How to cut hair in layers

photo of how to cut layersHi folks, the following is a complete step by step guide to how to cut hair using a uniform layer technique.

So why is a uniform layered haircut still one of today’s most popular type of style across the Globe?

Well for one thing, it’s simple to wear, easy to manage, it suits most types and heads of hair, from fine and straight to thick and curly and it can be adapted for people of all ages. Knowing how to cut hair in layers on any head of hair regardless of texture etc, is a must for any young stylist intent on building a successful clientele.

The following training guidelines show how to cut a mid length layered haircut, and once mastered, will form the basic sectioning techniques for how to cut all the various lengths of layered haircuts.

First things first:  What will you need?

Well a good pair of scissors for a start.  A professional cutting comb, some hair clamps or sectioning clips and a detangling  comb for after shampooing and conditioning.


Long sectioning clips are best for keeping a wide section, and clamps are best for securing long hair.

It would be preferable to work on clean, conditioned hair.

So here are my instructions for how to cut layers: Follow them carefully step by step:

*   Comb the wet hair back from the forehead, and create two parallel partings approximately 3 inches, or 7cm in width, across the top of the head, to just in front of the crown, and secure this section with a clamp.

*   Create another parting across the head, from the end of the first parting, to behind the top of the ear, and section this off using a long sectioning clip.

*   Repeat this on the other side.

*   From the centre of the crown, run a parting down to the centre of the neckline, and leaving out the hair from the occipital bone to the neckline, create two more sections by making two further partings running parallel to the neckline.

*   Secure these partings by combing the hair towards the ears and clamping.

*   You now have a section across the nape area about 2 inches or 5cm deep, from which you will cut in your perimeter line.

*   At this point you could add another section with a horizontal parting running from the fore head to the vertical parting behind the ear, at about one inch or 2cm above the ear, and repeated on the other side or wait until you have cut in your perimeter line at the neckline. Cut in the perimeter line to your desired length at the nape, and comb down and cut the side sections and cut to desired length to blend in with the neck length.

*   With the perimeter length decided, return to your first sections on the top of the head and lift out a section of hair from the forehead approximately half an inch, or 2cm  deep, between the two partings.  Think of the rungs of a ladder, well you have just put in the first rung.

how to cut layers diagram1

Lift the section up with your comb at 90ºand cut the hair parallel to the scalp at the desired length.

Continue over the top of the head to the crown, taking small sections at 90º making sure each cut section is parallel to the scalp, and this will produce an arc shape.

Work your way back to the crown using the ladder analogy, and repeat on the other side.

The next section is from the hair on the sides. Imagine another ladder going back to behind the ear. Pick up the next section, out at 90º, this time using a little of the previously cut section, and the length you have previously cut when you cut in the perimeter to decide your cutting angle and the amount to cut. Work your way back to over the ear. Two thirds of the haircut is now complete.

To complete the back section, I use vertical sections fanning out from the crown. Imagine drawing lines vertically around an orange.  Draw a face on the front then you will get what I mean. Remove the clamps and comb the hair down vertically.

Begin with the section from the crown you put in at the beginning, and create another parallel to this one about 2cm wide, and long enough to fit into your fingers. Lifting the hair up at 90º and including a little hair from the previously cut crown section as a guideline, and not forgetting the arc shape, cut in your line. Work your way round to the vertical parting behind the ear, and repeat on the other side

The last sections are vertical, and starting at the centre vertical section, work towards the ears. Each section will have the previously cut hair from the occipital area as a guide as well as the previously cut perimeter line. Pick up a little of each and only cut what is in between.

To create these vertical sections, you will have to change the way you hold the hair.  Pick the hair up with the comb into your hand with your palm towards you,  and cut the hair in the palm of your hand.

Back to the front, and create a parting from just above the temple to that vertical parting behind the ear.  This is your second ladder. Section and cut the hair in exactly the same way starting at the forehead, only this time, pick up a little of what you have already cut in the first section, to act as a guide line, and angle your fingers to produce another arc shape.

how to cut hair in layers diagram2

how to cut hair in layers diagram3

Your layered haircut is now complete, but not you are not finished.  Now you must check it.

To cross check the haircut simply comb through all the sections from a different direction to see if you have missed some hair. Check behind the ears for sections which may not have been picked up by the comb.

After cross checking, there are other hair cutting techniques that can be applied which are outside the remit of this article, but which would make this haircut more individual and adaptable to clients of all ages.

Ken Graham

note: I’m sorry the head sheet diagrams are a little small, but you can download them here on a PDF file.  Just click each link to download then save the files to your pc.




If you found this post helpful, please do leave a comment, ask me a question or suggest a future post.  Its great to hear from you.


  1. I want to see vidos of hair cutting. Is tat possible?

  2. please could you show me how to do a pixie cut, thanx

  3. Thanks for this great description.! Our son and I have very thick, wavy hair that becomes curly when short. Our hair ends up in a triangle shape when not cut or trimmed properly. It has been very hard to find someone who can cut this kind of hair and we’ve tried many places…. so now, I am learning. Thanks.

  4. I kinda helped but it would be better if u showed a vidoe it wolud help a lot more so that way we can c it in sted of reading it!!! :) thanks! ;)

  5. This helped but you lost me on the side ladder going back. You explain things very clearly step by step. I will definately check out your dvd series. More people need to be trained this way. Thank you!

  6. This helped me out with a college assignment, we are taught a bit differnt to this but really helped thanks :)

  7. thanks really enjoyed your haircutting got a lot from it thankyou x


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