Do you know the secret to an amazing selfie? Of course you do! Appropriate lighting, a good angle that shows off your best features, a stunning outfit, and a cool background. But what about your hairstyle? This could be the one element that makes the difference between just another selfie and one that really stands out. And what style could be better for a truly remarkable selfie than a high top fade?
It’s retro, cool, has tons of personality, and it’s here to make you look like your best self! Scroll all the way to the bottom to read about the history of the high top fade, tips on how to style and maintain it and how you can make it look fresh and modern!
What Is the High Top Fade?
As usual, let’s begin by explaining what this haircut really is. Simply put, the high top fade is a hairstyle with the faded sides and back as you might have imagined given its name. The top however, is very high and shaped like a cylinder or a tube. Which is why the haircut can be easily confused with the box haircut.
There are no rules when it comes to the height of the haircut. This means you can go as low or as high with it as you want, as long as the hairstyle has the same cylindrical shape on top. However, the sides and back must be a high fade. There are no low or medium fades allowed here. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a high fade, of course!
The History of the High Top Fade
Now that we’re clear on what the high top fade is and what rules you must follow if you want to get it, let’s find out more about its origins.
You might be surprised to learn that, even though today the high top fade is mostly considered a masculine hairstyle, the first person to bring it to the attention of the public was a woman. We’re talking about Grace Jones. Of course, she might not have invented it herself, but she was definitely the one who made this haircut iconic.
Back in 1980, supermodel and singer Grace Jones released an album called Warm Leatherette. The covert art was designed by her boyfriend at the time, Jean-Paul Goude. It was a super powerful image of Jones herself, pregnant but having a distinct androgynous look and wearing, of course, what would become known as the high top fade.
It wasn’t long before this strong look was picked up by the rappers of the age. Doug E. Fresh and Schoolly D started wearing seminal versions of the high top fade in 1986. But they didn’t really have all the precision and geometry we have come to associate this hairstyle with today. Still, we can call them the grandfathers of the high top fade, which makes them very important to us.
The modern high top fade appeared for the first time in 1987 in Salt-N-Pepa’s video for Tramp. If you watch it, you will see the dancers in the background sporting this haircut. It can serve as a cool source of inspiration if you want to get a really traditional or original high top fade.
Will Smith and the High Top Fade
Out of all these pop references, though, the one you will find most familiar is the following. We are quite sure you have seen an original high top fade being worn by none other than Will Smith during The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In fact, Will Smith even talks about wearing this haircut in the first season of the sitcom.
Taking the High Top Fade to New Levels
As the 90s rolled in, people who wore the high top fade started adding more unconventional elements to it that made it even more interesting than it already was. For example, Jodeci, an RnB group was famous for wearing slits and designs which many men still imitate even today.
But what really caught everyone’s eye during that decade was the braided high top fade. It was introduced by some of the most famous faces of the 90s. Names included De la Soul, a hip hop group, and Def Jef, an MC from the so-called Golden Age.
But what did this hairstyle exactly entail? Well, it was a high top fade like we were already used to seeing in the 80s, except that instead of the usual box cut on top, they had braids or dreads. The reason was because rap culture was going through its ‘afrocentricity’ age in the 90s.
The Modern High Top Fade
However popular it might have been, the high top fade did begin to fade away, pun intended. It slowly made way for other hairstyles, which included cornrows, low cut fades and the all popular heartthrob haircut of the 90s. However, its popularity grew once more when the 2000s came rolling in.
Musicians, actors, and athletes started wearing it again. One perfect example of this is Iman Shumpert, the guard/forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2012, the high top fade saw yet another resurgence when even Avery Robinson, Barack Obama’s nephew wore it for the President’s second inauguration.
How to Style a High Top Fade Haircut
Yes, as you might have imagined by just looking at these amazing pictures, the high top fade is not easy to style. But don’t worry! We’ve whittled down the process for you! Here’s what you have to do!
Rule number one – the hair must always be standing on end so that you can actually create that iconic shape. Therefore, kinky hair will be the best for this hairstyle because it already has the natural body, texture, and volume needed to stay upright on its own. However, you will still need to apply copious amounts of natural oils as well as leave-in conditioner. The reason is that you have to nourish and hydrate those kinks to make them work with you! Think of this process as being similar to the one you would do for an Afro.
