Learn To Speak “STYLIST” And Get The Haircut You Want

Going to the salon can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know how to communicate your needs to your stylist. They may tell you all the things they want to do to your hair, but how would you even know what it all meant if you weren’t a hairdresser yourself?  It’s time to learn how to speak our language so that you know what to ask for when you’re in the chair, and you know what we mean when we are telling you about a specific cut we want you to try. “SYLIST” is a complex language, and new terms are always added at will, because we know that you don’t know what we are talking about, until now!

The 10 terms listed below refer to HAIRCUTTING. I will cover haircoloring terms in a future post because to add them now would result in one long post, and I know your attention span is as short as mine.

SHEARS : This is what our scissors really are called. It sounds snobby, because it is. A good pair of styling shears costs anywhere from $150 to $1,000+.  Tack on a sharpening fee of about $35 every few months, and you start to understand why a stylist simply cannot cut hair with an ordinary pair of scissors.

RAZOR : This a tool used to cut hair and leave it with a lighter, tapered end. It is also used to remove weight from hair, increase movement and volume, and add choppiness to a style. Razor haircuts are not recommended for people with a coarse texture or curl, but I’m sure there are some hair “artists” out there who have found a way to sell this technique to people as a trend. In my experience, if you want your hair to lay smooth or be smaller, a razor cut is not for you.

FRINGE : This is the European word for bangs and it sounds real fancy. It is also the term that has been used in nearly every cutting class I’ve ever taken in my life. If you feel the urge to use it or want to seem worldly, then please do! And if you want to test your stylist to see if they’ve really been to all those amazing classes they say they have, drop the word “fringe” and see if they know what it means.

LAYERS : Layers are different lengths of hair, geometrically cut into a shape in order to create movement, and decrease volume. They are not things that you have 2 or 3 of, but instead are angled lines that connect the hair at the top of the head to the hair on the sides, or the back of the head.  Layers blend into themselves by laying on top of one another, with the shortest layer resting on top of all the other longer layers, and creating a weight line. If you could get each of your hairs to stand up on end, then you would be able to see the lines that your layers follow and the shapes that they create.

GRADUATION : Graduation and layers work well in tandem, but they do completely opposite things. The purpose of using graduation is to build up weight, and to add strength and volume to a part of the haircut.  A good example is a “stacked” haircut or a wedge. In a graduated haircut, the hair underneath is cut shorter to support the weight of the longer hair that rests on top of it, creating a weight line that sits up and stands out. Graduation connects hair from the bottom of the head, to hair on the sides or the back of the head, and it can be subtle or very severe, depending on the desired outcome.

SLIDE CUT : This is a technique used to create a connection between a very short piece of hair and a very long piece. It is also used for removing weight from the ends or the interior of a cut, and it is achieved by sliding the shears down the length of the hair, like a razor, while relying on the sharpness of the blades to do the cutting, instead of the shears themselves.

TEXTURIZE : This is a term that means adding different lengths into the interior of your cut to help it get more volume or to be lighter. There are MANY different texturizing tools and techniques out there, and as long as they are being done well and with discretion, they can all help make a great haircut even better.

DISCONNECTION : This is when two pieces of hair purposely do not blend together. It’s used in fashion cuts, and a good example of it in a conservative form is fringe (bangs). Disconnection is a technique you request when you want a really edgy cut, or you are trying to accentuate a certain part of your style, like a longer piece on one side, or some really short pieces on the crown.

ASYMETRICAL : This is when a cut, or part of a cut, is purposely left longer on one side. It’s most often done in bobs, bangs, and cropped styles, where one side might be tucked behind the ear or left long to seem more feminine or funky. An asymmetrical cut may use disconnection, but it doesn’t have to.

INVERTED : This is when hair is cut shorter in the back and left longer in the front, also sometimes called an A-LINE.  If you wanted to get real fancy you could have an inverted, graduated, asymmetrical cut with some disconnection and layers, but make sure your stylist also knows what that means, or you may end up looking like you cut your own hair with a lawnmower.

