View Full Version : What to ask for when getting a haircut? Keywords & Phrases

January 2nd, 2010, 03:02 PM
What special words & phrases you use when explaining what kind of cut you want ?

So I want to get a haircut. I've realised that to explain what we want, we bring photos, and talk vaguely about layers, movement and the latest celeb's hair "but longer".
There is a kind of language barrier between most clients and the hairdresser. I'd love to overcome it.

I found this thread: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/showthread.php?t=47604
and it gives interesting hints:
1. if you don't want the length to be reduced, say that you are growing it out.
2. to ask for a dry cut
3. to request them not to use a razor edge and thinning shears for curly and wavy hair.
Unfortunately that thread is dead, so I hope to learn more here.

What specific phrases and expressions you use with your hairdressers to communicate what you want ?

January 2nd, 2010, 03:04 PM
It's really helpful, if using a photo, to use one that has a similar hair type to yours because it's likely going to be a little bit easier to get closer to that then something of a hair type completely different.

If you want a trim and you measure it a certain amount (like two inches) make sure that you demonstrate your idea of that length with something like your fingers because different people eyeball lengths differently and I'm not sure people are going to bring out a ruler to be exact.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:06 PM
This doesn't work sometimes, or so I've heard, but for it did work so far. I always mention that'd I'm growing my hair long, or trying to. I will tell the hairdresser that I don't want too much cut off and ask them for their opinion - there might be some damage I haven't been aware of. We'll agree on a certain lenghts, set in the mirror so I see it. If we agree on, say, 5 cm, it'll be 5cm. Worked fine for me so far.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:18 PM
Awesome thread idea! I will be watching this because it is something that I have always struggled with when I have long hair.

The strategy that works wonders for me when my hair is short, seems like it would be stressful and even terrifying with long hair... "Do what you think will be flattering" plus a very specific description of what I don't like about my current cut.

My 2 favorite and most flattering haircuts ever were a result of that ... a clearly defined problem plus trust in their artistic ability to fix it. I really believe that a good stylist has a better sense of what will be flattering than I do. But when my hair was longer I never said those words ... too much stress.
What a dilemma! I am curious about how other people do this.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:29 PM
Show them exactly how long you want it to still be, by demonstrating it with your hand on your arm, and tell them esp. when your hair is wavy or curly that you want this to be the length when dry! This is so important when you don't want the length to be reduced too much. Actually show them, because what "length" is to you is not what "length" is to them. I once wanted to keep my length and told the hairdresser I still wanted to be able to do a ponytail. My hair got chopped from almost BSL to almost shoulder. I could still pull it back into a ponytail, but only just. But... that wasn't what I meant. At all. You have to be very specific, that's what I've learned.

Show them what you mean when it comes to layering by also indicating the shortest, longest length on a piece of hair. Take pieces of hair and demonstrate where you want your layers cut (all over, just in front) and how long they need to be at their shortest.

As stated before. Take pictures with you. When you have i hair, please don't take pictures of women with thick hair or the other way round. You'll be disappointed afterwards. I once took in a picture with me of a woman with the *cutest* little pixie cut. The hairdresser thinned out my hair until it was about half of what it was on top. This because the cut was not going to work on my hair otherwise. She didn't say that the style wouldn't work for me without this thinning out procedure. Hairdressers are so focused on what you want sometimes that they forget to communicate with you. She should have said something like "you do realize that I am going to have to thin out your hair for this to work, don't you?" To avoid all that, just take realistic pictures with you. Be realistic. Don't expect different hair than what you have. Respect your texture. With what we learn here about different textures and different hair thicknesses, it should be easier to try and find something that will realistically work for us.

Communication is a two-way street.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:41 PM
Take in a photo of what you want and ask if it is a reasonable cut considering your hair type.

Be specific about how much you want cut off. Show him/her how much (preferably on a ruler or on a comb). After he/she makes the first cut, have him/her show how much was cut.

One thing I learned a few years ago is the use of the term "trim". From what I remember, a "trim" to a hair stylist means "cut off the ends until there is no damage". So I suggest you not use the term "trim." You could call it a "micro-trim of about 1/4 inch" or a "dusting". Whatever term you use, be specific of how much hair you want trimmed.

I found it interesting that even the tiniest of trim can make a huge difference in how the hair feels and acts; I'm talking even a 1/4 inch trim!

You also might consider self-trimming.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:44 PM
I'm very specific at the hairdressers. I get my hair coloured, and I look at charts and ask advice, and then when I find something I like, they keep a record of the exact mix. I think about what I really want, and then describe it.

In terms of cutting it, I SHOW my hairdresser exactly how much I want trimmed by holding up my fingers, and explaining that I am growing it. I don't know, I've always had pretty good cuts. The only time it went wrong was when a hairdresser put too much blond in (which I hate on me), and I complained nicely, and she re-did it at once.

