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How Long Do Fades Take? [Skin, Low, Mid, Taper]

Squeezing a haircut into a busy day can be made even harder when you don’t know how long it will take. So, how long does a fade take? 

A fade will take approximately 30 to 40 minutes. The higher the fade and the shorter the fade, the longer it will generally take. Skin fades can take up to 45 minutes, simply due to the shaving requirement. 

That’s the short answer, but let’s dig deeper. 

I’ll go through the key factors that determine how long a fade should take to really help you know what to expect. 

Then, I’ll go through some specific fade types and estimates of how long they’ll take too. 

buzz cut with mid fade
Image From Deposit Photos

5 Factors That Influence How Long A Fade Takes

Consider these factors and how they relate to your specific hair when figuring out how long it’s likely to take. 

1. Barber Experience

The experience your barber has is probably the most important thing to consider. 

It will probably come as no surprise that barbers that have been fading for decades will be able to finish fades quicker than a newbie. 

Experience definitely matters. That’s not to say that new barbers won’t do a good job – it’s just that it’ll probably take them longer to achieve it. 

An experienced barber will be quicker at completing all aspects of the fade. This includes the wash, the initial consult, the haircut itself, getting the payment processed, and cleaning up afterward. 

It all adds up. 

The initial consult is where the barber gets the instructions from the client and maybe gives a few of his own suggestions as well. 

An experienced barber will usually be able to successfully figure out what a client really wants quicker than a less experienced one. 

They’ll require less of a discussion before they start cutting. 

Overall, it’s something to consider if you’re looking to get that fade done quicker. 

2. Wash Included

Not all haircuts include a wash. If they do, you can expect to add a few minutes onto that fade. 

There’s not much more to say here. 

Just know that full wash will take longer than a few spritzes of water from a barber’s spray bottle. 

If you’re in a hurry, consider skipping the wash and going for barber spray instead. 

3. Fade Length

The shorter the fade, the longer you can expect it to take. 

The shortness of the fade is determined by how short the shortest length is at the bottom of the sides and back. 

The shorter this length is, the more time it’ll take to blend into the longer lengths further up. 

For example, a skin fade or a zero fade will take longer than a 1 fade or a 2 fade, simply because more effort will be required to blend the lengths into each other. 

With a skin fade, the barber will most likely have to blend the shaved area into a #0, into a #1, into a #1.5, into a #2, and maybe even more lengths as you go further up. 

The shorter the length you’re starting off with at the bottom, the more clipper guards you’ll need to go through to eventually blend everything gradually into the longest length at the top of the sides and back. 

Fades take longer than regular short-back-and-sides haircuts because the barber needs to fade out any harsh lines in between the different lengths. 

That’s what gives the fade its typical blurred appearance. It’s the seamless blending of different lengths. 

4. Fade Height

In general, the higher the fade, the longer it’ll take. 

This isn’t quite as important as the length of the fade, but it still makes a bit of a difference. 

Fades can be split into “tapers”, “low”, “mid”, and “high”. 

A taper fade is the lowest fade. It usually doesn’t go higher than around the top of the sideburn. As a result, it looks very subtle. 

Low fades reach around half an inch above the ear, mid fades around an inch above the ear, and high fades around the level of the temples. 

A high fade will take longer than a taper. With tapers, you’re trimming such a small section of the sides down to its shortest length before starting the transition into longer lengths. 

With a high fade, you’re trimming most of the sides and back down to the shortest length. 

High skin fades will take a long time because you’re literally having to shave so much of the sides and back down before seamlessly blending it into longer hair. 

High fades will also generally take a little longer than mid fades and mid fades a little longer than low fades. 

Overall, the shortness of the fade is more important when it comes to the time it takes, but don’t ignore the fade height. 

5. Rest Of The Style

I’ve listed this factor last, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the least important. In fact, in some instances, it can be very important. 

Remember, a “fade” is simply a feature you can get at the sides and back. It doesn’t tell you anything about the hair you’ve got on top. 

In fact, a fade can be included in practically any style you can think of – ranging from buzz cuts to pompadours and everything in between. 

But let’s just take those two examples to highlight the point. 

As you can imagine, a buzz cut with a fade will be a lot quicker than a pompadour with a fade. 

While the fade will add on some time, the buzz cut itself may just take around 10 to 15 minutes. 