Stylists love to stand out and be creative, so we are always coming up with amazing new ways to cut hair and make it seem cooler than what someone else is doing. The terms I’ve chosen to share with you are the ones I think will be most practical for you to know, and the definitions I’ve given you are pretty standard throughout the hair world. If you have a question about another term you are unsure of, then please ask me about it and I will do my best to explain it to you. My goal is to eventually transfer this list of terms onto a GLOSSARY page, so if you are a stylist and you have a term you think people need to know, then tell me and I’ll be sure to add it onto the list.

This week I’ve been struggling with a bad cold and it has taken my voice! I was reflecting on how I have lost my voice in my world, yet I have begun to find my voice in my blogging world!  The only voice left to hear more from is YOURS! Please, please, please feel free to leave comments or ask me questions about anything and everything. I want to work towards a part of my blog where I focus on Dear Hairdresser question from readers about hair topics and life issues so don’t be shy. Help me grow my blog and I will help you in return.


Opinions Are Everywhere – Proceed With Caution

Would you leave the house in a new pair of pants that your friend said made you look fat? Could you still feel confident sporting a new hairstyle if your partner said they hated it?  Why is it so hard to trust our own opinions and more importantly, why are we constantly seeking approval from other people? When someone comes into the salon and requests a major style change, I know that no matter how cute they think it is when they leave the shop, they won’t really know if they love it until their family and friends approve it.  Making a decision to try a new style, wear a different fashion trend, or make a lifestyle change takes a lot of courage and we should be applauded for taking the risk.  Are you strong enough to trust your own opinion instead of someone else’s, and to focus on trying to please yourself?

I remember when I was a teenage girl, my mom would come home from the mall with a new outfit and ask me what I thought of it. If I liked it she was pleased, but if I didn’t like it her feelings would be hurt. Tired of feeling like a jerk, I asked her one day,  “Why do you keep asking me for my opinion if you don’t really want to hear it?”  She thought about it a bit and then replied, “I guess I was hoping you would say that you liked it too.” She wasn’t really searching for my opinion, instead she was looking for approval with a verbal “thumbs up”. I think we both learned a good lesson that day: Be careful what you say, and be careful what you ask!

I want to share one of my least favorite experiences as a hairstylist, but I don’t want you to judge the characters involved. It is a story that illustrates, very sharply, the power of words and opinions. It involves a beautiful young girl who came in for a haircut and made a bold decision to cut off her long, brown hair. After I had finished with the cut the young woman looked at herself in the mirror and smiled radiantly. She loved it! Soon after, her mother came in to pick her up and to pay for the cut. She took one look at her daughter and grew red with anger. “You cut your hair?!” She said bluntly. “Why would you do that? You look terrible!” My heart broke, and so did the beautiful young girls’. In an instant, the glowing confidence she had found was destroyed by a thoughtless comment from her own mother. In the years that followed I would see the girl around town and I noticed that she had grown her hair long again. Maybe she had chose to believe what her mother had told her that day, instead of what she had thought to be true when she first saw her reflection. I cannot condemn her mother because I have caught myself carelessly sharing my opinion plenty of times. I’m not proud of it, but I am human, and I have definitely hurt my loved ones’ feelings with my words.

I think it’s important for everyone to remember that if someone doesn’t like your new look, your new outfit, or the change you’ve initiated, that’s their problem and not yours! You never really know why people have strong feelings about one thing or another and sometimes, they don’t even mean what they said.  Maybe the friend that said you looked fat, felt insecure when she saw how hot you looked in those new pants.  Maybe your partner hates your new look because it makes them feel threatened, because now you look more modern and confident. Maybe the Mother who didn’t like her daughter’s short hair had been forced to cut her own hair short as a child and remembered how terrible she thought she looked. Who knows for sure? The point is, they are probably relating your inquiry to themselves first and may not be able to see past that enough to give you what you’re looking for.

