The Curl Whisperer on Layers vs. Blunt Cuts


When it comes to trying a new style or haircut, curlies have their reservations. No one wants to make a mistake that will cost them their beautiful locks. One of the questions I hear a lot from fellow curlies is about layering curls. Are you wondering, should I layer my curly hair? Will it work with my texture? Well, here’s my take on it.

Should I Layer My Curly Hair?  
The real question here is do you want to layer your curly hair? If the answer is yes, then do it! Curly hair is incredibly versatile in terms of styles, but some curly girls are convinced a blunt cut is the only option for their curls. I don’t know where this idea came from, but you can absolutely have a layered cut with curls. In fact, a few well-placed layers can stop hair from looking too bottom heavy or boxed. It is important that you clearly communicate with your hair stylist what you are looking for in terms of layers. If you aren’t already, you should be going to a salon or stylist that is experienced in the unique needs of curly hair. Nothing is worse than going in for a new cut or style and coming out looking and feeling your worst because the person doing your hair treated it the same as straight hair. Make sure you use a curly hair expert for the best cut!

Will It Work with My Texture? 
Layers work well with all textures, but they benefit certain textures more than others. For example, if you already have a thicker texture and loads of volume, you may not need layers. The main point of layers is to add volume and body to your hair. The texture matters less than the length when it comes to layers. Generally speaking, the longer your hair, the more layers you can add, but even short hair can benefit from a few layers.

How to Get the Best Cut 
While curly hair is best kept in layers, there are a few issues with the standard way hair is cut into layers that you need to know about first. Wet cuts are performed by a hairdresser using "degrees" or "elevation"; a 90-degree cut, for example, means a subsection of the hair is held out at a 90-degree angle from the head and the section is cut accordingly. As the hairdresser moves around the head, she/he takes a small piece of the previously cut section and joins it to the next section, thereby creating a "guide" to cut the next section, and so on.

The degree the hairdresser chooses to use determines how much of a resulting graduation (or layer) is built into the style; because curls naturally graduate themselves, however, using certain degrees, such as a 90, can result in that triangular shape. Dry cuts are much more precise and avoid a lot of the issues in standard wet layering because the hairdresser can actually see the curls themselves without distortion and can cut them as you wear them.

Because most of us do not have access to a stylist with dry cut experience, though, the following guidelines can help you to work with your stylist to achieve a layered wet cut that avoids many of the usual pitfalls:


- Tell your stylist to give you longer layers, but to keep the angle at 45 degrees and not raise you up to a 90 at any time. Reason: 90-degree angles are very tricky on curly hair and, if she doesn't know what she is doing, you could end up with the dreaded "mushroom" or "triangle" head.

- "Trim" can mean 1/4" or 1/2" or an 1". Be very, very specific about how much she should take off wet; for example, if you have an 8"-12" spring, a 1/2" trim wet can make you look 3"-4" shorter dry. So, be very specific and say, "I would like a xx" trim of my layers and no more than that anywhere since it will be shorter than I want if you do."

- If you have a thin density, it is very, very important that she NOT take the layers up too far. Thin density needs more weight, not less.

- If she can, she needs to keep a solid "base" at the bottom and only start layering an inch or two up from the bottom perimeter. I hate seeing stringy or straggly ends from a cut on curly hair because the layering started too soon.

- With a wet cut on long hair, your shortest pieces should be no higher than about your chin, with the exception of your face frame.

- And RUN FOR YOUR LIFE if anyone comes near you with a razor or thinning shears!

The bottom line is if you want layers, do it. Curly hair is versatile and can rock a ton of cuts and styles. Don’t limit your curls!

Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.

10 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

Another great article Tiffany! Thank you for the information.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU I have wanted to get my hair cut so it would fall right,but I was so afraid. No one I have dealt with has cut my hair correctly. Why is cutting curly hair such a big deal and a mystery? Thank you Tiffany. I will get my next cut armed with this invaluable info

Michelle said...

Awesome tips! As I do like my hair dressers and she's not comfortable with a dry cut on my curls!

fate1499 said...

Thank god I have you to dry cut my hair!!

Ronald said...

I don't understand why you are telling people to run away from thinning shears. Whenever you layer you have to blend in your layers or else you will have weightlines out the yin yang. I hope that these people will be happy with solid blunt lines all over the place :)

Tiffany Anderson said...

If you blend carefully (with either a dry or a wet cut), you will never have any solid blunt lines. In any case, a few lines are usually preferable to the little frizzy "twigs" that inevitably sprout out from curly hair from the use of thinning shears or razors :)

Ronald said...

How do you blend the layers (removing the weight lines) with out using thinning shears ????

Tiffany Anderson said...

By removing the entire curl where bulk needs to be adjusted. It is much more curly friendly and kinder to the hair cuticle.

Anonymous said...

Removing the entire curl? Like, cutting at the roots?

Tripstar3000 said...

So having been trained by Deva Shaun, creator of the "curly girl" haircut method you should ALWAYS cut people who wear their hair curly, dry and have them come in with it in their natural hair texture (how they normally style it curly.) I work at a high end salon so we work on appointment and not walk ins so it is easier to communicate this to the clients if you work on appointment. IF you must cut the hair wet and dont know how to cut the curly hair in its natural dry state, you should cut the hair in the form of slicing the layers v. blunt lines, this will keep weight lines at bay and cause them to blend in more. As to Ronalds questions, I never use thinning shears except maybe on short mens hair, I always slice the weight out. By using thinning shears when you go in and cut into the layers you are creating additional weight lines as thinning shears cut texture in but cuts it in with a blunt line. So you are essentially creating more weight lines. As for curly hair when you cut it with thinning shears or a razor you are creating blunt weight lines within the curl thus because you have done this you have 2 different lengths in the actual curl, so when the shorter piece dries and curls up in this particular curl and the longer one does the same, they dont fall into each other to form a smooth curl, therefore you get expansion from the short piece that doesnt lay smoothly with the long and you get major frizz and major volume because the curl pattern has been disrupted. Sorry for the long winded speech but I hear this from so mnay clients a day who say they have had their hair destroyed, but if you are looking to imrpove your income I highly suggest looking into one of the classes, you can create a market for your area as not many people specialize in curly hair, many people have it and cant find people to cut it right and there is no blowout!!! My fav part!! Hope this helps you guys and lemme know if you have any more questions!!

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