Q: How Do I Grow Out My Layered Haircut?

Growing pains indeed.
Michelle Villett
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Growing pains indeed.
Baby with bad hair

Despite the image I've chosen to go with this post, today's topic doesn't actually have to do with kids' haircuts—although I'm sure we all have at least one childhood haircut-related horror story. (In my family, my brother and I wore his 'n hers matching bowl cuts.)

No, today I'm talking about botched haircuts in general. And I don't know about you, but whenever I get a cut I don't like, I immediately feel like this little girl here. I'm not too proud to admit that I've CRIED over my hair. Many times.

And when I read about reader Jemima's recent haircut horror story, I wanted to cry FOR her.


Read it and weep:

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!!

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?!!!!!!!!!"

Poor, poor Jemima. I'm imagining her cut looks something like this, but maybe a little bit longer:


And you know what? These kinds of cuts belong in hair shows, not real life. They're nigh on impossible for regular people to style. I mean, think about it: have you ever seen a celeb wearing something like this? (This is one reason I always, ALWAYS recommend reading Us Weekly—or a similar celebrity tabloid—before you visit your hairdresser to get a sense of the cuts and colours that work in real life. Those paparazzi pics do have a useful purpose.)

So someone needs to strip this guy of his license, no?

And yet, as I've bitched about before, so very many hairdressers want to layer the shiz out of straight hair. One of the other things Jemima mentioned to me was that cutting straight hair actually requires more skill and handiwork than doing curly hair, because the lines are always visible instead of obscured by the curls. Good point. And as much as I love my products and tools, who wants a cut that requires you to bust out the texturizing gel, volumizing mousse, hairspray, hairdryer, velcro rollers and curling iron every single time you wash it?

Now for my advice...

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:

Nicole Richie bob haircut

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 him/her 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:

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray

Or Oribe Après Beach:

Oribe Apres Beach

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

MOP Lemongrass Lift

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

Matrix Total Results Amplify Volume Wonder Boost Root Lifter

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:

Clairol Shine Happy

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.)

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Have your say

Have you dealt with a botched haircut?
How did YOU deal with the growing-out phase?
Ever tried any of these products or tips?