Layered haircut inspiration for every hair type and length

Anna Hunter 28 November 2017
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Layered haircut inspiration for every hair type and length

No layered hairstyle edit can begin without a reference to Rachel from Friends era defining 90s layers. Dems the rules. Now that’s out of the way let’s get on with how to wear beautiful modern layers. I asked hair stylist to the stars Paul Edmonds  what layers can do for a ‘do’, and how to style them out to make the most of both your hair type and face shape:

“The best way of falling in love with your hair again is to get a great cut that suits your hair now, rather than necessarily what you’ve always opted for. I believe it's good every so often to have a rethink on what’s working and what's not. Our face shapes actually tend to change a bit with age, so often that the balance needs to be adjusted. Normally as we age the jaw gets heavier and the upper parts of the face lose their youthful fullness. As this happens (I call it the ‘smoke and mirrors moment’), it can be a great refresher to shift the emphasis away from the jaw and neck and bring it back to the cheeks and eyes. This is done by taking some of the weight away from the lower part of the hair and by using some type of fringe or layering around the face give back some width to the upper face.

“You can create a layered effect using colour too. This is particularly gorgeous on square faces with more accentuated facial features. Applying multi-tonal layers of light and dark to the corners of the face and around the jawline soften the overall look- see Olivia Wilde pre her recent chop and Keira Knightley.”

Crave more celeb layering inspo? You’ve come to right place...

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Meghan Markle

We pulled this edit together pre-Royal engagement, but who better to kick off a hairspiration piece than Princess-to-be Meghan in these current times? Long, shiny and often sideswept, we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on where Meghan frequents for haircuts now she’s living in London, and following her there. We’re already onto her facialist . Not that we’re creeps or anything.

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Kate Middleton

More Princess inspo for your perusal, Kate’s gone for the chop of late, with face framing layers that make her midi-bob  less schoolmarm than it might be otherwise. Paul reckons this works as it compliments her oval face shape, with layers giving the look a soft, carefree element:

“The bob shape is cut with gentle textured layers around the edge of her face with a soft side fringe that can also be parted in the centre. This cut shows off Kate’s cheekbones and eyes, as the volume in the layered bob is kept at the same height as her cheekbones and not at the jawline.”

It’s fairly easy going in terms of maintenance too- here’s how to look after a Kate style longer bob:

“Light texture is key- use dry products such as Shu Uemura Kengo Feather , £15.45,  to give lift and lightness or leave-in conditioners to create body and shine. You’ll end up with sensual hair that you want to touch and smell and shake about. It’s fun, easy hair, rather than a strict bob.”

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Jourdan Dunn

Onto something short, polished and with ‘bombshell’ impact. Jourdan’s side parting gives her soft layers a ‘gangsters and molls’ feel, and while curls are looser and less structured than the quintessentially 20s finger waves of the time, there’s something old skool and glamorous yet still up to the minute about Jourdan’s short and oh so shiny layers.

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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

A beachy take on a layered bob, Rosie is another supermodel side-sweeper, with sunkissed highlights  enhancing her casual yet chic layers. The perfect fusion of wavy and choppy in our book- we’re adding this to our “we wish we lived in California” moodboard.

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Sofia Vergara

Long layered hair vibes ahoy- Sofia’s shiny hair curtain is classic, versatile and low-effort in terms of upkeep, plus the ashy ends and lights throughout the layers add depth and thickness if you’ve got fine hair, but a fair bit of it (this is literally me so selfish pick here).

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Alexa Chung

This is possibly as subtle as layers come- you almost have to squint to see the definition in this style maven’s now longish bob, and she’s also demonstrating a neat ‘how to’ in another hot hair trend of the season, the curtain fringe . Subtle layering gives the illusion of thicker hair, as Paul explains:

“Reducing the layering and graduating the front edge of the hair adds volume and movement around the face while retaining thickness in the length. This is a great style for straighter, thinner hair that has a tendency to look limp.”

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Amal Clooney

Amal’s got body and length for days, and her curly layers make the most of her natural assets, as does the rich colour, with a hint of auburn around the edges. This is expensive hair. Red carpet, A-lister layers at their best, but still somehow not too try-hard either. Slightly undone curls give the look a relaxed feel, but this long layered style can be revved up with rollers or blown out straight and still look frankly luscious. It probably looks pretty awesome after a basic towel dry too. Want.

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Halle Berry

Nonchalant, edgy and frankly a masterclass in dressing up short hair for the evening, Halle’s layers also deliver some nifty lush-haired side-effects according to Paul:

“If you’re in search of a hairstyle to create the impression of thicker hair,  then generally, while there isn’t necessarily a set rule, having a shorter cut can give the hair a significantly thicker, fuller feel. I would also recommend adding layers through the top and at the sides. For shorter haircuts, the added texture can give that visibly thicker look.”

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Nathalie Emmanuel

The cast of GOT are pretty much ‘hair goals’ across the board, but Nathalie’s layered afro takes the prize here. Emmanuel describes her natural hair texture as “loose and soft”, and she’s clearly got her routine down since she’s been wearing her hair this way since her school days (according to an interview with Byrdie, she was forced to braid her hair away by teachers when she was younger for “safety” reasons...cue enormous collective sigh/eyebrow/simmering rage). Coconut oil and moisturising creams keep Nathalie’s hair moisturised and bouncy throughout filming apparently.

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Jennifer Aniston

I mean, we couldn’t not. Despite revealing that she actually kind of hated “The Rachel”, Aniston is still bossing layers, albeit in a longer, loucher incarnation. Whether tonged, flicky and blow dried or grown out and wavy, she remains and will always be a layered hair icon. The honeyed balayage  and more relaxed cut means that her current style is light years away from the steep, more than slightly obvious layers of her infamous Friends character, so if you’re referencing Aniston hair at the salon, perhaps emphasise this gaping point of’s mega 90s layers for you.

12 of the best short hairstyles to reference if you’re considering going for the chop

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