Layers For Hair: An Expert Guide |

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Layers For Hair: How To Do Them Right, According To A Pro

15 November 2018
photo of stylist cutting layers for hair

Emily Arata

Senior Editor,

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Sal Salcedo’s Instagram bio makes a bold statement right away: He’s not just a stylist, he’s a self-proclaimed magician. It would seem far-fetched until you scroll through the rest of his photos, documenting dozens of transformations from flat, listless hair to bouncy, flattering styles. Layers for hair are his art form.

Salcedo, who is the co-owner of Nova Arts Salon in Los Angeles, has a way of using layers to make hair look three-dimensional and effortless. This isn’t just the stereotypical L.A.-girl flat iron wave on ash blonde hair color, but something altogether more timeless.

Before asking your hair stylist for layers, take a moment to learn Salcedo’s best tips.


Why get layers for hair?

Having beautiful hair is all about finding the right balancing of styling and cutting, giving in to some trends while also sticking to styles that flatter your face. Finding the right cut is part of the reason stylists spend so much time on their feet training.

For Salcedo, layers are a way to add nuance to hair without taking it any shorter.

“[Layers] create a shape in the hairstyle as hair is removed,” he says. “The idea is that as you remove hair, the focus goes to what is left in the head and how that hair then creates the desired shape.” Layers can help create artificial volume on fine, flat hair, and bring orderliness to wild curls. If you’re still thinking of them as the culprit behind the triangle-shaped cut you wore in middle school, now is the time to reconsider them.


When it comes right down to it, Salcedo is a firm believer that layers work on every hair type, age, and face shape. Echoing a trend we see across the whole hair world, he says the best layers are the ones most personalized for you.
“Hair itself changes through time, so although a haircut might work one time, during the next visit the person’s hair might be completely different,” he explains. “Therefore, it should be analyzed and approached differently—customized.”

You already expect your shampoo, coffee, and vitamins to be customized—why not your layers?

Internal Layers

With guests sitting in his own chair, Salcedo factors in everything from hair elasticity and density. He also loves to focus on internal layering, a technique in which the layers aren’t visible from the surface level. Instead, they reshape the cut from the inside. “I can give someone the illusion of layers without compromising length or shape. It adds all the movement and volume that you see,” Salcedo says.

Movement and volume? Sign us up.


The Grow Out

Of course, a haircut is only as good as the way it grows out. At some point, you’ve likely splurged on a cut that turned into a mess by week four. To give you really good layers, your stylist needs to know how often you come back to the salon and how you style your hair on a daily basis.

Make sure you come clean about how often you’re willing to go back in—it can make or break the longevity of your style.


How do you achieve the best layers for your hair?

Hair cutting is a visual art, so it only makes sense that the best way for you and your stylist to get on the same page about a dream cut is to share images. Like many pros, Salcedo always recommends his guests bring in plenty of photo inspiration.

“I feel that a lot gets lost in translation. You can’t rely on assuming your stylist will understand what you say,” he says. “My advice is always to have the person bring photos of what they like and don’t like, as well—they are equally as important.”

When in doubt, take the time to scroll through your chosen stylist’s Instagram before coming in to your appointment. If you can find an example of past work they’ve done that hits close to your goal hair, you’ll already be one step closer to attaining it.

Keep Salcedo’s expert tips in mind, and you’ll be set to put layers to work for you.

Interested in personalized layers for your new cut? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.
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