My hairdresser says that she much prefers it when people are really direct about what they want, rather than being vague and then hating what's done.

January 2nd, 2010, 03:49 PM
I was going to suggest trimming yourself or having a trusted individual to do it, but TB beat me to it.

I think it will be difficult to have long hair while building a rapport with a hair dresser. The infrequent trims/maintenance alone simply does not allow for such a relationship to build. That is unless you have some sort of outside relationship with said stylist that can grow and flourish.

I'll post back w/some more thoughts on this later...DH is rushing me out the door :(

ETA: I have had several hair dressers in my life and my absolute best one was a long time friend of mine I've known since junior high. She changed religions and does not believe in hair cutting for women; so she quit doing my hair. And then, would only cut men's hair. Now she had changed her position and will only cut the men's hair that is in her family. Before her religion change, I had allowed her to practice on me and through this process; we began to have respect and trust in each other. Plus, she knew if she messed my hair up bad; I would open up a can of whoop a$$...This was all before I got saved, though ;)

I go to church with a few ladies who are stylists and would not trust them to do my hair. I've known one for over 13 years; and the other for about 6. Their *ideas* of hair care do not align with mine and I don't have enough confidence in them to do what I would want them to do. OTOH; there is a male/female couple who are stylists who I've begun to consider having the wife do some trims for me...But that was all before I gained the confidence to trim my own hair. I had been doing S&D on myself for over 2 years and recently began doing actual self trims. I have not been disappointed with my results as compared to often being disappointed by having a professional do it.

January 3rd, 2010, 05:51 PM
I normally say 'just the very ends or i will kill you!' but I am on very good terms with my hairdresser! shes still alive so has obviously conformed to my requests! :)

January 3rd, 2010, 07:05 PM
I'll echo one of the other suggestions and actually specify how much you want to cut off. A hairdresser's inch seems very different to an actual inch. In fact, I was watching Tabitha's Salon once and the hairdresser was asked to cut off an inch and when Tabitha asked her what an inch was, she indicated by her fingers and it was more like three inches.

Some hairdressers will also cut off the hair that they think is damaged and go against your wishes so be very strong and clear about how much hair YOU want taken off.

If you have layers, this is where it gets trickier. Specify the hemline that you want. I've had hairdressers who have just taken it upon themselves to cut my hair into a blunt cut and even up my hair even though I prefer a U shape.

January 3rd, 2010, 07:27 PM
I say I'm getting rid of damage/layers, and I'm also growing my hair out. She was really careful with cutting the front for my bob, and still has long hair after childbirth(Maybe APL which is long for my area), so she does get what I'm saying with long hair! She also is pretty nice about damage. But my current stylist is just amazing! She doesn't cut hair too short and actually has tried to encourage me to leave a few inches on my mullet of doom(which I turned into a bob.).

Generally saying things like no thinning is a good idea. Saying you don't own any heat styling things because they destroyed your hair is also effective for getting a decent looking haircut. To be honest, it's hard until you find a good stylist.

January 3rd, 2010, 08:38 PM
Also another tip, try not to go to super high fashion salons, not only do they charge extra for cutting long hair but are more likely to ignore your requests, i find them too interseted in doing what they want!. Barbers are normally very good as they hate cutting long hair too short or do like me and find a hospital hairdresser, mine is based where I work and she also has very long hair!

January 3rd, 2010, 09:12 PM
Learn to do it yourself. Seriously. ;)

If that's not an option, interview the stylist(s). Talk to them to find out if they're capable of hearing you, and willing to do as you wish. You'd be amazed how little you need to talk with someone before you know whether or not they're likely to ignore your needs.

Do they pay attention to the words and phrases you use? Seem receptive to the idea that you know what you want? Seem willing to work with you as you grow out your hair?

If their responses seem positive, go for it, but get specific about what you want them to do on THIS visit. If they want to do something drastic, let them make plans for the future, but remind them of what you want them to do on THIS visit and make sure you both stick to your plan.

As others have said, make sure you know what they mean when they describe what they'll trim. Make sure you both interpret their words the same way, and that it's what you want them to do.

If you have trouble persuading them to hear you, thank them for their time and LEAVE WITHOUT A HAIRCUT.

The world will not actually end if you tell them no. Sometimes it feels that way, and it can be hard to speak up, but trust me, life will go on. (And it's a lot better than winding up with a cut you dislike.)

January 4th, 2010, 12:04 AM
Monday at 11:00am, I am getting my first trim in a little over 5 months. I am so anxious about it I can't sleep. I have had a good relationship with my stylist, but I know I'm going to hear a bunch of negative bunk.

This thread is perfectly timed! I;m so nervous and don't know how to keep her from taking off what she feels is appropriate as opposed to what I want. It is just waist length and I don't want more than 1/4" off.

I will accept encouragement!! Thank you! = )

January 10th, 2010, 11:36 AM
Thanks a lot for everyone's advice !