30 Medium-Length Layered Haircuts to Liven Up Your Look
Sure, the blunt bob always seems to be a top pick in Hollywood—and most everywhere else—but for those of us who’ve been growing out our lobs since last fall (raises hand), you know the difficulty in trying to style ribcage-grazing hair. It isn’t quite short enough to embrace a voluminous crop, and it isn’t long enough to execute styles that require the added inches (like an iconic Kardashian ponytail or a Blake Lively braid) either. But according to hair industry pros Adir Abergel and Anastasia Stylianou, layered, medium hair can be extremely versatile and fun. By working in some long layers, adjusting your part, or styling it just so, you’ll be falling in love with your not-short, not-long hair in no time.
Below, we’ve rounded up 30 chic medium-length hairstyles for varying textures inspired by celebrities who wear them best.
We can’t get Miranda Kerr’s collarbone-length cut out of our minds—or our hair inspiration boards. Long, polished layers add extra volume and dimension to her shiny locks. The effect is fun and flirtatious.
For gorgeous volume like Chanel Iman’s, spritz freshly dried ends (from the mid-shaft down) with a hearty dose of IGK Beach Club Texture Spray ($32). It adds a ton of mega-watt body without the crunch or stick.
Georgia May Jagger
Georgia May Jagger is rocking a choppy shag with face-framing layers. The uneven layers are very rock ‘n’ roll albeit with a pink feminine flair. “To style this effortless look daily, use Virtue Texturizing Spray ($19) to add definition and movement,” says Abergel.
From chin-length bobs to silver-platinum hair color, Karlie Kloss always keeps us on our toes when it comes to her ever-evolving locks. We especially love this layered take (pre-bleach job).
We’d be silly to say that we don’t unabashedly drool over Chrissy Teigen’s otherworldly cheekbones. And though it does seem impossible, her flattering length and beach wave layers only make them look better.
Like Kloss, Zendaya seems to have never met a cut or style she didn’t like—or that didn’t suit her. “I’ve always been a huge fan of embracing your natural texture. Bangs look so chic worn curly and natural,” says Abergel. Stylianou adds, “If you’re a natural babe and you just want your curls to look effortless and healthy like Zendaya’s, I recommend paying extra attention to your curly hair routine.” As to what exactly that entails, she says, “Invest in a microfiber towel, a silk pillowcase, and oiling and treating your hair regularly.”
Soo Joo Park
If you’re looking to upgrade your medium-length locks with a bit of edge, look no further than Soo Joo Park’s punk rock-inspired look. The model’s layered, wispy ends pair brilliantly with a light dusting of eyebrow-length fringe. Although this ‘do is mostly platinum, Park leaves her bottom layers a darker shade to play with color contrasts.
Model Jasmine Tookes shows off pretty face-framing layers that are offset by dimensional chocolate- and caramel-hued highlights. The medium-length hits just right.
With a sleek nod to old Hollywood glamour, Emma Stone wears her layers with flattering waves inspired by Veronica Lake. However, her shorter length gives the iconic style a refreshing update. “Ask your stylist to always add Olapex when lightening your hair to avoid breakage,” recommends Stylianou. “Another top tip to keep hair looking clean and not brassy is to use a toning mask, Christophe Robin Baby Blond ($53) is my favorite.”
Can’t decide on a length? Then why not go asymmetrical with a half bob, half shoulder-length cut like Thandie Newton. To score her effortless waves, we recommend investing in a sea salt spray.
Shay Mitchell is never short of head-turning hair moments. Here, her layers are dispersed throughout to give her mane a fresh, dimensional touch. As for her secret to great hair? For starters, try ditching your blow-dryer.
Actress Parisa Fitz-Henley embraces her natural texture and lets her curls just be. Her soft layers lend form and style to her ‘do, which is important when working with curly natural texture. To keep curls nourished, Stylianou swears by Olaplex treatments. “Do this on a weekly basis, leave overnight to get maximum effects, and apply Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil ($8) to your roots,” she instructs.
If you’re looking for the perfect antidote to unpredictable strands—that is also au naturel—then give these DIY curl cream recipes a shot.
Brazilian bombshell Adriana Lima pulls off this layered, wavy style without even trying. If you’ve got thick tresses, layers are a surefire way to remove some weight while adding softness and movement.
Shanina Shaik complements her just-to-the-shoulder cut with gorgeously defined curls, shine, and a dramatic side part. “The shag is making a huge comeback with many celebrities. The modern-day shag has an effortless, rock-and-roll feel to it. It’s all about the cut when it comes to achieving the perfect shag. Ask your stylist to give you a modern shag with tons of texture to frame your face softly,” says Abergel.
