Bad Fade vs Good Fade: Understanding the Key Differences in Haircuts

So, do you wish to know the difference between a bad fade vs good fade?

If this is you, you’re in the right place for answers. 

In this article, we’ll go through:

  • A full detailed breakdown of the types of fades.
  • The top three signs that show your barber has created a HORRIBLE fade 
  • Common mistakes most rookie barbers make could leave you with a hard line 
  • The best steps you can take to fix a bad fade, improve aNd maintain it

With that said, let’s dive straight into it.

Key Takeaways

  • A fade haircut involves gradually tapering hair, requiring precision for a seamless transition.
  • Different types of fades exist; identifying a good one depends on the smoothness and consistency.
  • Familiarity with common mistakes and maintenance tips can help maintain a flawless fade appearance.

Bad Fade vs Good Fade

There are numerous types of fades to suit your style.

The main ones include low, mid, and high fades, each with their unique characteristics. 

A low fade typically starts right above the ear, while a mid fade begins a couple of inches above this point. 



High fades start at the highest point of the head, creating a dramatic contrast between the short and long hair sections.

@classcutwatford_  - Mid Drop Fade


Identifying a good fade from a bad one mainly lies in the smoothness and consistency of the transition.

  • A good fade should display no visible lines or steps between hair lengths.(MAKE THIS A TIP BOX). 

While achieving the perfect fade might sound challenging (for some, not me), becoming familiar with the common mistakes and attributes of a good fade can help you avoid ending up with a bad haircut. 

Learning how to fix any mishaps and understanding maintenance tips will ensure your fade remains impeccable for as long as possible.

We go over this next. 

Understanding Fades

(Naomi Hirana, 2023)

The image above clearly shows how a fade should look.

Fades are a popular hairstyle for men, characterised by a gradual transition from short hair at the bottom to longer hair on the top. – Tip Box  

When done correctly, a fade can be a stylish and versatile haircut. However, finding the right fade may be difficult at first as there are many different types, with certain types of fades better suited to you depending on the shape of your head!

Take for example this drop fade: 

(Mikefadez_, 2023)

It demonstrates a perfectly executed fade.

Also like this mid-fade:

(Anthxnynolimit, 2023)

This is a mid drop skin fade showing you the fading technique, complemented with pinpoint beard and hairline shaping.

(Bakes, 2021) 

What Is a High Fade?

A high fade is a popular and modern haircut for men that features an aggressive transition from short hair on the sides and back to longer hair on top (As shown above)

The defining factor of the ‘high’ fade is that it reaches up above the midway line between the temples and the tops of the ears.

This means that most of the hair on the sides is extremely short, which usually makes for an eye-catching haircut.

The high fade can be combined with various styles on top, such as a messy quiff, a high drop fade, a choppy textured French crop, a buzz cut, a brush back, a brush up, a crew cut, or fluffy short hair. It can also be combined with a slick back, a taper, a quiff, a skin shave, or an undercut.

Whether you want a short, medium, or long men’s hairstyle, choosing the right fade can make all the difference. 

This is what a fade SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE!

(Chris Hobbs, 2021)

Showing one of 30 of the WORST Haircuts for Men. This is the result of either not sticking to the full proof fading process or just bad decision-making… but we will talk more about bad fading later on.

Characteristics Of Bad Fades

A bad fade may look uneven, have noticeable lines, or not blend with your hair’s natural pattern. 

It might not align with the shape of your head or grow out quickly, leaving you with an unpolished appearance.

When choosing a fade, consult with a skilled barber who can assess your hair type, growth pattern, and facial structure to create the perfect fade for you. 

(Mona, 2023)

Image above shows an increasingly Popular Taper Fade suitable for Various Hair Types, one of them being Curly Hair.

A good barber should be able to recommend the best fade style based on your preferences and daily routine.

Remember, communication is key when it comes to achieving the fade you want. Make your desired outcome clear to your barber and don’t hesitate to ask questions or share concerns during the process. 

By understanding the different types of fades and working with a skilled professional, you can achieve a haircut that not only looks great but is easy to maintain and suited to your personal style.

Differentiating Bad Fade from Good Fade

(Nasty_CSA, 2018)

Both these images demonstrate a complete contrast in terms of quality haircuts. Above shows an example of a bad or poor fade. Below, an example of a perfect blend!

(Victoria B. W, 2022)

In order to achieve the perfect fade haircut, it’s crucial to understand the differences between a bad fade and a good fade.

Firstly, you should always take your facial structure into consideration when selecting a fade. 

Different types of fades are better suited for different face shapes and structures (As I’ve said multiple times before!) 

Good Fade

TransitionA good fade should feature a seamless transition from short to long hair, creating a gradual blend.
EvennessEach section of the fade should maintain consistency in length and texture, ensuring a balanced look.
PrecisionPrecision is key in a good fade, with clean lines and sharp edges that demonstrate careful attention to detail.
LevelThe fade level should be chosen appropriately based on personal preference and facial structure for a flattering result.
VersatilityA good fade should be versatile, complementing various hairstyles and allowing for easy styling options.

Common Mistakes in a Fade Haircut

There are 3 Major Common Mistakes you MUST Avoid when Fading Hair as this can be the difference between perfectly Fading Hair or a not-so-great look…

Uneven Fade Levels


One common mistake in a fade haircut is having uneven levels. This results in a choppy, inconsistent look. 

To avoid this, it’s crucial to use the right tools, such as sharp scissors and sharp hair clippers that aren’t blunt.

These are my  top picks for the Bests Cordless Hair Clippers which are great tools out of the box for creating seamless blends. 

