Long layers vs short layers

By: | Last Updated: March 10, 2023

Choosing how to layer your hair can be more intimidating than deciding to layer it in the first place. 

With every single trend, you get overloaded with suggestions— from fine tresses to a lion’s mane for hair. 

But before that, what is layering, and why should you go for it on your next salon visit?

Check out how long layers vs. short layers may suit you in this article. 

What do long layers do to your hair? 

What do long layers do to your hair

Layering is a technique that gives the illusion of varied lengths to your hair. You can achieve a layered haircut by cutting the same length of hair. 

This may seem like a recipe for a blunt cut but think about this: 

If you cut 8 inches from the top of the head and also cut the hair near the nape with the same length, they will fall on different points relative to each other. 

Hence, the impression of varying lengths. 

This technique suits not only straight-haired individuals who want a new look but also helps curly gals to get some weight off their hair. 

You probably suffer from flat and weighed-down hair if you have thick hair. Layering is one way to add fun and create a much-needed volume. 

A layered hair can have short layers or long layers, or even a combination of both. The term “short” or “long” does not refer to hair length. 

Instead, it refers to the distance between the ends of each layer. So you definitely can have short layers on long hair or long layers on short hair. Thus, those with longer hair can get away with “longer” layers. 

Long layers can create romantic and elegant vibes.  

They lack the choppy and wild look often achieved with short layers. You should go for long layers if you aim to reduce the thickness of your hair while maintaining a nice shape. 

When going for long layers, the first layer starts just a few inches from the tip of the hair. People with round face shapes can benefit from this since they create an elongated and angled illusion. Thin-haired individuals who want to venture onto layers may also start with long layers to avoid the chopped-up look.

One can’t discuss long layers without bringing layered long wavy hairstyles to the table. After all, you often see the cut when searching for hair highlights or ombre on Pinterest. Long layers can help create impressions of wavy hair or increase its tendency to wave. 

If you want to add some texture or movement to your hair, the subtleness of long layers will be enough to freshen up your everyday look. 

Do shorter layers give more volume?

Are you the type to opt for a more undone and messy look? Well, short layers may do the trick for you! 

Short layers can make your hair more voluminous and introduce waviness to your hair. You can also get more versatile options when you have short layers. 

If you have straight, thin hair, the graduated look offered by short layers creates much-needed volume. Structured haircuts like pixies and bobs incorporated with short layers introduce vibrance and help manage fine thin hair. 

Face-framing is also achievable with short layers. 

Whether you want to highlight your cheekbones or soften your angular face shape, strategic placing of short layers can alter your face so you can enhance or diminish the features you want or dislike. 

How short should layers be on long hair? 

How short should layers be on long hair

Short layers on long hair are perfect for those sporting beach waves, highlights, or a shag. 

They add texture and volume without sacrificing length. Typically, short layers have 1-2 inches of distance in between layers.

Here are some ideas to rock short layers on long hair. 

  1. If you want more rugged-looking waist-length hair, cut shorter layers from the shoulder to the ends. 
  2. To soften your features and maintain your long tresses, you might want to place your short layers at the front and frame your face. 
  3. Add some fun and texture with a shag haircut and bangs. Shags involve light, short layering, and some soft-cut fringes make for a wild duo. 
  4. Balance out that thick, long hair with some short layers at the top, creating a “feathery” look. 
  5. Try a choppy look with textured and shorter layers at the top while keeping your length.
  6. Get a younger look with wavy hair and short layers. You can frame the face accordingly and choose to emphasize what you want. 
  7. If you have long and thick hair, it’s better to combine short and long layers. You can also ask for face-framing layers to better highlight your features.

Is it better to have long or short layers for curly hair?

Layering your hair is a great way to define and enhance your curls. 

Those with curly or kinky hair often struggle with the weight of the hair pulling the curls down. As a result, the curls lose their definition and fullness. 

However, with layering, you can emphasize your curls more.

The first thing to consider is your curl pattern. 

