Q: What exactly is a box fade and how do you do one?
A: The box fade haircut is one of several “fade haircut” variants. The fade haircut features closely-clippered sides and back that
taper as the hair progresses downward along the scalp. At the bottom of the haircut the hair is virtually shaved. The impression
created is that the hair “fades” as your eye moves downward.
The “box fade” variant is primarily used for men with very curly or kinky hair. (The style was
very popular in the late 80s and early 90s among African-American rap music artists and Motown groups of the period.) What
differentiates the ‘box fade’ from other fade styles is the finish of the hair at the top of the head.
In a box fade haircut, the hair above the parietal ridge is cut in a beveled rectangular shape
that has corners at the corners of the head. The length on top is typically around 1 to 1-1/2 inches and the very top of the cut is
leveled into a flattop, or cut to follow the curvature of the top of the skull.
To properly execute the box fade, you will need clippers and an edger/trimmer that is adjustable
to allow you to cut the hair to a near-shaved length. To cut the hair you can use the clippers with a length guard to cut the hair on
the sides and back to approximately 3/16ths of an inch (about 1 cm) keeping the cutting line vertical as you progress upward past the
parietal ridge. Repeat the cutting process, switching to a shorter length guard, and stopping approximately ½ inch from the parietal ridge.
Continue in this manner using shorter and shorter lengths as you progress downward. Be sure to
blend the lengths so that the changing length of the hair is very gradual. Once the lower portion of the haircut is complete, return
to the top of the head and create your “box”. Cut the top of the head in the desired manner – either following the curve of the scalp
or flattened off to a 1-inch length. Use a barbering comb to create the bevels on the sides and back of the head. Leave the hairline at the forehead natural.
The cut can be adjusted to suit an individual’s head shape and/or personal tastes. Some prefer
their “fades” to be super short with the “shaved lengths” nearly halfway up the sides of the head, while others prefer a less
dramatic look and a more gradual taper.