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Difference between feathered & layered hairstyles

Updated February 21, 2017

Layering, shag cuts and feathering are hairstyles usually associated with the late 1970s and the 1980s. These styles were out of fashion for some time, but grew in popularity in the late 2000s.

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Layering refers to creating any style with variable lengths throughout the cut. It can be used on short, medium or long hair. Feathering is a texturing method often added to layered hairstyles. It reduces the bulk from some areas and creates light, wispy ends. According to Hairfinder, Farrah Fawcett is one of the best-known celebrities to sport layered, feathered hair.


A layered hairstyle is cut by lifting the hair from the head at an angle to the natural growth pattern, then cutting it to the desired length. This is usually done in small segments. Altering the angle at which the hair is held changes the amount of layering and the final look. Once layers are cut, the hair may also be feathered. To feather, stylists hold small pieces of hair at a 90 degree angle to the natural growth pattern, and snip small notches into the ends. This may also be accomplished with a razor.


Layering may prevent the hair from being worn in some styles, particularly updos that require significant length. If a style is possible with a layered cut, more styling product may be required to avoid flyaway hairs. Feathering can promote split ends, particularly if done with a razor, since the hair is cut on the diagonal, which encourages splitting. People who wish to grow their hair very long may wish to avoid these techniques, since the side effects can retard growth.


Layers and feathering both provide more texture and body to flat or limp hair. They're commonly used by people whose hair has little natural body, and is fine, very straight or thin. These techniques can be used to create hairstyles that appear to lengthen the face. This makes them desirable for round-faced people.


Not all layered haircuts are alike. Choosing a qualified, experienced hair stylist who can produce a consistent result is important for layered and feathered cuts. More complex cuts usually require more experience to execute successfully. A poor cut may have layers placed at an unflattering length or angle, or blocky layers that don't blend well into one another.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.

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