Everything You Need to Know to Talk with Your Hairdresser - Hair Term Glossary
Salon speak can be slightly confusing, and hair salons can be intimidating because of how they describe haircuts, colours and styles.
Not knowing the language hairstylists speak can result in stress, miscommunication and maybe not ending up with exactly what you hoped for. To help you communicate with your stylist and get the best cut ever, we've deciphered the most common salon jargon.
BALAYAGE: The technique involves hand-painting colour onto individual sections of hair for a soft, natural effect. The effect is similar to traditional highlights yet it's achieved by painting on colour freehand rather than using foils.
This look is used for a more natural finish with hair colour. Balayage can be used on short or long hair, and on all different colours.
FOILYAGE: Foilyage involves a freehand painting technique onto sections of the hair, these individual sections are then wrapped in foil to intensify the colour and amplify the effect. The result is light-catching highlights that become more and more vibrant from the new-growth down to the ends.
OMBRE: In short: 'dip dyed' hair with dark roots and light ends. Ombré is a contrast colouring treatment that's created by lightening the mid-lengths and ends, giving a soft gradient from root to tip. This dark-light separation although obviously visible, is blended into the hair.
SOMBRE: Sombré hair is Ombré's subtler, more natural-looking little sister. The difference between colours is less obvious, and more symmetrical, with very slight layering and gentle lightening.
ECAILLE: a fusion of both the Ombré and sombre hair trend where the bold gradation of colour is tempered by the soft and subtle sombre technique for bright ends and darker roots that blend ever-so-naturally. It can be achieved with a mix of Balayage highlights throughout. The key is to focus on rich colours, creating dimension and some graduation of colour to differentiate from an Ombré.
FREEHAND PAINTING: This refers to when the colour is applied directly to the hair with a brush. It is an increasingly popular technique when colouring hair as it doesn't leave strong lines and regrowth is harder to when the colour starts to grow out. It also means that colour can be strategically placed to maximize impact.
HIGHLIGHTS: Highlights refer to colours lighter than your natural shade. For instance, if you have dark blonde hair you can lighten with some honey blonde highlights. They give a subtler lift than colouring with a block colour.
LOWLIGHTS: Lowlights refer to colouring the hair darker than your natural shade.
Sprinkled throughout the underside of your hair, lowlights work well for brunettes as they depend the natural hair colour. They're also perfect to add depth to blonde locks.
BABYLIGHTS: Babylights are very natural looking micro-foils. Babylights are very delicate, white-blonde highlights created using a very fine colour technique to mimic that blonde hue achieved if your hair is naturally lightened in the sun.
SNOWLIGHTS: Babylights for platinum 'scalp bleach' blonde services. Instead of the classic t-shape method used for highlights, Snowlights are applied sparingly in a snowflake pattern on the top of the head.
CONTOURING: Hair contouring is a colouring technique that uses a combination of free hand application and highlighting paired with the careful positioning of different tones and depths around the face to highlight and shadow targeted areas. Darker tones create shadows and are used to shorten or narrow the face shape, whilst lighter tones elongate and lengthen the face shape by reflecting light. This clever placement of colour and the careful selection of complimentary tones perform an optical illusion and make your face appear more defined and features more accentuated.
COLOUR BLOCKING: Colour blocking involves using lighter shades to colour hair in large bands or sections, typically the mid-section. Depending on the colour combination and pattern, the result of colour blocking can either be very bold or more subtle.
ROOT SHADE: Root shading is the technique of adding darker colour to the root area of the hair.
ROOT FADE: A root fade is a technique to blend out natural root colour. It is applied like a standard root colour application however once it reaches the desired point of the hair the stylist will weave out sections like a balayage to 'fade' out the roots so they blend out. It is a key technique is our lived-in Blonde style.
GLOSS SMUDGING: Gloss smudging is a technique that involves, adding a gloss or toner to the roots of your hair after colouring it, in order to seamlessly blur the two colours together. This way, you can have perfectly sun kissed hair without the tell-tale root line, even when the colour starts to grow out.
