“A high skin fade is kind of like a man’s way of showing some cleavage, some skin,” told Kirk Riley, hair-dresser and barbershop owner in an interview with GQ. As the brains behind the Queens-based mecca of everything hair and grooming-related, Otis & Finn, Kirk knows what he is talking about. With over half a decade’s worth of experience under his belt, the multitalent handled hundreds of customers eager to add just a bit of oomph to their looks.
High skin fades are a special type of drop fade, and as such, their appeal is undeniable. While drop fade refers to a cut that involves an easily-noticeable gradient tapered to your headline, high fade stands calls for cleanly-shaved, well-structured sides. Although both options are highly coveted, it’s good to lay down the groundwork and figure out which cut suits the frame of your face best before you head to a barber and subject yourself to some vigorous trimming.
Hence this article. Everyone could benefit from opting for a drop fade – just look at the pictures if you don’t believe me –but there’s no one size fits all. The texture of your hair, the shape of your head, the colour of your skin, your tattoos and, of course, your facial hair (or lack thereof) will each play a crucial factor in the decision-making process.
The drop fade garnered unexpected popularity in the past few years because it allows its wearers to freshen up their hair cut, to add a touch of originality – without getting noticed too much for it at work. Look at it this way: a drop fade helps you draw all attention to your best features – without drastically altering your appearance.
David Beckham, Jamie Foxx, and Zayn Malik are just a few celebrities who swear by this look, and it’s easy to see why. The drop fade hits the sweet spot between the ‘true and tested’ and the ‘bold and unusual,’ allowing its wearers to express just the right amount of individuality without coming across as too bold or extravagant.
Ready to find out more about the drop fade haircut?
1. Drop Fade with Faux Hawk
If you have gorgeously thick, beautifully dense hair, this haircut can elevate your look to the next level.
The bottom is tapered into a slick and tidy gradient, which draws all eyes to the crown of your head. This can be particularly beneficial for those tired of waking up every morning only to discover that their hair had acquired a brand new shape that defies gravity. Want to cut down on the time spent arranging the untamable strands? Of course you do.
Products will play a key role when it comes to this hair cut.
2. Drop Fade with Disconnected Undercut
This is a more adventurous, fashion-forward take on the standard drop fade. The disconnected undercut emphasises the colour contrast between the fade and the longer, darker upper parts, while the messy ends of the icy-blond, bleached crown create add another layer to the creation.
The combination of the three textures – skin, dark hair and the messier, uber-cool top – transforms this style from an average, run-of-the-mill haircut and into a real show-stopper. Plus, there’s no way you won’t be drawn to stroke the back of your head. So smooth.
3. Drop Fade with French Crop
Speaking of fashion forward, this style brings together three of the best things a barber could ever create: a nifty, seamless gradient that emphasises the pane of your neck and the shape of your ears, a slight, barely-noticeable, razor-thin strip of black hair, and a jaw-droppingly unique, extravagant crown that will make you stand out from any crowd.
Unlike its close cousin, the drop fade with disconnected undercut, the French crop involves a few-inches-short fringe that gives a nice framing to your face, creating a softer, warmer effect. If you have an oval-shaped face or a longer head, this might be your best option.
4. Drop Fade with Curly Hair
People with curly hair are more likely to believe that every trick, magic and rare marvel of modern hairstyling is lost on them. Well, I’m here to prove you wrong.
While perfecting the jelly roll, the flop or the ducktail might be the stuff of pipedreams, drop fades do happen to work particularly well for people with curly hair. The explanation is very simple: the slick, neatly-tapered gradient at the bottom emphasises the crown only further, drawing all attention to your luscious, lustrous mane. Take the picture below.
5. Drop Fade with Faux Hawk and Cross Design
An edgy twist on the modern classic, this drop fade involves a cross-design further emphasising the shape of your head.
Unlike a larger, bolder pattern, it helps draw just enough attention without coming across as an overt, experimental stylistic choice.
6. Drop Fade with a Beard
Beards can be easily incorporated into a drop fade: a gradient can be tapered into a sideburn, which is bound to take your look to a whole next level.
For maximum effect, keep the crown intact and request a low fade for the rest of your hair. The best part about this cut? The unique design connecting adorning your forehead and jaw. It’s playful and elegant at the same time.
7. Drop Fade With Pomade
To achieve the iconic, 50-inspired look, opt for a low drop fade with a slick, well-groomed style. Ready to channel the unbridled charisma of a young and fresh-faced Cary Grant?
8. Drop Fade With Braids
An easy-to-maintain, super-slick solution for Afro hair, the drop fade with braids allows you to spend the minimum amount of time figuring out working on your hair with the maximum impact. Not only is this haircut a real show-stopper, it also allows you to spend less time and resources on the weekly visits to the barber.
9. Drop Fade With Long Hair
As we’ve established before, drop fade is an unusually versatile, easy-to-tailor style that suits gingers, blondes, and people rocking colourful haircuts alike.
Unlike a crew cut or a fringe – and let’s not begin on viking styles – the drop fade can be tailored in accord with one’s specific needs. Insofar that you find a barber with an eagle’s eye for detail and a pair of hands that simply do not shake, you’re bound to leave the shop with something becoming, easy-to-style and fashion-forward.
People with long hair aren’t an exception from this rule either: the drop fade can easily accommodate your needs.
10. Drop Fade with Slick Back
Effortlessness takes effort, goes the old saying. The only exception from the rule? The people who opt for a drop fade with a slick back.
Let me explain. This is a simple, refined style that doesn’t need refreshing for weeks. If you don’t like spending your time at the barber’s – they are nice but not that nice – this is your best bet. Plus, the slick back is easy-peasy to maintain. Take one drop of pomade each morning, massage it into your hair, and you’re done. Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?
11. Drop Fade with Afro
This bold and exuberant number brings together a super-slick gradient, a cool, unusual motif shaved right above your ears and a bulbous, impossible-to-ignore crown with bleached ends.
12. Drop Fade with Balayage
Can you even do a drop fade with balayage? Zayn Malik had proven to us that the concept is not only completely doable, but it also happens to be immensely attractive.
If you don’t mind getting to know the deepest depths of your barber’s personality – if bleach is involved, you can safely look forward to at least one, one hour and a half spent in the chair, which happens to provide ample opportunity to talk through everything from work-related woes and all the way to the latest Liverpool victory – then this could be the right haircut for you.
Seriously though: the time spent with preparations is worth it. Let’s take another quick glance at the former One Direction member and Gigi Hadid’s boo in case you need more proof.
13. Drop Fade With Buzz Cut
What do you get when you put together a buzz cut and a drop fade? No, it’s not a dizzying sensation, a sensory overload, or the works of a young and ambitious hairdresser eager to practice the ins and outs of the craft and try his hands at multiple styles in one go. None of the above. A buzz cut and a drop fade equals perfection. You haven’t heard it from us, but it’s true.
Princess William, Jake Gylenhaal and Drake are just a few of the celebrities devoted to this snazzy, super-comfortable look. The slick, smooth crown, combined with the even softer, barely-noticeable sides can really do marvels when it comes to bringing out the very best of your features. Plus, this cut would also allow you to bin that trusty gel you’ve been using day in, day out for who knows how long. Just think about it. Think about the clanking sound it’d make as it hits the bottom of the trash can and try to tell us that you aren’t ready. Go on.