Hairdresser Jargon, Translated

Ever sat in the hairdressers chair and wondered what they mean't when recommending certain styles? We’ve decoded some of their most common phrases.


Balayage, oxidation, gloss colour – some of the phrases hairdressers use can have even the most clued up beauty buff looking for a dictionary.

Here, have decoded some of the most confusing jargon hairdressers use.

  1. Layers

Layers help to give your hair density and create movement. If your hair is on the thinner side, hairdressers sometimes encourage them. They’re done by having shorter hair at the top and longer layers beneath.

  1. Oxidation

This is a change in hair colour that’s caused by the air. This can also make bright highlights turn yellow.

  1. Toner

Toner is a colour that’s applied to your damp hair and left for around 5 minutes. Toners are a great way to cancel out yellow tones after bleach has been applied.

  1. Blunt cut

A blunt cut is done by making each strand of hair fall at the same length. These are also referred to as bob cuts, and are better suited for those with thinner hair as they create the illusion of volume.

  1. Ombré

An ombré effect on hair is achieved by having a darker shade at the roots and lighter hair at the tips. The colours gradually fade into one another. A popular choice of ombré is having brown hair at the roots that gradually fades into blonde.

  1. Highlights and lowlights

A highlight is a streak of colour lighter than your natural shade. A low light is the same but a darker colour. These are applied at the hairdressers through using foils. Only small sections of the hair are highlighted or lowlighted.

  1. Slicing

This is when the hairdresser will glide the scissors and cut through the hair without closing the scissors blades. This method of cutting the hair is done to achieve a feathered finish.

  1. Razoring

Razoring is cutting the hair using scissors – but it’s not the same as shaving. Using scissors will produce a blunt, chunkier cut, whereas cutting with razors makes the hair taper to a thinner peak. It creates texture and softness and works well when hair is on the thicker side.

  1. Tones

Your hairs tone is usually the base of your hair colour. Some examples of tones are beige, neutral and ashy. There are a variety of different tones, some being on the warmer side and others being on the cooler side.

  1. Feathering

This process removes volume, and is usually done when hair is slightly on the thicker side. This allows the ends to be lighter, and flicked out at different angles, rather than one blunt straight shape all round.

  1. Graduation

This is phrase that’s used when the hair is slightly shorter at the back. It’s a type of layering and it usually done when the hair is a pixie cut or bob.

  1. Gloss colour

Gloss colours add shine to your hair and last for around six washes. They are usually in a crème consistency.

  1. Balayage

This is a technique that’s a mix between highlighting and ombré hair. It is highlighting the hair so the highlights fade into the base colour for a graduated, natural look.

  1. Thinning

Thinning is usually done on those who have very dense, thick and heavy hair, to get rid of bulkiness. The process is done on thinning shears to create fine layers in the hair.

  1. Choppy

This is a type of texture. If you ask for a choppy cut you are asking for short layers that have been blunt cut to create volume.


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