Skip to main content

How to Grow Out a Layered Haircut

Blunt ends are key.

Q: Last (ever) visit to a trendy, high priced salon: I found that their "let's choppy it up a bit shall we!" handiwork was actually NOT the easy-care, sleek, jolly little shoulder-length bob my fine-to-medium (lots of it), dark brown (and actually very healthy and shiny!), straight hair required. 

Neither did the chopped-up, over-layered mess allow for my quiet, reserved personality or my small, 'quiet' face shape either. Oh, and the nasty little git threw in a comment about "making you look younger" too!!

From The Styling Edit Archives

Being a bit pre-menopausal, shy and recently bereaved of my mum—wanting to cheer myself up—I "let him do what he thought". I am now in tears most mornings with my wispy, dried-up ends just touching my shoulder tops and a great thick lump of over-layered, uneven 'hair' at about ear height—some of it is shorter that this actually! It doesn't move at all or swing in a healthy, shiny way as it did; it looks dull (due to all the layers), thin and dead or thick and immobile. The whole thing is vile. The longest layer is 15" long; shortest layer way up on back of head is 4" long.

Any advice AT ALL would help please! I went back to complain, he told me that a dark red rinse and some tongs would help... "did I want to purchase these?!!!!!!!!! — Jemima

A: First, the bad news. As the layers grow out, unfortunately, it's going to take more styling work in the short-term. 

Waiting for the layers to catch up to the ends will take a while, since hair only grows about six inches a year.

However, there are lots of cute shorter 'dos out there to aspire to, such as Katie Holmes' sweet bob:

Or Nicole Richie's side-swept bob 'n' bangs:

The most important thing to do is to keep trimming the bottom—but NOT THE LAYERS.

If you can handle going a bit shorter right away, consider seeing a hairdresser (get a friend whose cut you admire to recommend a new one—I wouldn't bother with the guy who botched it) and get them to just fix the ends only. Not to take off much of the length but just to make it really blunt so you don’t get the wispy, raggedy ends. The bluntness will make your hair look thicker. The only place you want the layers to be is around the face. (See: Katie and Nicole, above.)

Then—once the ends are blunt, you’re going to have to let the shorter layers on top grow in.

You’ll probably want to get a few trims along the way as it grows out—just keep trimming the bottom layer up so that it gradually matches the top ones. As the layers grow and start to match up it will start to feel thicker. But don’t let them cut the layers to “freshen them up”—just leave them until they grow long again.

Playing with your hair texture will also help. I’d try to wear it a bit wavier if you can, as that will disguise the layers. Try hot rollers, velcro rollers, curling with a flat iron or even old-fashioned pin curls. Brush out the curls and it should give it some body and fullness. (Brushed-out curls are very on trend right now, by the way.)

Something like Charlize Theron has would be good to aim for:

Products-wise, consider investing in a beach hair product (like a sea spray) to give your hair more texture and fullness. You can't go wrong with Bumble and Bumble's Surf Spray:

Or Oribe Après Beach:

A volumizing, root-lifting product would be great too. I've been using this one from MOP:

Matrix makes a similar root lifter; the dispenser lets you target the product right at the roots.

To deal with the dullness, you might want to try a clear gloss treatment, which won't change the colour of your hair but WILL add more shine. (I know the dullness is brought on by overzealous layering, but this extra boost can only help.) Clairol's Shine Happy is a good one:

Finally—try playing around with where you part your hair… switch it from the middle to the side and vice-versa. You can also add some hair accessories. Try pinning your hair off your face or behind one ear, or wearing a pretty hairband or clip. Check out Selma Blair:

And remember... winter is coming and there are always hats. (Anthropologie has the cutest selection.)