2 To 3 Fade: What It Is, How To Style, And More

Fades are used frequently in men’s hairstyling, with many variations on the classic fade being created over the years.

With there being so many fades to choose from now, you may not know which is the right one to ask for at the barbers, or which one will look best on you. 

2 To 3 Fade: What It Is, How To Style, And More

If you mess up this stage, you can end up with a disastrous haircut. 

To stop this from happening to you, keep reading to find out all about the 2 to 3 fade, including what it is, how to style it, and more. 

2 To 3 Fade – What Is It?

The 2 to 3 fade is a haircut that consists of trimming the bottom part of the back and sides to a number 2 length (1/4 inch) before then transitioning into a number 3 length (3/8 inch) further up the head.

There are three main types of fade. These are “low”, “medium”, and “high” depending on the level at which the fading transition takes place.

A bad fade is one where you can see the dividing lines when the clippers switch from a no.2 length to a no.3 length.

With the 2 to 3 fade, there is a pretty big gap between the #2 length and the #3 length (3mm). Despite this, if done correctly there won’t be any harsh lines to be seen. 

This kind of fade is best done by the barber, who will adjust the length of the cut from a #2 to a #3 at the perfect point that is about halfway up the sides and back of the head.

The lever on the clipper is how they can do such a smooth transition in the fade. When a #3 guard is fastened to the blade, moving the lever to the “closed” position will move the blade to its most efficient cutting position.

The barber will be able to cut the hair down to a length that is ever-so-slightly less than it was when the lever was in the “open” position.

They will then be able to smooth out the sharp line that shows the separation between the #2 length and the #3 length. 

What Does It Look Like?

A 2 to 3 fade looks like this:

There are no sharp breaks or lines that help to contrast the two lengths of hair. Rather, as can be seen, the shift from the #2 to the #3 is seamless and blurred.

The transition in the image from 2 to 3 that can be seen above is an example of what is referred to as a “high” 2 to 3 fade.

A great thing about this kind of fade is that it is pretty short, but is still pretty subtle. It is a great way to get into fades if you are not yet feeling ready for the more striking 1 to 2 or skin fades. 

While the higher up your head this fade is, the more noticeable it will be, it is a pretty simple fade and one that looks good on most people. 

When looking at this fade, you have probably noticed that when viewed from the front, it looks like your hair is very short and thinned out.

But don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing! It can actually improve the look of your face shape. This haircut defines your jawline, while also slimming your face. 

Low, Medium, And High Fades

Low, Medium, And High Fades

When getting a 2 to 3 fade, you will have to say whether you want it to be “low, “medium” or “high”.

This distinction is based on the height that the #2 length reaches on the sides and back of the head before the transition into the #3 length begins. 

Here is the difference between these levels of fade. 

Low Fade

For the low 2 to 3 fade, the very bottom of the sideburns are trimmed to a length of #2 (1/4 inch), and then they are let to gradually transition into a length of #3 around one inch above the ear.

Low fades are appealing to a diverse range of people because of their subtlety. For people who want to get into fades, they are good to start with.

The hair on the sides of the head is very long (in contrast, for example, to a skin fade), and the length that is the shortest overall (#2) does not extend very high on the head at all.

Medium Fade

When you have a fade that goes from a mid 2 to a mid 3, the sides of your hair will be trimmed to a length of #2 (1/4 inch), and then they will gradually transition up to a length of #3 (3/8 inch) around one inch above the ear. 

Medium fades are a lot more noticeable than low fades, so are good if you want something bolder. 

This is because a bigger proportion of the sides and back are trimmed to their minimal length before the gradual length increases. The reason for this is that the sides and back are longer than the front.

Nearly half of the sides and back will be trimmed down to a length of #2, however in a low 2 to 3 fade, only around a third of the sides and back will be at this length. 

Even though a #2 length isn’t very short, it is still short enough to make a mid fade stand out more than a low fade would. 

High Fade

To get a high 2 to 3 fade, first, the sides of the head are trimmed to a length of #2 (1/4 inch), and then the length is allowed to gradually develop to #3 (3/8 inch) around the level of the temples. 

We won’t lie to you, a high fade can be very difficult to pull off. This fade is very obvious and attention-grabbing, so it will become a core aspect of your overall look. 

Mf the sides and back will be trimmed down to the smallest length (#2) before the transition can begin.

The advantage of having a high 2 to high 3 is that it is still sufficiently long so that it does not take too much attention from the hair that is on top of the head. 

In the end, it’s not all that unlike a regular fade-free 2-on-2 haircut on the sides and back. 

Examples Of A 2 To 3 Fade 

The 2 to 3 fade can be cut and styled in many different ways. This is a very versatile yet simple fade, and you will be able to do a lot more with it than you may have first realized. 

The hair on top of your head may be styled in a number of different ways. Here are a few of the common ways that people style this type of fade

Long On Top

In the image above, the hair on top of the person’s head has been left longer and has been cut with scissors rather than clippers. Another name for this type of hairstyle is the crew cut. 

The top of the head is normally left long in a crew cut, while the sides are buzzed short and typically faded. However, the length of the top of the head progressively decreases as it progresses from the front to the back of the head. 

The fade that goes from 2 to 3 is an excellent choice for the sides of your hair if you are going for a crew cut as your overall hairstyle.

It is common practice to not trim the sides of a crew cut all the way down to the skin, as you may do with a high and tight cut or another style that is known for its ease of maintenance.

A crew cut is known for its uncomplicated appearance and works well with all looks. 

Comb Over

The hair on top of the head is often kept longer than the hair on the sides and back in this look, and it is then combed over to one side to create the final look. 

This style is not the same as the other type of comb-over that you may know of. A comb-over is also used as a term to describe an attempt to cover up thinning hair on top. In this case, a 2 to 3 fade comb-over is a very stylish look. 

When you’re going for a fade that’s somewhere between 2 and 3, this is yet another fantastic option for the hair on top of your head.

Buzz Cut

This look only goes to show that the 2 to 3 fade can be combined with extremely short hair on top as long as the hair on top is longer than the hair on the sides. 

This specific hairstyle requires very minimal maintenance and upkeep since the length of the hair in all sections is cut so short.

This is ideal as it will not only save you time in the morning, but it also means that you will be using fewer hair products like shampoo, saving you money in the long run. 

This cut is not really long enough to be styled properly, and the sides and back are short enough to prevent stray hairs and flyaways from being a problem in the first place.

This hairstyle, in general, is one of those “set it and forget it” styles, which means that it won’t actually demand you to spend a lot of effort maintaining it in the way that you want it to look.


The 2 to 3 fade is an excellent haircut for anyone to try out. It is long enough to be styled in some way, but short enough so that if it is your first experience with fades, you won’t have to chop off too much of your hair at once.

It is ideal for those who just want to give fades a try. 

There are several ways to style a fade, including the comb-over and the long on top methods, and specifying whether you want the fades to be “low”, “medium” or “high” is another way to make this hairstyle work right for your overall look. 

Joseph Pais