Fade Haircut

Stylist while fading hair with clippers
Photo: Shutterstock
Q: How do you fade with clippers?
A: A "fade" is a gradual increasing or decreasing in the length of the hair, and is specifically used in very short hairstyles. Generally, a fade haircut is worn by men, but the technique is also used in some women's hairstyles.
Many stylists and barbers use length guards of decreasing depth to slowly graduate the length of the hair. Once they've reached the shortest length attainable with a guard, they may use the adjustable guide plate of the clippers themselves.
There is also the clippers-over-comb technique, where the stylist/barber uses a barbering comb (denoted by a wider end and a tapered end which has very finely spaced and short teeth) to create the tapering effect.
With practice, some barbers and stylists can reach a level of proficiency where they can create a fade taper freehand, but most still use a barbering comb to prevent errors. For the shortest portions of the taper, the comb is laid against the scalp to create an angle, and the clippers are glided across the comb to remove the hairs following this angle.
The fade is most easily created on coarse, wiry, and thick hair, because this hair has more structure and stands out more prominently from the scalp. Fine, soft or thin hair is the most difficult hair with which to create a fade because it bends so easily, even at the shortest of lengths. Fine and thin hair rarely looks flattering when cut with such severe tapering anyway, so this is usually not an issue.
The fade is not a hairstyle that can be created by an individual on himself. And if you are interested in practicing the techniques to create a fade hairstyle, you need either willing subjects who won't be upset by errors, or you can contact your local cosmetology schools to see if any of the students have used manikins with hair that is too short to use for their classwork any longer.
Some of the students will be willing to simply give you these manikins, and at the very least you should be able to purchase them for a very low price compared to the cost of a new manikin from a beauty supply store.
See also:
Clipper cutting techniques
What exactly is a box fade and how do you do one?
Are there any certain clippers, guards, or scissors to use when tapering a man's hair?
What is a flatliner made for and how should I use it?