How to style layered hair: pro tips, tricks, and the inspiring looks to try

Expert stylists explain how to style layered hair—it's easier than you think!

Halle Berry showing how to style layered hair with a choppy centre parted layered style
(Image credit: Getty images)

Knowing how to style layered hair is a skill for life. Layers' popularity has ebbed and flowed through the years and we've gone through decades of variations on layered looks, from the famous 'Rachel' cut to the long, sleek layers that punctuated the '00s. Aside from cake and knitwear, the best thing to come in layers is your hair.

If you're new to layers, rest assured that they're widely considered one of the most versatile and easy-to-wear hairstyles. Many easy hairstyles feature some level of layering. Layers also work at any length, whether you fancy a medium hairstyle like the shag haircut to choppy pixie hairstyles or long hairstyles with face-framing layers, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to inspiration.

How to style layered hair: Your expert guide

Choosing a layered hairstyle in the salon

Gemma Arterton with a layered haircut

(Image credit: Getty images)

Not sure where to start? The great news is layered haircuts can be adapted to suit anyone. "Billie Eilish and Gemma Arterton are great examples of those with layered hairstyles, but I also really like Miley Cyrus’s mullet," says hairstylist to the stars, Larry King. Color Wow International Creative Director, Dom Seeley agrees layers are back with a bang; “Cut-wise were seeing a lot of 70’s shapes and widths, with waves and also feminine mullets."

Once you've mastered how to style layered hair, it makes for a brilliantly low-maintenance cut. "I don’t think you need to get layers cut too regularly," says Larry. "You can go back to get a few random layers put in the top to rebuild volume. It does look cool when you let these grow out though, and it can give the style a different shape—unless the ends are dry, then they need a trim."

How to style layered hair at home

No matter what your hair texture is, be that a curly hairstyle or fine and straight, a few tools and products will help you learn how to style layered hair. Having the best hair dryer for your hair type is essential, and you may wish to invest in either the best hair straighteners or best curling iron for working with layers if those will help you achieve your desired style.

In terms of products, think carefully about the look you are going for, advises Larry:

  • Less is more: "It's all about working with your natural texture," says Larry. "Blast hair dry and just use some straighteners to make a bend in the hair or a soft wave. That’s what I did for Gemma Arterton."
  • Use a volumizer for texture: "My favorite styling product is volumizing hair mist, because it just gives you this natural volume and doesn’t make the hair too heavy. I also use styling cream a lot, which I put in wet hair, and then let the hair dry naturally." 
  • Don't be afraid to experiment: He adds, "It’s also nice to use these two together; I’m a big fan of combinations: for example, using volumizing spray on wet hair, and then the styling cream on the ends to add texture."

To finish, dry products such as the best dry shampoo can work for a choppy look. If you prefer a sleek finish, serums and oils will help you nail how to get shiny hair.

How to style layered hair: 11 inspiring looks


1. The bouncy blow dried layers

A volumized bouncy blow dry with flicky ends is the perfect way to style layered hair and show off the graduation of length. "That 90’s supermodel revival and volume looks great on anyone and it’s super easy to achieve," says Dom. Mist hair with volumizing spray, then use a round brush to create tension and flicks as you dry (or cheat with one of the best hair dryer brushes)


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Color Wow Xtra Large Bombshell Volumizer | RRP: $26/$23
"It’s not drying and won’t leave your hair feeling stiff or sticky like regular volumizers. It also leaves your hair with incredible shine," says Dom. 


2. The glossy, defined coils

The secret to this beautiful look is super glossy and defined curls. Following the curly girl method will help in the long term. Day-to-day learn how to use a diffuser to gently dry and separate coils, and finish with a deeply conditioning and styling product designed specifically for coils. 


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Cantu Define & Shine Custard | RRP: $6.99/£5.49
This super-hydrating formula makes curls feel soft, gives defined weight, and adds shine. It also smells amazing, contains pure shea butter and zero sulfates. 


3. The sleek graduated bob

Not all layers come in choppy, broken-up form. This style shows how graduating the length of a bob from back to front can create a super-flattering style. Wearing this style super-smooth like this will really show off that angular graduation of length—naturally, a great hair straightener is a must to keep this look sleek and swingy. 


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GHD Unplugged Cordless Hair Straightener | RRP: $299/£299
Preserve that ultra-sleek, straight and shiny layered hairstyle on-the go with this cordless hair straightener. It's super light and portable, plus it's USB chargeable so you can plug it in the car or your work laptop. 


4. The tousled shag layered style

Tousled waves are a perfect skill to know when thinking about how to style layered hair—especially when combined with this 19070s shag style. Using a medium-thick curling wand, wrap hair loosely around the barrel, facing away from the eyes to 'open up' the face. Keep the look relaxed and modern by leaving the roots and ends out of the curl. 


