With a step haircut, the delineation is much more visible. “You can clearly notice how the hair is trimmed at different levels, with different intervals on your hair lengths, even if it is blended out. There is a sharp demarcation between the steps,” says Farel. The key difference is the definition between layers.
If you’re picturing a feathered haircut — wispy, Farrah Fawcett hair — that’s not quite it, either. A feather cut is also a layered cut but it’s more about hair texture than movement and volume. It doesn’t necessarily involve layers, just opening up the cut at the front and thinning those pieces out a bit so they look airier.
Who Should Get a Step Haircut?
“The step haircut looks best on thick or wavy hair,” says Hurtado. The cut will remove some of the weight of your hair, which gives it a bouncy effect. It’s an especially effective solution for excess frizz, as it will remove some of that puffy volume.
If you have thin, fine hair, a step cut may not be the best move. Cutting sharply delineated layers will make your style look even thinner, especially with the significant space between the lengths of hair, which is standard for a step cut. “Standard layers would be a better option [for thin hair] because of how the layers blend,” notes Hurtado.
How to Maintain and Style a Step Haircut
Keeping the layers clearly separated is key for a step haircut. “The best way to maintain a step haircut is by coming back to the salon about every six to eight weeks,” says Stephanie Johnson, a hairstylist at Marie Robinson Salon in New York City. However, even if the clear steps start to blend into your hair as it grows, it’s not such a bad thing. You probably won’t rush to cut your hair because step haircuts tend to grow out to look like a natural, lived-in style.
The day-to-day is where the real work is and it requires some finessing your wet hair with a blow-dryer. “As you blow-dry, roll the hair out and in again to create the step hair layering,” says Farel. “Before you release a section, hold the blow-dryer over the brush and really heat the section up. Pin and keep it pinned until the end. Then turn the dryer off and let the section cool down after releasing it all.”
If you’re not up for the effort, “there is no better way to show off those amazing layers than with a voluminous ponytail,” says Johnson.