The buzz cut taper style has grown in popularity massively over the last few years. Men’s grooming is a field in which trends tend to skyrocket over quite a short space of time. This style is no different.
One of its main advantages is its ability to work in formal contexts while still retaining a distinctly modern and urban edge. There are very few other styles that can pull this off.
Although the term seems to be on the lips of most men in barbershops these days, it’s still the source of a huge amount of confusion.
The main reason for this is the definition itself. What exactly is a taper and is it different to a fade? A poor understanding between you and your barber could mean the difference between getting a haircut you love or one that you hate.
Of course, there are many of you out there looking to DIY this. The buzz cut taper does also carry the benefit of being very simple to trim yourself. But it’s still definitely worth knowing what a “taper” really is.
This is one of the questions we’ll be delving deeper into in this article. I’ll then go on to discuss some of the key benefits of the style, hopefully helping you decide whether or not it’s the one for you.
Let’s get to it.
Is There A Difference Between A Buzz Cut Taper And A Fade?
Technically, no there isn’t. It’s best to think of a “taper” as a type of fade. A “fade” is the gradual increase in length from the borders of the haircut upward.
The sides and back are very commonly faded. A “skin fade” would consist of a “zero” cut at the border gradually increasing in length as you go upward. The level at which this fade starts to appear could be low (around the top of the ear), high (around the temples) or medium (in between the two).
But the shortest length doesn’t have to be a zero. The length simply has to very gradually increase upwards.
It’s best to think of a simple “taper” as a very low fade. It often ends at the top of the sideburns. The neckline at the back is also tapered in a similar fashion.
However, you can still see the hairline going around and over the ears, unlike with a fade where this line is removed.
So where does the “buzz cut” part of it come in? Well, a “buzz cut” is an umbrella term that includes a wide variety of styles including the induction cut, crew cut, and the burr cut. The differences would be the topic of a different article.
But ultimately, a buzz cut is a style that’s consists of short hair achieved through the use of a clipper. The hair may be clipped short and equal in all directions and dimensions. Or, there may be a difference in length between the top, sides, and back.
Either way, a “buzz cut with a taper” is any buzz cut style where the edges are tapered in the manner I’ve described above.
A poor understanding of the difference between a taper and a fade is the source of a lot of frustration and arguments between customers and their barbers. Hopefully, this clears it all up.
You may hear different definitions from different people, which is never really helpful. Stick to this definition and it will almost always serve you very well.
Benefits Of The Buzz Cut Taper Style
There are definitely some key benefits to implementing a simple taper to your buzz cut. It doesn’t take long for either yourself or your barber to taper the sides and back. In other words, give you a very low fade.
Here are the main features. Overall, they can be categorized into convenience, ease, maintenance, and versatility.
1. It’s very easy to DIY
I touched upon this point earlier, but it’s important to highlight it in full force. Although it may take some practice, it really isn’t difficult to grab a pair of clippers and add a subtle, very low fade to your sides and back.
There are plenty of online tutorials showing you how to do it. In short, you start short at the borders – as short as you want to go. Yes, even with no guard. You then gradually increase the length going upward using the attachment guards you’ve got available.
Because a taper is a very low fade, you would really only have to go as high as the top of the sideburn to pull it off.
The highest you’d really want to go would be the level of the top of the ear. Go beyond that point and you’re not really looking at a taper anymore – it’s more of a “low fade” as opposed to a “very low fade”.
It’s actually a very useful skill to have. Even if you go the barber to get your taper done, after a few weeks you’ll notice it starting to look a little rough around the edges.
It just won’t look as tight anymore, but you won’t want to go back to the barber to shell out more bucks just yet.
Knowing how to DIY this simple buzz cut taper style will save you a lot of time and money going forward.
2. It’s subtle and versatile
What I love most about this style is just how subtle it really is. It may not be as eye-catching or attention-grabbing as a “high fade”, but it does its job and does it well.
It looks neat, tight, and frames the face extremely well. It does this with minimal effort from either yourself or your barber.
Plus, there are very few contexts in which it wouldn’t be considered professional. It’s no secret that there are certain workplaces, for instance, corporate workplaces, where a high fade probably wouldn’t be welcome.
But a simple, tapered buzz cut would work well in even the most formal of contexts. At the same time, it’s modern and casual enough to be considered edgy.
Whether it’s a wedding or a job interview, you could quietly yet confidently skate through without having to wonder whether “this is appropriate”.
