How to Speak Hairstylist: The Terms You Need to Know for Your Best Hair Ever

Knowing how to talk the talk can help you walk out of the salon with your best hair ever. Memorize these must-know terms before your next cut, color, or styling appointment.


Undercut (ən-dər-ˈkət): With this scissor technique, the under layer of hair is cut a little shorter than the top layer. It's a way to remove bulk from hair while maintaining length.

Point cutting (pȯint kuht-ting): The stylist holds the scissors vertically while snipping "points" into the ends of hair, usually to create texture and movement; aka pointing.

Slithering (slĭth'ər-ing): It has nothing to do with a snake. It's actually a debulking technique that involves gliding open scissors down the length of your hair.

Texturizing (ˈteksCHəˌrīz-ing): When your stylist texturizes your hair, she's adding layers through the interior to lighten it up -- or add body.

Dusting (duhs-ting): Instead of telling your stylist that you just need a trim, tell him that you want a dusting. He'll snip just the teeniest bit from your length, making hair appear healthier but not freshly cut.

Choppy (chop-ee): This edgy cut has a lot of short layers that usually vary in length.

Graduation (graj-oo-ey-shuh n): Drop this term when you want a bob or lob that's slightly longer in front, gradually getting shorter toward the nape of your neck.

Fringe (frinj): Stylist speak for bangs or any short layers that frame your face.

Check out our favorite medium-length haircuts.


Overdirecting (ō-vər dih-rekt-ing): When you need a volume boost, your stylist may blow-dry your hair in the opposite direction of your part, and then flip it back once it's dry -- an easy way to get lift.

Piece-y (pees-ee): This is the universal word to describe hair that has lots of separation.

Tousled (tou-zuh ld): If your stylist says she's going to give you a tousled blowout, expect body, texture, and loose waves.

Bevel (bev-uh l): A small bend at the ends of your hair, usually done with a hot tool.

Chignon (shee-nyawn): A French term for a fancy low bun.

Wefts (wefts): That's code for extensions. The strips of faux or real hair are attached to your natural strands to add length or body.

Take our quiz and find out what haircut is right for you!


Balayage (balāˈyäZH): This French hair-coloring technique involves hand-painting highlights onto individual strands off the root, rather than using foils or a highlighting cap. The results tend to be more natural because there's no obvious line of demarcation from regrowth.

Babylights (bebi layts): When the goal is a subtle brightening effect, your colorist may highlight baby-fine strands of hair.

Ombre (om-bray): A gradual change of color from root to tip, getting lighter toward ends.

Tipping (tip-ping): Nope, we're not talking money here. This color term refers to dyeing just the ends of your hair with highlights or even a bold or pastel hue.

Glaze (gleyz): A semipermanent (washes out over time) dye is applied to hair for a short period to tweak the tone of your hair (i.e. to make it less brassy).

See 10 hair hacks only stylists know.

More Hairstyle Must-Knows

Have you ever asked yourself, "Should I get bangs?" We're here to help answer that question and to help you find the best bangs for your face shape.


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