The face-framing cut is all over Insta.
Layers are a divisive topic. Those of us who overdid flicky layers in the Noughties and spent the next two years trying to blow dry them into submission may (justifiably) be thinking they’re not worth the hassle. On the other hand, those who have seen the sultry, choppy, voluminous layers cropping up in every cool-girl haircut on the 'gram, may well be wondering if it’s time for a do-over.
Thing is, even the most styling-averse among us probably already have layers. “Layers are pretty much a part of any haircut unless you’ve got a sharp bob,” explains leading hair stylist, Luke Hersheson. “A grown-out fringe is an example of layers, as are some framing pieces that finish around your jaw or chin,” he says.
Over the past 12 months, hair with layers has seen a massive revival. In fact, celebrity hairstylist, Larry King, named them the biggest trend of 2021. It may be a rebellion against the overgrown strands we had to live with during lockdown, but 70s rumpled texture is dominating the trends this summer, and its brought with it the shag, Charlie's Angels flips, swooshy curtain bangs and even (if you're brave) a modern spin on the mullet.
Deliberately bold and choppy styles are back in, but they're totally customisable, too – you can create soft takes on the trends by paring them back, like the "pretty shag" which leans into mussed-up texture, but keeps the layers in hair longer so they're easier to style.
Still not convinced? There's a more delicate solution for those who want to keep it more low-key. “The idea of invisible layers is really relevant for a softer approach,” says Hersheson. They're subtle, seamless and almost imperceptible. "You may have layers in your hair, but you don’t want them to feel like clumps or ledges.” Even Suki Waterhouse's layered lob is a softer nod to the shag style. “It’s less of an obvious layer,” Hersheson admits.
Unless you’re going for something deliberately bold and choppy, a light touch is likely to be more easy to style and therefore more flattering for everyday. Though invisible layers may not sound like much, in practice, they can be surprisingly effective. Created using thinning scissors or a razor to avoid stark lines, “they’re not cut in a way where the ends are as blunt and ruler-like,” says Luke. “To the naked eye, it might look like it’s more one length, but actually it would give you more shape when you tong it or style it. It will give you a little bit more texture,” he explains. Get those layers right in the back and voila – you’ve got lightly mussed up movement where you need it. Nail them around the face (we’re talking a relaxed jaw-length fringe skimming either side of your cheek) and they can be the answer to instant cheekbones.
An extra bonus to invisible layers? They're versatile. Depending on how much styling you want to do, they can go undetected in a chic ponytail or left loose one day, then can be amped up with texturiser to give oomph and sexy texture the next.
Here’s everything you need to know about layering.
What is layered hair?
At its most basic, a layer is “hair that doesn’t reach the bottom of your hair,” says Luke. More specifically, “it is the lightest form of hair cutting,” explains Ryan Forsythe, senior director at Trevor Sorbie’s Covent Garden salon in London. “Sections of hair are held out and cut vertically from the head to reduce weight.
What are the benefits of layered hair?
“Layering hair not only removes weight but can also help to create shape, give volume, movement and texture,” explains Forsythe .
Do layers make hair look thicker?
“Not necessarily thicker but they can add volume giving a fuller effect,” says Forsythe.
Can having layers in your hair help to transform or update a style without the need for losing length?
“Absolutely, if you have a heavy one length bob for example a few layers can help you achieve more texture/movement,” explains Forsythe. “Or if your long hair feels a bit flat on top, some layering around the crown will give it some bounce.”
Where would you tend to cut layers in?
“Depending on the shape you want to create, or where you want to lighten, it is generally done in the ‘internal’ area (top, back, sides ),” says Forsythe. “The ‘external’ being the outline or perimeter length.”
Do layers work on all hair types?
“Most hair types can suit varying levels of layering, particularly thick heavy hair. Hair that is very fine should avoid over layering as it can make it even finer and cause ‘wispiness'” Forsythe says. “If you have fine hair and then you put lots of layers through that hair, it’s going to make the ends of the hair feel thinner,” agrees Hersheson. “Also very frizzy or coarse hair will generally benefit from having more weight,” says Forsythe. In which case, you may not want to add too many layers in.
Are there any hairstyles that can particularly benefit from layering and any that should avoid?
“Short pixie cuts and the 70s Shag are both styles that really benefit from lots of layers,” says Forsythe.
How easy is layered hair to style?
Remember The Rachel – the bob worn by Jennifer Aniston in Friends? It was a style so choppy, Jen couldn’t tame it herself. That’s what invisible layers seek to avoid. “In terms of styling, if a layer is done well and belongs to the hairstyle, it shouldn’t take too much styling,” says Hersheson. “Even with a shag, you should be able to wash it, leave it to dry and it will fall into place.”
Provided you’ve chosen a low maintenance style (that’s been cut in by a pro) “it can be pretty easy,” agrees Forsythe. “With the use of the right products and just finger drying you can achieve a natural, soft result or you can dry smooth for a sleeker finish. Layers help to give versatility to hairstyles.”
This story originally appeared on Glamour UK.
This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Elle Turner