Buzz Cut Fade Hairstyle: What It Is & Why You Should Try It

Modern life is busy, and maintaining perfectly styled locks isn’t a luxury everyone has time for. But what if we told you that you could have a low-maintenance, fuss-free haircut that looks sharp as hell and requires little to no time commitment each morning? Well, you can. Allow us to introduce the buzz cut fade.

Simple yet edgy, smart yet rugged, this contemporary twist on the classic buzz cut is a great way to keep your styling time to a minimum while still having a trim that’s anything but boring.

Keen to learn more and perhaps even get a buzz cut fade for yourself? Read on to learn the ins and outs of this quick and easy style, including how to spot it, who it suits and the key variations every man should know.

What Is A Buzz Cut Fade?

The buzz cut fade is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The ‘buzz cut’ part refers to the hair being buzzed all over with a set of clippers to a uniform length. The ‘fade’ part refers to the way the hair is graduated at the back and sides using different cutting lengths to achieve a smooth transition between longer and shorter hair. This is what gives the back and sides of the head a faded appearance.

So, why is this better than just going for a regular buzz cut? Well, it looks more interesting for a start. A buzz cut is simple and low-maintenance but perhaps a little too much so for some people. The addition of a fade makes it look more considered and intentional, as well as lending it a modern edge.

Will A Buzz Cut Fade Suit Me?

Short answer: yes, chances are a buzz cut fade will probably suit you. If you want to know for certain, the best thing to do is determine your face shape and look at your lifestyle to assess whether or not this is the right style for you.

Different face shapes suit different hairstyles. There are five key shapes: oval, round, square, rectangle and heart. To find yours, look face on into a mirror and pay attention the the shape created by the outline of your face. Whichever of these five shapes it most closely resembles is your face shape.

The aim of the game is to balance out the proportions of the face – an oval shape being the goal. For example, those with round faces will benefit from adding height and sharper lines, while those with rectangular faces will benefit from some volume on the sides to soften and widen.

The good news is that because a buzz cut fade is such a low-profile style, there aren’t really any face shapes it won’t suit. Keep it relatively short all over and you can’t go wrong.

Top 5 Buzz Cut Fade Haircuts For Men

As with a traditional buzz cut, there are a number of variations on the buzz cut fade that you can opt for. This is usually achieved either by adjusting the length of the hair on top, or the type of fade you choose for the back and sides. Below you will find our five favourite versions right now.

Short Buzz Cut Fade

This closely clippered version keeps everything as neat and tidy as possible. The hair is buzzed short on top and even shorter at the back and sides, with that all-important fade. Because the hair is so short on top, a skin fade is often used at the back and sides. This allows the barber to maintain that faded look which comes from a graduation in length while keeping the hair extremely short.

Ask your barber for a short buzz cut with a skin fade and they’ll see you right. In terms of styling, you can pretty much just leave it alone aside from regular trips back to the barber to touch up your fade.

Mid-Length Buzz Cut Fade

If a short buzz cut looks too harsh but want to keep styling to a minimum then this medium-length take on the buzz cut fade might be more suitable. It looks particularly good on men with thicker hair, which helps create a solid shape on top and a dramatic contrast against the faded back and sides.

To get the look for yourself, simply ask the barber for a ‘burr cut’ (a type of buzz cut between a 2-3 grade) with a fade. If you want to go down the skin fade route, let them know. Again, there’s no styling required for this variation, as the hair on top of the head is still relatively short.

Longer Length Buzz Cut Fade

Want to make the buzz cut fade your own? Keeping a decent bit of length on top will allow for a small degree of styling. Not only that, it dials up the contrast further still, accentuating the fade and creating a more pronounced look overall.

Explain to the barber that you want the hair on top to be between a ‘butch cut’ (grade 4-6) and a high and tight – this will give you enough length to run a bit of styling product through it if you want to. We’d suggest using a small amount of paste or clay to give the hair a bit of texture.

When it comes to the back and sides, either go all out with a high fade for a dramatic look, or if you prefer something more subtle then consider a taper fade.

Buzz Cut Fade With Shape Up

The buzz cut fade is a particularly good option for black, kinky or unruly hair types as it makes volume more manageable and helps keep the shape in check. This variation incorporates a ‘shape up’ (or ‘line up’), which is where the hairline is straightened with an unguarded blade to give a crisp, clean-cut finish around the border.

To get this style right, go to a barber that specialises in afro hair. There are plenty of them around and they know how to work with your texture for the best results. Styling wise, the main thing is to make sure you’re going back for regular touch ups, as fades and shape ups can quickly appear unkempt when they grow out.

Afro/Black Hair Buzz Cut Fade

If you have afro hair, you can still rock a buzz cut fade and show off its natural qualities. The formula remains the same: short on top with the back and sides faded. How long you choose to go on top is up to you – either leave enough to let your curls form (similar to a high & tight) or keep it buzzed closer and consider using a wave brush to introduce even more character.

No matter which way you go, it’s extremely low-maintenance and a great option for anyone with a hectic schedule and limited time for styling.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.