So, once you have hydrated your kinks super well, direct all the hair upward using your fingers. Use two mirrors – one for the front and one for the back – to make sure that none of your strands are straying away from the block of hair you need to create on top. If you feel the need, use a special comb called a hair pick to keep all your kinks in place and up where they belong.
If your hair still has a little oil or leave in conditioner in it and feels a bit damp, take a hair dryer to it. However, pay special attention here! Never use a hair dryer for more than a few seconds at a time! Plus, do not, under any circumstances blow dry your hair if it’s damp or wet from the shower!
Hair Products for a High Top Fade Haircut
When detailing how to style a high top fade in the paragraphs above, we’ve also mentioned that you should use some hair products to keep your locks in check. But they are not the only ones you will need. Here’s the full list!
· The hair clipper
This is the number one product you will need for maintaining a successful high top fade. Our recommendation is that you invest in a high quality one to begin with. It might seem a little pricey but it will be worth it. High fades require you to visit your barber every three weeks for a touch up, depending on how fast your hair grows. However, if you have a good clipper at home, you can do it on your own. In no time, you will see how much money you can save based on that one investment.
· Styling cream
This hair product is super important especially if you have naturally curly or kinky hair. It’s the only way to tame your mane and get it to cooperate. Use the styling cream right after you get out of the shower and you have dried your hair using a towel. Never use a hair dryer! Apply as much cream as you feel necessary depending on the length and volume of your hair.
· Hair pick
We’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s well worth discussing it again, that’s how important it is to your styling routine. If you have a hair pick, it will be much easier to put up all your hair strands and make them stay on point. Apart from that, you can carry it with you wherever you go, and touch up on your high top fade any time you want. Of course, you can do that with your fingers as well, but once you try a hair pick you will see just how much easier it is!
· Hair spray and hair gel
These two products are meant for men who don’t have curly or kinky hair but still want a high top fade. It’s still possible to get the hairstyle, but then you will be dependent on hair gel and hair spray. The reason is that straight hair doesn’t typically have the texture or body needed to create a voluminous high top fade. Therefore, you must first apply a generous amount of hair gel or pomade for texture and then hair spray to get it to stay up a whole day. Which brings us to this.
Can I Get a High Top Fade if I Don’t Have Curly Hair?
Yes, as detailed above, you definitely can! However, the process of styling your hair into a high top fade will require hair products such as gel, pomade, and hair spray that will be able to keep your locks upward. You will also need a comb to make sure you have your hair on check at all times.
Apart from that, men with straight hair are also advised to invest in a high quality hair dryer if they want this hairstyle, as opposed to men with kinky hair. The reason is that, when you have straight hair, applying styling cream and then blow drying it will change its texture and give it more volume and body. Afterward, you will be able to pull it all up with the help of a hair pick and create the biggest and baddest high top fade ever! Imagine it as teasing you hair back in the 80s and then creating an Afro out of it!
Is the High Top Fade Only for African-American Men?
That’s a very good question and there are two ways to look at this. From the perspective of a simple hairstyle, we could say that no. The high top fade can be worn by anyone, regardless of their race or the type of hair they have. This means you can get it done whether you have curly, kinky, wavy or straight hair.
The second way to look at this is from a cultural appropriation point of view. As detailed in the beginning, the high top fade is clearly connected to black culture since it has been worn mostly by rappers and RnB singers throughout the 80s and 90s. Apart from that, Grace Jones, the woman who made the haircut famous, is African-American herself.
However, even if that is true, and even if the haircut’s origins are not entirely clear, there is no sign it belongs to the African-American culture per se. Or that it has any kind of cultural meaning to them. Some trace its origins back to the flat top haircut, which is a military haircut. Others say it is, in fact, Grace Jones who started it all, but for mere esthetic reasons. And even more state that it’s a haircut that people started wearing in the 80s as a trend in response to the Jheri curl. Therefore, you can wear it safely!
What about you?
Are you in love with the high top fade and are thinking about getting it? Let us know in the comment section below if you’re ready to take a trip down memory lane and get this awesome 80s haircut! And if you do, there’s no doubt your selfies will look outstanding!