The scenario: You have a clear vision of the perfect haircut in your head. You describe the look you want to your hairstylist and it seems as though he or she understands completely. Then about halfway through the cut you start to think something doesn’t seem right. By the end, you are sure that the style you will be leaving with is not the one you asked for.
As a hairstylist, I can assure this situation is awful for both parties. A simple miscommunication can often lead to frustration (or even tears) for the client and the stylist! Unfortunately, it is easy for the details to get lost in translation. I’ve seen more than one client struggle to convey what they want in a haircut and it doesn’t help that professionals have their own lingo.
Better consultations are the key to getting the haircut you want, and a basic understanding of haircutting terms is key to a good consultation. Below, I share my consultation “dos and don’ts” as well as an illustrated glossary of key terms. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments.
Here are my tips for the best possible consultation:
DO bring in photos. Start a Pinterest board or tear out a few pages from magazines and share the images with your stylist.
DON’T expect to look exactly like the photo. Choose inspiration shots of hair that is similar to your own and shoot for a vibe more than an exact hairstyle.
DO share a little bit about yourself, your personality, and your profession with your stylist. Are you conservative or adventurous? Does your job require a certain look?
DO discuss how much time you have to spend styling your hair. Can you expertly wield a round brush or are you more the wash-and-go type?
DO ask your stylist to recommend the products you’ll need to replicate the style and then follow the advice!
DO learn the terminology. It’s so important to have the correct vocabulary to convey what you want.
Click through the slideshow of helpful terms complete with definitions and illustrations.
A blunt haircut is all one length with no layering. It creates a look that is full at the ends, or perimeter, and is best for hair that is very thin or fine. Heavy “straight-across” bangs and some retro-style bangs are often cut blunt.
Graduated areas are cut at an approximate 45-degree angle. This style of haircut is also referred to as “stacked” or a “wedge” because the technique creates a visual buildup of weight, as seen here in the back.
When a section of hair does not blend with the adjacent section, it is referred to as disconnection. An example is a shorter cut that is cropped close to the head on the sides but is left long on top as shown in the illustration. Long cuts can be disconnected as well for an edgy quality or to remove bulk.
It’s great to know a little anatomy in order to follow some hairstylists. Apex– Highest point on the top of your head Parietal ridge – where your skull begins to curve along the sides of your head just above your temples Occipital bone – the “bump” on the back of your head Crown - circular area at the back/top of your head between your apex and occipital bone Nape - the area between the occipital bone and your hairline at your neck
Fringe is the professional term for “bangs.” The fringe section of your hair is technically a triangle from the highest point of your head (apex) and the front corners of your forehead, though bangs can be cut at using a variety of partings.
Texturizing is the process of removing hair without shortening the length. Texturizing is done for a variety of reasons using many different techniques. It can thin thick or coarse hair, soften weight lines, blend layers, add volume, and create movement. Hair is commonly texturized with shears, texturizing shears, and razors. This illustration shows a section of hair that has not been texturized, one that has been texturized at the ends, and one that has significantly texturized.
Texture is labeled coarse, medium, or fine and describes the diameter of each individual strand of hair. This one is a bit tricky, as “texture” is often also used to indicate wave pattern. For example: “Your hair has a lot of texture.” = “Your hair is curly.”
Density refers to how many hairs are present per square inch. It is defined as thick, medium, or thin. People often confuse “thick” with “coarse” and “thin” with “fine.”
This can be problematic because the course of action may be different when a client dislikes their hair texture as opposed to their hair density.
Most people are familiar with shears and clippers but I find a lot of clients are confused about texturizing shears and razors. Texturizing shears are the scissors that have “teeth” and are used for removing bulk and blending. Razors consist of a handle and a straight blade. While barbers are licensed to use razors without a guard, most hairstylists are cosmetologists and must have a guard. An entire haircut may be performed with a razor when a soft and airy quality is desired or may be used for removing bulk or shaving excess hair on the neck.