A good portion of my job is to take what you are telling me and translate it into something we both understand so I can give you what you want. And, let me tell you, it's not easy.
I had a mother bring in her kids on Tuesday night (the night before school started...busiest night of the year), wanting their haircuts fixed. Tina had done their haircuts the night before and rushed them. Mom was seeing all kinds of things...picking the hair cuts apart, really. A lot of what she was pointing out on the older boy (15 years old) had to do with his cowlicks. However, the hair cut wasn't all that blended, so, off I go.
I asked her what they were looking for in a haircut. What she told me was nothing like what Tina told me they had asked for (which was to have a haircut similar to the picture on the wall that we have). When she described what she wanted, she said "I want the back down to skin, and faded up into hair." "So, you want a high and tight?" "Yes." 'You want me to remove all this hair, from here to here and blend it upward" (pointing from nape of neck to above the ears) "Yes. And I want about half of the hair on top of his head cut off." So, I commence to cutting. When I informed teenage boy he would be losing his sideburns, panic ensued. And, guess what?? A high & tight was NOT what we wanted for a haircut.
Mom asked me "what was it again we decided on?" "You told me you wanted all the hair gone from here to here, and blended up, taking approximately half of the hair off from the top of his head" Teenage boy complained "we just should have shaved my hair off. It was better before". SERIOUSLY??? You're going to pitch a fit NOW?? Why, yes. Yes we are. Mom's reply "Well, it looks better than it did before" Until we get to the end of the haircut and she sees that his bangs are a bit wonky, due to the multiple cowlicks in the front of his hair. And she makes the point of pointing out "Why can't you get his bangs straight?" and points to a nearly minuscule section of his hair. Which I snipped off and replied "he has cowlicks in the front which messes with how his bangs lay against his head" "Oh, yeah, they've got cowlicks, me too" and points to her head.
Guess what?? There is NO CURE for cowlicks except to cut it short or grow it long. None of us has a pair of magical scissors that makes cowlicks go away.
High & Tight: Military style haircut. No hair, skin, bald to a certain point, usually near the top of the head. The remaining "circle" of hair is also quite short. Where this line appears is different on every person, but the bald part is always BALD. No hair left behind in those areas, including side burns.
Fade: Also a military haircut. A true Military Fade is also known as a buzz cut, or a "butch" (back when I was a child). It is one size guard used all over the head.
Modified Fade: What a lot of people ask for and call it a fade. Two different sized clipper guards making this haircut. Usually the top is longer than the sides, but all of it is quite short.
It's my job, as a hairdresser, to figure out what you want, educate you on what you're asking for, then give you what we've figured out you're asking for. Your part of this is to retain the information given to you so you can correctly ask for the right haircut the next time you come in to get your haircut, regardless of where you go.