More Than Skin Deep: How much is an inch?

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An inch can make a big difference. You might think that it isn’t very much or that an inch is a lot. Everyone’s idea of what the actual size of an inch can be different from the actual measurement.

Sometimes people tell me that in the past they would go into the salon and ask for a trim and the stylist would scalp them. This is a common problem and one that can be corrected easily enough.

When questioned further the misunderstood words are always something like “take off about an inch” or “half an inch.”

Your stylist is held accountable for defining the amount of hair to be removed in the trim-up process. I always do an inch test before the operation begins. The test goes as follows: You hold your thumb and index finger up in the air and show somebody what an inch is.

To help define your own inch you may measure it if you would like. I wonder how many people would actually measure up. The finger and thumb or sometimes known as the itty-bitty sign can also be used as a reference guide to indicate other amounts smaller or larger than an inch by spreading the fingers wider or closing them until they are almost touching.

It sounds silly right now but if you have long hair an inch can either be just right or it can be devastating if all you want is the ends cleaned up.

So when getting a cut, instead of describing how much you want cut off with just words, you might want to try adding in a little sign language.

Dear Scott: When I get home from having my hair colored it looks like a completely different color than when I am in the salon that I go to. I like it when I’m there but I don’t like how it looks in the bathroom mirror. Why does it look so different?

Answer: Lighting is the culprit. Your bathroom mirror lighting can be what is making it look funny. Florescent lighting will sometimes make color look different also. The best way to see your hair color is to look outside in a mirror in real sunlight. If the lighting in the salon is dark, it is very hard for you to tell what color your hair really is. It may look good in there because it’s dark. I have seen this problem in salons where there is dark mood lighting, that makes you look good, but no one can tell what the color looks like. I use a daylight bulb specially designed for color. For processing hair color, bright light is best.

Tip of the week: Have your hair cut and colored at the same time to save money. You pay for the blow drying service twice if going in for two appointments.

Scott Terwilliger, an Aiken salon owner and master stylist, can be reached at

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