Learn about Life in the 1920s

Creating a Correctly Cut Layer Bob Hairstyle

What is termed layer hair cutting is advisable for any texture of hair, but especially so for very fine, thin hair. This gives more body to the hair, causes it to appear heavier and at the same time, reduces the weight of the hair.

Bobbed Hair Book
Fully illustrated book
on Bobbed Hairstyles:
1920's-30's Haircutting
and Styling - Cost $27
Available for
Instant Download

NOTE: The following text is taken from one of our books on 1920s hairstyles. While you can read the complete text of this book online, most of the illustrations are missing. However it gives you an opportunity to assess the content and if you're interested you can buy a digital download version of the Book complete with 119 illustrations and photos - Click here to buy "1920's-30's Haircutting and Styling"


If cut and layered properly, a long hair effect is secured because the layers are tapered so finely that they fall into one another and it is impossible to see where each layer ends. With a correctly cut layer bob your patron will be able to comb and dress her own hair, with no difficulty whatsoever.

It is necessary to divide fine hair into more layers than when cutting medium or coarse hair. If you have a head of fine hair to layer, you may end the stroke of the scissors a half inch away from the scalp. However, if the texture of the hair is coarse, it is advisable to stop cutting at least two inches or more away from the scalp, otherwise the hair would not lie down properly and would stand away from the scalp.

Often, when the hair is naturally wavy, the wave is weak and the ends have very little or no curl. By giving a layer hair cut, a natural wave is made stronger and the ends of the layers fall into the wave below, giving a finished and fuller effect. Before giving a layer hair cut, it is necessary to thin the hair properly and fit it to the head. Then start cutting the hair in layers.



Hair which is properly cut in layers is easier to wave and retains the wave longer. Thus, the use of too heavy curling fluid is eliminated, the drying period is greatly shortened, and it becomes an easy matter for a a woman to comb and set her own hair after it is waved. As you know, many women are afraid to comb their hair out completely from one shampoo to another, for fear that they will not be able to get it into the regular waves again. Then, too, layer cut hair gives the appearance of neatness and smartness. In almost every instance, a hairdress based on layer cut hair is also much more becoming and youthful. (Note the effective illustration of this in Figures 81 and 82.)

• Fig. 51

This illustrates a finished hair cut, if hair is to be worn straight. It is advisable to comb the hair into place with water and hair tonic, thus giving more of a foundation and a finished effect. Place a net over the hair and dry.

• Fig. 52

This sketch shows a head of fine hair. The hair must be lifted up high enough from the scalp to judge correctly the length of the first layer.

The stroke of the scissors in layering the hair, goes from the fingers almost to the scalp. Otherwise, if the stroke is too short, the ends will be stubby and will not fit in properly, thereby permitting the beginning and ending of the layers to be seen.

Each layer must be extremely fine and as thin as a veil, in order to obtain the best results.

In this illustration only ten layers are indicated, but you will continue in the same manner to the nape of the neck; then proceed to the sides and layer the same as for the front.

• Fig. 53

Here is the finished layered hair cut, before waving. As shown, all these ends are very fine. It would not be possible to dress the hair properly if these ends were stubby or layered with too short a stroke.

This type of hair cut lends itself to numerous fashions, such as the French curl, "Mae Murray Bob," or various pin curl bobs, as well as the French Bouclette curl.

The following photographs show different views of hair, cut in layers.

Fig. 54

One of the many ideas of arranging a combination shingle and layer hair cut is shown here.

This fan-shaped side hair may be divided again in different vertical layers and the ends turned in towards the face, giving a more feminine effect. You may also divide the top layer of this arrangement in two or three layers and turn the ends of the hair of each layer into a half ringlet or a whole ringlet curl. Such treatment will give height to those types of heads which happen to be flat and to short women who wish to appear taller.

• Fig. 56

Back view of the tiny layers, combed into a whirlpool swirl. Please take a good sized magnifying glass and study the beautiful hair line which nature provided. The right side slants to the left, all the way across, in a natural swirl. As the neck is round, it was necessary to "V"-shape this line to slenderize the neck.

• Fig. 55

Illustrates the hair cut in fine, short layers.

MISS MARGARET DALE - Famous Celebrity of the Stage Who Appeared in the Production "Dinner at Eight" . . . Fall of 1933.

• Fig. 57

Front view of the whirlpool layer hair cut, which gives the effect of long hair, even though the front hair consists of very fine, tiny, short layers. This hair is marcelled, not finger waved, to give height to the coiffure. Observe the small wave near the center of the forehead. This is just a short wisp of hair, but without it the coiffure would not be so effective or becoming. Briefly, these few hairs add softness to the features.

Again, take your magnifying glass and study the short hair, cut in a fringe or bang, finishing above the ear. Try to visualize the same hairdress without the short hair. Can you picture the mature effect ? Also visualize the attractiveness and effectiveness of the short hair under a hat.

This head of hair has been marcelled in a manner which will defy anyone to say it is not a natural wave.

• Fig. 58

In this photograph the hair line behind the ear is brushed away, thereby producing a slenderizing effect. In photograph 59, however, the short hair behind the ear, combed down to fill in this space in back of the ear, rounds out the contour of the neck.

• Fig. 59

Both of these photographs are correct in their style of dressing the hair for this particular hair line. It is just a matter of your own judgment to determine which type suits your patron better.

• Fig. 60

This photograph illustrates a gray haired matron who made herself look much older by wearing her hair in the wrong manner.

Her hair, for instance, was waved straight down. This, in most cases gives an unattractive and mature effect for white or gray hair. The round neck was made rounder by a too long hair line and the knob at the nape of the neck. The dotted white line indicates the difference of the general flat appearance of this hairdress and the more becoming height which has been added in Figure 62.

• Fig. 61

On Figure 61 you see the length of hair to be cut.

• Fig. 62

Figure 62 shows the finished coiffure. Compare with photograph 60 to note the difference in the appearance of the entire head.

First, all of the hair has been cut in short layers, which gives the necessary height. Notice the slanting of the face wave and please pay strict attention to the neck line. The neck line has been shortened, thereby giving length to the neck and slenderizing it by removing the lower hair line, consisting of the short, straggly hair which you see in illustration 60. The hair has also been sufficiently thinned and tapered to take out the bulk and thickness of the back hair which again aids in giving height to the entire coiffure.

See Index below for next Chapter


How to Create 1920's and 1930's Hairstyles

1. 1920's Hair Styling and Design

- Foreheads

- Cowlicks

- Neck Lines

2. Hairdressing Tools

- Combs

- Razor Comb

- Scissors

- Thinning Scissors

- Clippers

3. Thinning and Tapering

4. Cutting and Thinning the Hair for Permanent Waving

5. Scissors Hair Cutting

6. Shingling

7. Razor Hair Cutting

8. Hair Form and Structure

9. Layer Hair Cutting

10. Alteration Hair Cutting

11. Bangs