Main content

From A To Z: The Ultimate Glossary

close up of stylist cutting hair in salon

The world of hair constantly changes and evolves, so it can feel like you’re playing catch-up on the newest trends every time you visit the hair salon. Rather than looking dumbfounded while your stylist tosses terms around, keep reading for a quick primer on the most popular techniques and buzzwords in the business.



The literal edges of the hair, which sometimes need to be combed back with gel before styling depending on the hair texture.


A medical condition of the scalp that can result in itchiness and white flakes. The FDA regulates certain products for treatment of the condition.

Split Ends:

A condition in which dry or damaged hair begins to split on a strand level. While many products can temporarily mask the look of split ends, the only permanent solution is to cut them off.


The first stages of beginning to lose hair which may manifest in fewer strands and more hair washing down the shower drain.



Increasingly popular, ashy hair colors incorporate gray tones for a neutral-looking finished product.


Blonde or light hair can take on unwanted orange tones over time, mimicking the look of brass. Stylists recommend neutralizing the brass tones with a purple shampoo or hair product.

Color Corrector:

Hair color can become discolored over time, so color correcting products exist to neutralize any unwanted tones that pop up.


Many hair colors can be customized based on the undertones of client’s skin. This term is used for shades that have undertones of blue.

Smoked Out Root:

While visible roots used to be considered embarrassing, many stylists now add a blended dark root to base colors. The shadow can make hair look thicker and natural-looking.


An industry term used to describe shorter hair appointments that keep color looking fresh. Whether it’s visible roots or grays that are the problem, a good touch-up can render them invisible.


A descriptor used for hair that has not been color treated.


If your hair color or skin tone runs warm, there are probably yellow undertones to it.



An asymmetrical cut isn’t the same length all the way around. One side dips below the chin at a dramatic angle.

Big Chop:

A short, dramatic cut that often refers to women of color transitioning from chemically relaxed hair to natural texture.

Curtain Bangs:

A 1960s-inspired style in which the bangs hang below the eyebrows. Wearers brush them to either side of the face like a dramatic, sultry stage curtain.

Hairline Bob:

A newer cut, the hairline bob is pixie length at the back but just long enough to tuck behind the ears in the front.

Hair Tattoo:

A graphic design carved into an undercut or buzz cut with a razor. It can be colored or decorated and is way more temporary than actual ink.


Short for “long bob,” the lob cut took off around 2010. It tends to fall just at the shoulders, creating a classic—but still youthful—silhouette.



A knotted bun or updo that sits at the nape of the neck. It’s the perfect style for both casual and formal events.

Dutch Braid:

Created using the same technique as the French braid, the Dutch braid is sometimes called an “inside-out” braid. Instead of crossing every section over, the braider goes under to create a more striking look.

Fishtail Braid:

A two-strand braiding style in which one small piece from the outside of the left section crosses over to the right (and repeat), creating a tightly plaited style.

French Braid:

A three-strand braiding style in which every section crosses over the center. Each time a new section crosses, the braider picks up a new piece of hair to add to the braid.

Halo Braid:

A casual updo style that’s basically a glorified Dutch braid. It wraps around the head instead of hanging down, creating an angelic effect.

Rope Braid:

A two-strand braiding technique in which both sections are twisted one direction, then spiraled around each other in the opposite direction.

Space Buns:

A festival style that generally involves two buns worn at the crown of the head.



A hair color technique in which a stylist hand paints color onto the hair without the use of foils. Though it began in France, this naturalistic technique has taken over the hair color industry.


A term used to describe cuts that end in a sharp, even line. These cuts require trims every few weeks to maintain the line as the hair grows out.


Much like strobing, hair contouring cleverly uses dark and light pieces to highlight or minimize any facial feature.


A technique used all along the strands to gently snip away any broken or damaged hairs that are sticking out instead of lying flat.

Full Highlights:

Full highlights are placed all over the head, creating a noticeably brighter and more multi-dimensional look.


An in-salon demi-permanent hair color that can deepen the look of your color or help increase shine.


Instead of brightening your hair, lowlights add dimensions through darker tones.


Stylists achieve ombre hair color by gradually transitioning a base color into a second shade. The look is extremely popular because it grows out without a visible line of demarcation.

Partial Highlights:

A highlighting technique that focuses the brightest color around the face. It’s less expensive than a full head of highlights and has a similar visual impact.


Using this hair color technique, a stylist divides the top of the hair into pinwheel-like sections to apply color that looks three-dimensional and natural.


An at-home product that can help rebalance your hair’s pH while cleansing and strengthening.


A method of highlighting hair that combines hand-painting and foil to create a uniquely customized look tailored to each client’s face.


Stylists and barbers create undercuts by shearing one section of hair very close to the scalp, leaving the rest a disconnected length. While the style is most popular at the nape, don’t let that stop you from trying it over one ear.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device