How to Cut a Shadow Fade

by Candace N. Smith ; Updated September 28, 2017

Shadow fade haircuts are a clean cut option for businessmen.

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Men looking to maintain a clean cut look often go with shorter hairstyles. The fade haircut is a popular choice among African American men. A shadow fade is a hairstyle, which means hair is longer on the top of the head and then gradually gets lighter and shorter as the hair gets closer to the nape of the neck. Special emphasis is given to the lining up of the hair. A skilled barber is needed to create this hairstyle.

Determine where the fade lines will go. Planning how the hair will be cut is essential in doing a shadow fade. Cutting too much hair in the wrong places will mess up the style.

Trim longer hair off the top using sharp scissors. Depending on how long the original hair is cut, use scissors on longer parts of the hair. The closer to the head the hair is the better.

Begin cutting the hair upwards from the bottom of the hairline with the hair clippers. When the first fade line is reached, cut at an angle bringing the clippers towards you. Don’t cut off too much hair as the hair will need to be faded out not cut completely off.

Continue to cut the hair upwards cutting at an angle when fade lines are reached. The width of the head will need to be done prior to beginning fading.

Change the clipper gauges to a shorter comb to begin fading the next layer of hair down. The shorter clipper gauge will allow the hair to be trimmed closer to the scalp.

Comb through the hair to get rid of excess hair. Use scissors to trim hair around the ears and back of the neck into a straight line.

Continue using the shorter comb gauge to fade the hair lighter and shorter. The hair should be getting lighter, and the scalp should be slightly visible toward the nape of the neck. The faint layer of hair will give the illusion of a shadow.

Take a straight razor or the clippers without a gauge and trim the hairline in a straight line. The line should be continuously straight all around the head, behind the ears, at the hairline and on sideburns.

Spray alcohol solution lightly all over the head. This will help prevent bumps and skin irritation. Oil sheen spray can also be used to add shine.


  • Make sure hair is cut behind the ear and not just at the top of the ear. A straightedge should be used to ensure the hairline is cut in a perfect line. Talc powder can be used in place of alcohol for less irritation.

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About the Author

Candace N. Smith is a fashion and business writer in New York. Beginning her writing career in 2007, her work has appeared in various fashion publications including "Kouture Magazine." Graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion marketing from American InterContinental University, Los Angeles, she's taken her experience in fashion, marketing and brand management, and shares that knowledge in her writing.