What Is A Number 1 Fade And How Do You Style It?

It’s a universal struggle asking your barber what hairstyle you want. But it does help if you know the lingo.

The more precise you are able to be when telling your barber what you want, the better the result will be.

What Is A Number 1 Fade And How Do You Style It?

The classic fade gained popularity in the 90s and since then it has been a staple haircut in men’s fashion.

For most modern men it has been their go-to haircut to get that clean, professional and fun look.

The number 1 fade is one of the more popular fades to choose from. But what is a number 1 fade?

What Is A Number 1 Fade?

Also known simply as a ‘1 fade’, the number 1 fade if named after the #1 clipper guard that is used to create this iconic style.

The way this look is achieved is by having the back and sides of the hair trimmed down and faded.

The shortest part of the fade is done with a #1 clipper which is ⅛ inch or 3mm. As the hair gets higher up the head the longer it gets. This transition is where the fade gets its namesake.

You can’t just walk in and ask for just a fade unfortunately. There are different levels to a fade to consider. 

Tapered Fade

This is the more subtle fade.  The fade starts around the neckline and sideburns and transitions up from there. If you are new to fades this is a great place to start.

Low Fade

Less subtle than a tapered fade but still having some distinction is the low fade. This version starts around a third of the way up the head.

Mid Fade

As the name suggests, this fade starts around half way up the head, usually just above the eyebrows. This fade is known for framing the eyes.

High Fade

The harshest of the fades. It starts around the final third of the head. This gives a more drastic look.

Long Or Short Hair

While the hair on the sides and back are kept short, the hair on top can be any length you want. 

Remember the number 1 fade isn’t a style in itself, but an effect. The hair on the top is what can be styled.

While the hair on top can be any length you want, just remember that it needs to be longer than ⅛ inch for the fade to work.

Buzz Cut Fade

Buzz Cut Fade

A classic militant style where the hair is kept short on top and fades down. This type of look is ideal for those who want something that is easy to style, especially because there’s no styling involved.

While a fade may need to be done at the barbers, the buzz cut on top is something that is popular for those DIY groomers.

All you need is a pair of clippers and guards, no scissors needed! A buzz cut, while universal, is better suited to people with round faces

Comb Over Or Side Parting Fade

Comb Over Or Side Parting Fade

Made popular by the 1920 stars of Hollywood, this iconic look has been a staple for decades.

While this style is technically called the comb over, people will tend to call it a side parting instead to avoid the implications of baldness. 

This style is achieved by keeping your hair longer and swept to one side. It can give you a youthful look with any length of fade.

This style best fits square and oval shaped faces.

Pompadour Fade

Pompadour Fade

An iconic 50s look that is sure to draw attention. To get that perfect pompadour the hair is usually kept on the longer side, around 4 inches, and is almost fluffed up to get that full look.

The joy of a pompadour is that it is one of the styles that can work well with many face shapes. So why not give it a go if you’re feeling creative.

Quiff Fade

Quiff Fade

Similar to the pompadour, but less full looking. This style has the hair styled up but almost swept back like a wave. While it is usually done with longer hair, it can be done with mid length.

This style is popular because it is easy to achieve, in fact it favors a messier look. It can be done in minutes and looks good.

A quiff style looks better on longer faces.

Elephant Trunk Fade

Elephant Trunk Fade

While a silly name, this style is best known for featuring in the classic movie ‘Grease’. The hair is defined by the curl of hair falling down the face, sort of like an elephant’s trunk. So why not put a modern twist on it with a fade?

One of the benefits to this hairstyle is always carrying a comb in your pocket. It may seem trivial but it is a great confidence booster when you comb your hair back and twirl the hair in the front.

A rectangular face shape is ideal for this look as it is the same face shape as the iconic Danny Zuko.

Dreads Fade

Dreads Fade

Ideally done with shorter length dreads, this style lifts the dreads to give them a modern and stylish look. You could even pull them forward to create a faux-hawk look.

If you want to pull off this look with longer dreads we suggest tying them back to really show off the fade.

Depending on how you style your dreads can accentuate your face shape. Now the time to show your creative side.

Faded Undercut

Faded Undercut

Undercuts are a very modern hairstyle but it can be traced back to as early as the Vikings. Although the Vikings only shaved the back of their head and not the sides to keep their necks cool.

 This look is acquired by having a high fade that has a clear disconnect between the top of the fade and the start of the longer hair.

Unlike some of the other styles on this list. The undercut fade has nothing to do with the hair on the top of your head.

This gives you complete creative freedom to choose what you want or what will look best for your face shape. It also has the plus of looking great with curly hair or shorter afros.

Man Bun Fade

Man Bun Fade

Here is an example of having very long hair that works with a fade. The man bun has been a statement in men’s fashion since the mid 2010s and it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon.

It is a generally low maintenance look requiring little product and at minimum just a hair band.

By styling the bun on the crown of your head you can really show off that fade.

If you have an oblong face you may want to avoid the man bun as it gives the illusion of a longer face. Or have it tied at the back of the neck.

Fade With A Beard

Fade With A Beard

A beard goes great with a fade. You can seamlessly blend the top of the beard into the bottom of the fade to create a great transition.

Also, you can opt for a short beard or go all out with a full bushy beard. The joy of a fade is that it works with any hair length, even if that hair is on your chin.

This is however a hard effect to execute correctly so we suggest leaving it in the hands of a skilled barber.

0 Fade Or Skin Fade 

0 Fade Or Skin Fade 

These types of fade go down shorter than ⅛ inch. The 0 fade is achieved by not having a guard on the clippers.

A skin fade, as the name suggests, brings the fade all the way down to the skin with a razor.

The 0 fade or skin fade are bolder than the 1 fade but sometimes that’s what you want to show off your personal style.

2 Fade And 3 Fade

2 Fade And 3 Fade

With a 1 fade, the shortest length is a #1 and goes up from there. You can blend into a #2 or a #3 but if you blend into a #3 then you will need to blend into a #2 first to avoid a harsh line.

But, you don’t have to have a #1 be the shortest length. You can achieve the fade with a #2 (about ¼ inch) being the shortest length and once against blending up.

If you ask for a number 3 fade, this is where things change. While all the other fades numbers are what the shortest length is, the number 3 fade is actually the longest.

It is essentially a buzz cut with the edges fading down into a #1 or #2. A number 3 fade is a great starting point for anyone looking into getting a buzzcut.


As you can see, the number 1 fade is versatile and practical for both the office, and the late night party scene.

It’s no wonder why it is one of the more popular haircut choices.

Ironically, the style of the fade does fade over time so you need to get your side and back redone every month or so, depending on how fast your hair grows back. Barbers even call this regrowth the ‘tennis ball fuzz’ as it can feel like it.

Next time you’re at the barbers you can tell them exactly what you want. Or you could just  show them a picture.

Joseph Pais