Layering Long Hair

Hairdresser who is cutting layers in long hair
Q: Say that you were layering long hair and the customer wants to have just a few long layers, would it be better to part the hair off and pull it straight up cutting it across, or would it be better to pull the hair straight out and down sort of at an angle to layer it. I tried doing it by pulling the straight up and cutting, but the layers were too short.
I didn't know if maybe my guide line was too short or I should have just pulled the hair straight out at an angle and cut. I also tried to pull the hair out and cut once on a customer and her hair was so thick that I kept losing my guide and the end haircut didn't look as planned. I am so confused about layering, please help!

A: Well, when pulling the hair up over the head (180-degree elevation) your guideline was obviously too short if the resultant layers were too short as well. This technique is good for creating evenly spaced layers in a hairstyle, but you should always cut your guide for this method with the hair hanging down at a zero elevation. Doing this will let you ensure that the shortest layers are at least this length.
The technique of pulling the hair out to a 90-degree elevation (to the side) is another good way to create long layers, but this time you are using a traveling guide as opposed to a stationary guide as is used with the above technique. This means that as you work your way around the head you are using hair that was previously cut as a guide for the next cut.
The problem you encountered with the client with thick hair is very likely a result of trying to cut too much hair at once. Here are some basic tips for cutting a layered haircut that should help:
Always section the hair first. This will let you keep the hair under better control by keeping the hair not being worked with secure and out of the way.
When cutting thick hair, use small slices. On an average scalp, a good rule of thumb is to use slices about as wide as your pinky finger. With especially thick hair you may want to go even thinner.
Always double check your dimensions. Be sure to check the lengths at different points in the cut to make sure you aren't getting off balance. Pull thin strands from different points of the head and raise them to a central point above the head to make sure they are all the same length. Don't wait too long between checking or you'll find you can't get back on track and the cut will be uneven.
We have some good articles on haircutting here at Hairfinder. Take a look at them and you should find even more helpful information on cutting hair.
Photo: Michaelheim/Shutterstock
See also:
How to layer long hair
What is the best technique for deeply layering thick hair?
How would I cut uniform layers for medium length hair?
Haircutting angles and elevation