RELAXING: Relaxing the hair refers to the lotion cream that is applied by the stylist to curly hair that is unruly. Frizzy or otherwise unmanageable. It 'relaxes' the curl by altering the texture, making the hair easier to straighten, style and to manage. See our Keratin Smoothing Treatment for more details on this service.
T-BAR FOILS: This process includes foiling across the parting and both sides around your face, leaving the back of your hair un-coloured, this technique enhances your natural highlights and tones. Typically t-second is only based on where the hair parts and highlights about ¼ of the head. This is great for a colour refresh to extend the life of your balayage between salon visits.
PARTING FOILS: This covers just the parting area of the head. This is a good way to put a few colours lightly through the hair or just to break up a block colour.
FEATURE FOILS: Feature foils (which can highlight a certain feature of hair like the fringe) are foils which can simply be placed where needed.
FACE FRAMING HIGHLIGHTS: Face Framing Highlight are feature foils where the foil placement is on the perimeter bordering the face. The lighter-coloured hair around your face adds visual interest and draws attention to your face.
ROOT TINT: For clients with a permanent colour looking to re-touch any areas where your natural colour/white hairs have begun to grow through.
BLEND: Blend is a unique colouring technique developed to produce naturally blended hair colour with multiple tones, depth and highlights. The process has several stages including strategically placed highlights and lowlights, blended colours, toners and glosses. Changing tones in a subtle way, no distinct line between the colours.
COLOUR MELT: Colour melting is a form of blending that has a seamless application with a result of a worn-in colour. Colour is applied evenly from root to tip, often through freehand techniques, to create a very natural spectrum of colour. Colour melting is an even application that looks like there’s no start and end. It is soft and seamless and blends through the hair with no visible lines
TEXTURE: Giving the hair a more choppy, unstructured look to it. When colouring or highlighting to give the hair texture, the pieces of lightened hair would be scattered and often each piece would be of a different colour and thickness to give the hair more “texture.”
DIMENSION: Four elements of contrast that create dimension.
Starting with a neutral, all-over colour, and a slow vertical transition from dark roots into light ends.
Plus highlights and lowlight painted in a horizontal texture and tone, which means how warm or cool. These come together to equal the tonal variation and depth of colour which is dimension.
DIMENSIONAL COLOUR: Colour that adds dimension to the hair, such as highlights or balayage.
VOLUME: Hair that has a lot of volume is hair that is lifted further from the scalp, so that it appears bigger. Can also mean thicker, fuller hair.
TINT AKA PERMANENT COLOUR: A hair tint is a colour that will permanently change the colour of your hair. It penetrates the hair shaft depositing the pigment inside the strands of hair. A tint is an all over hair colour. Your roots will need to be touched up as the tint grows out and the tint will also fade gradually over time.
SEMI: This refers to semi-permanent colour. Semi-permanent colour is only temporary, lasting about 6 weeks. A semi-permanent colour will fade with shampooing and exposure to natural elements such as the sun.
GLOSS: A hair gloss is a great way to brighten dull hair. It adds shine to hair and can also adjust tone on highlights that might be too brassy or brighter than you wanted.
REFLECT: Reflect refers to the way that the light catches your hair colour. It is particularly apparent in hair that's just been coloured. Depending on your chosen colour and undertone, the light will reflect off your strands in different ways.
COLOUR LEVEL: Colour level refers to the lightness or darkness of a hair colour. Terms such as light, medium and dark help to define colour level. Sometimes your stylist might use a colour level chart to determine your exact colour level, such as medium blonde or dark brown.
TREATMENT: Treatments will rejuvenate the hair by either reconstructing damaged hair or balancing the moisture content of your hair. Depending on your hair type, your stylist will be able recommend an appropriate treatment to suit your needs. Educate that treatments are not to be confused with a conditioner.
TONE: Toning means to alter the tone of the colour of your hair. For instance, if you have blonde hair (or are going blonde) and want to go for a more golden tone, your stylist will add a toner to your hair to achieve the desire shade of blonde.
TONER : A toner has the ability to change the complete look your colour.
It can make your colour more warm (honey or champagne) or more cool (creamy vanilla or silver). It's a semi-permanent colour, which means it washes out over a period of six weeks.
