Do you feel like you are speaking a foreign language when you communicate with your hair stylist about your desired look? It can be a confusing conversation, which can lead to misunderstanding and end in a disaster that could haunt you for weeks. Getting the hairstyle you desire can be extremely difficult, even with pictures, when you don’t understand the native language of salon talk. Say goodbye to miscommunication, undesirable hair colors, and lost inches. Let’s learn how to salon shop talk so that you can head to your salon feeling confident that you will walk out with exactly what you envisioned.

1. A Dusting or a Trim?
Coming from a hairstylist perspective, this is the most misunderstood conversation. Have you ever gone to a salon and asked for a trim and looked down to see inches on the ground? Try rephrasing your request and ask for a “dusting” instead. A hair dusting is when your stylist only snips the split ends, losing approximately an inch or less of length. A trim is when your ends are completely reshaped bringing life to dull hair. I recommend always asking your stylist to show you before cutting how much length you need to sacrifice for healthier looking hair.

2. Highlights or Lowlights?
Lowlights and highlights are partial coloring techniques. The stylist adds a different shade of color to certain strands of hair to add depth, texture, and various complementary shades. It is important to know the difference because these color techniques showcase two different looks. Highlights are used to brighten the hair to a lighter shade. Highlights are often used to created dimension in darker hairstyles as well as touch up the root of those natural blondes. Lowlight color applications are applied the same as highlights but have the opposite results. They are used to create depth by darkening strands of the hair to add texture and put emphasis on the lighter strands. Combining highlights and lowlights together in a color service seems to give the most natural effect to your hair. The most important concept you want is knowing that highlights lighten the hair and low lights darken. Season change can put emphasis on which color application you chose.

3. Lob or Bob?
This is a hair description you want to be clear about. A lob is a nickname for a long bob. Cut at shoulder length or longer, the lob has a similar shape to the bob with the graduated length in the back and longer hair in the front. A classic bob rests at chin length or shorter. Be sure you are clear on the desired length and shape of this haircut because the bob comes in a variety of shapes and styles. Bringing a picture of inspiration is a perfect way to avoid an unwanted chop.

4. Waves or Curls?
Curl trends have taken over thanks to inspiration from Pinterest. Do you want “lived-in” hair, beach waves, or Victoria Secret curls? Ask your stylist if he/she can create the look you desire from your picture of inspiration. To insure that you walk out of the salon with a luxurious head of curls that you desire, ask your stylist how she is going to achieve the look. What is the hot tool of choice? Use a curling iron, curling wand, or a straightener to create today’s popular Pinterest inspired curls. Depending on how loose, wavy, tight, or bouncy you want your curls will determine the width of the curling iron. For desired beach waves, go for a larger width iron. For a tousled, “lived-in” texture, you can use a variety of styling tools. Follow up with a pliable but viscous products for longevity in the style.

5. Balayage or Ombre?
These color techniques are by far the most popular color trends swarming the salons right now.  Each technique is low maintenance and helps emphasize those Pinterest inspired curls. The purpose is to match the color of to your natural root color so that you are not visiting the salon every four weeks for a root touch up and a credit card swipe. There is also the option of changing your base color. That changes your natural root color to a darker or lighter shade if that is the look you desire. These two terms are so often confused. Ombre is a coloring process that gradually blends one color hue into another on every strand of hair. Balayage is a color trend that is used to create a more natural sun kissed look and is painted on randomly selected hairs to create a more neutral effect. It is important to know the correct term before you sit in your stylist chair and give them the reins. Just remember, ombre lightens or darkens every strand of hair, whereas balayage leaves a lot of hair untouched.

These salon conversations will no longer intimidate you or have you squirming in your chair for an hour. Now, you can speak the language with confidence while you explain your desired look.