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15 Hairstyle Terms to Know Before Your Next Salon Visit

Even if you bring a photo of your dream 'do, knowing this hair lingo will help you score the exact style you want.

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Base color

The main color applied all over the head or at the root area, before a more dimensional color technique is applied. If you usually just get highlights, your base color is your natural haircolor. If you choose to color your base, you’ll be back to the salon sooner, as your roots will show faster than if you used a highlighting technique.

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A French word meaning to sweep or paint. A colorist will area-paint highlights onto the hair in a sweeping motion. This gives a much more natural, sun-kissed look, as opposed to streaky, top-to-bottom highlights. With balayage, regrowth lines are less noticeable, so the color still looks great long after your appointment.

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Hair color that is dark at the root and gradually fades to lighter towards the ends of the hair. There are variations on this theme, including “sombré,” a more subtle version of ombré. Hair still gets gradually lighter from root to tip, but the color contrast is far less severe.

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iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen


Delicate, extremely subtle highlights that are applied to very thin wisps of hair, as opposed to large sections. Babylights add a shimmer of color, look natural, and will be placed strategically.

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Blunt cut

A blunt cut is when a stylist cuts horizontally across the ends of your hair with scissors, leaving your ends in a perfectly straight line. Picture Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s razor-sharp bob and bangs.

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This is a way to describe layers cut into large pieces, instead of straight and even. It can also be used to describe the placement of highlights, which tends to add volume, depth, and dimension to hair.

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To style your hair in a wispy fashion involves creating texture that leaves the ends of your hair pointing in many different directions, not falling straight down.

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Disconnected layers

These layers do not cascade smoothly, but are applied at noticeably different levels. They are distinct, and often created using a razor. This look has a lot of movement and texture and is great for people who want less bulk to the hair.

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This word means exactly what you’d imagine: One side of the haircut is intentionally longer than the other, and therefore will fall lower on one shoulder or side of your face. It’s an artistic, edgy haircut.

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Dusting means you aren’t really changing your hairstyle, but rather getting a trim. It’s for people who want only the split or dead ends cut off, but keep everything else as is.

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This haircut style is a long bob, meaning your hair length reaches your collarbones but still has the signature, cropped look of a classic bob. The lob allows for more texture than shorter bobs, and has recently become a celebrity favorite.

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This is another term for bangs that lie atop the forehead. Bangs can be worn in a number of ways: lash-grazing, above the eyebrows, arched (longer on the sides), parted (like open curtains), or side swept.

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This is one of the most extreme short haircut styles. A pixie cut is extremely short and close-cropped. It’s typically considered a boyish cut, but works well on anyone with small, delicate facial features (making them look pixies, hence its name).

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A technique by which hair underneath is cut shorter than the hair on top of your head. This can be anything from the bottom half of your head being shaved, to just trimmed by a few inches to remove weight and make hair less thick at the back of the neck.

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This trendy hair color, named for its blend of brown and blonde, adds blonde highlights to a brown base for a rich multidimensional look. Another compound haircolor term is “ronze,” which, as you might guessed, is red meets bronze.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest