Gosling, and Timberlake all favor the taper haircut.
Dan Glass, the senior barber at Murdock London, highlights the significance of this style, distinguishing it from a fade. “A fade involves a gradual decrease in length from the temple downwards to a length below a grade two, whereas a taper haircut trims the hair about a centimeter above the ear, extending to the nape of the neck. The key distinction lies in the contrast between the top and bottom lengths.”
Tapers offer a spectrum from conservative to daring, catering to individual preferences. For those with thick or wavy hair, tapers efficiently alleviate weight, ensuring easier hair management. Conversely, they elongate the face for those seeking definition, except for individuals with a ‘triangular’ face shape, where caution is advised due to potential exaggeration of wider temples.
Glass emphasizes that barbers often conclude haircuts with a taper, unless specifically instructed otherwise. This technique amplifies the allure of any haircut, making it stand out.
To achieve a more pronounced taper without opting for an extreme fade, communication with the barber is key. Glass advises clients to specify their preferences during the consultation, particularly regarding sharpness around the ears and neckline. Moreover, indicating the desired shortest taper length and the type of neckline—natural or sculpted—enhances the customization of the style.
Maintenance is straightforward due to the hair’s short, clippered nature, requiring minimal styling. Regular touch-ups every few weeks prevent the taper from losing its defined edge.
WHAT IS A TAPER HAIRCUT?
The hallmark of a taper haircut involves maintaining longer hair atop while gradually reducing the length towards the sides and back of the head, culminating near the crown.
One of the fantastic aspects of taper cuts is their adaptability, ranging from conservative to daring based on personal preferences. They prove especially beneficial for individuals with thick or wavy hair, effectively managing the hair’s weight. For those with facial contours resembling a football shape, tapers create an illusion of added length, offering much-needed definition.
According to Glass, barbers typically conclude haircuts with a taper unless explicitly instructed otherwise. This technique adds a finishing touch to the style, enhancing its overall appeal and structure.
TAPER HAIRCUTS VS FADE
For those puzzling over the similarities between a taper and a fade, there are key distinctions setting these two haircuts apart.
Senior barber Dan Glass from Murdock London emphasizes that a fade involves a gradual reduction of hair from the temple downwards, usually below a grade two, resulting in very short lengths or even bald at the starting point. Conversely, a taper focuses on shortening the hair about a centimeter above the ear and extending around the nape of the neck. The primary difference lies in the contrast between the top and bottom lengths, with tapers featuring a more gradual transition.
Unlike tapers, fades tend to begin with minimal or no hair, gradually increasing in length. This stark contrast means that fades typically reveal the scalp, whereas tapers maintain shorter hair lengths without the drastic exposure often associated with fades.
DOES A TAPER HAIRCUT FIT ALL FACE SHAPES?
The ‘triangular’ face shape warrants special attention when considering a taper haircut. If your face notably widens at the temples compared to the chin, opting for a taper style might accentuate this feature rather than offering a softening effect. However, for all other face shapes, a taper haircut tends to be the default choice, enhancing the overall look of the haircut and making it stand out.
HOW TO ASK YOUR BARBER FOR A TAPER
For a more defined taper haircut without leaning towards an extreme fade, communication with your barber is key. During the consultation, express your preference for a sharp, well-defined cut around the ears and the back of the neck. Inform them of your desired shortest taper length, ensuring it’s not cut down to the skin, and specify whether you prefer a natural or sculpted neckline. With its short, clippered nature, this style doesn’t demand extra styling; however, regular maintenance every couple of weeks is recommended to maintain its sharpness and prevent wisps from dulling its edge.
If seeking inspiration, considering celebrity taper styles and sharing these images with your barber is a helpful approach. Nonetheless, collaboration with your barber is crucial to select a taper that complements your face shape and aligns with your personal style, rather than chasing a look that might be unattainable.
THE BEST TAPER HAIRCUTS
The term “taper haircut” primarily encompasses the styling on the back and sides, encompassing a diverse array of men’s haircuts. Instead of focusing on a plethora of poorly executed styles, it’s advisable to seek inspiration from a curated selection showcasing the best-tapered styles available.
1. THE NO.2 BACK AND SIDES
This particular style represents a tapered adaptation of the buzz cut or crew cut—hairstyles emblematic of practicality and resilience. Described by Glass as a clean and sensible mainstay among men’s hairstyles, it’s an ideal choice for those preferring a straightforward morning grooming routine centered around a quick shower. To refine this look, ask your barber to ensure precise detailing around the ears and the nape of the neck. A matte hair product is recommended to complement this style, favoring low-shine options such as men’s hair mousse, clay, putty, or a non-glossy pomade.
