Nails & Hairs

Step Haircuts Give Your Hair a Fluffy, Layered Look, According to Hairstylists

In the ever-evolving hairstyling world, there’s always a new haircut trend. In recent months, styles like the hush cut, stretched lob, and posh bob have garnered immense attention. And now, step haircuts are gaining buzz. Step haircuts are an undoubtedly unique and voluminous haircut style, featuring distinct layering and a textured finish. Ahead, we tapped hairstylists to explain how to achieve and maintain the multilayered look. Read their thoughts below.

Meet the Expert

  • Julius Michael is a celebrity hairstylist based in New York.
  • Castillo is a celebrity hairstylist and Matrix brand ambassador.

What Is a Step Haircut? 

“A step haircut is accomplished by cutting the hair at varying lengths, resulting in each section forming a conspicuous step as you progress down the hair,” Castillo explains. “The spacing between each layer is more distinct, with a noticeable disconnection from one layer to the next.

According to celebrity hairstylist Julius Michael, the step haircut “adds a lot of layers and depth to the hair and keeps it sleek and polished looking,” pointing out that the shaggy cut is usually done on long hair.

The Benefits of a Step Haircut 

The beauty of a step haircut is that the style can be customized to your liking. Whether you want long or short layers or have curly or straight hair, the haircut will work for you. Michael has styled former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna for over a decade, and he says her signature haircut demonstrated the versatility of a step haircut. “Her haircut is a very short version of a steep, layered haircut,” Michael notes. “It’s got a lot of movement. She has a pixie in the front and flips on the sides. That’s the step haircut.”

Castillo agrees that step haircuts work for everyone. “This versatile style harmonizes with different face shapes, and it’s a style that can be readily achieved independently, with numerous instructional tutorials available on platforms like YouTube,” Castillo adds

How to Achieve a Step Haircut

Before getting a step haircut, it is best to first consider your hair texture, length, and face shape to ensure you receive the most complementary look. “When contemplating venturing into the world of step haircuts, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of where to initiate your very first step,” Castillo says. “Typically, this cut begins just below the crown of your head and gracefully descends towards the ends. It’s worth noting that as the length is gradually trimmed, the weight of your hair significantly lessens toward the lowermost strand.”

Visiting a salon and working with a professional hairstylist can help you easily achieve the step haircut of your dreams. However, as Castillo mentioned, you can also create this haircut at home with these pro-approved tools and techniques.

What You’ll Need:

  • A pair of hair shears
  • A fine-tooth comb
  • Hair clips to section hair
  • A mirror to see the back of your hair

How to Cut Your Hair

  1. Ensure that your hair is clean, dry, and free of tangles. Run through it with a fine-tooth comb to ensure it is knot-free.
  2. Using hair clips or ties, divide your hair into four sections (two in the front and two in the back).
  3. Starting at the nape of your neck, comb out a small section of hair. Hold the section between your fingers and cut off the desired amount using your hair shears. On your first pass, be conservative with how much hair you cut.
  4. Repeat the process with each section of hair at the back, cutting off a little more hair with each section.
  5. After completing the back sections, move on to the front. Pull a section of hair straight down from the top of your head and cut it to the previously cropped length at the back.
  6. Do the same for the remaining front section of hair, working toward the sides of your head.
  7. Comb through the hair from top to bottom, and use the scissors to blend the layers by cutting at a diagonal angle.
  8. Check that the length and angle of the layers are even on both sides of the head.
  9. Once you’re happy with the length and layering, style your hair as desired.

How to Style and Maintain a Step Haircut

“To uphold a step haircut on your own, you can employ styling products to accentuate the layers,” Castillo says. “Start with damp hair and apply a thin layer of Matrix Miracle Creator Spray ($24), along with a few golf ball-sized portions of Matrix Setter Mousse ($22). This combination provides strength and protection and adds texture to your hair.”

After applying styling products, you can move on to heat styling if desired (make sure to use a heat protectant). Blow drying or curling your hair can emphasize and define the stacked nature of your haircut. “Voloom has a Dryer Brush ($89) that I am obsessed with,” Michael says. “I just did a video with Dorinda Medley from Real Housewives of New York, and the blow dryer dried her entire set of extensions in 20 minutes for me.” 

Beyond styling, allotting time for maintenance cuts is crucial. Our experts recommend trimming your hair every two to three months to ensure your step haircut remains crisp and defined.

The Final Takeaway

Step haircuts are an easy way to give your hair a bouncy, layered look. The hairstyle’s varying lengths—which mimic stair steps—create a look that is multidimensional and full of movement. While the look is most visible on longer lengths, our experts agree that a step haircut can be achieved on any length or texture. If you’re thinking of trying a new look, this versatile haircut is worth considering.

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