How To Do A Fade Haircut With Clippers Step By Step (Beginner’s Guide)

You have always dreamed of doing yourself a fade haircut, but as a beginner or not yet a professional barber, you feel nervous and wonder if you can do it on your own?

The answer is yes, even though it’s not always easy! This article will provide you with principles and detailed steps on how to do a fade haircut with clippers step by step so that you will feel confident in fading your hair at home.

What Is A Fade Haircut?

Fade haircuts are a type where the hair is gradually shortened from the top to the bottom of the head. A nice fade comes with a harmonious transition and smooth surface.

Fade hairs have been among the favorite types for men for many years. There are many fade-hairstyles, but the most popular are high, mid, low, bald, skin, and taper fade.

Fade haircuts bring an elegant look to men
Fade haircuts bring an elegant look to men

What To Consider Before Doing A Fade Haircut?

What are haircut numbers and hair clipper sizes?

Haircut numbers refer to the clipper guard size, standing for the amount of hair left after cutting. The smaller the number, the shorter the haircut.

Typically, there are 8 guards going with each clipper package. Below is the reference of hair guard sizes.

  • Number 1: ⅛ inch (hair left)
  • Number 2: ¼ inch
  • Number 3: ⅜ inch
  • Number 4: ½ inch
  • Number 5: ⅝ inch
  • Number 6: ¾ inch
  • Number 7: ⅞ inch
  • Number 8: 1 inch

Besides, “Number 0 haircut” aims for the non-guard clipper, resulting in a skin fade haircut with 1/16 inch hair remaining.

Lee's Razors
Lee's Razors

An overview to get a fade haircut

The key to fade your hair is to vary your hair length gradually using different clipper guard sizes. Picture this, start with #1 guard for the bottom head, then switch to bigger sizes for the following sections. As you go up, you will cut less and press lighter.

The process will generate various hair lengths plus leave hard lines between different sizes. To harmonize the transition, you would need a guard between the two numbers to smooth the fade lines.

Things You Need Before Doing A Fade Haircut

  • A clipper and clipper guards
  • A fine-tooth comb
  • A spray bottle
  • A mirror
  • Hair clips (optional)
Hair clips
What do you need before doing a self-fade haircut?

How To Do A Fade Haircut With Clippers: Step-by-step Instructions

Step 1: Determine the length of your fade haircut

The first step to fade your hair is to decide the length and style of your fade haircut. These will dictate which guards you use for your clipper.

Popular fade haircut styles for men
Popular fade haircut styles for men

Let’s say you select the mild fade haircut and decide to start with the #1 guard for a slight skin fade. Then you would need the #2, #3 for the next sections, and #4 to trim the long hair on top.

Otherwise, increase the number and size of guards according to your selection.

Step 2: Locate the fade lines

Each fade line limits the area for each guard, deciding where your hair varies in length. The Fade line’s shape and position depends on your taste, but it will wrap around your head.

For instance, locate the first fade line at about 2 – 3 inches above the top of the ear, and the next line is about 2 – 3 inches higher.

A fade line will go all the way around the head
A fade line will go all the way around the head

Then, lightly spray your hair and section off the part on top with a clip or elastic band to make sure it won’t distract you while cutting.

Step 3: Start trimming

Now, attach the shortest guard to the clipper for your first cut. Start low and close to the skin, from down to up, and don’t go over the first fade line.

Here, it will be a vertical in-and-outward motion similar to a C shape. You press close to the skin at the bottom and then gradually move outward as you go up.

Start at the bottom of your head
Start at the bottom of your head

Pro-tip: To create a seamless transition to the next length, keep the hair at the fade line longer than the under. Achieve this by flicking outward when reaching the top of the section or move down the taper lever on the side to have a longer cut. 

