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What Is a Taper Fade Comb Over Hairstyle & How to Pull One Off Perfectly

Forget comb overs as the hairstyle of denial, used only by baldies who don't want to admit it.

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Nowadays, the term refers to smart, head-turning reinterpretations of the classic side part, a look made famous by Mad Men's Don Draper.

Equally appropriate for the boardroom or a first date, I've felt comfortably masculine and competent with this style.

Comb overs come in several variations, and the one for you depends on the shape of your head, your hair, your hair growth patterns, your style, and any hair loss you may be experiencing. 

Let's look at this 'do and how to pull it off perfectly.

Taper Fade Comb Over Hairstyle

What Is a Taper Fade Comb Over?

A comb over has a short back and sides plus longer hair on top pushed to the left or the right, away from the part.

The hair on the back and sides is graduated and either starts relatively short, fading to your skin above your natural hairline (a fade). Or it may begin fairly long, gradually becoming shorter, and ending at or near your natural hairline (a taper).

Some stylists recommend avoiding these styles if you have a receding hairline or widow's peak, as they accentuate it. I say, go for it! Rocking your hair growth patterns shows you're confident in your masculinity.

What is a fade with a taper? If you have a lot of volume in your hair, you might choose to have your back and sides tapered, with fading only on the nape of the neck and over the temples for a subtle, stylish effect.

Is a Taper Fade Simply Just a Taper?

The term “taper fade” lumps the two styles together because of their similarity, and asking for one will likely get you a taper.

I suggest discussing exactly what you want with your barber and listening to their expertise on which variation will suit you and your hair best.

The Best Fade for a Comb Over

Should you choose a high fade comb over, a mid fade comb over, or a low fade comb over?

A high fade comb over adds some visual length and sharpness if you have a wide, chunky face. If you have a long, narrow face, I recommend a low fade to avoid emphasizing the length.

You can choose a defined hard part, which will need to be renewed around twice a month. Or you could go for a taper fade comb over with no line which is much easier to maintain as it grows out and won't need sprucing up as often.


The High Fade Comb Over

This style, with its extremely short back and sides, going all the way up to the part, is borrowed from the “high and tight” military cut, especially popular with the Marines. This 'do is also sometimes called a high and tight, although the hair on the top part of the head is longer.

This cut is the best for a comb over if you have coarsely-textured hair or if you're thinning on top mainly because extremely short back and sides distract from the top. It's a good option if you don't want to shave it all off.

The Mid Fade Comb Over

This hairstyle is extremely popular for its smooth transition between the longer hair on top and the very short hair at the lower edge of the back and sides. The hard part separates the longer top hair into two crisp halves.

The characteristic smooth variation in hair length also means that if you have a beard it will blend into your hairline without interruption.

The Low Fade Comb Over

You're right if you guessed I'd describe this style as the graduation starting quite low and leaving some length on the sides.

This style was actually created for men with finer hair like many blond and redheaded guys have. It allows you to create a softer part and comb your hair down at the sides.


Asking for a Taper Fade Comb Over Haircut

For a high fade comb over, ask for a high and tight, with enough length on top to create a side part. You might want to also discuss how much skin you want to show.

The popularity of the mid fade comb over means you can ask for this style, but specify where you like to part your hair. I'd also suggest including your barber in deciding how long the hair on top should be.

Request a low fade comb over as such, specifying extra length to comb down the sides. For a style that will really last in between barber trips, you can ask for a taper fade comb over with no line.

Make sure you understand your hair's natural patterns. You want to be able to comb your hair without the use of extra products. 

Finally, men with curly hair need it relaxed to create waves that will suit these styles.

How to Perfectly Style Your Taper Fade Comb Over

These haircuts should be crisp, so begin with shampoo and conditioner to eliminate grease, dirt, and product residue. For a slicked-down comb over, towel-dry your hair till damp, work in a bit of pomade, and style your hair to one side, creating the part.

man washing his hair with shampoo

If you want to add volume on top - finish drying your hair with a hair dryer to create that volume, work in matte-finish wax, and make the part. You can comb it neat or use your fingers for a rougher look.

These hairstyles work well with facial hair; I particularly like the bold statement created by a mid fade comb over or low taper fade comb over with part and beard.

On the other hand, the clean, dapper look of a high and tight with a hard part and a clean-shaven face or 5 o'clock shadow creates an ultra-modern but classic masculine look.

Final Thoughts

With many variations, the taper fade comb over is a versatile men's hairstyle that is timeless and up-to-the-minute, and works with any hair type.

David Schwartz

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 Taper Fade Comb Over?