Layered haircuts have a bad rap. Thanks to the '90s obsession with them, the noughties was a palette cleanser of sleek, straight mono-length hair. Today, however, we're slowly starting to embrace layers once again. But the 2.0 version is more about creating cool-girl texture and a little well-placed volume. You can forget about that less-than-covetable mushroom shape that became so intrinsically linked with '90s celebs. Don't get us wrong—we'll always have a special place in our hearts for The Rachel, but the modern version is more subtle than that.
Below, we're rounding out 60 celebrities who have nailed layered hair. And for some pro styling tips, we called on sought-after hairstylists Joseph Maine and Anastasia Stylianou.
Meet the Expert
Scroll on to get inspired before hitting the salon for your next layered haircut, from long layers to short.
We have to give it to Priyanka Chopra Jonas for perfecting the no layers-layered hairstyle, which is ideal for anyone too scared to go for that full-on Rachel-from-Friends look. Ask your stylist for long layers around the front of your face to help balance out the cut.
Selena Gomez's chin-grazing bob is made every bit prettier with the inclusion of a few layers. The best part? It's also a great way to give fine hair a bit of width and volume. Opt for a middle part like Gomez to complement a rounder face.
According to Maine, a long blunt cut like Nicole Beharie's can be good for curly hair types that are looking for lots of control, or for those who live in a humid environment (as the added weight helps manage the curls). "The deep side part helps add shape to an overall simple haircut," he adds.
We love the way Jourdan Dunn's short hair has been tapered to give it more shape. To get the look, ask your hairdresser for some longer invisible layers that sit above the jawline. Style with a few spritzes of texturizing spray for effortless waves.
We love a good wave set that's as effortless as it is rich in texture, and Melanie Fiona's 'do checks all the boxes. Use a 1.5-inch curling iron to wrap one-inch sections of hair around, making sure to wrap from root to tip. Apply a small amount of Ouai Fragrance Free Curl Créme ($32) to keep curls defined and free of frizz.
Adding subtle layers to curly hair can give ringlets bounce and a little height, as proven by Alanna Arrington. To ensure your curls have maximum definition (and look ultra-glossy), drop a quarter-sized amount of Cake Beauty The Curl Friend Defining Curl Cream ($9) into your palm for a smooth look.
We're digging Eva Mendes's modern take on an Old Hollywood glamour 'do. Her soft curls are accentuated by the subtle layers throughout the lengths, but her fringe is voluminous, making the overall style look updated and fresh. For an extra boost of volume, flip hair to the side like Mendes.
Zendaya's long layers are the perfect length to complement her glossy straight locks. Paired with a middle part and full brows, her overall look is a match made in beauty heaven. "Prime the hair using Dream Coat ($12) by Color Wow. And finish off with a good shine spray—my favorite is Glossy Shine Mist ($23) by Monat," Stylianou tells us.
If your hair is a little rebellious, you can go over it once with a smoothing iron. But keep in mind that it's all in the blowout; straighteners should only be used as a finishing tool.
Winnie Harlow's haircut proves the power of layers and their ability to lift naturally curly hair. A little bit of a curl-enhancing gel can go a long way—try the Naturalicious Dramatic Definition Gel ($38) for texture without the weight.
Fake texture on fine hair with this mid-length layered cut. Maine says you can customize the front layers depending on whether you want to elongate or shorten your face. "Heavily layering from throughout the perimeter of the hair gives it a cool effortless vibe," he says.
Rather than Jessica Biel's long hair hanging loose and looking shapeless, she's feathered the front of the hair to create some shorter layers around the face. And we can't forget about her honeyed highlights that add so much warmth.
Super-subtle jaw-length layers and a long center-parted fringe help to add some structure and shape to J.Lo's long layered haircut. Use a medium barrel curling iron to achieve these bombshell waves.
Mary J. Blige rocks a piecey fringe, which works to eliminate the weight a denser hair type would carry. "This heavily layered cut with a swoopy bang is best suited for small faces and an angular bone structure," says Maine. "To style, I recommend using a curling iron like the GHD Curve Creative Curling Wand ($199) with a clamp to create little bends on the ends."
Have fine hair with minimal texture? Maine says this is the cut for you. "If you have a long face or thick, textured hair, this look may eventuate the length and become triangular in shape," he says.
If you want to reap the voluminous benefits of layers without committing to a chop-heavy cut, ask for layers in the bottom few inches of your hair like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. You can wear it in a deep side part to embrace the effect of shorter layers, but if you're wanting to switch it up you can flip it back to center and just like that, the layers are invisible.
Amp up your shoulder-grazing lob with barely-there curtain bangs and subtle piecey highlights à la Kerry Washington. To get her shiny tresses, work in a few spritzes of the It's a 10 Miracle Shine Hair Spray ($21).
If heavy layers are your thing, you have something in common with Oprah Winfrey. "This cut is great for people with very thick hair who want a short style, and is best styled with flips, movement, and lots of volume," says Maine. "Short bob lengths can extenuate round or large faces, but with this sort of volume it can offset the shape and make the face appear smaller," he adds.
To achieve wispy bangs, use hot rollers or velcro rollers. Let hair sit for 10 minutes before removing gently and shaking it out.
