Why You Should Ask For An ‘Oval Layer’ Haircut

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The past year served up more beautiful haircut trends than it was humanly possible to try in twelve short months. We brought you the U-shape haircut (a rounded style that makes hair appear fuller), the 'Sachel' (a shag haircut with '90s layers, à la Rachel in Friends), and C-shape layers (a finely layered cut where the strands cup the face in a C-shape). But with another year comes another haircut set to take salons by storm, and like most big beauty movements these days, TikTok is the driving force behind this one, too.
Enter: the 'oval layer' haircut.
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What is the oval layer haircut?

The oval layer haircut is an extension of the '90s-inspired, layered styles we've been seeing everywhere lately, but the layers are much less flicky. Instead, they're slightly more uniform and polished. As the name suggests, each section is cut and styled in a way which resembles oval shapes cupping the face from the mid-lengths to the ends. TikToker @rzfany_ recommends adding face-framing curtain bangs and says that the ends can be blunt and straight across, or slightly curved to lend the illusion of even thicker hair.
Stephen Buller, director at Buller and Rice Salon, says that the oval haircut is essentially face-framing layers but without extra internal layering. "Instead, it's a sharp, one length at the back," explains Buller. "This particular trend is styled with the layering blow-dried underneath [rather than flicked outwards], so the hair points towards the face in oval shapes." Take inspiration from this cut by Ryenne Snow on Instagram.
Buller says that the style has previously been spotted on Jennifer Aniston and Amanda Seyfried but more recently on Meghann Fahy in The White Lotus, which is sure to explain its burgeoning popularity.

What are the benefits of the oval layer haircut?

The oval layer haircut can be adapted to different lengths, face shapes, and hair textures, says Buller, which is why you'll spot it on curly hair as well as straight. "The most popular TikTok videos seem to have no layering at all at the back of the hair — just at the front," says Buller, like this style on TikToker @septianaayu16. As a result, it lends hair both soft movement and texture, and gives long hair in particular that special something.
"The face-framing layers will remove weight from the front area," explains Buller, so it's great for those with thick hair density. But Buller suggests being cautious if your hair is on the finer side. It's a must to discuss things with your chosen stylist first. Look to TikToker @fionathaniel for inspiration.
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How do you style the oval layer haircut?

To show off the layers, a cut like this looks great worn smooth. Buller recommends adding a bit of smoothing cream to towel-dried hair, which "speeds up blow-drying and helps smooth over the hair, creating that sleek finish and control," he explains.
Buller says that if you're good with a hairdryer, you could use a classic round brush to create the shape, blow-drying the hair under and towards the face, by wrapping the hair around the brush. If your hair is wavy, curly or very thick and you'd like to wear it smooth, invest in a hot brush, says Buller.
"Heated brushes are a quick trick to achieve this style," he says, and recommends the Dyson Airwrap that has a round brush attachment.
If your hair is curly and your stylist has cut in face-framing layers, enlist a diffuser to ensure your curls dry defined and glossy, like this cut by award-Winning afro and textured hair specialist Michelle Thompson on Instagram. Try Panasonic Nanoe Hair Dryer, which dries lengths quickly, or BaByliss Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer. "This hairstyle can be left to dry naturally, too," says Buller, "especially if your hair is wavy or curly and textured." Simply add some salt spray to towel-dried hair and leave to dry naturally, or use a diffuser for more volume and definition.
To keep your layers in tip-top condition, Buller recommends making time for a deep-conditioning hair treatment at least every two weeks, especially if you're using any kind of heated tool. Yes, even a simple hairdryer. Try R29 favorite Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask or Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Banana 3-in-1 Dry Hair Mask Treatment.
"Adding moisture and shine [will enhance] all those face-framing layers," says Buller, who suggests a finisher like an oil to add a 'glaze' to the hair.

How do you maintain the oval layer haircut?

Buller says that all layered haircuts need regular maintenance (unless you're growing out the look entirely). "Keeping your hair in this style will require trimming every six to eight weeks," explains Buller. "We always recommend booking your next appointment as you leave the salon. That way, it keeps you on track to fresh, healthy-looking hair and maintains your chosen cut."
The oval layer haircut in particular will grow out nicely, says Buller. In fact, it could last a little longer than many other layered hairstyles, as Buller explains it's more of an "external shape," so it shines a light on the outline of the hair rather than layering internally.

How should you ask your stylist for the oval layer haircut?

Providing you've already been along for a consultation, ask your stylist for face-framing layers at the front of the face, which continue down towards the ends. Depending on whether you want more volume, you could ask that the back is shaped like a U (this will make hair appear thicker, such as in this TikTok video by @latasia_salon) or all one length. To finish, ask that the style is blow-dried towards your face, rather than outwards. It always helps to bring along some pictures — or even videos — for reference, too.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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