Peep this scenario… You arrive at the salon to see a new Stylist. You’re swept into a chair and your stylist is combing through it before they pop the big question. “ What would you like us to do with your hair today?”. You have a general idea and some words have been tumbling around in your head since you booked the appointment but you suddenly realize you don’t speak Hairstylist. You try to explain and maybe you two browse some photos but you’re still not 100% sure whether you’re on the same page. At this point you have to let Jesus take the wheel and hope you like it when it’s done. 

It’s not your fault. It’s not your Stylist’s fault. You simply were not trained as a Cosmetologist and your Stylist can’t unknow what they have learned about terminology and what they know to be the foundation of Haircolor and / or Haircutting. Soooooo…. I would like to formally bring to you the Layman’s Guide To Your Next Hair Appointment. It will help your Hairstylist make the connection between what you’re picturing and what you want. Buckle up because this is going to be FUN!!! ( look for the terms highlighted in yellow for words your Hairstylist will commonly use )


  1. Length. When you’re discussing your Haircut with your Stylist try to avoid saying anything along the lines of  “I just want the dead ends off. “ This can mean anywhere from the splitting tips to the 5 inches of dry summer hair you have on the ends. It is way too wide a range to work with. Also most people do not realize that all of your hair is technically dead. It’s more about what is healthy looking and feeling. Use inches to describe how much exactly you would like taken off. A good way to gauge this at the moment is by using your knuckles. The portion of your finger between the first and second joint roughly measures around an inch. You can literally hold that up to the ends of your hair and see how many of those you would like taken off. Follow up by showing your Hairstylist exactly where you want your hair to fall when it is pulled to the front. Hold your hands up over your hair right where you would like your ends to live when it is all said and done. 
  2. Texture. Hair can be cut in full blunt looking lines or it can have some variation or what your stylist would call texture. Sometimes in a picture of a Haircut you might think you’re looking at layers but what your Stylist sees is texture. Ask your stylist to show you some photo examples from google or pinterest of a blunt cut versus a textured cut. I would also ask their opinion about which would look better on your specific hair type. You might like the way a very textured cut looks in a photo but perhaps your hair is fine and to make it appear more full you need to keep it a bit more blunt. Your Stylist will certainly know what is best for your hair. As a side note you can ALWAYS start blunt and have your Stylist add the texture afterwards. Unfortunately you can not do it the other way around unless you are ok with losing more length. 


  1. What kind of color. There are a million different ways to go about creating any specific color design but there are some basics that everyone can know to make the process easier. The main 2 processes are Haircolor and Highlights. Haircolor is a mixture of tones and levels with peroxide. It is more gentle and generally takes less time. Your color mixture is brushed on to your roots and may be dragged down to the mid shaft and ends of your hair. It is a single process. The technique and skill for a Haircolor comes in the formulation more than the application. Highlights are powdered lightener or bleach mixed with developer and brushed on to your hair using specific techniques to get the desired results. Whether you want traditional highlights or a specialty highlight such as Balayage they are all types of highlights. The skill in this process comes in the technique and the placement. Your stylist will be able to determine the best placement and type of highlight to achieve your desired results. 
  2. Grey Coverage. When you’re trying to cover your grey there are many ways to go about it. Some people prefer their grey to be COMPLETELY gone and 100% covered. In this case you are looking for what a stylist might call a Matte or Opaque grey coverage for your roots. If you know that this describes you be prepared to discuss it because this practice is becoming less prevalent. Lately stylists and clients alike are opting for less maintenance and a sheer or translucent grey coverage would likely achieve that. As a plus translucent grey coverage can look much more dimensional and sometimes it can even make your greys look like natural subtle highlights. As a side note if you’re looking to cover your grey and you would like some brighter highlights added in you are moving into what your stylist would consider a double process color service. This means you are getting both a retouch and a partial highlight. You may also need a toner. It is more complicated, takes more time and will be more expensive. It is absolutely stunning though!
  3. Tone. If you are coloring your hair in a single process then the tone is built into your color formula. This is usually a series of numbers that tells a stylist what level (how light or dark) and what tone you want your hair to be. Tones are categorized into 3 options. Warm being gold, copper, red. Cool being blue, purple, green. And Neutral being equal parts of all primary colors. Neutral is in between warm and cool. You can not have that honey blonde without your color being considered warm and you can not have that icy platinum without your color being considered cool. If you are getting highlighted then the powdered lightener lifts your hair in a raw way exposing undertone. Your stylist will then need to go in and do a toner to actually make the highlights the color that you want. That is why highlights are not considered a single process haircolor. Please ask your stylist to show you photos of different tones so that you can consider your options visually. Side note most blondes are scared of “ yellow “ but they want their highlights to be bright. The brightest thing in the world is the sun because it is yellow. If you ask your stylist for a toner that cools down and neutralizes all of the yellow then your highlights will not seem as bright. That is how some clients end up disappointed. They did not realize they asked their stylist to cool down their brightness. 

There is so much more I could share with clients and stylists alike to help them have a conversation where everyone is understood but this is your sneak peek. You will have to wait for me to write a book to find out the rest. You can ALWAYS book a free consultation with a stylist at almost any salon. If you would like an in depth consultation with one of my stylists you can visit our website or call in to the salon at 512-447-2888. We can do those consultations either in person or via video call online. 

I hope I have been helpful in exposing the terminology that Hairstylist commonly use and I have high hopes that you will all have a much more enjoyable and enlightening experience the next time you visit a new salon. Until then happy hair days and we hope to see you very soon.