Ultimately, it comes down to one thing... take your time during the consultation. If the stylist tries to rush (some are on very tight schedules), simply say "Wait please, I want to go over again what we're going to do." You might get a 'hmpff', but you'll also get a recap of what they plan to do. Ask them to explain anything that seems unclear.
And if you're really unhappy with the result? You really don't have to tip, or even pay. But if you stiff them, do give them the chance to make it right. Some of my most loyal clients are ones I almost lost. They took the time to talk to me, and now I know exactly how to make them happy.
The first 10 minutes of your appointment should be spent on the consultation -or talking about what you want your hair to look like. If you have a picture of the style you want, by all means bring it!!
In the meantime, here's a list of things clients say and what the stylist thinks they mean.
Just a Trim: A trim should mean 'the same style, just take off about half an inch'. If you find that to your stylist trim means 3", say 'half an inch'.
Layers Around The Face or Face Framing Layers: This tells me you want the hair in the very front to be angled from about the chin down to the bottom for long hair, or from the nose or mouth down to the bottom for shoulder-length hair.
Just Take Off The Dead Ends or Make It Healthy: This should prompt more questions from your stylist because if you have 3" of split ends, the stylist will want to cut about 4" off.
Take Off About An Inch: For some reason, many clients have no idea how much an inch is. When they show me where they want the hair to come to while saying this, they're pointing to about 2" or 3"off. It's better to just show them where you want the hair to come to and leave out the number of inches.
Take Off About Two Inches: This seems to have the opposite effect of the previous entry. When I show them where 2" will fall, they say, 'Oh, that's too short! Maybe just half an inch.' Again, it's best to just point to how short you want your hair and let the stylist do the math.
Long Layers: Usually means layers no higher than 3" from the bottom.
Now some things the stylist says that may confuse clients...
Shag It: This means to give some version of that Meg Ryan haircut from the movie You've Got Mail.
Shag Out The Ends: This means to use a straight razor to texturize the ends. Modern whispy or piecey styles work best for this. It leaves a very irregular line... no straight lines.
Choppy or Chunky Layers: You may be able to see some scissor lines in these layers. These layers look best if you style your hair either flipped up, spikey, or flat-iron straight.
Thin The Hair: This is to cut some hair with either a straight razor or a thinning shear. The hair should only be thinned about 2"-3" from the bottom of the hair, or 2"-3" from the scalp; whichever is longer. We usually do this to help you achieve more fullness and lift on top without cutting all the hair short, or if your hair is very thick and thinning it makes it easier for you to work with at home.
Texturize The Hair: Same as thinning, basically but usually only done with a razor. Helps create choppy or shag styles.
Razor Cut: This is a cut done with a straight blade. Not to be confused with the clippers or a shaving blade. It leaves the haircut with more wispy ends and no straight, hard lines. Great for everything from modern bobs to a great shag.
Clipper Cut: Typically used for men's crew cuts or 'buzz' cuts. Some women's styles call for the nape of the neck to be clipper cut, but the rest of the hair is longer. A good example would be the stacked bob.
So hopefully I've decoded a few phrases for you. If there's one that has you stumped that I haven't covered, please share it in the comments and I will respond there as well.