Jennifer Aniston is the poster girl for layered hair. While "The Rachel" style has long since grown out, Aniston and her hairdresser Chris McMillan are die-hard fans of the volume-boosting and shaping effect of well-placed layers. The key to this look starts with a smooth blow-dry done with a round brush. Try Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream ($38) pre-styling to ensure volume.
If the thought of putting scissors to your curls freaks you out, take a cue from Alicia Keys. Layers add volume, definition, and texture—plus, the look of curly bangs is never not on-trend. Just "don’t go crazy with the layers. This should be cut visually and ever so slight, otherwise you may end up with a mullet," advises Stylianou. "To make this hairstyle come to life, use Devacurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam ($28)," she adds.
Okay, so Khloé Kardashian's hair has been lengthened with extensions, but to help disguise the join, her hairdresser packed the mid-lengths and ends with layers. It also happens to add a cool-girl texture to her mane.
If you're looking for proof that a simple blowout can lend itself to both volume and elegance, look to Halle Berry, who styles hers with wispy layers and an undone fringe. Given the length, those with medium to thick hair will look best in this style.
Jennifer Lawrence keeps her feathered layers interesting by maintaining a classic mid-length and a face-framing front. Maine says that most textures and densities can pull off a cut like this, but to be wary of deep side parts as they can make the layers look unbalanced. "To achieve this style, I’d recommend spraying Color Wow's Dream Coat Supernatural Spray ($28) all throughout wet hair and drying with the Trademark Beauty Easy Blo One-Step Dryer and Volumizer ($49) to both dry and smooth your hair all at once," he says.
If there's one thing Rachel McAdams knows how to nail (besides a pretty epic rain kiss), it's a chic hair hairstyle. Go for layers that shape the face—rather than cut into it—along with a subtle auburn shade to mimic her look.
Amp up your look like KKW and opt for a layered clavicle lob with cool-girl side flip. If your hair has natural movement, spritz through Morrocanoil's Glimmer Shine ($28) to achieve that shiny, wet look without the grease.
Layered Lob with Volume
Olivia Culpo's long, layered lob doesn't come without some mega volume. To fake volume and texture like this, ask your hairdresser for a lob with long layers. Then, work in some of the Sexy Hair Root Pump Hair Mousse ($14) into towel-dried hair before blow-drying it with your head flipped upside down.
If you're growing your hair out from a pixie crop like Kate Mara is, you should know this: Layers are your friend. A little choppy texture throughout the ends can prevent a bob from looking too prim.
Hailey Bieber's hairdo is all about texture. "A look like this can require special ways of cutting and removing weight to prevent the hair from becoming triangular, so really dense or curly hair types should see someone who specializes in their texture if they want to achieve this style," notes Maine.
Working with the Wave
If your hair is naturally wavy, a few well-placed layers can help give naturally unruly hair some shape. Otherwise, they can help add much-needed volume and oomph to fine hair. A little balayage, like Alexa Chung's, can also help to add texture without the need for tons of layers.
Sleek and Straight
Ciara has no shortage of Pin-worthy hairdos, but this neck-length bob is one for the books. The ends are flicked inward while the strands are sleek and straight, giving the whole look a touch of elegance.
We're all about low-maintenance 'dos, and this one fits the bill. "This look works well for most hair types, textures, and face shapes," says Maine. "To achieve this style, I would recommend making flat iron waves by rocking your hands back and forth as if you’re using a doorknob as you slide your way down the hair. The looser the better, so only do a couple of rocks back and forth as you make your way down."
Incredibly subtle, yes, but the layers in Sienna Miller's hair help to add some structure to her longer length. Plus, a few layers around the shoulder can prevent long hair from looking unloved. A quick spritz of sea salt spray will get you her undone finish.
We never thought there'd be a day where we'd actually have major hair envy for a combover style, but alas, here we are. Rihanna's flip-over works thanks to her imperfect curls and extra-long layers. It's "great for really long hair and anyone trying to elongate their face," comments Stylianou. "Spray Got2b Glued Hairspray ($5) on the root for a strong hold," she instructs.
If you're looking for a way to achieve a vintage glam look without going full-throttle, take a page from Beyoncé's book. Her S-waves are complemented by her dimensional layers and can be achieved by using a one-inch curling wand and a good ear tuck.
Gabrielle Union's asymmetrical bob is what hair dreams are made of. To replicate, ask for choppy layers—for dimension and texture—and slick one side of the hair down with a mattifying pomade.
If choppy layers aren't your thing, they're about to be thanks to Julianne Hough's edgy bob. To replicate at home, use a flat iron to create undone curls all around your head. Then, to maintain that messy look, spritz on a texture-enhancing hairspray like Redken's Windblown 05 Dry Texturizing Hairspray ($19).
We're getting lots of hair-spiration over Jada Pinkett Smith's perfectly imperfect bedhead. To DIY these tousled waves, warm up some of John Masters Organics Hair Paste ($19) into your fingers before running through the bottom half of your layers.
We're all about a jaw-grazing bob that's super low-maintenance, but paired with asymmetrical layers and a side shave? It goes from convenient to stylish. We stay heart-eyed for Taraji P. Henson's cut.
