The color GLOSS-ary

Want the inside scoop on salon speak? We break it down for you in our hair color dictionary and teach you how to talk the talk.

Balayage (n)

The application of highlights by “painting on”.

Brassy (adj)

A not-so-classy orange hue that can happen when hair (typically blonde) is chemically lightened. It commonly occurs when the natural hair color is darker and is substantially lightened in one process.

Bombré (n)

A new spin on the ever-evolving ombré! It’s a combo of balayage plus ombré in which highlights are “painted on” and gradually fade from dark to light.

Background color (n)

Also known as the color you were born with or your “natural color.” 

Coarse (adj)

Thicker hair strands that appear less smooth.

Cool (adj)

A term used to describe a shade that has no red or gold tones (descriptions: ash, champagne)

Depth (n)

The lightness or darkness of a specific hair color. 

Dimension (n)

Having strand to strand variation in the color result (it’s a good thing!).

Elasticity (n)

Property of healthy hair. The strand will yield to gentle pulling. Elasticity is what gives hair bounce.

Fine (adj)

Thinner hair strands that accept less color.

Gloss or glaze (n)

A level 2 (semi-permanent) hair color that is applied over existing hair color or virgin hair to give it shine.

Highlight or high tone color (n, v)

The lightest shade within a strand, where nature or placed color creates sunlit results.

Integrity (n)

Hair in the state of being unimpaired, original, and pure.

Level (n)

The degree of lightness or darkness of a shade, ranging from 1 (black) to 10 (lightest blonde). 

Line of demarcation (n)

The point of visible re-growth (also known as a “root line”).

Lowlight (n)

Hair section that is colored darker.

Maintenance (adj)

How often you’re willing or need to recolor. Most maintenance schedules are 4 to 6 weeks.

Movement (n)

The illusion created when lighter hair stands out, darker hair recedes.

Natural hair color (n)

This is the color that has never been touched by hair color. It could be all your hair or just the hair at the scalp that is growing out from the last time you colored.

Ombré (n)

From the French word meaning “shaded” or “shading.” Ombré hair color is generally darker from the roots through the mid-shaft and then gradually gets lighter from the mid-shaft to the ends. It is usually achieved using a balayage technique or block coloring and can be bold or softly blended.

Permanent (adj)

Hair color that alters the natural pigment in your hair. It lasts until it grows out.


Resulting color (n)

The color of your hair after you have applied hair color (your end result).

Reverse ombré (n)

Hair color technique – light at the roots and gradually transitions into a darker shade at the ends.

Starting color (n)

The color (both level and tone) of your hair before you start a coloring process. If you have colored hair, this is the color of your colored hair (synonym: current color). 

Sombré (n)

Short for “subtle ombré”. This technique gradually fades from a darker into a lighter color, but the contrast is soft and natural.

Tone (n)

The warmth or coolness of a shade (descriptions: warm, cool, red, gold, violet, etc.).

Virgin hair (n)

Hair that has not been colored. It can be a whole head of hair or re-growth.

Warm (adj)

Shades that have red or golden tones (descriptions: honey, caramel, bronze, copper, etc.). 

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