How to talk to your hairstylist during your consultation


For my first post I wanted to start with something I get questions about daily as a stylist, Terminology! Have you ever wondered what the heck your stylist is saying, but just sit there nodding in agreement in hopes you are on the same page? Every good hairdresser truly wants you to walk away from your appointment feeling completely happy with the outcome.

Going to the salon may be like going to a foreign country if you don't know how to communicate with your stylist. The vocabulary we use makes sense to us as stylists, and we don't do it to confuse you, for many of us, our terminology is just second nature. While I believe it is the professionals responsibility to break our terms down, it doesn't hurt to have a little knowledge about your salon visit! We certainly don't expect you to pick up a second language before sitting in the chair, but not knowing how to communicate with your stylist can lead to not being on the same page with your service as well...and neither of us want that. A lot of clients say they want a certain style or color, but they don't fully understand what they are asking for. With this being said, try to avoid using hairstylist's terms if you don't fully understand what they mean! Ifyou find your stylist is speaking gibberish, don't be afraid to speak up and ask what something means, we are glad to explain and clarify any questions!

Hair Salon Glossary

Base Color:  Color applied to the new growth area either as a stand alone service or in between specialty foil work. Normally a darker or richer color than what is on the ends of the hair. A base color can be applied every other appointment alone to increase the amount of time before highlights are needed again and is usually always done if there is a significant amount of gray hair present in the hair. Typically a very quick process that takes about 15 minutes to apply when done alone with no foils.

Base Break/Bump: Blends and Brightens the roots of the hair that are left after a highlight. Essentially "breaking up" the darker natural color and softening it. Typically done on a blonde at the shampoo bowl for just a few minutes

Balayage: The go-to color for modern, chic hair! Balayage creates depth and dimension, and leaves you with a sun-kissed finish. It means to sweep or paint hair giving a sun-kissed natural look and allows for softer less noticeable regrowth line. Since color is usually present on the hair, most of the work I do to create a balayage look is initially done with foils for more control. There are many different techniques that people use to create this look.

Babylights: Mimicking sun-kissed tones from the hair of children. The majority of your color should still be your natural color, only adding delicate highlights, mainly around the face and hairline.

Blunt: A sleek, straight line at the length of a cut. There is no texture in this cut, you can think of a classic bob, or a one length haircut.

Choppy: A textured haircut where the ends vary slightly in length, eliminating any "blunt" lines. If you have straight hair, a razor can be used to achieve this cut!

Contrast: The difference you see between colors, high contrast would be a very bold difference while low contrast is very subtle difference. Adding a base color, lowlights and highlights to the hair creates "contrast." The amount of contrast is totally up to you and your stylist!

Color Correction: Removing, correcting, or blending unwanted color results. Most often, this service is usually a lengthy color removing process which "strips" color out of the hair to create a fresh palette. Usually a combination of separate color applications and appointments. This could also mean something as simple as you wanted to be honey blonde and ended up with platinum blonde hair or you colored your hair at home and you turned your hair black instead of the warm brown shown on the box. Don't try this at home!!

Color wont lift color: I often hear clients say they want to lighten their hair, but don't want me to use "bleach." If you have existing color on your hair, this is next to impossible. For example, if you color your hair black one day and decide that a month later you want to color your hair a lighter brown shade, you’re hair isn’t going to change colors just by putting one color on top. You’ll need to strip the hair by bleaching it. With that being said, don't be afraid of the word bleach, a good stylist will know what your hair can handle, and will conservatively take your hair to the desired shade by doing some type of  gentle highlighting technique.

Dimension: Different shades of color within the hair allowing the color to not look dull or flat. If your hair looks like it is one solid color, adding low-lights or highlights will add "dimension"

Face Framing Layers: Layers starting at or below the chin and continue down to the length of the hair. They can be soft or defined depending on your preferance!

Gloss: A Gloss is different than a toner or glaze. Adding a gloss to the hair will add shine, and seal in color by closing the hair cuticle without adding any color to the hair. It is normally clear and done on already colored hair, or a coloring service that doesn't require a "toner" after a coloring service as an extra revitalizing service! You could think of it like a top coat of nail polish..for your hair!

Layers: Different lengths in the interior of the hair that add movement and volume. You can have short layers, to very long, to almost invisible layers, that remove weight from the hair and creates bounciness!

Texturizing: Removing bulk from thick hair by cutting diagonally into it, or using different cutting techniques to create softness in the layers or length of hair.

Toner/Glaze: This is by far the most commonly misunderstood question I get from clients. Every time my assistant removes the foils and shampoos the hair, I come over and decide if I will be using a "toner" and 95% of the time, I get asked, "What is a toner? or Why do I need it?" First of all, don't be afraid of a toner!!! I promise you, if I am using a toner on your want a toner on your hair. I am not using it to correct a mistake, charge you more, or because something went wrong with your color. 

(The colors on the left of this swatch show natural levels of hair. The right is the exposed underlying pigment in hair that each level lifts to. After lightening the natural color to the desired level of lightness, an appropriate toner is used!)

(The colors on the left of this swatch show natural levels of hair. The right is the exposed underlying pigment in hair that each level lifts to. After lightening the natural color to the desired level of lightness, an appropriate toner is used!)

When you lighten your hair, the underlying colors come out that are normally warm, or brassy. A toner cancels out unwanted yellow, gold, orange or red tones in your hair, giving it a more natural look. Because most people have a history of color on their hair, its uncommon for highlights to lighten to the perfect, evenly colored blonde you are wanting without the help from a toner.. or unless you are a unicorn. In other words, you can't lift hair to a desired color, only levels of lightness.

A toner also softens the look of the regrowth  for a seamless transition of color from roots to ends. Sometimes your roots will come out brighter because that part of your hair has no color on it (your new growth) a toner will be placed on the root, to blend with the previous highlights.

It adds shine, softness, and seals in your color as well. If you're not getting a toner at your salon, I recommend talking to your stylist about adding this to your next service.


Have any other terms you need defined? Comment Below!!

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