There are four different types of fades in regards to men's haircuts. They can be classified as executive, low, medium and high. Each fade exits the head slightly higher than the one before it.
Fades and tapers can often be confused for each other, but the difference is distinct. Both are techniques which will enhance the faceted look of a man's profile, but only the fade will create scalp exposure. A fade is always a taper, but a taper is not always a fade.
When determining the proper height for a fade, begin by analyzing the client's head shape. Men with a protruding occipital bone would benefit from a lower fade, which can help to disguise bone structure. Men with flatter bone structure may desire a higher taper, creating the illusion of roundness in the back of the head.
The definitions of fade are as follows:
Executive: The lowest taper. The fade will stop halfway between the nape and bottom of the occipital bone. This is the most popular fade amongst businessmen, as it creates a polished and professional look.
Low: The second taper. The fade will stop just beneath the occipital bone, before the head begins to protrude.
Medium: The third taper. The fade will stop just above the occipital bone.
High: The fourth and highest taper. The fade will continue until at least halfway between the occipital bone and the curve at the crown of the head. It can sometimes continue all the way up the flat of the head to the crown, but should never continue past the curve at the crown, or the head could take on a rounded, feminine look. This fade has classically been most popular amongst military personnel.