I’m not suggesting that you should never ask people their opinions. I’m merely pointing out that you should carefully choose the people who’s words you allow to get in the way of you pleasing yourself. That old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie! Words do hurt, so the next time you get an unwanted opinion consider the source and what they might be dealing with in their own minds. Then decide if you will place more importance on their thoughts about beauty, fashion, or lifestyle, than you do your own. Try to be a good example of this empowerment to others too.  You may have little ones, like I do, who are watching your every move. They will be learning how they should treat themselves, and whose opinions should be most important in their lives. Have the courage to trust yourself and your own opinion! After all,  you are really the only one who knows what is best for you and you are the one who has to live with it, not them!

Bad Hair Happens – Top 5 Hair Complaints

In a world where we have more in common with each other, than we do with any other animal on Earth, why is it so easy to feel alone? I am no different, and sometimes when I feel isolated, I search for comfort in other peoples’ problems. I begin by typing my issue into the Google search bar, and I always discover that, no matter how unique I think my struggles are, there are many others out there dealing with the same things.

Personal problems are a guarantee in life, and so are hair problems! We all have bad hair days, and I can promise you that for every time you’ve cursed your hair, thrown your brush, or allowed a flopped style to ruin your day, there are many others out there who are experiencing the same things. Here are some Universal Hair Gripes that I hear from lots of people, and the reasons behind them. Read them and share them with others, so that the next time you feel like you have the worst hair in the world, you can relax and remember, that You Are Not Alone!

“My Hair Has No Volume!” : This is a common complaint that is often the result of a bad haircut and improper styling technique. To maximize the potential for volume in your hair, you need a cut that pays attention to your head shape, growth pattern, density, and natural texture. It’s also important to use the right styling products. Volume doesn’t just happen, that’s why you have to”build” it into your style.

“My hair has one side that goes under, and one side that flips out!” : This is true for everyone, and the reason is that hair grows in a circle around the head. It starts at its’ point of origin, know as the “sworl”.  You may have overlooked how important the “sworl” is to your style, by mistaking it for an annoying cowlick on the crown of your head. This powerful spiral is responsible for determining  where your natural part falls, the direction you need to build volume, and the way you position your styling brush when you are trying to get your hair to look symmetrical. It’s also the most important thing that, as a hairstylist, I have to take into account, when cutting, coloring, and styling your hair.

“I lose so much hair in the shower, I must be going bald!” :   You need to know that, on average, a person loses 150 to 200+ hairs, DAILY! Hair grows in a cycle that includes 3 phases. It is constantly growing, resting, or falling out, and additional factors like stress, hormone changes, and illness, can cause the cycles to start earlier, or be delayed. If you are nervous that you really are losing your hair, then talk to your Doctor about your concerns first, then consult with your Stylist. There are many amazing product lines out there for thinning hair, and they do work!

“My Hair Won’t Get Long!” : Hair has a “desired length”, and it’s different for everyone. It’s determined by how long your individual hairs stay in their resting phase before falling out, and being replaced by new hairs. If you are wondering where your hair’s “desired length” is, it’s most likely the spot where the hair starts to look thinner and less dense.  I strongly recommend accepting the reality of your hair’s desired length and adopting a style that works with it, otherwise you may have sparse looking ends that no haircut will be able to hide.

“My Hair Is Curly And Straight! Why can’t it just be the same all over?!” : Welcome to the Mixed Textures Club! There are many members because it’s unusual for someone to have perfectly straight hair, just as it is rare for someone to have a perfectly uniform curl pattern.  Styling can help this issue, but it’s not going to fix itself! The best advice I can give you is to accept it, make the most of what you have, and find a style that works with your texture. If you want your hair to look perfect all the time, you may need to invest in a wig.

There are some lucky people out there that are blessed with “good hair”, but I’m sure they have bad hair days too. We can’t all look amazing, all of the time, and if we did, we might not have any friends! The best advice I can share is to love what you have, and make the most of it. If you are someone with “bad hair”, know that you are not alone! Consult with your Stylist so that you can find a style that works for you, and wear it with confidence! If you have a smile on your face and a bounce in your step, people won’t even notice your hair, they’ll be distracted by the rest of you.

