Understand What Your Stylist Means When Getting Colour Done in Salon

We’ve all been there. You’re discussing your new hair colour options with your stylist or colourist when they start talking about obscure techniques and terms that are leaving you with more questions than answers. But don’t panic! Here is the explanation on those pro hair terms and definitions. So you can know exactly what you’re getting into at your next salon appointment! 

Base Colour: It’s the hair colour that is applied all over your hair, at the roots. It either stays like that or another colour technique is added on top. 

Contrast: This term is usually used when discussing highlights or lowlights. High-contrast highlights are much lighter than rest of the hair and provide a dramatic look. Lower contrast results in a more natural look.

Cool: A shade is usually called cool if it has blue, green or violet undertones. That goes for blondes, brunettes and red shades. Some cool colours include platinum blondes, ash browns, and plum reds.

Coverage: The ability for hair colour to cover grey entirely. Some hair colour formulas, such as demi-permanent or semi-permanent, are too transparent to effectively cover grey hair. 

Double process: Anytime two colour services are done in one appointment is considered a double process. The most classic example is lightening (or bleaching) the hair, followed by a toner to achieve those beautiful blonde shades. But it can also refer to the application of hair colour followed by a gloss, for non-stop shine. 

Express Highlights: They are usually placed around the face, to bring more light to it. They are created by using a small amount of foils to lighten the hair by one to three tones. 

Hair Painting: A sophisticated hair colouring technique where hair lightener is applied ‘freehand’ to many sections of the hair in downward, soft strokes. The result is very natural and soft. It’s also another name for balayage.


Highlights: When your hair highlighted, we select a few sections and apply a lightener to make them stand out from the base or your natural hair colour. Highlights are usually created with foils, a cap, or special combs or brushes.

Lift: A technical term referring to the chemical process that takes place when the hair is lightened. A “high lift’ is usually a colour formulation meant to make hair as blonde as possible in one single step. 

Lowlights: Colour effects used to give the hair more depth and dimension with colour. They are generally 2-3 levels darker than the base colour. Like highlights, they are achieved with foils, a cap or freehand. 

Single process: A colour service that achieves the desired result in one step. It usually involves permanent colour, a gloss, or highlights/lowlights without an added toner.

Toner: An added colour to create that perfect shade you’ll love. It’s usually applied to create different and unique shades of blonde on pre-lightened hair. 

Warm:  Hair colour is said to have “warm tones” if it tends toward yellow, orange or red. Warm colours include golden blondes, auburn brunettes, and coppery reds. 

Hope you enjoy your next appointment with all this new information!

Understand What Your Stylist Means When Getting Colour Done in Salon