How to Layer Hair

Layered cuts are the most commonly requested haircuts in a salon, and for very good reason.  Layers can add volume to fine hair, they can reduce volume for thick hair, and they work well with most face types.  Most haircuts are actually layered in some form or another.  Layering simply means that there are different lengths.  In other words, the only types of cuts that are not  technically layered are blunt one-length cuts.

There are many types of layers, but the type of layered cut familiar to most people is the shoulder-length conversion layered cut.  This is a very simple haircut to give, and can be accomplished by an experienced professional in about ten minutes.  Once the length of the shortest layer is established, all the hair is combed straight up to that point and cut to match the length of the layer.  If you were to be suspended upside down, all of the hair would fall to the same length in a straight line.  Here is a step-by-step guide for how to properly give a layered haircut.

1. Divide the hair into two sections with an ear-to-ear parting.  This will divide the hair into two halves.

2. Starting with the back half, take a horizontal section from the nape area and establish your overall length.  Bring down subsequent sections and cut them to match the length of the first section.  This won’t add layering, but will ensure that all of the hair is the same length to begin with.

3. Now take a section from the crown (top of the head) from the back half and comb it straight up.  This will be your shortest layer.  For long layers you made need to cut only an inch or less.  Medium layers will require you to cut between 1-3 inches, and anything more than 3 inches will result in short layers.  Once the first layer is cut, this will establish your “guide line”, which is the line you will follow for the rest of the layers.

4. Working from the crown, keep taking horizontal partings and comb them up straight, along with the hair you have just cut from Step 3.  Never lose sight of your guide line.  You should be able to see it through the hair you have just combed up.  If you can’t see the line, you have taken too large a section.  Simply take out some of the hair until you can see the guide line and then cut to match.  Keep working until you run out of hair.  As you get closer to the nape, you may find that the hair you are combing up doesn’t reach your guide line.  This is perfectly fine.  Just remember: If it’s not there, don’t cut it.

5.  Now repeat steps 1-4 on the front half of the hair.  Use your nape section from the back to establish your overall length, and use your back crown section as a guide line for your layers.

6.  The final step is blending.  Comb all of the hair straight up.  If the haircut is done right, all of the hair should reach the same length and will form a straight line.  Check both sides to make sure that the overall length is even.

Once the cut is complete, proceed with styling.  Layered cuts are extremely versatile and will look good straight or curly.  If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, this haircut even looks fine by allowing the hair to air dry with a little styling cream, gel, or mousse.