Leave it to Wonder Woman to blow us away with her luscious, big barrel curls. For a sheeny finish, apply a gloss-inducing product like Chi Enviro Smoothing Shine Spray ($15)
There’s blonde, and then there’s neon yellow. Cassie makes this bright tone work as it complements her skin tone and her classic tapered lob. While she opts for subtle nude makeup, you can always take this sunny shade one step further with yellow eye makeup, that is, only if you dare.
Mid-length cascading undulations look lovely on Gemma Chan. To get her loose waves, opt for a 1.5-inch wand like Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand ($22). And if you’re looking for more ways to style center-parted hair, look no further than Kendall Jenner.
Constance Wu shows us how a wave can take choppy layers from edgy to romantic. Finish off with a deep side part and pin back a few strands with your hair accessory of choice.
Wet-look hair, whether worn slicked-back or side-parted, is trending thanks to its many celebrity wearers. Normani opts for a curly version, which is softer than its straight counterpart. Use a gel and cream product combo to not only give strands that wet finish and shine but also much-needed definition.
Famously known for her long and luscious strands, we applaud Elsa Hosk for trading in length for a shorter, mid-length cut hitting just past her shoulders. Abergel comments, “This length looks great on anyone. It’s lower maintenance, fresh, and youthful.” To get Hosk’s tousled look, he recommends using a Marcel Iron ($34) and alternating the curl pattern. Then apply Virtue Un-Frizz Cream ($21) from mids to ends to create a piece-y, deconstructed finish.
You don’t have to be a Swiftie to appreciate this American music icon’s hits—be them music or hair. Taylor Swift modernizes her medium-length mane with feathery layers, texture, and a full-on fringe.
Hungarian model Barbara Palvin’s glossy lob comes complete with face-framing layers. Fine-haired girls take note: Flipping ends inward is a fast and easy way to create fullness and body.
With a fiery red mane like Christina Hendricks, it would seem that any cut or style would look good against this color canvas. Her loose, romantic curls are feminine, sophisticated, and can be achieved with retro rollers.
Chic and sophisticated, Winnie Harlow’s long-layered tapered lob is stunning. The subtle ombré effect adds dimension to an otherwise sleek and classic style.
Equal parts chic and equal parts grunge, Aussie actress Rose Byrne brings two seemingly opposite styles together in this layered look. Her brassy blonde color adds a nice contrast to her dark roots. Add a slight wave to give limp strands a boost of volume.
“Hello,” from dreamland, where we can’t stop thinking about how perfect Adele’s haircut is. Abergel agrees: “This textured shoulder-length bob is flattering for almost everyone and it will always be in style.” He adds, “Breaking down the texture on a shoulder-length bob makes it modern.”
January Jones looks California cool with her wavy blonde mane and long, wispy bangs that evoke brushstrokes. Choppy ends add texture, which results in a more lived-in finish.
Consider your hair texture when deciding whether you want a cut that’s blunt or one with texture. Blunt cuts work well with fine hair since they add structure and fullness while those with thick tresses may want to opt for a textured style to remove weight and create movement.
Aja Naomi King
Soft, glossy curls that hit at the collarbone are elegant, not to mention simple to replicate. It only takes six easy steps to get loose, effortless waves that last all day.
Actress and animal rights activist Maggie Q shows us the versatility of layers. By blowing her ends outward, she not only showcases her layers but also creates fullness and body with a flirtatious finish.
Natalia Dyer of Stranger Things modernizes this sleek retro wave by leaving her roots dark. Her deep side-part is flattering for heart-shaped faces since it works to create facial symmetry and balance.
How do you cut layers for medium-length hair?
Before adding layers to your cut, consider your hair type and texture since this will determine what type of layers will work best for you. And while you can try cutting face-framing layers yourself at home, it’s recommended to have all other layers cut by a professional hairstylist. They will be able to cut strategic layers to best flatter you.
Does thick hair look good with layers?
Layers are great for thick tresses since they remove some density, thereby adding movement. Best of all? There are a lot of options for layering thick hair, from choppy layers to layers that are long and gradual.
Do layers look good on thin, fine hair?
In general, light layering, especially around the face, can flatter thin, fine hair. They do so by building volume and creating more depth. But be sure to avoid over-layering or creating choppy layers since this will remove much-needed volume from thin hair.