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What is a Burst Fade Haircut & How to Pull One Off Perfectly

Looking for a trendy new cut to shake up your style?

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The burst fade haircut, I believe, is a versatile one that can be tailored to fit your face shape and personality, so you'll find one cut that suits you perfectly.

If you're unsure whether this 'do is for you, don't worry; my review will tell you everything you need to know, including some of the style's most popular variations.

What is a Burst Fade Haircut?

Generally speaking, a regular fade is a haircut where the sides and back are cut with clippers as close to the scalp as possible, tapering upward into longer strands on top.

The burst cut is characterized by its iconic tapering around the natural curve of the ears while leaving the back/nape of the hairline long.

Burst Fade Haircut

Because this style works with length or hair type (straight, wavy, curly, or kinky), it's a versatile haircut.

In case you're a visual person like I am, here are a few celebrities who have rocked this cut:

  • Usher (R&B Singer)
  • Odell Beckham (NFL player)
  • Patrick Mahomes (NFL player)
  • LaMelo Ball (NBA)
  • James Edward Harden Jr. (NBA)

Burst vs. Regular Fade Haircut

A burst differs from a regular fade in that the back is left long while the areas around the ears are tapered. 

With a regular fade, the whole perimeter of the bottom of the nape is tapered closely to the scalp. In other words, the nape/back of the head will be cleanly cut, leaving no length in that area.

For a visual comparison, picture Daddy Yankee's traditional fade cut compared to Patrick Mahomes' burst cut. 

Keep in mind that the top of a traditional fade cut can have length -- it doesn't have to be quite as short as Daddy Yankee's. In fact, you can have a pompadour or even a man-bun on top.

Daddy Yankee
Daddy Yankee

As long as the perimeter of the nape around the base of the head is cut close to the scalp, you could have a variety of lengths on top, from the crown of the head upwards.

Can a Burst Fade Haircut be Confused With a Mullet?

Because a mullet has the front, top, and sides cut short with longer strands at the back, it's not impossible to confuse the two styles. There is, however, a variation that combines the two styles - it's called a burst mullet haircut.

The key difference is the tapered effect created with clippers around the ears in the fade style.

Asking for a Burst Fade Haircut 

If you want to try this fashionable cut, ask your barber - they are probably familiar with it. I suggest you bring a photograph to show them, especially if you are unsure how to describe what you want.

Man getting a burst fade haircut

Just do the ol’ Google search for the cut you want and save it to your cellphone or go retro and cut it out of a magazine.

Various Burst Fade Styles

Still not sure which specific style you want? Check out some of the most popular variations below.

Burst Fade Straight Hair

As its name suggests, this cut is simply a burst with straight hair - long, mid-length, or short. 

Personally, I think straight hair can look very sleek and clean with the right products. Don't worry if you're naturally curly because you can relax or thermally straighten your hair. But beware - relaxers are not recommended if you have severe hair loss or alopecia.

Low Burst Fade Haircut

This variation remains one of the most popular versions of this cut because the tapering is closer to the ear, making it more refined.

Some men sport an undercut with it to add an edginess to the otherwise subdued style.

Mid Burst Fade

The mid-burst can also work for many head and face shapes. The tapering is a bit further from the ear, making it edgier.

Mid Burst Fade Haircut

Depending on the hair's length and texture, it almost resembles a mohawk style.

Burst Fade Mullet Haircut

If you like the idea of creating a new take on the retro style, this haircut might be a great option for you to try.

I find this style quite a bit of fun, not taking itself too seriously, making it a perfect fit for that fun-loving guy.

Burst Fade Mohawk

If you're looking for a cool way to sport a mohawk then this cut could be for you.

Whether you have straight, wavy, curly, or kinky locks, you can rock this version of the iconic mohawk hairstyle. 

Add gel, pomade, wax, or paste to your hair to play up your natural texture. You may also decide to use hairspray to maintain your style all day. Hairsprays have different hold levels (from flexible to firm hold), so you can shop for one that meets your hair needs.

But, I suggest choosing a hairspray with natural and safe ingredients and spraying in a well-ventilated area to avoid the rarer case of hairspray poisoning.

Burst Fade Short Hair

This option is perfect for people who don't want to spend too much time getting ready, like myself. It is not quite as short as a buzz cut, yet cropped enough to be quickly styled.

It also looks great with any hair texture.

Burst Taper Fade

For a sharp, neat look, you can choose a burst taper fade (where an edge is created near the temples for a sharp-looking hairline). It's a great way to add an extra clean feel to your cut.

Burst Fade Buzz Cut

Try a burst buzz cut if you are all about convenience and walk-out-the-door-ready styles. This short, clean cut will always be ready when you are because very little product is necessary to keep it in check.

As a downside, your hair texture may not come through because buzz cuts are so close to the scalp.

Burst Fade Haircut Design

Want to add a little extra flair to your awesome new cut? You can get your barber to etch unique designs with clippers, like symbols, shapes, or words.

Burst Fade Haircut with Design

Depending on their skills, you could end up with an elaborate pattern to help you stand out.

Burst Fade Haircut Infographic

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the options are endless for this fashion-forward hairstyle. No wonder it remains a favorite among men from all walks of life.

Mix and match different elements to create a unique haircut that is all your own, and remember to search for reference images to help guide you when in doubt.


Who Would Suit a Burst Fade Haircut?

The burst fade haircut is incredibly versatile and works with all different face shapes and hair textures. If you’re looking to elongate your face, try a quiff or a pompadour with a burst fade. If you have thick or curly hair, try a high fade.

Are Burst Fade Haircuts a Professional Look?

Burst fade haircuts can look a bit young and casual. To combat this, try a lower fade closer to the ears. A cut-in side part is another way to make a burst fade haircut look more professional.

Getting regular haircuts to maintain your fade will keep it looking tidy and professional

What Face Shapes Suit Burst Fade Haircuts?

Burst fade haircuts look great with many different face shapes. If you’re focused on elongating a round, square, or heart-shaped face, go for a higher fade with more volume up top. If you already have a long or oval face, a lower fade may look more balanced.

Do Burst Fades Make People Look Thinner?

A burst fade isn’t going to replace a trip to the gym, but it’s a great way to lengthen a round or chubby face. Growing out your hair on top and styling it with a lot of volume (like a quiff) will strengthen the effect.

Is a Burst Fade a Bald Fade?

Not quite. A bald fade or skin fade has the hair tapered all the way down to the skin, while most burst fades don’t go quite that short. You can mix the two styles, though – just let your barber know what you’re looking for.

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Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.

What is a Burst Fade Haircut & How to Pull One Off Perfectly