ASH TONE: This refers to 'cool' colours that have a blue, green, or purple base. Ash tones are generally used to remove red or bronze tones from hair. Ash tones especially suit people with fair skin.
GOLDEN TONE: This refers to warm tones that have gold or copper base. warm tones are best suited to those with warm colouring, adding a golden touch to your colour. - think honey, caramel and biscuit tones.
BEIGE TONE: Beige tones often refers to blonde and is a combination of ash, golden or neutral tones. Beige tones particularly suit those with hazel or green eyes.
NEUTRAL TONE: This refers to an almost toneless colour. It is a perfectly balanced shade that won't have any highlights or lowlights it is important when going for a neutral tone that you ask your stylist what tone is best suited for your colouring.
PLATINUM: Silver blonde, most likely all over.
WARM TONED: Anything red, yellow or orange-based - think caramel, chocolate or auburn shades.
COOL TONES: Anything blue, green or violet-based - think ashy, creamy, blonde or even blue-black.
BRASSY: This hair terminology refers to unwanted golden or orange tones in hair.
BLUNT: Straight lines and no movement.
CHOPPY: Load of different textures throughout
SHORT LAYERS: Add body and remove weight.
TRIM: Remove whatever hair needs to come off to make hair appear healthy again (HINT: this may not just be a nibble off the ends)
BOB: A bob haircut is hair terminology for when the weight line of the haircut falls around your chin or ears.
DRY-CUTTING: Dry cutting is usually a performed after the hair has already been washed, cut, dried and styled, but can also be used as a primary method of hair cutting. Since hair reacts a lot differently wet than dry, it allows you to focus a lot more on detail and how the hair will actually lay when it has been styled.
LOB: A lob is a long version of a bob. The weight line should fall around your collar bones.
HAIR SPECIFIC Terminology
Elasticity: The ability of hair to stretch and then return to its natural shape without breaking.
Coarse: This is hair terminology referring to the diameter of the hair. Coarse hair is large in diameter and feels rough to the touch.
Cortex: The body of hair, consisting of 90% of the weight. This is where the colour molecules are found. This layer is the thickest part of your hair, and it's what gives your hair its colour, which is why preserving it is so integral to your hair's health.
Cuticle: The outermost, scale-like surface of the hair shaft. The cuticle is the outside layer of the hair shaft that protects hair from damage.
Deep Conditioner: Extra strong conditioner that sits on the hair for at least a few minutes. It will add protein, moisture, and vitamins to help repair dry, damaged hair. A deep conditioning treatment offers moisture and vitamins in order to restore weakened strands and improve shine. It can be performed at your salon by a stylist, or you buy a take home conditioning treatment for an at-home session.
Clarifying Shampoo: Shampoo that is stronger than normal shampoo, designed to remove build-up from hair products, hard water, etc. It has a strong pH level and should not be used more than once or twice per week.
Essential Fatty Acids: These are ingredients in hair products that preserve the resilience of the hair.
Finishing Spray: A medium-hold hairspray used to keep a hair in place after it has been styled.
Ionic: Ionic hot tools emit negative ions, which disperse water quickly, drying your hair faster and causing less damage.
Protein Treatment: A type of deep conditioning treatment that adds protein to the hair cortex, which strengthens hair and adds elasticity.
Co-washing: Is short for conditioner-only washing. It means skipping shampoo and relying solely on cleansing conditioner. The result is something between squeaky-clean and second-day hair—that is, smoother, softer, and easier to manage. This is a technique many women with curly hair opt for in the shower. This method not only helps you cleanse your hair, but it's gentler on your scalp and preserves natural oils.
Low Poo: Low poo refers to shampoo that contains no sulphates or silicones.
No Poo: No poo (or no 'poo, meaning no shampoo) is a collective term for methods of washing hair without commercial shampoo. The idea is to put the shampoo aside and use a gentler product to wash your hair less frequently. The alternatives suggested range from the home made: water, baking soda, apple cider vinegar to a cleansing conditioner designed specifically for this purpose. Choosing the latter option is called co-wash.