Those with type 4c or kinky hair would rock a layered haircut better than those with type 2c or loose waves. A layered hair will remove weight but maintain volume for those with kinks but may look poofy on wavy hair.

Along with curls, layers also suit coarse and thick hair the most. Still, it does not mean that thinner or less dense hair cannot benefit from it. 

It’s better to communicate to your stylist what your aims are, e.g., decreasing bulkiness or adding volume, so they can work on the layering style based on your hair thickness and density.

While layers can flatter every straight-haired individual out there, you cannot apply the same perspective to curly-haired people. 

For example, a layered haircut will make your face appear longer if you have a diamond or square shape. Hence, those with round or oval faces may suit layered hair better.

Lastly, maintaining layered, curly hair requires less daily upkeep, albeit requiring regular visits to the salon for a trim.

Now that you learned the basics of layering, the next step is to get an idea of what long vs. short layers for curly hair look like and how they may apply to you.

The curls may lose shape if your curly hair is too long. In that regard, ask your stylist for long layers to get some definition while maintaining hair length. 

In cases of mid-length hair, short layers work better for you as they can add volume. If you are wary of ballooning your hair, try cutting the first layer a bit longer so it flattens the rest of the hair. 

Creating longer layers at the top and proceeding with shorter layers prevent a boxy or bottom-heavy appearance. 

It is essential to envision your hair goal before going to the salon. It is better to have a picture of what you want and get the stylist’s opinion on the feasibility of the cut.

What are soft layers? 

What are soft layers

Soft layers refer to layers created to blend smoothly to the additional length of hair. 

These layers are usually achievable through razors which offer a more seamless transition than shears. Although some techniques or shears intended for blending can soften layers as effectively.

Without soft layers, your hair will have harsher “tiers,” resulting in the appearance of hard lines in your hair. 

If you are looking for soft layered hair that would bring volume to your crown area, Sam Villa, Redken 5th Avenue’s global artistic ambassador, made an excellent tutorial on Youtube that you should check out. 

In this tutorial, he sections the hair into four triangles, creating a diamond shape on the crown area. 

Sectioning is extremely necessary to master, so if you want to try it, it’s best to refer to the tutorial. The end goal is to blend these layers smoothly from the crown down to the longer ends. 

Note that he uses reversible blending shears to diffuse the ends of each layer instead of razors. 

If you want to layer your hair, point cutting is the key to avoiding the blunt lines that create jagged tiers instead of blended layers. 

In point cutting, you hold the ends of the hair between the index and middle finger. You then use shears to vertically cut the tips of your hair and create soft layers. 

Tip: The angle at which you hold and cut with the shears is essential. 

The more vertically positioned it is relative to the hair you are holding, the less hair your trim. If you are a newbie, it is better not to go in deep and wide since you may cut off more hair than expected. 

Textured layers vs. cascading layers

Now that you’ve dived deep into layering, another layered haircut you’d want to know about are textured and cascading layers. 

First off, texturizing your hair is a technique rather than a haircut, unlike cascading layers. So you can texturize your hair while going for a cascading layer. 

A cascading cut involves cutting hair in levels but texturizing your hair to rid it of some volume does not have to involve cutting. 

A textured layer creates an illusion of volume and a natural finish. It works in all hair lengths and creates an informal look. If you have straight hair that you find too flat, you can ask for a textured layer for a change. 

You can accomplish textured layers with razors angled at 90 degrees. 

As a result, the cut isn’t perfect and is asymmetrical. The staggered look makes for an ideal choice if you do not want to air-dry your hair and not spend time styling it after a shower. 

Cascading layers start at approximately 4 centimeters from the shoulders. The proceeding layers are 2 cm apart. Hence, you can’t have cascading layers with short hair. It only works for middle to waist-length hair. 

If you have wavy hair and want to lose some thickness, choose cascading layers instead. The neat haircut would give you an elegant vibe. However, creating this tidy and perfect finish requires blow-drying daily. 

A balayage with cascading layers also looks gorgeous and emphasizes the highlighting technique well. Even if you have a simple, vibrant color, the cascading haircut will enhance it in a head-turning fashion. 

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