2. THE TAPERED POMPADOUR
For those leaning towards lead singer aesthetics rather than the more laid-back drummer look, a taper haircut serves as an ideal gateway to styles requiring more volume, such as the pompadour. Described by Glass as the quintessential ’50s T-bird haircut, this style can be modernized by adjusting your taper a grade or two lower. To achieve this, request a skin taper from your barber, smoothly blending it up to longer lengths on the back and sides, which contributes to the haircut’s distinctive rounded shape. For the perfect finish, employ pomade generously. However, consider steering clear of pairing this look with the Cuban collar shirt trend, as combining the two might be a touch excessive.
3. MID-LENGTH SCISSOR CUT WITH A TAPER
For those seeking a style that exudes appeal without drawing overt attention, the taper haircut is the ideal choice. Glass highlights its ability to maintain a distinctly masculine shape when cut to a length of approximately one to three inches, particularly when complemented with a taper. Without the taper, a scissor cut tends to create a softer, more natural appearance around the neckline, allowing the hair to casually drape over the ears. While this style is perfectly acceptable, many men often desire longer lengths on the back and sides while retaining the sharp, polished finish achieved with clipper work around the ears and the nape of the neck. Opting for a taper at around grade three or four presents the ideal compromise in such situations.
4. HIGH TAPER WITH A TEXTURED QUIFF
Initiating the taper at a higher point on your head yields a smoother gradient, reducing the disconnection often experienced with top-heavy styles like the quiff. This adjustment introduces a bit more length throughout, enhancing versatility. You can easily transform the style into a parting if you’re not in the mood for a lofty look. To amplify volume without stiffness, consider using sea salt spray, enabling you to effortlessly redefine your locks with a simple hand-reshaping whenever you desire.
5. TAPERED SKIN FADE
The point where a taper transitions into a fade is subjective. Blurring these boundaries can result in a cut that combines the best elements of both styles, known as the taper-fade. According to Glass, instructing your barber to use foils or a cut-throat razor to reduce the hair’s length around the ears and neck can seamlessly take your taper cut down to a bare minimum. This technique enhances the sharpness of the fade, extending its fresh look for a bit longer. The taper-fade serves as an excellent alternative for those who find the full fade a touch too extreme.
6. TAPERED HARD PART
The most challenging aspect of this particular haircut lies in its daily styling demands. The distinctive asymmetry of hard part styles, featuring one side with longer hair and the other trimmed notably shorter along a sharply defined line, might not be the best choice for those who cherish extra minutes in bed.
Glass suggests that the most appealing hard parts typically involve grade 0.5 or one fades, appearing especially refined when complemented by a precise skin taper. He advises asking the barber for a skin taper, ensuring a sharply defined hairline from the ear to the back of the neck. To maintain the look, use gel or pomade to secure the style in place.
7. TAPERED TOP KNOT
The debate on the man bun remains ongoing; unless you possess the striking cheekbones to complement it, more often than not, it can appear more reminiscent of an amateur magician rather than a refined samurai warrior. However, one method to make it more approachable is by incorporating a taper down to your neckline. Unlike a sharp fade, having extra length on the sides contributes to balancing your face, preventing the look from being excessively top-heavy. Additionally, this approach allows for more extended gaps between visits to your local barbershop.
8. SLICKED BACK UNDERCUT
To sport one of the trendiest taper haircuts currently, consider opting for a slicked back undercut. This style typically features longer hair on the top and an even taper on the sides and back of the head. To achieve this look, employ a high shine product to firmly set the hair on top, brushing it backward or finger-combing for an enhanced textured finish.
9. WAVY CROP WITH CLASSIC TAPER
Taper haircuts beautifully complement wavy hair, allowing you to enhance your curls by combining a sharp crop on top with a gradual taper around the sides and back of your head. This approach enables you to showcase the natural texture of your hair while maintaining a clean look. To accentuate the waves on top, consider using a touch of sea salt spray or effortlessly run your fingers through with a matte pomade for added definition and style.
10. BRAIDED TAPER FADE
A highly sought-after haircut among black men, the braided taper fade haircut serves as a quick upgrade for your appearance. Whether you’re sporting cornrows, long braids, dreads, or classic twists, introducing a taper and fade technique can accentuate your natural hairline, infusing undeniable and head-turning style into your overall look.
HOW TO STYLE A TAPER HAIRCUT
A significant appeal of opting for a taper haircut for men is its versatility in styling. Particularly for a classic taper, using hair products aids in shaping the top to suit your desired style. A straightforward method involves quickly running your fingers through the hair and shifting it to either side. While tapers complement parted hairstyles, they are easiest to style by warming matte product in your fingers and brushing the longer top hair backward, creating a textured look. For those seeking a glossy finish, a shiny pomade can be a great alternative for the taper haircut.