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As someone with thin, fine hair, it’s hard to find a haircut that works for me and my everyday lifestyle. I don’t love to wash my hair every day or even style it regularly, but I’ve found that my roots fall flat pretty quickly if I don’t do anything to it. I’ve tried plenty of hacks and layered haircuts to help add volume and movement, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to “ghost layers” that I realized exactly what my hair had been missing.
The term “ghost layers” was first coined by celebrity stylist Ramon Garcia, but the style is also commonly referred to as invisible or internal layers. Essentially, it’s a cutting technique involving subtle layers that are camouflaged within the hair to give the appearance that everything is one length. The style allows you to keep the bulk of your hair’s body and length, all while giving it a little extra texture and movement.
I visited Andy LeCompte Salon in West Hollywood to see stylist Madison Clifford. When we sat down to discuss what I wanted to do with my hair, I explained I wanted to try ghost layers as a way to grow out a very overly layered Farrah Fawcett-esque haircut I had gotten earlier in the year. Although I’ve loved bringing back everything ’90s — including haircuts with exaggerated layers — I wanted a more blended style that was less choppy as it started to grow out.
Before we went over to the shampoo bowl, Clifford showed me where she would be cutting and removing bulk from my hair. I was worried about the curtain bangs I was desperately trying to grow out, but she assured me that this technique would help everything look blended. “The front pieces seem a bit heavy to style since you’re growing them out, so we’re going to cut in through with the ghost layers to give the hair movement without taking any length off the tips,” she says. “This will help your hair flow back as it gets longer without weighing the hair down.”
After shampooing and conditioning my hair, we went back to the salon chair, where Clifford proceeded to go over my hair with the blow drier before starting on a dry cut, which is the best way to employ texturizing techniques. “With ghost layers, I want to see how everything lays,” Clifford says. “It’s more like carving a sculpture rather than doing a technical cut — there will be technical sections, but I’m being visual with the pieces I’m taking out.”
First, she prepped my hair with a volumizing mousse, then began separating my hair into sections and blow-drying it piece by piece using a round brush. To finish everything off, she used a twisting motion with the round brush as she dried it to give my hair a soft bend. As she worked with my hair, Clifford explains that ghost layers look great styled with a twisted-out blow-dry, which gives the hair a lived-in wave. “I love to do that or something really piecey and undone, which will show the movement,” she says.
As for the actual cut, the technique was different than anything I had seen before. Clifford took sections of my hair and cut into them rather than straight across, which she says creates hidden layers within the different sections. As she cut, I could see that my length was staying the same, but as soon as she let go of the section, there was so much more movement.
The best part, she told me, is that this cut is a great option for any hair type. “Ghost layers are a perfect option for anyone with super-fine hair that wants to see movement but is scared to lose bulk and doesn’t want their ends to be sheer,” she says. “They’re also really nice for people with extremely thick hair who want to see movement but don’t want chunky layers.”
Once she was finished cutting, Clifford came in with the final touches. “I like to use the Vegamour Dry Shampoo ($36) on the roots after a blow-dry to prolong the style,” she says. “You don’t have to use it on dirty hair, and you actually get more volume when using it.” (I can also add from personal experience that it won’t leave white residue on your hair and smells amazing.)
Before and After Ghost Layers
When I examined the results in the mirror, I couldn’t have been happier with the final look. My choppy, chunky layers had been expertly blended so they looked soft and light, and my hair had more bounce than it had in months. If you’ve been looking for a haircut to help you easily grow out your layers or a style that will give you lots of texture without being too “in your face,” ask your stylist to give you ghost layers. You won’t regret it.