Hair & Hairstyling Terms & Definitions (2)

Happy and informed hair salon client
Photo: Getty Images/Canva
Regardless of whether you're an experienced stylist, a novice, or merely seeking to enhance your understanding of hair care, this guide aims to clarify the commonly used terminology within the domain of hair and hairstyling.


What is a page boy haircut?

What a page boy haircut looks like
Medieval page boy haircut - Image: The Everett Collection/Canva
A page boy haircut is typically shoulder-length or slightly shorter. The sides are shorter than the back and angled. The style typically includes bangs on the forehead, is cut just above or below the ears, and may include some layers, but only enough to ensure a clean, simple style.

What is a Purdey?

What a Purdey haircut looks like
Purdey inspired hair - Photos: Hemera Technologies/Canva
The Purdey is a hairstyle made popular by actress Joanna Lumley in British television's, "The New Avengers". The Purdey hairstyle is a blunt cut, almost bowl-shaped, with a cut line that angles along the sides to the nape of the neck.
The cut line of the style is slightly tapered to curve inward toward the head and give a smooth look to the finished style. It is also sometimes referred to as a "mop-top."

What is a shag?

What a shag haircut is
Neck length shag - Photo: Jupiterimages/Canva
The shag haircut refers to a haircut with a lot of layers. Although a shag style can be of any length, they are typically shoulder-length at their longest and just below the ears at their shortest. Originating in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they are still popular today.
The defining feature of a shag cut is layering achieved by elevating the hair to a stationary guide for cutting. The shag hairstyle has experienced a revival in popularity due to the cast of the American TV series, "Friends."

What is a stationary guide?

Hair cutting with a stationary guide
A stationary guide is a point to which all the hair is directed before cutting. A stationary guide is used in long layered haircuts like the shag. This guide does not move during the haircut.

What is a traveling guide?

Hair cutting with a traveling guide
A traveling guide is one that moves with the area being cut. With a traveling guide, hair that has been previously cut is used to indicate the length of the next area to be cut. Haircuts like the basic circle cut and the pixie cut use a traveling guide. The result is layers with a uniform length.

What is a wedge haircut?

What a wedge haircut looks like
1970s wedge hairstyle - Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Canva
The wedge hairstyle was made popular in the 1970s by figure skater Dorothy Hamill. It has become a classic style with several variations over the intervening years but is defined by the sharp, clean tapering of the lower layers of the hair toward the nape of the neck.
Typically, the style is worn with bangs and is at least mid-ear length on the sides, but can be longer or shorter and still be considered a wedge, as long as the hair cleanly tapers in the "wedge" shape at the bottom. It is similar in appearance to the "Purdey" style listed above.

What is a weight line?

Where the weight line of a haircut is
The weight line of a haircut - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
The weight line is the area of a haircut with the greatest length. In a blunt or bob haircut, the weight line is at the ends of the hair. In a layered haircut, the weight line is the point around the head where the longest hair falls.
A heavy weight line clearly shows where the hair was cut and can be blended away using texturing tools if desired.

What is a graduated haircut?

What a graduated haircut looks like
A graduated haircut - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
The graduated haircut is a variant of the layered cut where the hair is cut into a specific angle or shape. The ends of the hair in this type of cut appear to "stack" on top of one another, often adding bulk or weight to the style in specific areas. Because of this, the graduated haircut is also known as a "stacked haircut". Often, bob-style haircuts are stacked to add interest and shape to accentuate the shape of the head or compliment a specific facial feature, or to elongate the neck.
This haircut works well with many hair types: coarse curly hair can be cut in a graduated style allowing the natural curl to build volume in certain areas, while fine hair can be cut in graduated styles that create smooth, curving lines to frame the head and facial features. Normal hair textures can, of course, support the graduated haircut in any number of designs. The wedge haircut is an example of a graduated hairstyle.

What is a gamine haircut?

What a gamine haircut looks like
Woman with a gamine haircut - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
The term "gamine" means "mischievous and playful", and has come to be used to denote the boyishly short and sassy hairstyles worn by many women. Among the women who are famous for their gamine styles are Halle Berry and Sharon Stone.
Though not specific in terms of length, the gamine cut is typically short (above the ears). It should be noted that "gamine" does not indicate one specific haircut, but rather the general "look" created by any of a number of different short-short hairstyles. The "pixie cut" is a gamine hairstyle and so are the shorter versions of the "purdey" styles.
Gamine haircuts are best suited to slimmer women, with softer facial features. The style can often make those women with thin, angular faces and features appear gaunt and disproportionate. It is sometimes suited to women with fuller figures and rounder faces for its ability to give the illusion of length to the face, but should be considered carefully before being chosen as the style requires a certain amount of attitude in the women who wear it.
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