Here are three steps with the taper lever for a natural fade:

  • In the beginning, set the taper lever to the longest mode to get the longest haircut for the entire section.
  • At the second pass, move the taper lever to the middle position to get the medium length, then cut the half above of the section.
  • For the last pass, turn off the taper lever to have the shortest haircut for the bottom area, creating a polished look at the end.

Performing the C-shaped cut while doing these will help for the best result. Stick to these techniques for each fade section.

Also watch:

Step 4: Change to a bigger guard

Now you will move on to the middle section. Insert the next guard and reset the taper lever to the original spot.

Keep going with the C-shaped cut and the longer-at-the-top rule. Again, stick to the principle “Up and Out,” press lighter and further as you go higher. Then, gradually move around your head, press toward the second fade line.

Use a bigger guard size for the middle area
Use a bigger guard size for the middle area

Step 5: Use the most extended guard

It’s time to fade the highest section but not the crown of the head. Switch your clipper to the upper guard size and decide where your top area will end.

Then, lightly slide the clipper through your hair and move outward at the transition. Do remember to press much lighter for this step. Also, don’t forget to adjust your taper lever as the three steps mentioned to get the natural fade.

Fix the hair on top for no distraction when fading the highest section
Fix the hair on top for no distraction when fading the highest section

Step 6: Harmonize the transitions

The rule to blend two lengths is to use a guard size between the two numbers. Here you can change the guard or adjust the taper lever to change the size. For example, you can use #2 to blend between #1 and #3 or move down the taper to turn #1 to #1.5 and blend between #1 and #2.

Here are two ways to continue:

  • Go with the clipper: Move your clipper through the edges, lightly and outward. Continue for each fade line until you are satisfied with the result.
  • Grasp the comb and get some direction: Insert the comb into the transition area and move it to the desired length. Then, slightly tilting the comb outward and continue cutting with the clipper or scissors.
Grasp a comb to help harmonize the transition between various lengths
Grasp a comb to help harmonize the transition between various lengths

Step 7: Trim the hair on top

Give your top some cut if needed, either using the clipper or scissors.

First, free the hair on top from a clip or band and ensure it is slightly wet. Then, catch each small part and use the comb to pull it up straight. Next, move the comb to the cut point, hold on and start trimming.

How to trim the hair on top at home
How to trim the hair on top at home

Step 8: Do the final touch

To give your fade haircut a clear ending line at the bottom, use a non-guard clipper to press on the under part. Also, do an overall check and trim off any excess hair patches left on your head.

Well done! You’ve done the last step in fading your hair at home. So clean the cut tools and enjoy your new style!

Enjoy your new hairstyle
Enjoy your new hairstyle

Pro-tips For The Best Self-Fade Haircut

  • Get a good clipper package. It may be costly at first but will support you to get the best look and benefit you in the long run.
  • To get a smooth haircut, press over and over on the same area to ensure you leave no hair patches.
  • To ensure the right path, constantly brush while cutting to check your hair shape and how far you’ve come with your fade haircut.

For a visual direction to the low and mid-fade haircuts, check out this video.

The Benefits Of Doing A Self-Fade Haircut With Clippers

It’s never wasted to develop a new skill, so is practicing the self-haircut. By mastering yourself at hair cutting, you now can save money, have more control over your haircut, and please your friends by helping them achieve a new hairstyle one day.

Also, it will take you a long time and may make some mistakes at first, but you will get better every time you cut your hair with the clippers.


All in all, patience and concentration are required. You can’t jump right into your first self-haircut and get the expected result in 30 minutes, since whether hair cutting or fading is an art. Take things slowly and focus on all the details to get the best results.

Above are essential tips and steps on how to do a fade haircut with clippers step by step at home. We hope the article can clarify your inquiries and get you more confident about doing your first self-fade haircut.

Lee Cantor

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

2 thoughts on “How To Do A Fade Haircut With Clippers Step By Step (Beginner’s Guide)

  1. Thank you so much. This only did not give me the base knowledge to understand fading. It gave me motivation and a will to take the time and learn the art of cutting hair.

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