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Cloud Nine Curling Wand Evergreen Collection | RRP: £149 (UK only)
This might be the perfect hair wand—it's unbelievably light so easy to control, the barrel is the ideal size to create beachy waves (not ringlets) Plus, the smooth material is completely snag-free. We love this green limited-edition set with a silky scrunchie and tortoiseshell comb too. 


5. The layered curly updo

Worried about how to style layered hair in an updo? You needn't be. Shorter layers will naturally fall out of hair-up styles, which is incredibly flattering around the face and gives any updo a modern, relaxed feel. Here, this curly updo is teased at the crown and pinned loosely into a chignon at the nape of the neck. Use plenty of pins and finish with firm hold hairspray to keep the longer layers and lengths in place. 


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L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray Strong Hold | RRP: $12.99/£4
The original and best, Elnett is the hairspray you'll find in every pro's kit, and with good reason. It's non-sticky, offers superior hold and can be brushed out easily. 


6. The soft layered pixie cut

Having lots of layers cut into a pixie style can make it softer and a lot more forgiving. "The pixie crop is a big trend, and is one that is growing—a softer, tousled crop," says ghd Global Ambassador Zoë Irwin. The trick with styling a choppy pixie is using fairly firm products, such as wax or pomade, as you don't have the benefit of natural weight to help it sit in place. Warm a tiny amount through your fingers, gently ruffle through layers and twist and tweak into place. 


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Ouai Matte Pomade | RRP: $24/£16
With a brilliant grip and a nice matte finish, this is an ideal texture to control and style little sections of the hair in a layered pixie crop. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly. 


7. The easy knot updo

If you have a bob hairstyle or longer, celeb stylist Neil Moodie's chignon is an easy way to learn how to style layered hair for a party. "Spray your hair with texture spray and using just your fingers gather all of your hair up just below the crown. Tie into a ponytail and then with a few grips, create a chignon with the remaining hair, pinning the hair as tightly or loosely as desired. Once fixed, pull tiny strands out around the front. Finish with hairspray."


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Sam McKnight Easy Updo Texture Spray | RRP: $29.50/£25
A very useful product, and a very beautiful one too. Mist this over lengths to create choppy definition when wearing your layered hair down, or use it to create grip that helps updos stick around. 


8. The layered 'wolf cut' style

This is how to style layered hair at its boldest, funkiest, and, er, layery-est. The wolf cut is part shag, part bangs, and very on-trend. To style it, let layers take center stage by rough drying then finishing with a slim vented brush. Then lightly mist with salt spray to encourage your natural texture, flicks, and bends to emerge. 


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GHD Ceramic Vented Radial Brush Size 1| RRP: $28/$16.50
This slimline blow drying brush will help you create the flicky ends and tension that make the wolf cut really stand out. Run it under small sections of the hair, curling them in various directions as you go.  


9. The lifted layered bob

Short layered crops look best with plenty of root lift, but height can be tricky to hang onto. "If your hair is flat and you don't have time to blow dry, lift your hair and spray texturizing spray generously into all the root area, ensuring you get the sides and back as well (not just on top)," advises Neil Moodie. "Use your fingers to distribute the texture spray through your hair and then style accordingly, whether that’s pining it back into a low bun or wearing loose."


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Davines This is a Dry Texturizer | RRP: $33.12/£24
"Texturizing sprays are amazing at zhooshing hair up. and this will do the job nicely," says Neil. The natural-leaning formula is paraben and colorant-free, and smells delicious


10. The air dried chunky layers

A longer shag is another great hairstyle to show off multi-layered hair. "Layers used to be soft, seamless, and hidden but now we are seeing obvious, thick, chunky, and choppy edges, which works really well at giving drama to below-the-shoulder hair." Says Zoë. To style this look, use a frizz-proof styling spray and twist layers around your fingers to encourage a natural tousled effect as they air dry. 


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 It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product | RRP $14.80/$14.40
This brilliant product does a bit of many things (10 things precisely—hence the name) Most importantly it'll smooth, prevent frizz and give hold to your layered style so is a perfect air-dry product. 


11. The soft blow dried layers

A looser, less 'done' looking blow-dry, this is perfect for anyone with more subtle layering in their hair. "This really soft blow dry has a level of luxury. I have named it the bounce blow— like a 90s supermodel," says Zoë Irwin. To achieve the look,  dry the hair with one of the best hair straightener brushes to smooth and create gentle flicks, then finish with a small amount of shine serum or a light oil, warmed between the palms. 


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Kerastase Elixir Ultime Original | RRP: $51/£39.90
This beautiful shine-enhancer gives hair slip, smoothness, and a lovely glossy reflection. It's made with four oils; maize, argan, camellia, and pracaxi, and works brilliantly as a finishing product on a soft, bouncy blow dry. 


woman&home thanks Larry King, Dom Seeley, Neil Moodie and Zoë Irwin for their time and expertise

Lucy Abbersteen
Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week.


During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists. When she's not got beauty on the brain you'll probably find her in the company of dogs, reading, or being shamed by Netflix's "are you still watching?" message. You can follow her on Instagram at @lucyabbers.