Please take the time to click on the “Pictures” button, located in the sidebar of my page. Included in there is a picture of my daughter Estela’s “sworl”. When you find it, take a moment to think about your own “sworl”, and try to find it on the crown of your head. Figure out which way it moves, so that you can start to understand how it can either help, or hinder your styling efforts.




Up Do’s and Life Don’ts

I used to think that having a plan wasn’t necessary for my personal success. I was convinced that planning was for people who were uptight and who didn’t know how to just, “go with the flow”. I’ve come to realize that I was completely wrong! Not only was I wrong, which is something I hate to admit, but I was also a fool. My plan to “not plan”, was getting me exactly what it promised, nothing!

I realized that I was incredibly unhappy with myself and my life, but I didn’t know why. I was always angry, I felt sorry for myself, and I was depleted of any extra energy to “do” things. I started to talk to a Life Coach, hoping that it would help me get myself on track. With the help of my coach, I noticed that I was only focusing on the things I didn’t want in my life. When I tried to think about the things I did want in my life, I couldn’t come up with anything! How could I have overlooked this subtle, yet important detail? I made a plan right then and there to change.

On New Year’s Eve of 2012, I made a resolution to dream. I allowed for no restrictions on the level of foolishness that my dreams reached, and I promised myself I wouldn’t focus on how they would come true. As the year moved on, I began to notice something magical. When I thought often about the possibilities in my life, I started to feel that they could be possible. I began to naturally focus on things that made me happy, and I was becoming someone who knew what they wanted. With this new energy and verve, I made some changes and I began my blogging project. This is only my third post, and I’ve already made improvements on my page that I’m proud of. My talented Sister, made me a custom graphic header, and I successfully was able to upload it! OK, so I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m on my way.

 Starting a new project in life can be similar to starting any new hair project, such as an up do. In order to get the results I want, I need to be confident in myself and stay focused. I begin by visualizing the final look, and formulating a plan. After I have a good sense of where I’m going, I gather my styling tools, take the time to build a strong foundation, and finally, I fine tune the details. Sometimes the task takes hours, and usually, right before it looks amazing, it looks ridiculous! I truly believe that if you want to be happy and successful, then you must make a plan to be that way! I recommend starting with a dream, it worked for me and it probably won’t hurt. Then, gather your tools, build your foundation, and stay focused! It may take a long time to get the results you’re looking for, but keep going! The funky mess things may appear to be while you’re working on your “life do”, will come together in the end, and it will be beautiful.

This weekend I had the opportunity to style my Friend’s hair for her Great Gatsby themed Birthday Party. I wanted the looks to turn out perfect, so not only did I make a plan, but I also practiced on my daughter Ginger. Using Ginger as my hair model helped me to appreciate all of my clients who can sit still for an hour! Ginger couldn’t stop moving, and after many “silly breaks”, a bag of popcorn, and a handful of jelly beans, we finished. Below are the pictures I took of her, as well as the pictures of the Gatsby Inspired Up Dos.

The Lovely Ginger

The Lovely Ginger

In closing I want to say “Thank You” to everyone who believes in me and is following my posts through their e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. I appreciate you all! I also want to thank my Coach, Hannah, and invite anyone who is intrigued by the thought of a Life Coach, to check out her website at MyMindset.com.

Gatsby Inspired Up Dos

Gatsby Inspired Up Dos


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5 Signs You Should Find A New Hairdresser

It has taken me years of training, hours of practice, and my share of “oopsies”, to be able to deliver fabulous hair to people on a consistent basis. My experience and my knowledge certainly help me attract customers, but I believe it’s my personality, combined with these accolades, that keep people coming back. When you’re getting your hair done, you may be spending several hours in the company of a total stranger. You will also be trusting this person with your hair, your secrets, and your self image. Doesn’t it make sense that this person should be someone you actually like? Technique can improve over time, but personality may not!

