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A vocab guide to your next hair appointment

When it comes to getting exactly what you want at the hair salon, we all know communication is key. So help your stylist out and avoid a teary post-appointment meltdown by studying up on these terms.

Woman getting hair cut

To clear up some of the confusion, we asked celebrity hairstylist Lisa Lobosco of Ecru Lifestyle brands and Jonathan Elkhouri, master stylist and owner of Salon Khouri in Virginia, to break down some of the most commonly used terms in the hair salon. Burn these definitions into your memory, baby!

Layers, bobs, blunt cuts & more

A blunt cut: Often requested at salons, to a stylist, a blunt cut means no layers and cut in a straight line. However, the client typically means it in the sense of a shoulder length bob, warns Jonathan. So be careful what you ask for.

Graduation: Stylists love to use this term! “For the client, you say graduation and they think diplomas and gowns,” says Jonathan. “For stylists, we are referring to the angle to which you cut hair. A better way stylists can explain this is that they’re cutting your hair so that your layers are longer on top and shorter/closer underneath at the back of your head.” A graduated cut is great for creating the appearance of more hair.

Re-texturizing: This is a process that changes the texture of your hair from either curly to straight or straight to curly.

Layers: A big mistake many clients make is wanting a specific number of layers in their hair, says Lisa. “There is no such thing as numbers of layers. Layers are continuous angles from the shortest point in the crown to the longest point of length. The shorter you start at the crown, the more layers you’re going to look like you have.” Hmm, good to know!

Soft layers: Also known as long layers, these are usually for longer hair.

An A-line bob: A-line bobs are shorter in the back and angle longer in the front, with no layers.

A stacked bob: This bob is cut shorter underneath in the back with layers to create more volume at the back of your head.

An inverted bob: Similar to A-line bobs, inverted bobs are shorter in the back and longer in the front. However, they may also include some stacked layers in the back depending on what the customer wants. Make sure you clarify.

A lob: What do you get when you combine “long” and “bob”? A lob, AKA a long bob!

Quick tip

According to Jonathan, one of the most dangerous things a client can say to a stylist is to “thin my hair.” “If you ask this of an inexperienced stylist, you are looking at months of growing out that cut. Instead, ask the stylist to remove weight from your hair,” he advises.

Your complete color guide

Permanent color: Permanent color contains a lifting agent, such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, which lifts existing color, creating an opening in the hair shaft for new color to penetrate and permanently bind itself to your tresses, notes Jonathan.

Semi-permanent color: Unlike permanent color, Jonathan says semi-permanent color doesn’t penetrate the hair shaft. It’s ammonia free and therefore cannot make dark hair lighter.

Demi-permanent color: Hair color that penetrates the hair shaft slightly. “Demi permanent is the best color choice for hiding grays, blending grays or enhancing hair color,” informs Jonathan. “Like semi-permanent, demi-permanent color is also ammonia free and cannot make dark hair lighter. Results typically last six to eight weeks.”

Ombre: “Ombre started out as tone on tone, a very natural hair color where your roots are darker and your ends are lighter,” explains Lisa. “It was a graduation from dark to light to look like your hair had naturally faded. Nowadays though, it has become any hair color where there is a different color at the ends than there is at the root. It no longer has to be the same color in different tones.”

Reverse ombre: This is the opposite of ombre. “It’s where the hair color is lighter at the root and darker at the end,” tells Lisa. “The root, on both an ombre and a reverse ombre, is six inches of hair, not a small root.”

Highlights: Highlights are perfect for people with dark hair who want to lighten up their locks without dyeing their whole head a solid color. They brighten up pieces of hair throughout your head to give your color more dimension. You can also request heavy highlights if you’re into the all-over color look.

Lowlights: Lowlights are the opposite of highlights, meaning that they transform hair from a lighter color to a darker color, says Jonathan. Like highlights, however, they’re also used to add depth to your color. For a multi-dimensional look, many people get both lowlights and highlights in their hair.

Toner: If your color is starting to look a little brassy, you should consider toner. “It’s a pastel color used on hair that’s been previously lifted with bleach to conceal the yellow, gold and/or red brassy tones left in the hair from the bleach,” details Jonathan.

Color correction: Just like it sounds, color correction is a complicated color application process to — you guessed it — correct hair color. “Typically, a color correction will be done for someone who wants to go from a dark shade to a very light shade, a light shade to a very dark shade, or most often, to correct mistakes of someone who has used an at-home color kit,” reveals Jonathan.

More hair and beauty advice

8 Easy steps to perfectly curled hair
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5 Hair trends that aren’t worth the drama

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