The Ultimate Hairdresser Hair Terms Guide

There’s overwhelming hair terminology to memorize when you’re a stylist. Not only is it vital for you to understand this hairdresser lingo so you can effectively do your job, but you must be able to explain hair-cutting terms to your client when helping them choose a style. Don’t stress. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide of hair terms if you ever need a quick refresher. 

Hair Cuts

Undercutting Hair

The undercut is a style with length on the top, but the back and sides are buzzed or closely cut to emphasize the crown's volume and facial structure. All hair types can pull it off, and for that reason, it’s a popular cut. 

Texturizing Hair Cuts

Texturizing adds movement and volume to lifeless tresses. This technique can also give men the illusion of a fuller-looking head of hair if it’s starting to go thin. On the flip side, it can help tame puffiness if the hair is on the thicker side. 

Beveled Hair Cut

Beveling is a form of layering. Its defining characteristic is that there’s very little difference between the top and bottom layers. It’s a great cut for men with thick hair that appears too bulky. The end result is an angled bevel along the perimeter that brings the hair closer to the face. 


As the name suggests, hair dusting is a method of trimming hair without sacrificing length. It’s used to remove dry, damaged, or split ends. A traditional trim takes off anywhere from two to three inches, whereas dusting literally “dusts” the ends. It's one of the most frequently used hairdresser terms. 

Butterfly Hair Cut

The butterfly is a good choice for the client who is still deciding whether to commit to a short haircut but is looking for a change. Layers around the face provide volume, giving the illusion of shorter tresses without sacrificing longer layers that cascade below the shoulders. This cut is most flattering on curly or wavy hair. 


Bulk refers to how far the hair naturally sticks out away from the scalp. In other words, it’s the depth of your hair. The greater the bulk, the more hair you’ll feel when you grasp it with your hand. Excess weight can rob your hair of any shape, so you must master the correct techniques (like point cutting) to remove bulk without taking away too much length. 

Curtain Bangs

These iconic bangs extend from the bottom of the brows to the bridge of the nose and are longer on the sides. They flatter long and short hairstyles and can be adapted to various face shapes. 



This hand-painted highlighting technique (Balayage means “to sweep” or “paint” in French) is used to create a more natural and less uniform result than foiled highlights. It’s also easier to soften or enhance facial features. 

Base Color

Base color is applied all over, from root to tip, and provides a canvas for other hues or highlights. It represents the primary tone and depth of your hair. 


Babylights are finely-woven highlights that are more delicate than traditional highlights. They can significantly impact the overall vibrancy of your hair color. Because you’ll have to highlight more sections, creating a more natural blend of colors is more effortless. 


Highlighting involves taking small sections of hair (larger than babylights) and using a lightener or hair dye to lift the level of the strands. This technique can brighten every shade, from brunette to blonde, and also blends silver to make a natural gray transition as seamless as possible. Highlights can also make fine hair look thicker and healthier. Lightening your hair can cause dryness and damage if it’s not taken care of, so suggest a weekly hair mask treatment to help keep tresses hydrated and healthy. 


Contrast is the level difference between two or more colors based on a gradient scale, with black and white being the highest contrast. You can also look at the opposite sides of the color wheel by creating contrast with two complementary colors. Note that the closer the colors are on the wheel, the lower they are in contrast. 


Dimension defines the range of tones in your hair. To say a client’s hair is flat implies that it lacks dimension, which can be corrected with highlights or lowlights. 

Buttery Blonde

This gorgeous medium blonde hair color features a mix of warm and cool-toned blonde highlights, resulting in multidimensional tresses with abundant movement. Buttery blonde can come in different shades ranging from sunny yellow to a subtle cream or even a toasted brown. 

Chocolate Mauve

If your client wants a unique brunette hue, you can’t go wrong with chocolate mauve. It’s a mix of dark chocolate brown with a hint of rose gold. It’s achieved by combining bleaching before adding pastel pink tints with the balayage technique. 



When it comes to hair styling words, backcombing tops the list. It’s a brushing technique that works reversely — from the ends to the roots — against hair growth. The goal is to boost the hair from the midshaft so you can achieve more voluminous styles. Contrary to what you may have heard, it won’t cause damage to the hair when done correctly. 

Finger Waving

Finger waving was first popular in the 1920s and early 1930s and then again in the late 90s. It’s a technique that involves shaping or molding the hair into s-shaped curves using the fingers and a comb on wet hair. When dried without being touched, they naturally fall into deep waves.  


Marcelling resembles finger waving, except the difference is that you use a Marcel curling iron to create the wave. While it was in vogue for women in the 1930s, it’s recently made a resurgence and has been seen on celebrities like Zendya, Rihanna, and Halle Berry. 


The goal of a quiff is to create height at the front but in a less dramatic fashion than the pompadour. It’s worn short at the back and sides, and the longer hair on top is styled forwards and up close to the hairline. If you want to add a variation, opt for an underfade cut up to the temple to add structure to the face. 


Hair texture defines your hair’s circumference. There are three types of texture: fine, medium, and thick. Each has its own set of characteristics that can influence which hairstyles look best and which products to use. 


Volume refers to how much body the hair possesses. It’s gauged by the amount and thickness of hair follicles per square inch on one’s scalp. The more lift at the root and the fuller the hair appears and feels, the more voluminous the tresses. Volume can also be accentuated with blowout techniques

Other Offerings 

Brow Lamination

Eyebrow lamination (also referred to as an eyebrow perm) is somewhat of a new procedure that helps create smooth, shiny brows. A relaxing cream and a setting solution are applied before the brows are brushed upward to help set them in a direction to give them a fuller appearance. It’s a good treatment for those with unruly or thinning brows. 


Waxing is a procedure that removes the hair (including the root) from the follicle with either warm, soft wax, warm hard wax, cold soft wax, pre-made wax strips, sugar wax, fruit wax, or chocolate wax. In terms of maintenance, it’s typically repeated every two to four weeks. 


Sugaring is similar to waxing. However, the main difference is how the product is applied and the direction the hair is pulled when it’s removed. Waxing involves applying the wax in the same direction as the hair growth and removing it the opposite way. Sugaring is the complete reversal of this process, and it takes several passes, whereas waxing is just one. 

Bookmark this guide so you can quickly reference the various industry terms that hairdressers regularly use — especially when communicating with your clients!


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published