Compare that with a pompadour – it’ll take more time to get the cut, the shape, and the texture right. A buzz cut may include the exact same fade (in terms of length and height), but a pompadour will take longer simply because of the hair on top. 

So, the point here is – it isn’t all about the fade. It really depends on what else you want to do with your overall style. 

Specific Fades And Their Average Times

Those were the factors that influence how long a fade takes. A common question, however, is exactly how long someone should expect specific fades to take. 

More specifically – skin fades, tapers, low fades, mid fades, and high fades. 

Here are those estimates. Just remember, however, that with each of them you’ll also need to consider the factors I listed earlier. 

Skin Fade

The average skin fade takes approximately 40 to 45 minutes. They take longer than normal fades because the barber will need to shave a portion down completely before gradually blending it into multiple different lengths further up the sides and back. 

A barber will often tell you how skin fades are what cause their appointments to run over and slow down their day. 

temple fade
Image From Shutterstock

This is especially true if the barbershop doesn’t allow extra time for skin fades. 

As always, the height of the fade and the experience of the barber will also make a big difference here. 

High skin fades will take longer than low skin fades, simply because more of the sides and back are being shaved down. 

A more experienced barber will be able to get a clean finish to their skin fade in a shorter amount of time than a less experienced one. 

But on average, allow 40 minutes for a skin fade and be pleasantly surprised if you finish 5 minutes before that. 

Taper Fade

A taper fade haircut will take approximately 25 to 30 minutes. As the taper itself is so subtle, it generally won’t add more than 5 minutes to the overall haircut. 

The hair on top is more important than the taper itself when it comes to the length of time it takes. 

Taper fades generally don’t extend higher than approximately the top of the sideburns. So, most of the sides and back are simply trimmed down to the same length. 

If you’re looking for a subtle fade that really won’t take very long for a barber to trim, a taper fade would be a good option. 

Low Fade

A low fade haircut will take approximately 30 to 35 minutes. As they usually don’t reach higher than around half an inch above the ear, they’re typically quicker than mid fades and high fades. However, a low skin fade should be expected to take up to 40 minutes. 

With low fades, only a small portion of the sides and back is trimmed down to the shortest length before gradually transitioning into longer lengths further up. 

low fade haircut
Image From Deposit Photos

They’re subtle, but not quite as subtle as a taper fade. 

They also won’t be as quick as a taper fade, because you’re trimming more of the sides and back down to the shortest length. 

Remember, the shorter you go, the longer the low fade will take. A low skin fade will take longer than a low 1 fade or a low 2 fade. 

Mid Fade

A mid fade haircut will take approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Around half of the sides and back will be clipped down to the shortest length before gradually blending into longer lengths. Mid skin fades will take closer to 40 minutes due to the shaving requirement. 

Mid fades usually reach around an inch above the ear. 

mid fade example
Image From Deposit Photos

When you get to this sort of fade height, a significant portion of the sides and back are clipped down to the shortest length. Overall, it’ll take longer than a simple taper or low fade for this reason alone. 

When you get to this sort of fade height, the fade itself becomes a more prominent part of the overall hairstyle.

Because of this, the barber will most likely need to pay more attention to it and ensure it blends well with the haircut as a whole. 

Of course, having to cut a more complex style up top (eg. pompadour) will take longer than if you were going for a simple buzz cut with a mid fade. 

In addition, including line-ups and patterns will also add to the overall time as well. 

But in general, the average mid fade haircut will take around 35 to 40 minutes

High Fade

A high fade will take approximately 40 minutes. Most of the sides and back are trimmed down to the shortest length before gradually transitioning into longer lengths. It will generally take longer than lower fades. You should allow up to 45 minutes for a high skin fade. 

High fades are a pretty high-intensity haircut for a barber, simply because they’re tough to get right/easy to mess up. 

It’s a pretty bold and in-your-face look no matter what the overall style you’re going for is. 

Get it wrong and you’re waiting a while before it grows back too – it’s not something a good barber is going to rush through. 


There you have it. Hopefully, everything you need to estimate how long your fade is going to take. 

As you can see, there are several factors to consider. 

Knowing how long it’ll take isn’t just useful for time management. 

It should also make clients more understanding if their barber runs over on time. Fades can take a while when they’re being done properly.