Layer Up

5 October 2021

Jennifer Aniston has a lot to answer for. The ‘Rachel’ hairstyle was THE haircut to have back in 1995, allowing people the world over to experience the true “joy” of styling this heavily layered look.  Rumour has it she didn’t even really like the cut – unverified of course but I can imagine that the sheer amount of styling required to make this cut look half decent would give most people a little bit of buyers remorse. So I blame her for the severe aversion to layering so many of my clients still seem to have. Unfair? Maybe. But who wouldn’t be adverse after years of struggling to make their ‘Rachel’ look less… well… Karen.


What are layers you ask? Layers are just different lengths of hair sitting on top of each other. In actual fact there are layers in almost every hair cut. The only cut that has zero layering is the solid form (technical term there!) which is where all the hair is pulled down and cut straight across the bottom. If you actually think about it, to get it “all the same length” the underneath hair has to be shorter than the top hair. So really, that’s just upside down layers. Right?

So there’s the bad news. Layers are hiding, incognito, in your hair right now. Face framing? Layers. Graduation? Layers. Thinning/ Weight removal? Unstructured layers. Curtain Bangs? Layers. Texture? Unstructured layers! Gasp! Quelle horreur! Quick, bring the smelling salts! 


My penchant for drama aside, the good news is, layers are what give your hair cut shape and individuality. Without layers, we are all stuck with the same haircut, the blunt solid form cut. Which is great if you have not too much, fine to medium textured hair or you want to grow your hair like rapunzel. Otherwise it’s Triangle City – everyone’s favourite hair destination. 

Here are a few things to consider when finding the layered look that works for you. Short layers do not automatically give you a mullet but neither do they necessarily give you more volume or less weight. Sometimes they can do the opposite and make your hair look wispy on the ends or like you have a helmet on your head. I often find that more unstructured layering in the underneath of the hair is more effective at giving more and also, paradoxically, less volume.  

Shag haircuts and mullets are definitely cousins. If you look up almost any Rock Star from the 70’s to the 80’s you can see the family resemblance. You can also see the scope of these haircuts. A mullet does not have to be AFL player or 80’s style business at the front, party at the back. A shag cut isn’t confined to Farrah Fawcett flicks or David Cassidy feathers.  There are so many gorgeous modern versions of the shag and the mullet – think Billie Eilish or Miley Cyrus – that there is always a short to long layered look for you. All the cool kids have them!

Even the classic bob and it’s new friend the “cool girl bob” rely on some level of layering to give the desired sleek or textured looks these cuts are so renowned for. Without layers, the aforementioned triangle strikes! With layers, ah, that’s when love happens. 

Look, I’m one of those annoying (hypocritical in my case) people who for years claimed that I hated layers, based on one very tragic incident involving an apprentice and a razor. I still shudder at the memory of the large chunk of hair that no amount of texturizing could disguise for a solid 9 months. Made worse by another poor soul who tried to “blend it in” by cutting an equally short piece on the other side, despite my protestations to the contrary. But I’ve finally come around to the concept of layers again. 


I adore my face framing layers. My hair has always been prone to a bit of wanderlust so it loves to escape its confines. With this bit of shaping around my face it at least looks like my hair has escaped on purpose. I have always found a healthy dose of freehand texturising to be essential in giving my fly away mop some semblance of style beyond looking like I’ve constantly got static. And having just taken the plunge again this year for actual layers at the back – not too short of course! – I have finally realised how much I love the versatility a beautifully layered haircut gives me. 

So the next time your hairdresser talks to you about layers I say just go with it! After all, the picture perfect haircut you have always dreamed of probably has layers in it anyway. You might as well hit your upcoming office Christmas party in style and make all your friends jealous with your fabulous new hairdo. And maybe I should give Jennifer a break, after all “Office Space” is eternally fabulous. At least she didn’t start the trend of people asking for ‘three layers’. Your hair is not a cake so three layers will give you hair like a christmas tree and to be honest it’s kind of terrifying when people ask to see your management. Save your hairdresser and just ask for the ‘Rachel’. Until next time….


Sarah x




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