Here are some “Red Flags” to keep an eye out for while searching for “The One”

1.) A stylist who doesn’t listen! If you are unsure if they understood you, then ask them to tell you their interpretation of what you want. A good stylist will know how to tell a person what IS, and what ISN’T possible. If they disagree with you, but have a good reason to back it up, then please consider their opinion. After all, they are the “expert”.

2.) A Stylist who speaks negatively about other customers, co-workers, or salons. If your stylist is negative, what makes you think you’re going to leave their chair feeling good about yourself? Looking good starts with feeling good, and if you just got an earful of garbage, you will probably leave feeling like trash.

3.) A stylist who is constantly leaving your side to answer a phone call, take a smoke break, or is ignoring you while they carry on a conversation with the person next to them. YOU are paying for this person’s time!  When your buns are in the chair, you are a VIP, and you deserve to be treated that way!

4.) A stylist who appears to be drunk, stoned, high, etc. If you ever suspect that your stylist is a little “off”, then politely excuse yourself, and express your concerns to the owner or manager.  I’ve never known anyone to perform better at their job while intoxicated. Plenty of time to party after work, right?

5.) A stylist who can’t accept criticism or your request for a “fix”. This is a major red flag that, not only is this person not a good listener, but that they don’t care about maintaining  you as a client. Sure, it feels bad when someone complains about my work, but it feels great when they love it after I get a chance to fix it. Remember, you’re looking for a person you can communicate with! Do your part too. Be honest with your stylist so they have a better chance to WOW you.

The goal when you finally find a great stylist, is to build a relationship with them so you will be able to honestly communicate your needs. This person should be a good listener, and also have enough skill to be able to communicate to you what your hair is capable of, and exactly what you will need to do to achieve your desired look.  When you finally find someone you like and who seems knowledgeable, then you have found a good candidate. If the first cut or color isn’t perfect, give them a second chance, they may improve after they know you and your hair a little better. Good luck, and remember, you want to leave feeling great on the inside as well as looking great on the outside!

A Newborn Blog, A Year Old Baby, and the Secret to Looking Great Forever

Hello world! I’m Natalie. Well, that’s what my friends call me, but my name doesn’t describe who I am. I am a mother, a hopeful dreamer, a major procrastinator, and a professional Hair Stylist.  I am known as a Master Stylist and Hair Color Expert in the salon where I’ve worked for the past 11 years. My goal with this blog is to bring practical advice and information to my readers about the mysterious world of hair.

I’ve seen a lot of things in the 15 years that I have been in the beauty industry. I’ve had many successes and many failures as a Stylist. I’ve discovered that it’s not “getting it right” that teaches me the most about my craft, but instead “getting it wrong”! I have also noticed that this is true in my own life, and after 34 years on the planet, I have made many good choices and many bad choices. I love to share who I am with my clients and in return they give me a piece of themselves. The reciprocal connection I feel with people drives me to work on my worst days, and now it pushes me through the maze of  WordPress  so that I can make new connections with new people.

I want to share some personal things with you all right now to break the ice. I am an expert on hair, but I am the polar opposite as a blogger.  I will ask all of you web experts, gifted writers, and blogging whizzes to cut me some slack as I grow into myself in this arena. I am also proud to announce that I have successfully kept another child alive for a whole year! My daughter Estela turned one last week. Because this is the second time I have achieved this, I now know that I am much more comfortable having older children. That’s why I’m going to refer to this blog as a newborn blog. I’m going to focus loving attention on it for the next year and do my best to keep it alive, help it grow, and thrive. Hopefully, I will get better and more interesting over time, so hang in there with me.

Before I end my first real post I would like to share with you all the one secret to looking fabulous  forever. Here it is in one word only, CONFIDENCE! I know for a fact that a bad haircut worn with confidence will appear to look better than the trendiest cut worn without it. Most people don’t really know what the top fashion houses are doing or why. The truth is by the time a trend reaches the general population, it has already left the scene of the people who started it. So, whatever look you choose for yourself, do it because it makes YOU feel great! Then think about how other people will see it because it’s hard enough to please yourself, so focus on that and become a master at it.