Read This Before Your Next Haircut

Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Somewhere down the line, layers got a bad rap. It could be the backlash against all things #basic, or the notion that these piece-y cuts are super high-maintenance. But, if I may inject an opinion here, that's total crap. In fact, layers can be the key to an entire vault of cool hairstyles — and the easiest way to embrace your natural texture.

Of course, not all layers are alike. Some are feathery, some are choppy, some taper, others bend. That's why I've made it my mission to find out what the essential styling factors are, and to spread the word. To help me do that, I enlisted Wes Sharpton of Hairstory Studio in New York. Not only is Wes a creative genius, he's also the man who gave me my life-changing haircut a year ago — full of layers — which helped accentuate my natural waves. Ahead, he breaks down a handful of new layering techniques that will help you get the look you've always wanted. Here's the long — and short — of it.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Long Hair, Short Layers
Long hair with long layers has been a safe look that plenty of women fall back on. But there's a way to add movement and edge without sacrificing inches. "Ava came into Hairstory looking for a big change, but she really didn't want to lose the length," Sharpton says.

The result was a rock-'n'-roll cut with a cool, shaggy appeal. Sharpton sliced the layers up top super-short, while keeping the length intact. "It creates a slightly different, disconnected feel," he says. This style is especially great for girls with straight, fine hair who want to add texture and lift near the crown (where things often fall flat).
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Feathered Wisps
Even short hair can benefit from layers — especially if your texture is thick and dense. Sharpton actually got the inspiration for Malory's cut from the wigs at Marc Jacobs' spring 2015 show. Sharpton cut Malory's hair in what he calls a "free-flowing technique," so the layers fall in an easy, rough-and-tumble way.

The benefit of a cut like this is that the layers can be worn smoothed down for a sophisticated look, or edged up and feathered with the help of some product for an airy effect.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Lived-In Layers
There's a common misconception that natural, wavy textures and layers don't mix. But a few strategic snips of the scissor can be the secret to unlocking your texture's ultimate potential. That was the case with Mella. "The great thing about this cut was that it emphasized her natural texture," Sharpton says. "I really like this image because it feels like it just happened — like she was out all night, came home, and slept in it."

Layers like this are ideal for anyone looking to embrace that offhand, air-dried effect. If you're ready to take the plunge, show up at the salon with your hair in it's natural state (no heat-styling, no product) — that way your stylist will know how your hair behaves, and where to crop those choppy pieces.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Blunt and Bold
Not all layers have to be ethereal and wispy. Some work better when they're blunt and bowl-like. Just check out this cut that Sharpton created for Janna. "When we initially spoke, she wanted something that felt like a mixture of Keith Richards and Patti Smith," he says. "The cut we settled on is really all about layering."

Sharpton angled a handful of blunt layers around Janna's face, and then proceeded to slice thicker pieces near the crown. The layers near the bottom are a bit more streamlined to prevent bulk. The result is a cut with tons of structure and edge.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
The New Face Frame
"This long, wavy cut isn't quite bohemian, but still manages to have a late '60s, early '70s feel," Sharpton says. It really strikes the perfect balance between polished and playful.

Sharpton snipped close-cropped layers around the face, and then added thick bangs to bring the whole thing together. He sliced a few long layers throughout to create some bend and movement. "It has this hint of glamour," he says, without being too perfect.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Mullet-Meets-Bowl Cut
Fearless ladies, meet your favorite new haircut. This 'do basically fuses two separate styles. "I thought, What if we do a cut that's kind of a bowl-meets-mullet [on Kelly]?" Sharpton says. He added loads of choppy layers up top, while leaving the lengths more tapered. The result was an updated mullet that skews much more modern than Billy Ray Cyrus.

Take heed, though. These layers aren't going to look this cool without a little coaxing. But if you're willing to work in some product and straighten out those pieces for definition, a choppy mullet like this will make a major impact.
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