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HOW TO: Cut Your Own Layers

Updated on May 29, 2015

One of my most popular hubs gives instructions on how to cut your hair at home. In the original I mention that giving yourself new layers is a lot harder than maintaining an existing cut. But it's actually easier than you might think! There's an easy trick to cut perfect, natural-looking layers in two steps and under five minutes. And all you need is three things.

Why Layers?

Layers add volume and movement to your hair. When your hair ends bluntly at one length, it can make your hair look flat and blocky. But when your hair falls in multiple layers, your volume adds dimension and weightlessness. It's a great way to draw attention to your hair color.

A lot of people in the process of growing out their hair avoid any kind of cut because they're afraid of losing length. But cutting layers will actually make your hair look longer by drawing attention to the sheer amount of hair that you have.

Haircut scissors. Cheap, super sharp, easy to hold.
Haircut scissors. Cheap, super sharp, easy to hold.

Supplies You'll Need

This is probably the most minimal supply list I've ever written.


--A hairbrush. This is if you normally use a brush to style, or at least detangle, your hair. If you have very curly hair or otherwise don't normally brush your hair, stick to whatever you normally use. We're not reinventing the wheel here.

--Scissors. I'll be honest, I use whatever I can find lying around the house. But salon-quality scissors are so cheap. Here's a pair on Amazon for $9.

--Mirror. You don't even need a see-the-back-of-the-head fancy mirror set-up for this one. I told you it was easy.

--Hair elastic. Whatever you'd normally use to pull your hair back. Grab one.

Perfect ponytail for layer-cutting.
Perfect ponytail for layer-cutting.

Step 1

Pull your hair back into a ponytail. Now's not the time for sloppy. Part your hair right down the middle--whether or not that's how you normally wear it--and pull it back. Take the time to make sure you're not rocking any bumps. Aim for the crown of your head--not too high, not too low.

You'll notice that, if your hair is one length, the ends of your ponytail are ragged and uneven. That's because hair from different parts of your head has to travel a different distance to get into the ponytail. The hair from the front is going to have many inches outside of the ponytail where it's stretching to the back of your head, while your hair in the back is going to be almost entirely contained in the ponytail.

This lady would cut right at the red line.
This lady would cut right at the red line.

Step 2

Feel around the ends of your ponytail and find where the ragged parts stop and your ponytail turns more solid. You're going to be cutting off the part of the ponytail where the whole volume of your hair doesn't reach. If you don't want to lose much length, you can cut right where the ragged parts end. If you want to go shorter, just move further up the ponytail.

Make sure your scissors are parallel to the floor--no diagonals!--and cut straight across. You want the end of your ponytail to be blunt and neat. (Which means that, aside from having perfect layers when your hair is down, you'll get sharp, perfect updos.)

And now let your hair down. Tada!

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    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I have very long hair, which has become coarser with age. The last time I cut it, I used clips to section the area just behind the ears to the front and used my sewing hemmer to gauge about 4 inches where I cut. It turned out nicely, but I'm a procrastinator when it comes to maintaining a coif. Your method is a much easier one than mine.

      Thank you for sharing.

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