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.