Whether it’s due to the return of ’90s cuts (eg. “The Rachel”) or trendy styles like the shag, layers are becoming more common than ever among a wide range of clientele.
“People have started to embrace their natural texture and movement,” says Marilyn Rose, a Redken artist and owner of Curlology By Marilyn in Ottawa. “With these current trends and the right products, it definitely allows them to have fun and play with their textures and waves.”
Assessing Type and Texture
When it comes to layering, stylists must consider the hair type and texture they’re working with as this will affect the techniques they should use.
“Trends are great but it’s all about the suitability,” says Katia Jananji, a Schwarzkopf Professional Essential Looks artist and owner of Monokrome Salon in Montreal, who adds that factoring in the client’s hair density and lifestyle will also help determine what layers are best suited for them. “If a client with thin hair wants that layered mullet haircut and the stylist starts cutting too many layers, the hair will collapse and look flat. It won’t give as much volume and will look very thin at the bottom, so the client won’t get the look they’re expecting.”
Layers tend to work well with normal to thick hair types, but stylists should still factor in the size of the client’s forehead, especially when cutting layered fringes, such as curtain bangs. For example, if a client with a small forehead opts for curtain bangs, they’re going to look a lot shorter and not balanced with the rest of the haircut.
When working with curls and natural texture, one of the most common mistakes that stylists make is blow- drying the curls when layering. “You want to diffuse the curls or air-dry them and always work on dry hair to make sure the hair is well-balanced,” says Jananji. “You want to maintain all the natural texture when working on a fringe. And always make sure the forehead is big enough to sustain the look and make the hair voluminous.”
THE FREQUENCY THAT CLIENTS SHOULD COME BACK TO THE SALON IS DETERMINED BY THE LENGTH AND SHAPE OF THEIR HAIRCUT. FOR LONGER HAIR, THEY SHOULD RETURN EVERY TWO-TO- THREE MONTHS TO RESHAPE, BUT IF THE LAYERS ARE SHORTER, THEY SHOULD EXPECT TO COME BACK EVEN EARLIER.
Bringing Them Back
Haircuts with a lot of layers can be beneficial for business because of the frequency of visits required. “Clients will notice their hair changing and getting heavier within a six-to-eight- week period, meaning more salon visits per year,” says Rose. “This helps stylists maintain long-term relationships with their clients and increase their revenue.”
Jananji offers a “fringe service” at her salon for clients with bangs as well as layered hairstyles. “I ask clients to come in between appointments and I’ll just do a fringe touch-up,” she says. “What’s good about it is you’re having the client physically come back into your salon so there’s an opportunity to sell them on adding in some colouring techniques or even some products for styling.”
Making The Cut
Although the process seems relatively similar, there are some notable differences found across longer and shorter layers. “The main differences would be the amount of added movement and weight removal that occurs,” says Rose. “When cutting shorter layers, you have more opportunities to create volume, movement and remove weight.”
When working with longer layers, stylists should typically keep some weight or length at the bottom when working with extreme layering techniques. “If you take the wolf cut as an example, there are a lot of layers in the front. So make sure you isolate the whole perimeter and work on the shape on top to give it as many layers as possible,” says Jananji. “Keep the bottom disconnected and slightly connect the layers with the bottom by using slice-cutting or point-cutting techniques. This will help maintain a lot of the layers and volume on top while also keeping the length and weight at the bottom.”
For shorter hair, stylists should aim for rounded layers if they’re going for a mullet hairstyle but the focus should be on the finishing technique. “Start with the fringe. You can do a centre part in the front end, isolate the back and work with the front to almost crop the whole section and then disconnect it from the back,” says Jananji, adding that stylists should either point-cut or slice-cut the hair after working on the hairstyle to add the signature they want. “Go for a shorter point on top to longer lengths at the bottom so you have that mullet look to it.”
Choosing the right cutting technique for any layered hairstyle is one of the most important steps to achieving the desired look. “To cut layers, I like to use point-cutting to help create softer ends,” says Rose. “Wrapping the hair on top of the head and moving it in the opposite direction helps create a more rounded look with layers.”
Since working with different hair textures can also affect the outcome of a layered cut, it’s important to consider the length of the layers. “You have to factor in where the layer should start or finish and how short they should be when working with textures,” says Rose.
When cutting curls, stylists should take into consideration that, depending on the curl type, the hair may spring back. “You have to visualize the shape in a three-dimensional way,” says Jananji. “You want to adapt your angles when you cut to achieve the desired shape.”
FOR FINE, THIN HAIR, JANANJI SUGGESTS WORKING ON A SHORTER VERSION OF THE DESIRED HAIRCUT AND EMBRACING THE CLIENT’S NATURAL TEXTURE WHEN STYLING
Conducting thorough consultations to determine the client’s routine and hair type before cutting is paramount. After looking at the client’s face shape, Jananji and Rose ask questions like, “Where would you like the length to sit? What is your routine like? How often do you wash your hair? What challenges are you having with your hair?” These questions will help stylists determine which type of layers to recommend.
“If my client is complaining about a lack of volume, no movement or their hair being too thick and heavy, I always recommend some type of layering,” says Rose. “When you throw in the option of layering, you open the doors to the possibility of many haircut options.”
When cutting face-framing layers, Rose asks clients what their favourite facial feature is to bring more attention to it. “It could be their cheekbones, eyes, smile. Whatever it is, that’s where I’ll start cutting face-framing layers to draw more attention to the area,” she says, adding that the key to avoiding harsh lines is elevation. “The higher you elevate the hair, the softer your layers will fall.”
Having a strong structure within the haircut also helps the layers blend in seamlessly. According to Jananji, how stylists choose to cut the hair makes all the difference. “A lot of stylists like to use razors to cut long layers because they’re afraid of sharp lines,” she says. “That sharp line happens when you cut the hair straight.” Along with point- cutting, she recommends paying attention to the finishing touches to make sure that everything blends well together.
“WORKING WITH THEIR NATURAL TEXTURE CHANGES EVERYTHING. IT’S WHAT MAKES LAYERED HAIRCUTS GENDERLESS BECAUSE CLIENTS CAN APPLY PRODUCTS AND LET THE HAIR AIR-DRY.”
—KATIA, JANANJI, SCHWARZKOPF PROFESSIONAL ESSENTIAL LOOKS ARTIST AND OWNER OF MONOKROME SALON IN MONTREAL