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, these styles make you look comfortably masculine and competent.
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 style and how to pull it off perfectly.
What Is a Taper Fade Comb Over?
A comb over has a short back and sides plus longer top hair 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. We 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 may opt 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 due to their similarity, and asking for one will likely get you a taper.
We recommend 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, we recommend a low fade to avoid accentuating the length.
You can select a defined hard part, which will need to be renewed around twice a month, or a taper fade comb over, no line: this 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 that go all the way up to the part, is derived from the “high and tight” military cut, especially popular with the Marines. This style is also sometimes called a high and tight, although the top hair is longer.
This cut is the best for a comb over if you have coarsely-textured hair or if you’re thinning on top: 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 allows a beard to blend into your hairline without interruption.
The Low Fade Comb Over
You’re smart; you can guess how we’ll describe this style. It indeed places the graduation low and leaves quite some length on the sides.
You probably don’t know that this style was created for men with finer hair, e.g., many blond and redheaded guys. 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, request a high and tight, with enough length on top to create a side part. Discuss how much skin you want to show.
The popularity of the mid fade comb over means you can request this style, but specify where you like to part your hair and include 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 request a taper fade comb over no line.
Ensure you understand your hair’s natural patterns. You want to be able to comb your hair without the use of additional products.
Men with curly hair need it relaxed to create waves suitable for 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.
You may wish to add volume on top. Finish drying your hair with a hair dryer to create 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; we 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 yet classic masculine look.
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.
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.