How To Speak And Understand “BLONDE”

As I’ve made all things blonde my civil duty to the world, I have comprised a list of terms used for you to better understand how you can ask for your dream blonde hair color. 

YAY! You’ve decided to go blonde, or think you may, or maybe you just have a thirst for knowledge when it comes to hair colors!

While I and the BLONDE/BLOND team applaud you; there’s going to be a bit of a situation when trying to explain yourself and your blonde interests and needs. 

Why, you ask? 

Because there’s a zillion different terms and works used to explain what you want and what color services will get you there!  And every salon and color line and colorist will have their own “lingo” when it comes to blonde. 

This is the first list of definitions, there will be more to follow.  This list is for hair color services.  Next will be names of colors themselves, and then one which explains how to use hairdresser terms to explain the look you want for your color.


The BLONDE/BLOND List of Hair Color Service Terms and Their Definitions:

Highlights: can be in foils, paper, or painted on without either. This means the pieces of hair taken out and colored will be lighter than they are currently. Can be done on new regrowth or all over the entirety of the pieces of hair taken out for the highlight. 

Lowlights: the same as highlights but these pieces will be a darker shade than what they are currently. 

Base color: 

Hair color used to lighten your natural hair or to cover grey on your natural hair. This is usually used to describe painting the color only on regrowth you have. 


The art of painting bleach on hair freehand without the use of paper or foils. This can range from a heavy balayage to create a super blonde look to smaller pieces taken out to create a natural sunkissed look. Fashion colors can be applied afterwards to give you a variety of rainbow hues! 

Base bump: 

Painting haircolor on hair after highlights or balayage is done to lift up your natural root color and also add in a different shade of blonde to the light pieces in your hair 


See base bump 


A deposit only color that changes the tone of the current haircolor. 


See toner; this can be a toner with pigment in it, or a clear gloss for shine and also used to fill lightened hair so it’s not as porous. 

Highlift color:

A color that has more lift than regular color. Can be used in highlights or balayage or even as a base color. Mostly used if natural hair is light, if your hair is darker it will result in an orange tone. In foils, it can bring up to ~4 levels of lift and is a great way to create multiple shades of blonde when used with bleach highlights. 


Hair bleach that lifts pigment out but does not deposit any. 


See hair bleach. It is a colorists term for bleach. 

Root shadow: 

Toner or base color used to create a depth around the first inch or more of your hair (from the scalp). Used in ombres sombres and general natural blonde “looks”. 

Color melt: 

Color taken from the root down (can be natural toned or fashion colors) and pulled over highlights or balayage to have a gradual color placed at the beginning of bright blonde ends. 


The gradualism of dark roots to light ends. Can be severe in nature, re: your ends can be several shades lighter than your roots. 


A less severe ombré; the portmanteau of “soft-ombré”. 


Paper thin sections of hair put into foils that make it able to get within millimeters of the scalp.  Can be used to do any type of color, when used for highlights, they blend better than regular highlights. When used for all over blonde, they make it possible to get hard to lighten hair blonder than thicker foils.


Very thin and not obvious highlights that create a blended look.

I’m SURE there are things I’m forgetting! PLEASE comment and ask about anything you need defined!! 


Caitlin and Team Blonde and Webster’s Dictionary

8581 Santa Monica Blvd #305, West Hollywood, CA 90069

One thought on “How To Speak And Understand “BLONDE”

  1. […] Btw… if you don’t know terms like “base break” and “toner,” check out the blonde glossary on Caitlin’s blog! […]

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