Mid-length blunt ends with added texture are a winning combination. "This style is created by cutting a blunt line into the length and then slicing out some pieces throughout to give it movement," says Maine. "It's a great option for those that have thin to medium density, as it makes your hair appear more full since the layering is minimal and the density is kept around the perimeter."
Zoe Saldana is giving us some head-turning princess vibes with her effortlessly put-together low ponytail. "This is a good style to make use of those finer hairs around the hairline, or anyone growing out their hair," Stylianou points out. Get the look by curling random pieces of your ponytail and leaving a few face-framing layers out on display—and don't forget a dry texture spray like Cool Girl ($34) by Sam McKnight, she adds.
Jennifer Hudson's eye-skimming pixie proves that you can have layers even if you're donning ultra-short strands. To accentuate the varying lengths, work in a hair pomade (we're fans of the Malin & Goetz Hair Pomade, $24) a little bit at a time.
A universally flattering look is this long layered cut with bold face-framing pieces. "This is styled by blow-drying the hair in small sections very smooth," notes Maine. "I would follow the blow dry with a flat iron to make sure all of the curl is removed and then follow with a curing iron."
You can't go wrong with a blonde pixie cut, especially if you're oval-faced like Kristen Stewart. Layers are a must with a cut like this—they add much-needed texture especially if your hair is on the finer side.
Logan Browning's curls hit perfectly at shoulder length, and the addition of subtle layers keep it from looking too heavy on the bottom. Try Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie ($14) to create definition and tame flyaways.
The key to short bobs? Lots of volume. Jazmyn Simon nails her asymmetrical bob by chopping in layers that thin out at the bottom. To lift the hair, apply a volume-enhancing mousse and let it air-dry.
One thing Vivica Fox taught us with this look? Don't be bashful with going dark at the roots. We're loving her perfectly-curled shoulder-length 'do, which looks like the work of a blow-dryer and a large round brush—try the four and a quarter-inch Ceramic + Ion Thermal Hairbrush ($31) from Olivia Garden.
We're all about Sandra Bullock's rockstar vibes—her long layers don't have any excess weight, which lends itself to this beautiful shaggy style. "This is a style nearly any face shape can pull off but it's best for medium to thick densities," says Maine. "In order to get this full look, I’d recommend alternating directions wrapping around a wand and slightly pulling each strand to loosen the wave."
We can't decide what we love more—Robin Givens's luscious lashes, her subtle highlights, or her spirally waves. To DIY the cut, ask for invisible layers and curl hair with a one-inch curling wand.
Kristen Bell's shoulder-length, layered look is amplified with a hint of darkness at the roots. Don't forget to show off your favorite chandelier earrings with a proper tuck-back.
We're swooning over Alessandra Ambrosio's undone long layers. To get her supermodel waves, loosely wrap large sections around a 1.5-inch barrel and shake out afterward—no precision needed.
Whoever said wavy hair can't be glossy was clearly mistaken. Just take one glance at Ashley Graham, who stuns with subtle layers, a chestnut hair color, and ultra-shiny locks. Get her look by washing hair with a buildup-removing clarifying shampoo like the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Gentle Clarifying Shampoo ($4) and wrapping hair around the barrel of a curling iron or wand.
Less is More
Meghan Markle's long layers prove that sometimes the simpler the cut, the better. "This can best be achieved by twisting a round brush and using a blow-dryer, or by wrapping hair around a large iron," says Maine.
Get maximum texture for your long layers by alternating the direction you wrap your hair around the wand. Finish off by working a shine-boosting serum through the ends and laying down baby hairs with a styling paste.
A shoulder-grazing cut with a dirty blonde hue and a swoopy fringe is all you need to replicate Kate Hudson's feathery layers. Protect your color with Paul Mitchell's Color Protect Locking Spray ($16), which adds shine and nourishment all while sealing in your color.
Straight and Sleek
Tia Mowry's straight and sleek layers get a playful twist with the addition of a side braid. Use a humidity-resistant spray like Sexy Hair's Big Sexy Hair Weather Proof Humidity Resistant Spray ($14) to keep strands looking shiny no matter the weather.
Olivia Palermo's flowing layers get points in the plus column for being versatile. Maine says to style by wrapping each section of hair away from the face with a large wand or curling iron.
Tika Sumpter's face-framing bob looks ultra-chic on those who want to show off their great bone structure or extenuate their jawline. The fringe helps to offer a bit of width to the overall look.
Spruce up your blunt bob with jagged ends like Angela Bassett. "This works well for most hair types but is ideal for angular face shapes with nice bone structure or small features," notes Maine. "The style is best created with a flat iron—not for making the hair perfectly straight, but for putting slight bends and kinks in the hair."
Where should my layers start?
For medium to long hair, begin layers at the chin or just below the nose.
What type of layers are best for fine, thin hair?
Opt for longer layers since layering can make fine, thin hair appear more sparse.
Does curly hair curl better with layers?
Layers can lend shape to curly hair and can remove some of the bulk. But it's best to go with long layers since short layers may make curly hair pouf out.