What is Layered Hair?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Layered hair is hair that has been cut in layers to create a hairstyle that is more dynamic than that of hair which is cut flat and evenly. Depending on someone's goal, layered hair can appear to have more volume than it really does, or the layers may be added to create the illusion of length. There are many different styles of layered hair, ranging from more choppy, daring cuts which tend to look best on younger people, to more conservative layers which are appropriate for older people.

The shape of one's face should be considered when choosing a layered hairstyle.
The shape of one's face should be considered when choosing a layered hairstyle.

When a stylist cuts layered hair, he or she pulls the hair out perpendicularly and cuts it on the diagonal, instead of cutting straight across. The diagonal cuts create hair of radically different lengths, with the hair settling out into layers when the style is finished. In a basic layered cut, there are usually three layers, with the shortest being close to the top of the head, while the longest is the underlying layer of hair.

People can layer their whole heads, or stick with layering the hair around the face to frame the face. Layers can also be combined with bangs, curls, and other hairstyles. Some people like to color their hair while layering it, adding highlights, streaks, and other color patterns which can help blend the layers to make them look and feel more natural.

Layers can be styled in different ways. Some women like very angular, choppy layers which are clearly visible, while others prefer more gentle layering which is not immediately obvious. Layering tends to work best with straight to wavy hair, as people with curly hair can end up with very puffy hair if they get layers, since the top layers will tend to frizz out from the head. Many people view puffy or frizzy hair as undesirable, and they prefer to keep curly hair all one length so that it appears even.

Most hairstylists can cut layers on request, although because layered looks can be cut in radically different ways, it is a good idea to bring in a photograph of the hairstyle you are going for. Live models also work, and if you know someone with a hairstyle you like, you may want to consider going to his or her stylist and requesting a similar version. Hairstylists can also offer advice on the type of layers which would work best with someone's hair, body type, and facial structure: a good haircut can highlight someone's natural beauty, while poorly or indifferently cut layered hair can be a disaster.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@latte 31 - I agree. It is true that long layers let curly hair hang better. The longer strands of hair loosen the curls and make the hair appear wavy rather than curly. While it is true that short layers are disastrous for curly hair, long angled layers really flatters curly hair. This takes the volume from the top away and creates the illusion of length by focusing on the entire hair style rather than just the top.


Curly hair should not be all one length because it is fuller than straight hair and by its very nature has a lot of volume. By creating long layers on curly hair, the stylist eliminates the excessive volume in the hair. This allows for a more manageable hair style that flatters curly hair. The layers also make styling easier which can even transform curly hair into straight hair with a hot iron. If the curly hair were not cut in layers, it would take much longer to style the hair straight.

Post your comments
Forgot password?