There is no greater feeling than a great fade. You leave the barbershop and feel so good, you could float home. You look in the mirror and suddenly, your entire face looks different. Even your clothes look brand new.
Then, just a few days later, you look in the mirror and the magic is gone. So, how can you prolong that fresh cut feeling?
I asked DC The Barber from famed Bay Area lifestyle boutique, barber shop and art gallery MASSIVE for his personal tips and tricks to keep your fade looking fresh between cuts and this is what he said.
Stay on top of the three evils – neck hair, ear hair, eye brow hair.
“No matter how good or bad your fade is, if you have messed up neck hair, a ton of ear hair, or even a unibrow, nobody is even going to look at your fade. You have to stay on top of all of those areas. Or, the fade will actually highlight the areas you didn’t consider. And this goes for ladies with a side cut or a fade as well; no one is immune. The fade, and any haircut, is part of an overall look that you want to convey. And that look is the sum of all of those moving parts. Get it – parts? A little barber joke for ya! Make sure all those other areas are tight as well, and you’ll get more mileage out of your cut. Even just getting your neck hair trimmed into shape will buy you a few more days before you need another fresh cut.”
With that in mind, don’t be afraid to touch it up yourself.
“A fade really only looks fresh for about three days. Use a razor, a regular one like a Gillette Mach 3 or whatever you shave with, to just kind of touch it up. You don’t want to cut into the line work or haircut itself, but you do want to clean it up. I’d stay right under all those pre-defined lines. But if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, any good barber should be happy to tighten you up between cuts for a couple of bucks. Using a razor yourself is the one thing that you can do to stay fresh without having to spend more money to get a touch up and to keep your look clean. You can’t buy new shoes all the time and you can’t pay to go to the barbershop every day, either.”
Learn how to use a straight razor.
“I’ve been teaching some of my clients how to use a straight razor on themselves, which I attribute to the whole beard and comb over look that is so popular right now. People want to learn how to straight razor their own face to start, and then progressively get into line work. It’s all about how much you trust yourself. If you’ve been trimming up your hair or have any experience, you can do it fairly easily.”
It doesn’t matter if you have a fade design or a classic look. What matters is the right look.
“90% of the time, clients ask for the wrong things. You always want to meet the balance between satisfying what the client wants, compared to what their hair is capable of. I had an African-American client bring me a picture of soccer player David Beckham. And he wanted a Beckham faux-hawk with the long hair on top. I was like, ‘Buddy, I hate to tell you this but your hair is not exactly capable of this style. But I do have a couple of suggestions that will work.’ And he said, ‘I trust you. Just do it.’ So, I started fading the sides, then shaping the tip and it turned out to be a perfect faux-hawk. This guy almost cried. You’ve got people walking around with your artwork on them and you want them to look their best. Don’t be afraid to ask your barber or stylist what he or she thinks is the best look for you.”
The right products prolong, and pronounce, a great cut.
“For my clients, I’m only interested in what works. I’m really fond of Elegance USA products. It’s a fairly new line, but they offer a complete line of hair and shaving products. The Elegance Plus Shaving Gel is my go-to. Depending on how you have the hair on top of your cut, you’ll want to find a really strong pomade, paste or styling gel because it makes the fade look more pronounced. I prefer extra-hold, but it depends on personal preference and style.”
Written by Paul Eide
Paul has been creating men’s lifestyle content since Justin Timberlake had a perm and highlights. His writing and photography has been featured in AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bullz-Eye and Male Standard. For best practice tips and tricks on successful soul patch maintenance, connect with him on Twitter (@EidePaul), Instagram (@PaulEide80), and Facebook.