Hair Terminology A-Z
The following is your comprehensive guide to communicating with your stylist about all things hair!
An asymmetrical hair cut is one where one side is cut shorter than the other.
Balayage is a hair coloring technique where the hair color is painted free-hand onto the hair without the use of foils to create a more natural, soft look. This technique allows hair color to grow out naturally without defined roots.
Bangs are where the hair covering your forehead is cut shorter than the rest of your hair. There are countless ways to cut and style bangs, such as above the eyebrows, lash-grazing, curly, straight, side swept, curtain, thick, wispy, piecey, or blunt cut.
Your base color is your natural hair color, or it would be the background color if you have highlights. For example if you have brown hair and you get blonde highlights, the brown hair would be your “base color.”
A blunt cut is where the hair is cut straight across at one length, without any layers or texturizing.
The bob was popularized in the 1920s and is recognized as being cut about the shoulders. There are several variations of the classic bob and can be cut at different lengths, with or without layers, curly or straight!
Co-washing, or “conditioner-only washing,” skips the shampoo and relies on conditioner to cleanse your hair. Co-washing is a favorite for natural, curly, or dry hair to prevent your hair from being stripped of natural oils and moisture.
Corrective Hair Color
There are many reasons why you may need to book a corrective color appointment with your stylist. Generally, if you are in need of a major hair overhaul, this process may take more than one appointment. You could need corrective color service if you have previous color that you are unhappy with, if you have multiple colors going on and want to even things out, or if you want a drastic change in color from light to dark or vice-versa.
You should book a consultation with your stylist to discuss your hair concerns.
Dimensional hair color is achieved by adding highlights and lowlights to the hair, instead of it being one color all over. Dimensional color can be used to add depth and movement to your hair.
Double Process Color
A double process color is exactly what it sounds like, a two step process. The first step is to lighten or bleach the hair to remove your natural or previous color, and then the new hair color or toner is applied in a second step.
A technique used by stylists where the hair is cut without dampening it, often used on curly hair so as to get a better idea of what the hair will look like after its cut, or to thin out/texturize the hair.
A fade is when the hair on the sides and back of the head is cut as close as possible to the skin and and “fades” or tapers up to the length of hair on the top of the head.
A graduated cut has stacked layers to create volume, and is cut to create a defined shape. This cut works best on shorter hair with the shortest layers on top progressing to longer layers at the bottom and framing the face.
See “Hair Type”
Hair type and texture are ways to describe your hair and encompass how thick, thin, course, dense, curly, wavy, straight, and porous your hair is.
Highlights are where pieces of hair are lightened to create contrast and dimension in your hair color. Highlights are usually applied by coloring the hair in foils, or using the balayage technique.
A layered hair cut is where the hair is cut at different lengths to “layer” them, often used to frame the face, take excess bulk out of thick hair, create volume, and add movement.
A lob or a long bob is where the hair brushes the collarbones but still retains the cropped look of a classic bob.
Lowlights are achieved when pieces of hair are darkened to create contrast and dimension in your hair color. Think opposite of highlights. Lowlights are usually applied by coloring the hair in foils, or using the balayage technique.
Ombré hair color is achieved by gradually transitioning one color into another. This hair color technique is popular because it allows hair to grow out without a visible line of demarcation, or roots.
A perm is a process where your stylist applies a chemical solution to the hair while it’s wrapped around rods or in curlers. This process creates a permanent curl that won’t wash out and generally lasts about six months, but can vary depending on each person’s hair.
Precision hair cutting is a technique used to create perfect, sharp lines.
A pixie is a short, close-cropped hair cut. Generally the hair is shortest on the sides and back and longer on the top with very short bangs. The hairstyle can range from being cut super close to the skin to having longer and softer pieces framing the face.
Using a straight razor instead of scissors for hair cutting produces a softer, more texturized look.
Single Process Color
When you get a single process color, the hair is lifted and colored in one step. The color or toner is applied all-over to create a single base color.
Keratin smoothing treatments seal the hair cuticle to tackle frizz, and add shine. Your hair stylist will wash your hair before applying the keratin treatment to your wet hair. The treatment will soak into your hair for about a half hour, and then your hair will be blown out and often followed up with a flat iron to seal everything in. The treatment lasts for about three months
See “Graduated Cut”
Texturizing can be used to add volume, de-bulk thick hair, or can make thin hair appear thicker. Stylists often use thinning/texturizing shears or a razor depending on the style you are looking to achieve, and will use a variety of techniques to do so.
Toner neutralizes unwanted brassy tones in lightened hair to create cooler, ashier tones. It can also be used to add a subtle tint to hair, such as pink, violet, or blue.
An under-cut is where part of the hair is shaved, generally the under layer, or the side of the head, but the top layers of hair are maintained. This is common with long, thick hair to take out some weight, or to create an edgier style. The cut is popular among both men and women.
Virgin hair is hair that has never been color treated. Additionally, if you have colored hair that is growing out to show roots, your roots would be considered “virgin hair”.