Hairstyle Archives

Glossary of Hairstyle Terms

Hairstyle Glossary


These are fine plaits (braids) made from small sections of hair, which hang away from the head, unlike cornrows, which are plaited so they sit on the scalp.

Combination hair

A common type of hair, this is defined as being oily at the roots, but dry and sometimes split at the ends.


This effect occurs when hair on the front hairline grows in a swirl backwards, then forwards.


The highest point of the head, towards the back of the skull.

Curly hair

Naturally curly hair occurs when the distribution of keratin cells around the dermal papilla is uneven, which causes the hair to grow at an angle. Keratin cells occurring on alternate sides on the shaft cause the hair to grow first one way then the other.

Double crown

When there are two pivots of natural hair at the top of the head instead of one.


The result of twisting and locking together hair into sections, dreadlocks are permanent.

Dressing hair

The art of folding, tying or wrapping hair into different shapes and designs. This is a temporary effect that does not involve cutting, setting or chemical processing, and can be brushed or washed out.

Dry hair

This type of hair looks dull, tangles easily and feels dry. It is caused by a lack of moisture in the hair.

Face shapes

An important factor to consider when choosing a style and cut as well as a hat. Face shapes can be: round, oval, square, heart-shaped or oblong.


A large ornament that can be worn in hair in place of a hat, fascinators are often highly decorative and can be made from flowers or feathers.


This is the part of the face between the hairline and the eyebrows.


This type of common cut involves creating top layers that are shorter than the ones underneath.

Greasy-looking hair

This type of hair is often lank and oily due to overproduction of sebum. It is often associated with adolescence or hormonal changes.

Grey or white hair

Usually associated with ageing, this type of hair is the result of a lack of melanin granules in the cortex. Grey or white hair tends to be coarser than younger hair and can absorb pollution or chemicals more easily.


The line where the hair growth starts on the head and neck.

Hair colour

Natural hair colour is determined by the combination of melanin granules that occur in the cortex.

Hair shaft

The visible part of a hair that comes out above the skin.

Hair texture

Race, natural colour and the diameter of each hair determine the texture of hair, which may be fine, medium or coarse. Many people have a combination of different textures.

Hair type

The natural condition of hair – its dryness, softness or illness. Hair can be normal, dry, greasy, combination or white or grey.


The protein that is responsible for the make-up of hair.


This is when horizontal sections of hair are cut to the same length around the head. They can be any length.


These are darker stands of hair that are achieved by colouring sections of hair at a salon or at home.


A pigment contained int the cortex, which gives hair its colour.


This is the lowest point of the head, where the neck and head meet.

Normal hair

This type of hair is defined as neither greasy nor dry and has been left in its natural state.

Occipital bone

The point on the back of the skull that sticks out the furthest.

One-length bob

Also called a pageboy, this is where hair falls to the same length all round the head, usually sitting on the shoulders or above.

One-length cut

Where hair falls to one length, no matter how long or short, it is called a one-length cut.

Permanent colour

This refers to a permanent colour change caused by a chemical treatment that will not wash out.


This refers to the permanent techniques that add varying degrees of wave or curl to the hair. There are different ways of achieving results, including acid, alkaline and exothermic perms. Among the different results are: body perms; root perms; pin curl perms; stack perms; spiral perms and weave perms.


This refers to the acid/alkaline level of a substance, and is calculated on a scale of 1-14. Shampoos have different pH levels, depending on what they are used for.


Often used for securing up-dos and back-dos or taming wayward hair. Pins are very versatile and easy to conceal in the hair. There are several different types, which provide varying levels of grip.

Point cutting

A way of cutting with scissors pointed into hair to break up any straight lines.

Razor cutting

Using a razor instead of scissors to create movement and softness and taper hair.


Used to add curl or wave to hair, rollers can be clipped in place and heat applied to set the effect, or there are self-heating types that do not require additional heat.

Round-layered cut

Also called a French crop, this is a basic rounded, layered shape.


The skin covering the surface of the head.


An oil composed of waxes and fats, sebum acts as protective coating to the entire hair shaft and gives hair its shine.

Semi-permanent colour

A way of adding, enriching or darkening colour, it usually lasts for 12-20 washes.

Shattered cut

This is when hair is cut so it has wispy or jagged ends, adding volume and softness to the style.

Slide cutting

Used to remove bulk without affecting the line of a cut, this gives a soft finish.


The action of pulling out hairs during combing. This should be avoided, as it thins hair and causes it to break.

Square-layered cut

Sometimes called box or graduated layers, this cut combines layering and graduation. If hair is blown back off the face it forms a square shape.

Straight hair

This occurs when the distribution of keratin cells around the dermal papilla and the hair shaft is even.

Temporary hair

From full-head wigs and clip-on ponytails to false fringes (bangs), wigs without fringes and coloured wefts, there is a wide range of temporary hair on offer.


Removing bulk from hair using scissors or a razor.

Widow’s peak

A descending, V-shaped point on the hairline, usually above the forehead.

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