Posted by All-Nutrient Professional on Feb 16, 2018

From the difference between types of dyes to the techniques used to apply them, here are 20 haircolor terms you should know by heart when walking into a salon! 

Semi-color: A semi-permanent haircolor that deposits color pigment onto the hair cuticle without penetrating it. This means that semi-permanent color can darken your haircolor, but the absence of ammonia makes it unable to lighten the hair. Semi colors are often referred to as direct-dyes and can be applied to the hair straight from the bottle with no developer needed. This color usually lasts between 5 and 10 washes.

Demi-color:  Demi haircolor is great for those who do not wish to have a harsh cream color demarcation line or need a color refresh. Demi color does need developer and depeneding on the hair type, can yield long-lasting results. Demi color usually lasts four to six weeks.

Permanent color: Haircolor that permanently changes the natural pigment of your hair. It contains ingredients that help the color molecules penetrate the hair cuticle to deposit permanent color. Permanent color provides the best gray coverage and also has the ability to lighten natural haircolor. For example: a level 7 or 8 blonde can be lightened with high-lift blonde colors instead of using a lightener.

Single process: One color is applied to the entire head, root to ends in one step.

Double process: When more than one haircolor technique is applied during the same salon appointment.  For example, the trendy shadow root and balayage combo is a double-color process, meaning you first get a base color and then you also get lightener or toner.

Base color: The color that is applied all over your head or at the root “base” for the starting point of your color service.

Balayage: A hair-painting technique that was developed by French colorists. It involves hand painting strands for a natural-looking, easy-to-maintain color. Since it utilizes a free-hand technique, balayage can be customized for you or your clients. Don’t have enough time for 4 week root touch-ups? Balayage is the perfect color service for you.

Partial foil: These highlights are placed around the face and generally through the top layers of the hair. Partial highlights add a subtle brightness but do not lighten the whole head.

Full foil:  Foils, Foils everywhere! Instead of focusing on the topmost of the hair, a full foil encompasses the whole head providing the client with considerable lightness. See photo below.

Foilyage: All-Nutrient Design Team Member, Andrea Harbison, is queen when it comes to the Foilyage technique. Foils provide better, more dramatic results when it comes to needing higher levels of lift due to the heat component, whereas balayage gives that soft, sun-kissed look. The trick is blending the two, so you get a bold punch mixed in with subtle hues. Foil the entire head first, then in between, paint your lightener, add a base color, etc!


Babylights: A very fine version of highlights that mimic the natural look of a child’s hair that’s been kissed by the sun. Usually placed around the face and crown to add lightness without heavy sections.

Lowlights: Highlights use blonde streaks to brighten up haircolor, whereas lowlights do the opposite and darken strands to add depth and dimension.

Colormelt: Colormelting is a technique that can be done with any shade! It is a way to blend multiple colors together to create dimension and a smooth color transition.

Ombré:  Although ombrés may have fallen off the trend wagon, many confuse ombré with balayage because balayage is the technique used to create an ombré. The difference is that ombré means a gradient transition from dark to light starting lower down the hair shaft and balayage is hand-painted highlights and color that is done all over the head.

Cool tone: This term refers to the dominant dye of the color selected. Cool tones include blues, violets, and greens, while cool colors range from platinum and ash browns to plum reds and blueish blacks. They are often used to control or eliminate warm tones in the hair.

Warm tone: Think back to grade school and learning about the color wheel. Warm tones are the opposite of cool tones. Where cool refers to blues, purples, and greens, warm tones include yellows, oranges, and reds.

Toning: Using a demi-permanent color that is applied to damp hair to even out any unwanted hues. For example, you would tone brassy blonde hair to make it icy and white. However, toning isn’t just for blondes! Harmonizing colors can be added to any shade but are generally just a temporary fix for reviving color.

Glazing: This liquid formula gel is applied all over to add shine and improves texture. These demi-permanent colors  typically last for up to two to six weeks. Some glazes are clear, which you can think of as a top coat for color. Glosses and glazes also provide intense conditioning and often help repair damage to the hair, or fill the hair before a permanent color process. They are also great for toning.

Shadow root:  Shadow roots are probably the color service you’re doing the most of lately. The natural, low-maintenance look is done by going at least two levels darker at the root and using a demi-color for depth and highlights for brightness. 

Dimension: Dimension is the difference between lackluster locks and a head full of movement brought on by highlights and lowlights. Flat hair isn’t always referring to the amount of volume someone has but the fact that there is no depth to their color.

Contrast: The shade of your highlights against your base color. Think: high-contrast for lighter, more noticeable highlights and low-contrast for more natural-looking swipes of color. 



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Topics: haircolor