Ghosts have no place in our dating lives or homes, but their influence can have a surprisingly positive effect in the salon. Not literally, of course: We’re talking about ghost layers. This haircutting technique helps add volume and movement to limp, flat locks without altering the hair’s length or shape. Ahead, Redken artist Sarah Bramham gives us the lowdown on ghost layering and offers advice on rocking the trendy look. When all is said and done, you may wish all ghosting looked this good.
What are ghost layers in a haircut?
A ghost layer haircut involves cutting subtle layers beneath the top section of hair to add body and volume. Whereas traditional choppy layers are usually cut on the outer portion of the hair, ghost layers are sliced beneath the topmost layer of hair at a sharp angle. Because they get hidden by the hair falling over them, ghost layers are virtually undetectable—hence their moniker. The shorter, thinned-out pieces delicately “push out” the top layer of hair, adding fullness in a less noticeable way than classic layers.
Bramham expands, saying that ghost layers “release weight so hair can have more [fluid] movement when styled.” She notes that ends should be left blunt, which creates a clean line that enhances thickness throughout the hair.
Who are ghost layers good for?
Ghost layers are ideal for anyone looking to add volume hair to a uniform haircut without removing length or density. As far as hair types go, ghost layers work well for thin hair “because [they] give it movement and volume” without thinning your mane. In contrast, medium, thick, and curly/coily hair can also benefit from ghost layering since it keeps locks from appearing overly choppy (which can then cause hair to puff out).
This cut has limits, though: If you want to remove a significant amount of weight from your mane, a more traditional layering method may be better suited for you. A skilled stylist can customize your ghost layers to complement your hair’s density and texture, so we always advise leaving this inconspicuous style to the pros.
How much upkeep do ghost layers require?
Ghost layers only need to be touched up about every other haircut and thus are relatively low-maintenance. Sometimes, your stylist may not even have to wash your hair for your trim, so you’ll be in and out of the salon at record speed.
“I personally find it more effective to cut ghost layers on dry hair,” says Bramham. “I can look at the surface of the hair and very gently trim off [or] fade away [hair] where I feel it's needed.”
At-home care will be essential to keep your ghost layers haircut looking its absolute best between appointments. We suggest incorporating strengthening products, like Redken’s Acidic Bonding Concentrate, into your haircare routine. This collection helps intensely condition and repair all hair types to keep split ends at bay. To learn more, check out our full Acidic Bonding Concentrate review.
When flat hair needs a pick-me-up, swap in a shampoo and conditioner system designed to fluff up your hair. Redken’s Volume Injection Shampoo and Conditioner is our go-to for creating lift from root to ends.
How do you ask for ghost layers?
Ask your stylist for invisible layers, making it clear that you want to keep your current length and shape as is. Like any new cut, we always recommend bringing several inspirational photos to your appointment. More images increase the chances that you’ll be on the same page with your stylist, so you feel happy, confident, and satisfied when you leave the salon.
How do you style ghost layers?
The volume and length offered by ghost layering make the cut easy to style, but Bramham has two favorites: super sleek and straight or with lots of bouncy waves. Both work to enhance the flowing, cascading movement of your cut.
Whichever styling route you and your ghost layers haircut take, Hair.com has plenty of inspiration to fuel your future looks. Consider recreating one of these trendy Half-Up, Half-Down Looks, or try a Long, Wavy Hairstyle for your next night out on the town. Don’t forget to tag us in all your ‘dos @Hairdotcom!
Use our salon locator to book a ghost layer appointment with a professional stylist near you.