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Cutting Guide for Layering Hair

How Layering Helps

If you love long hair but have a long face, you can keep the length and make your face appear more oval by cutting some shorter pieces of hair around your cheeks and jawline. Layers can tame your curls and reduce the blobbing tendency of all-one-length styles on curly hair. Thin, fine hair benefits from layers that remove weight, keeping your style from going flat. Finally, layers are a must-have if you want an edgy style or hair with movement.

The Basic Process

Picture a head with every hair cut the same length and standing straight out from the scalp. Notice that, when let go, hair at the crown and at the nape won’t end at the same place. That’s how layers work. Before you start cutting, decide how short (and where) the shortest layer should be and how long to leave the longest layer. Cut the lower edges to the finished length you want, then cut any layers you want framing your face. Next, take a narrow vertical section in the center back from nape to crown, comb the hair smooth and hold it out from the head at a 90-degree angle. Keep the fingers straight up and down and cut with the scissors against them. Use this section as the guide to cut the rest of the sides and back before blending the front edges and the top.

Checking Your Cut

Check the layers as you go by parting off horizontal sections of hair you have already cut, combing them straight out and making sure they are the same length. Also, drop the hair between cuts and shake it so you can see the layers. If they look off, use your geometry smarts to make adjustments. Check the top of the head from front to back and side to side. To check the sides, put one end of your comb against the head above the ear and measure a strand. Note the length on the comb, then measure a strand in the same area on the opposite side of the head.

Tips and Tricks

For choppier layers, position the scissor blades perpendicular to your fingers that are holding the scissors and cut into the hair section. Change the layering effect -- to stack a wedge cut, for example -- by changing the angle of your fingers or create longer layers by lowering the section you’re holding to narrow the angle between head and hair strands. Graduate layers from front to back by combing each section forward or backward off its base before you cut. Just stay consistent as you cut new sections.

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