SoZo HAIR Salon Tips

Hairstylist Language

Hairstylists have their own secret language that they use when making reference to hair color, services, products and pretty much all things hair related. We often forget that our clients are not privy to our secret code, and we will inadvertently use these terms when speaking to our clients, and then marvel at their confusion. Well, clients here is your chance, your sneak-peek into our little world. In the following paragraphs we will unlock the door to the barrier that separates stylist and client, and “hook you up” with all the hottest hair slang terms, so the next time you see your stylist you can “wow” them with your ability to speak their language.
So let’s get down to business! What your stylist says and what they actually mean can be two very different things. The following list should help you to decipher our secret code, and hopefully, help you to better understand what is happening to your head while you relax in your stylist’s chair.

What Did You Say?

Afro: A large voluminous hairstyle . Also a direct reference to a very thick head of natural curls.

Alabama Mudflap : A.K.A Mullet
A hairstyle most commonly worn by men but also some women, (Femme-mullet) in the late 70’s and 80’s that consists of very short hair on the top and sides of the head and much longer hair through the back of the head.

Overprocessed: Hair that has been color treated, heat styled, permed or lightened too often, giving the hair a very dry, brittle, almost straw-like look and feel

Porosity: Your hair’s ability to take on moisture and retain moisture. Mainly a reference to the ends of your hair where your hair has not only been on your head longest but has been exposed to the elements,(sun, wind, rain) heat styling, and color treated the most, making them very fragile, and much drier than the rest of the hair on your head.

Heat Styling: Any styling done to the hair with a tool that heats up (i.e. Blow dryer, curling iron, curling wand, flat iron).

Thermal Protectant : A styling product put into the hair, either wet or dry, to protect it from further damage while being heat styled.

Bottled Blonde: Also Aviation Blonde, or Towhead. A male or female who colors their hair blonde or has extremely light natural blonde hair .

Bed Head: What your hair looks like when you roll out of bed first thing in the morning. Also a reference to a messy hair style .

Up ‘do’/ Up Style/ Formal finish: A hairstyle meant for a special occasion, like a wedding or prom. Hair is usually curled and pinned up away from the face, giving this slang it’s terminology .

Tresses or Drapes: A reference to long hair. (Past the upper back in length).

Faux Hawk: A haircut that can be styled In the fashion of a Mohawk without taking all the length from the sides of the hair.

5 o’clock shadow : A reference to the shadow created on a man’s face when his facial hair starts to grow back in.

Fringe: The technical term for ‘bangs’, or the shorter hair that lays on your forehead.

Soul Patch: The hair on a man’s face in between the bottom of his lower lip and his chin.

Locks: A reference to Dread Locks in naturally curly textured hair, or a reference to the hair on your head in general

Nappy: A reference to dirty, matted hair

Skullet: A reference to a man who is bald on top of his head and still wears the rest of his hair long .

Stache: Slang for, mustache.

Partial Foil: A reference to focusing all of your foil work on the top and sides of hair.

Full foil: A reference to placing foil work on the entire head.

Balayage: A reference to hand painting color through the middle and ends of the hair. Can also be called Ombre or Sombre .

Piecey: Slang for giving the ends of the hair a wispy textured effect

Tease: Also Ratting, backcombing, back brushing, or Scribbling. A slang for elevating sections of hair and brushing against the hairs natural fall towards the scalp, creating a matt near the scalp to help create volume.

Fade: The term used to refer to the way shorter lengths of hair blend into longer lengths of hair on a short haircut.

Hard Part: Also Carved Part. A reference to a part made in a man’s hair with trimmers, making a hard line or carving a line in the haircut that goes all the way to the scalp.

Pixie Cut: A short, textured haircut on a woman. Meant to resemble the look of a Pixies hair.

Highlight: Adding dimension to the hair that is lighter than the natural or existing color.

Lowlight: Adding dimension to the hair that is darker than the natural or existing color.

Rooty: Also shadow root. A reference to creating a darker root area in the hair than the midshaft and ends.

Re-Growth: Also called Line of Demarcation. A reference to the color or look for the hair where the natural hair color has grown in and any color work has grown out.

Toner: A second color application done on damp hair, with a low-level developer to help remove/counteract unwanted tone from tEmulsify

Emulsify: To lather the hair together while hair color is still on, before rinsing, typically to tone highlights to match base color, without having to use a separate toner.

Soap Cap: A mixture of low volume developer, shampoo, and Lightner placed on damp hair. Commonly used in color correction to more gently remove unwanted color from the hair.

Lightner: Bleach for the hair.

Color: Dye/pigment for the hair.

Polish: Nail color.

Developer: The peroxide mixed with hair color to activate it and cause it to change the natural color of the hair.

Peek a Boo: A small section of lightened or colored hair in the nape or underneath area that can only be seen when the hair is worn up or blown around.

Baby Lights: Also Micro Lights – Very small, subtle highlights.

Dimension: Varying colors throughout the hair.

Bob: A one length haircut usually somewhere between the chin and the shoulders.

Inverted Bob: A haircut that is shorter in the back and longer in the front, giving it a triangular or Inverted look and feel.

Lob: A long version of a Bob, falling at or below the shoulders.

Face Frame: Soft textured layers near the face or just below the chin, meant to accentuate the cheeks and eyes.

Double Process: The application of a color or lightener and then a gloss, toner or overlay in the same service.

Gloss: A sheer color put over the hair to help improve shine and add additional vibrancy. Can also be done in clear.

Fun Color: Any color put on the hair that is not naturally occurring (i.e. purple, orange, blue).

Color Melt: The process of placing different colors next to each other in the hair so that the end result looks as if the hair is melting from one corner into another.

Stylist Jargon

While I am sure we didn’t cover everything , I am very certain that we have helped you better understand your stylist’s jargon. The next time you are seeing your stylist and they use an unfamiliar term, ask them what they mean. Stylists love to explain what we are talking about, it makes us feel as though we are educating our clients, and it really excites us to hear our clients use our hair slang!

About SoZo HAIR:

SoZo Salon Tips is a blog about beauty salon tips, tricks, and hints.  SoZo HAIR by Bajon Salon & Spa serves the greater Cincinnati area. We are located in Olde West Chester at the corner of Cincinnati-Dayton and West Chester Rds. We’re just a short drive from Mason Oh and Fairfield Oh….a big city hair salon without the big drive and big traffic.


Chelsea S. is a passionate hair designer with an up to the minute awareness of what’s happening in the hair, beauty, and fashion industry. Her passion shows immediately along with her very caring customer service skills!


Karen Welch

Karen Welch has 32 years of experience in the Hair Fashion Industry and is considered an expert in hair design, hair color and beauty makeovers.