How to Get Exactly What You Want at the Salon

Know the words the hairdressers use

Hair lingo can be complicated at best. Up until a few years ago, you’d probably never heard of the word “balayage” — now it seems as common as “haircut.” Unfortunately, sometimes going to the salon can feel majorly frustrating and even disappointing when you go in knowing exactly what you want but can’t explain it in terms your stylist understands. That’s why we’re here to help.

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How much will this cost?

First off, it’s completely within your right as a customer to ask how much a service is going to cost before the scissors come out. Most salons have a price sheet, either in the salon or on their website, but most services only have a “starting at” price with a lot of plus signs after. That’s because different stylists with different experience levels charge different prices. The junior stylist might charge $30 for a haircut, but the stylist you’re booked with is actually $50.

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When booking your appointment with a new hairdresser, you can feel comfortable asking for their prices. If you’re going for a completely new look (a drastic cut or an extreme color), consider booking a consultation first. Make it clear that you have a budget, and let the stylist look at your hair and estimate how much your new ‘do will cost. No one likes surprises at the register!

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How long will this take?

Since you can’t take your hair off like a sweater, you want to make sure you love it — so why would you rush your hairdresser? Don’t make a dinner reservation or buy movie tickets for 15 minutes after your appointment; make sure your stylist has plenty of time to give you the level of treatment you’re looking for without you checking your watch every two seconds. Hair can be tricky, especially coloring, and sometimes processes need more time than the stylist originally thought. Many salons are closed on Sundays but happily take clients on Saturday, so treat yourself to a relaxing weekend day of pampering with no time constraint.

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Color Glossary

Single process color: A color application that takes one step. If you’ve ever bought hair color at the drugstore (we’re not here to judge!), that was single process color.

Double process color: A color application that takes two steps. Most commonly, this is pre-lightening the hair before applying another color (like a rainbow hue), a glaze, or a toner.

Ombré: This is an overall result more than a technique. Ombré is a light-to-dark (or dark-to-light) effect.

Balayage: A hair painting technique used to achieve ombré, done by using a hair color brush to paint bleach or lightener on the hair.

Toner: Toner is used almost like a less powerful hair dye. It can help achieve the desired level of warmth or coolness in hair color and is most commonly used to cancel out brassiness (orange tones) in blonde hair.

Highlights: Usually done using a foiling technique, highlights are lightened small pieces of hair. This is an easy way to go slightly lighter and still look natural. Full highlights are done on the entire head while partial highlights are done on the top half of the head (and are usually less expensive). “Baby-lights” use extremely small sections of hair to create a very subtle lightening effect.

Lowlights: Usually done using a foiling technique, lowlights are darkened small pieces of hair. Like highlights, this creates natural-looking dimension.

Glaze: Semi-permanent color that gently changes the hair, making it warmer, cooler, intensified, etc. Can also add a healthy-looking shine.

Cut Glossary

Layers: A haircut where the ends are cut into gradually different lengths that fall seamlessly together, adding body and dimension.

Undercut: A haircut done with buzzers or clippers, shaving off the underside of the hair but leaving the top intact.

Choppy/piecey: A haircut done with a razor or scissors pointed down to create an irregular line at the ends.

Angles: A haircut with gradually shorter pieces at the front to frame the face.

Round cut: A haircut where the pieces in the back are shorter than the pieces in the front, making a round-shaped edge.

Square/blunt cut: A haircut where all the pieces are exactly the same length at the bottom.

Asymmetrical cut: A haircut where hair on one side of the head is longer than hair on the other side.

Triangle cut: A haircut where the ends of the hair are cut into a point at the middle of the back and shorter at the front.

Dusting: Just a trim!

Dry cutting: A haircut done while the hair is dry, ideal for short hair, curly hair, or bangs.

Bob: A blunt, chin-length haircut.

Lob: Slightly longer than a bob.

Pixie: A very short haircut.

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Now that you’ve mastered the hair stylist lingo, go forth to your salon with the confidence of Beyoncé!

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