Not knowing the language hairstylists speak can result in stressful trips to the salon, not to mention terrible haircuts. To help you communicate with your stylist and get the best cut ever, we’ve deciphered the most common salon jargon.
Every cut falls under three categories: layered, one-length, or a combination of both, says celebrity hairstylist Dwayne Ross. Layers help lessen density and create movement. One-length cuts, on the other hand, add weight. To avoid confusion and hair mishaps, double-check with your stylist. Regardless of what terminology the stylist is using, Ross recommends always asking, “Will this technique create layers or remove them?”
This is a cutting technique where hair is lifted and cut over the head to create extra body and volume, says Nick Penna Jr., owner and lead stylist of SalonCapri. Essentially, the end result is a ton of exaggerated layers. Think: shaggy, rockstar cuts, says Ross.
Thinning is ideal for those with thick, dense tresses who want to eliminate bulkiness. By relying on thinning shears, the process creates super-fine layers and adds dimension, says Penna. To thin with regular shears, also known as “slithering,” stylists slide an open set of scissors along the shaft.
4. Cutting Line
This is a line that stylists determine for a particular hairstyle, and its angle corresponds with how close or far apart the layers will look, says Penna. “For example, when a stylist wants to create a layered look, he will use a vertical cutting line.”
5. Weight Line
Like the name implies, this is the area in a cut that holds the most weight. Penna uses a blunt or bob cut as an example. “The weight line is at the end of the hair. But in a long layered cut, the weight line is the longest layer.” If you feel that your weight line is too heavy, Penna suggests asking your stylist to blend it in with thinning shears. Another way to soften bluntness is to use “point cutting,” a snipping technique that lops the ends at an angle to create a textured or feathered edge.
6. Graduated Hair (or Stacked Haircut)
A graduated cut involves layers, which for the hairstylist, means cutting at an angle of less than 90 degree. Thanks to this technique, there is more control for stylists to shape the desired outline of a cut. “With this look, the layers stack closely on top of another, often adding a bit of needed bulk or weight to the style in specific areas,” adds Penna.
7. Wedge Haircut
While a graduated cut requires a maximum angle of 90 degrees, a wedge haircut needs only 45, says Ross. “The hair at the nape of the neck is cut the shortest, with layers radiating out as they reach the crown of the head,” adds Penna. With that, the ends are cut at multiple angles (versus a straight blunt edge) to boost volume and movement.
8. Blunt Cut
The blunt cut is lopped at an angle of 0 degrees, making each strand fall at one length, Ross says. Blunt cuts, often known as bob cuts, are better suited for fine-haired ladies since they create the illusion of density and volume.
If texture is what you’re looking for, consider a choppy look — a cut with short layers is typically for bobs or shoulder-length styles, says Penna.
The literal French translation of ‘gamine’ is ‘playful,’ which is a fitting term to describe the “boyishly short and sassy hairstyle,” says Penna, who points to Audrey Hepburn’s iconic style as a prime example. Gamine also includes the pixie cut, which involves shorn sides and back with longer layers on top.