Conjuring up images of wispy retro hairstyles, including mullets and curly perms, you'd be forgiven for shaking your head every time your hairstylist suggests "just a few" for extra volume or to reduce bulk if your hair is on the thicker, coarser side. But if Instagram is anything to go by, haircutting techniques have advanced since then. Now, having a few layers cut in no longer results in regret and waiting months, if not years, for them to grow out, because they're a little more discreet this time around. In fact, they're completely invisible.
After booking in for a CBD hair treatment at Hari's Hairdressers in Fulham, my stylist, Tassie, suggested a few 'invisible layers' to get rid of the flick-out effect at the ends, which happens when I straighten my thick hair. Having just grown out the layers cut in by a different salon, I was reluctant to say yes, but I needed a trim. The result? To my surprise, my hair had never looked better – even after I'd washed and styled it myself a few days later.
"Depending on the texture, invisible layering can remove weight without hair appearing too layered or overstyled," explains Vanessa Essack, senior stylist at Hari’s. "Wavy, thick layering can cause the top layer to jump when styled and straightened, which gives you that 'kicked out' effect, whereas this technique doesn't."
And she's right. Most of us opt out of layers because they tend to look like steps, but the good thing about this type of layering is that they sit under a layer of longer hair, so you can't really see them, but they still deliver a similar result.
While invisible layers can be used to reduce unnecessary thickness through the ends of the hair, Essack says the method is pretty great for finer hair types, too. "In finer hair, invisible layering is a technique that works internally to create texture, volume and added fullness to the hair without the external top layering being too short." It all depends on how high you take the layers and how far into the hair they are cut. "This type of layering can create a beautifully undone look, delivering body rather than thinning hair like normal layers do," adds Essack.
And invisible layers aren't texture-specific. "Weight, texture, fullness and width can be created on all types of hair by adjusting the technique to suit," says Essack. So, how should you ask for the cut? "If your stylist is well skilled, then by asking for 'internal layering' (as opposed to 'thinning' in thick hair) or 'texturising' (better for finer hair) they should know exactly what to do," explains Essack. And you can even fit the appointment into your lunch break. "This shouldn't take longer than any other type of cut – typically 45 minutes to one hour."
Even though invisible layers are hidden, it pays to take extra care of your ends. If your hair is thick or coarse, choose a hydrating conditioner like KMS Moist Repair, £17, or Soap & Glory Get A Smooth On Shampoo, £7, available at Boots – both impart shine and strengthen lengths prone to split ends and breakage. If you have finer hair, opt for something like Toni & Guy Cleanse Fine Hair Conditioner, £4.79, which won't weigh hair down. It's also a good idea to supplement your hair-washing routine with a lightweight treatment. R29 rates Redken Extreme Cat Treatment, £18, which takes care of the hair protein and doesn't leave behind any residue whatsoever.