    Additionally, practice and experience play a significant role in achieving a seamless fade.

    Uneven fade lines are easy to notice however 9 times out of 10 next key point is the main reason why a fade may be classed as bad.

    Poor Transition


    A poor transition in a fade haircut occurs when the blending of hair lengths is not smooth or seamless. This can obviously create an abrupt, unprofessional appearance. 

    To ensure a smooth fade, it’s essential to pay attention to the subtleties in hair length and to use the appropriate attachment sizes when using clippers. Roles and uses of different attachments have been detailed on the website.

    Always start with a higher guard number and gradually transition to lower numbers as you move down the sides of the head. 

    In turn, this will give you the gradual fade effect without any sudden jumps in hair length and it allows for less punishing mistakes.

    Not Considering the Client’s Head Shape

    Another common mistake is not considering the client’s head and face shape when creating a fade haircut. 

    We have discussed head shape numerous times to put into perspective how important it is for you to find your befitting style.

     A well-executed fade haircut should be personalised to the client, taking into account factors such as face shape and hair type. 

    For instance, a high fade might accentuate a long face, whereas a low fade would be more suitable for someone with a rounder face shape. 

    Attributes of a Good Fade

    “Rule of thumb with fades is you should never see a line.” – My personal thoughts (Tip box this) 

    Smooth Transitions

    A good fade should have a smooth, gradual transition from short to long hair. This seamless blending of lengths creates a visually appealing look. 

    Be sure your barber has steady hands and sharp scissors and clippers to achieve this effect.

    Consistent Length Graduation

    When it comes to fades, consistency is key. The length of the hair should gradually increase from bottom to top, without any sudden jumps or gaps.

    This consistent length graduation contributes to the overall polished appearance of a well-done fade.

    Fixing a Bad Fade

    Reassessing the Fade Levels

    One of the first steps to fixing a bad fade is to reassess the fade levels.

     If the fade is uneven, you may need to go for a higher fade than originally intended to correct the issue.

    When it comes to fixing a bad fade, do NOT hesitate to ask your barber for help, especially when dealing with uneven lines. 

    They can adjust the lines and possibly go for a higher fade than you initially wanted to achieve a more balanced look, this option beats having a dodgy fade any day of the week… even if it’s not what you initially wanted. Beggar can’t be choosers 🙂 

    Improving Transitions

    Another crucial step in fixing a bad fade is to improve the transitions between the different hair lengths. 

    Now that you have set a new hair level. You can now focus on creating the fade (slow progressive transitions). 

    If your unsure on who to facade hair using your hair clippers, lever and guards. Check out this guide below on how to do so:

    Maintenance Tips for a Good Fade

    The initial cut is just the start! Maintaining is long term…

    This section will provide some essential maintenance tips you WILL want to know to help you look your best for a longer period.

    Regular Haircuts

    To maintain a good fade, it’s important to have regular haircuts every 3-4 weeks. 

    This will help preserve the shape of the fade as your hair grows and prevent the hairstyle from looking unkempt. 

    Regular trimming also helps remove split ends and promotes healthier hair growth.

    Proper Hair Care

    Proper hair care is essential for keeping your fade looking fresh and healthy. Here are some tips for maintaining your fade:

    • Washing: Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo and conditioner 2-3 times a week to remove dirt and product buildup without stripping the hair of its natural oils.
    • Drying: Avoid rubbing your hair vigorously with a towel, as this can cause frizz and damage. Instead, gently pat your hair dry with a soft, absorbent towel or let it air dry.
    • Brushing: Use a wide-tooth comb or a brush with soft bristles to detangle and style your hair. This helps prevent breakage and minimise frizz and flatten your fade
    • Protecting: Protect your hair from excess heat and sun exposure by wearing hats or using heat protectant sprays when using styling tools.

    By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your fade looking sharp and stylish. Remember that consistency in your hair care routine is the key to ensuring that your fade remains in top shape.


    By now, you should have a better understanding of the differences between a Bad Fade and a Good Fade. 

    To ensure the best possible fade, be sure to communicate your preferences with your barber and trust their expert advice. 

    A skilled barber will be able to match your desired style with your facial structure and create a personalised fade that looks impressive.

    Remember, practice makes perfect – so if you’re not satisfied with your fade at first, don’t be discouraged.

     It may take a few visits to the barber to achieve the perfect fade for you. Stay confident in your choices, and soon, you’ll be rocking a fade that not only looks great but also showcases your unique sense of style.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How can one recognize a poorly executed fade?

    Well, naturally people will be inclined to tell you (if you are in denial) however in the section “Common mistakes in Bad Haircuts” above we guide you into recognising the 3 key mistakes for a poorly executed fade.

    How to fix a bad fade haircut?

    To fix a bad fade haircut, you may need to visit a professional barber who specialises in fades.  You can assess the current state of your haircut and determine the best course of action to correct the unevenness or blending issues.

    What maintenance tips are there for ensuring a longer-lasting fade?

    To keep your fade looking fresh, it’s essential to maintain regular visits to your barber, usually every 2-4 weeks.  Additionally, investing in quality hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners designed for your hair type can help prolong the life of your fade haircut. For some types, sleeping with a protective cover on your head or having silk pillows will prevent hair breakages which will also play a part in your hair appearance. 

    Teddy Adjado

    Teddy Adjado

    Meet Teddy, a passionate barber enthusiast with an insatiable curiosity for the art of grooming. Eager to elevate his craft, Teddy is on a dedicated journey to sharpen his knowledge on clippers and trimmers. With a keen eye for precision and a deep appreciation for the nuances of barbering, he explores the world of grooming tools with enthusiasm and a commitment to excellence.