Layers can freshen up a hairstyle and give the illusion of volume. The layered look is flattering for any face shape, and it works equally well with straight or curly hair. Read on to learn how to prepare your hair for layering, cut it, and give your look the final touches it needs to look professional and chic.
Getting Your Hair Ready for a Layer Cut
Check yourself out in the mirror. Since you’re cutting your hair at home, take extra time to examine it in the mirror and decide where you want the layers to be. If you want, take a picture of your face, print it out, and mark out where the layers should go. Some people like long, natural-looking layers, while others choose bolder looks with sharper distinctions between the different hair lengths. Take the following factors into consideration:
- Your hair texture. Layering tends to add body to hair, especially when some of the layers are short in length. If your hair is already full-bodied or curly, you may want to go for longer layers that don’t differ much to frame your face.
- Your face shape. Think about what layer length is right for the shape of your face. Longer layers look gorgeous with round or square faces, while shorter layers accent faces that are oval or heart-shaped.
- Your style preferences. If you’re trying to emulate the look of a certain celebrity or popular hairstyle, figure out how to make it work with your hair. Decide where the layers should fall, how your hair will be parted, and how you’ll style it in the end
- Invest in a good pair of scissors. The most important tool required to make sure your hair turns out looking great – and not like your little sister cut it in your sleep – is a sharp, professional-grade pair of barber scissors, also called shears. Using craft scissors or kitchen scissors will leave you feeling unhappy with the final result. Pick up a pair of good scissors from a beauty store or drugstore.
- Set up your home barbershop. Work in a well-lit place with access to a sink and a mirror – probably the bathroom. Have a towel ready to drape over your shoulders, a set of hair clips for holding back sections of your hair, your scissors, and a comb at your disposal. A second mirror you can use to check out the back of your hair is also necessary. You may also need a spray bottle filled with water to keep your hair damp, depending on how fast it dries.
- Wash your hair. When you’re ready to get started, wash your hair and comb out the tangles with a wide-toothed comb. Towel it dry so that it’s damp, but not dripping. You’ll achieve the best results by starting with clean hair.
Cutting Your Hair Layer by Layer
- Divide your hair into sections. Unless you deliberately want an asymmetrical style, you’ll want to make sure the layers on either side of your head are the same length. In other words, the layers at your temples should be the same length, the layers behind your ears should be the same length, and so on. To do this, divide them into sections by layer.
- Make sure your parts are straight and even.
- Make a “top box section.” Use the comb to create two parts: on on the left side of your head, and one on the right. The top box is the section of hair between the two layers.
- Divide the top box into two parts: the first part extends from the crown of your head to your forehead, and the second part extends from the crown of your head to the nape of your neck. Use hair clips to keep the sections in place.
- Make right and left front sections. The two front sections start at your temples and end at the top of your ears. Comb the right and left front sections out and hold them up with clips.
- Leave the back sections loose. You won’t be cutting the longest part of your hair, so leave it down as a guide against which to measure the other layers.
- Trim the front top box. Unclip the front top box section. Lift your hair at a ninety-degree angle from your head and hold it straight between your forefinger and middle finger. Keeping your hair between your fingers, bring it down in front of your face. Slide your fingers toward the tips of your hair until they are level with the place where you want your shortest layers to start. Trim the length of hair sticking out from between your fingers.
- The ninety-degree angle extends the hair straight out from the head, producing a uniformly layered haircut.
- It’s common to cut the shortest layer just below the earlobe, or right at the jawline. Use the picture you took of yourself as a reference. Alternatively, for longer hair, cut the shortest layer right at the shoulders.
- Err on the side of making the layer longer, rather than shorter, than you want it to be. When your hair dries, it will shrink up a little. You can always cut more if you need to.
- Trim the front right section. Unclip the front right section of hair. Lift your hair with your fingers at a ninety-degree angle from your head. Hold it straight between your forefinger and middle finger. Bring it down the side of your face and slide your fingers toward the tips of your hair until they are level with the place where you want the side layers to be cut. Use the scissors to trim the length of hair extending from your fingers.
- Trim at an angle, rather than in a horizontal line, for softer-looking layers.
- Trim the front left section. Unclip the front left section of hair. Lift your hair with your fingers at a ninety-degree angle from your head. Hold it straight between your forefinger and middle finger. Bring it down the side of your face and slide your fingers toward the tips of your hair until they are level with the place where the right side layer was cut. Use the scissors to trim the length of hair extending from your fingers.
- Trim the back sections. If you wish, you can also add layers to the sides and back of your hair. Using the second mirror frequently to check your work, lift small sections of hair and trim them with the scissors. The layers in the back sections should be the longest, so avoid cutting them too short; they should be just as long or longer than the other layers.
Using a Shortcut
- Make a ponytail at the top of your head. It’s easiest to turn your head upside down and use a comb to help you gather it. Use an elastic band to secure the ponytail at the top of your head.
- The ponytail should be on the top of your scalp, not the crown of your head. This ensures the layers will be positioned correctly.
- Make sure it isn’t cocked to one side, since this could result in uneven layers.
- Slide the elastic down the length of your hair. If you want short layers, stop sliding the elastic several inches from the tip of your hair. For longer layers, slide it down until it’s about one inch from the end of the ponytail.
- Alternatively, slide your fingers down instead of the elastic. This method may be more beneficial to those with longer hair.