It’s this versatility that makes it such a popular style among men looking for a way to sharpen up and modernize their style without potentially jeopardizing a professional obligation.
It works, and it works in many different situations. This may or may not be important to you. Part of the beauty of men’s grooming is that it’s an opportunity to express yourself without caring much about the opinions of others.
But at the same time, versatility and universal acceptance do carry a huge advantage. Just something to think about, that’s all.
3. It works great with a beard
A great way to turn up the masculinity a few notches would be to grow out the facial fur. Although a tapered buzz cut does work well for many men, for some, it can make them look younger than they would have liked.
There’s a boyish element to a fade that some men may prefer not to have. A great way to counter this problem would be to grow a beard and taper the buzz cut into the beard.
Let me explain.
No matter how long the beard may be, as you go upward toward the sideburn, it can be faded going from long to short.
Once you pass the mid-sideburn level, it can be tapered into the buzz cut in the same way as above.
It’s a great way to transition gradually from a beard into a buzz cut using a taper as a bridge. This effect may be quite tricky to achieve, so a visit to a barber is definitely recommended, especially for the first few times.
But for men looking for a masculine way to rock a buzz cut taper, the addition of a beard may be exactly what’s needed. Give it a go and see for yourself.
4. It grows out neater
You may have noticed that you can really only enjoy a haircut in the same way you did when you first got it for a week or so. After that, the tell-tale signs of ragged growth do start to crop up.
This is particularly obvious at the borders. The sideburns are a key culprit. After a couple of weeks, they’ll start to look bushy, fuzzy, unkempt, or untidy.
It’ll start to distort the overall shape of your haircut, and will probably lead you to get another haircut sooner than you would have otherwise liked to.
Tapering your buzz cut is a simple way to extend the life of your buzz cut. The simple act of giving yourself a very low fade is a great way to ensure the borders stay tighter for longer.
The sideburns won’t grow out bushy as soon as they otherwise would have. Once again, this will save you time and money. It’ll look better, for longer.
Buzz Cut Vs Tapered Buzz Cut
As a buzz cut could refer to several different styles it’s different to compare them with accuracy.
But we can assume that a simple buzz cut, as opposed to a tapered buzz cut, is one where there isn’t a very low fade or any fade whatsoever for that matter.
With a straightforward, non-tapered buzz cut, the sides are not faded at all. The military-style induction cut comes to mind.
As you can see, the sides are not tapered. Using a pair of trimmers, the hair is trimmed to an equal, short length in all directions.
So, does this carry any benefit over a tapered buzz cut?
Well, some may say that it does. For example, an induction cut is even easier to DIY. Running a pair of clippers over your head in all directions is easier without having to taper the sideburns afterward.
It’s very difficult to mess up a standard, induction-style buzz cut when you’re doing it yourself. Although a taper is the most straightforward type of fade you can have, it still does carry the risk of messing it up.
Plus, it could be argued that having no taper at all is more professional and clinical-looking than a tapered buzz cut. But this is, of course, up for debate and ultimately down to personal opinion.
But overall, if you’re looking for a simple, possibly more versatile style that’s definitely easier to DIY, a non-tapered buzz cut may be better for you.
Frequently Asked Question(s)
I’ve only included one here, with the possibility of adding more in the future. But this one is so commonly asked that I had to break it down as clearly as possible. This is mainly because the question itself is fraught with errors.
Hopefully, the information I’ve given you above has allowed you to already see why.
Difference Between Low Taper Buzz Cut And A High Taper Buzz Cut?
As I explained above. A “taper” is a very low fade usually extending up as far as the top of the sideburn.
If the level of the fade extends beyond the point of the top of the ear, it should no longer be labeled a taper. You should start just calling it a “fade” – either a low, high, or medium fade.
A very low fade is a taper.
Apologies if this is being drilled in relentlessly. I feel as though understanding this difference is the main point of this article.
Hopefully, the difference is so very clear now that you’ll be able to march confidently into your barbershop knowing exactly what type of haircut you want.
This will save time, money, heartache, and arguments. You’re welcome!
The buzz cut taper style is increasing in popularity exponentially. It’s becoming more and more mainstream by the day.
Men you’d never think would ever go near a faded hairstyle with a barge pole are wearing a taper with pride and confidence.
You’ve read and seen what it looks like. You’ve learned what makes it so great, and why it may potentially be the style for you.
Consider this a complete guide to the tapered buzz cut. A very specific type of fade that you’ll never be confused by again.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.