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BBU Glossary has provided a Glossary of standard hair definitions to facilitate your learning.


BBU Words for Glossary 

Color Base: Refers to the color of the.

 Color lift: The amount of change hair undergoes when lightened to remove pigment.


Dense: The number of hair strands per square inch. 

Deposit: The ability for the color to deliver pigment into or onto the hair strand.

Deposit-only Color: Color that will only stain the hair surface. It will not lift the color out of the hair and oxidizes at a lower volume.

Depth: Darkness or shadows in hair color that gives the hair contrast.

Developer: Oxidizing agent, that when mixed with ammonia, will allow the color to penetrate through the cuticle layer.

Development Time or Oxidation period: Time it takes for color to lift cuticle and deposit color.

Diffused: When the concentration is diluted. Visually dispersed, not limited to one area of the hair.

Direct dye: Type of color that will stain the cuticle and does not require oxidation. 

Discoloration: Loss of pigment or color.

Double process: Two chemical processes in a single service time i.e. root touch-up and highlights.

Drab: Describes hair color that lacks warmth (Red and Gold).

Dull: Lack-luster, lacks shine or vibrancy.

Dye: Generic term used for artificial color. 


Elasticity: Measures the amount of stretch or buoyancy the hair has before it will snap.

Enzyme: a protein that kick starts a chemical process.


Fade: Loss of artificial color over a period of time.

Fillers: Adding artificial color in place of natural pigment when going darker.

Formulas: The specific code of color used when performing a color service.


Hair Color: Artificial or natural pigment and tone of the hair.

Hair Root: where the bulb of the hair strand lives.

Hair shaft: the strand of hair that contains the cuticle, cortex, and medulla layer.

Hard water: Water that contains a lot of minerals and agents that can cause build-up on hair.

Henna: a permanent hair color that creates a coating on the hair shaft. This color is extracted from plants.

High-lift tinting: Removing natural pigment in hair with a high ammonia content permanent color.

Highlighting: Technique used to remove natural pigment in hair and create dimension in hair color.


Keratin: Primary protein that gives hair its strength.


Lift is the amount of lightness achieved when removing natural pigment from the hair.

Lightner: Chemical used to remove natural and artificial pigment from the hair.

Line of demarcation: obvious line is the difference of hair color or new growth.


Medulla: innermost layer of the hair strand.

Melanin: Natural pigment found in skin, hair, and eyes.

Metallic Dye: the combination of metals that by gradual build-up and exposure to oxygen, create color on hair.


Neutral: Cancelling out an unwanted tone.

Neutralization: Stopping a chemical process by bringing the pH of the hair back to normal levels.

Neutralize: see Neutralization.

New Growth: Hair that has grown from the scalp and needs to be colored.

Non alkaline: Has high acidity on the pH scale.


Off-the-scalp lightener: Overall bleach-out that will not touch the scalp.

On-the-scalp lightener: Bleach-out that will sit directly on the scalp.

Opaque: The amount of light that can shine through.

Outgrowth: Same as new growth.

Overlap: Layering color or lightener onto previously processed hair. 

Overporosity: Cuticle is damaged and remains open and extremely absorbent.

Oxidation: Oxygen causes the start of a chemical reaction.

Oxidative hair color: Hair color that will continue to lose strength the longer it is exposed to oxygen.


Para tint: Oxidative dyes that make a color.

Patch test: Testing for skin reactions before beginning a new chemical service.

Penetrating hair color: Hair color that penetrates the cortex and sits in the cuticle layer.

Permanent hair color: Hair color that penetrates the cortex and sits in the cuticle layer permanently.

Peroxide residue: Peroxide that gets left in hair following a lightening service.

Persulfate: Used in developers and activators to accelerate the lifting process.

pH: Measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of hair color.

Pheomelanin: Gives hair red, yellow pigment.

Pigment: Describes the specific colors seen in hair.

Porosity: How open or closed the cuticle layer sits to measure absorbance. 

Powder Lightener: Type of lightener that must be mixed with the developer to activate.

Pre-lighten or Pre-bleach: Lifting hair before you deposit a color.

Primary Color: Red, Blue, Yellow are the primary colors that make up all other colors.

Processing Time: The amount of time it takes a chemical reaction to complete.

Progressive Dye: Does not lose absorption or depositing strength with time. 


Regrowth: Hair that has grown after receiving a complete color service.

Resistant hair: Hair that is stubborn and does not take easily to color.

Retouch: see touch-up.


Specialist: An expert in a particular field or process or technique within a field.

Spectrum: a range of possibilities for one topic.

Spot Lightening: isolated section or area of hair to lighten.

Stabilizer: Agent that calms a volatile chemical.

Stage: describes the current level that hair is at, as it goes through the lightening process.

Stain Remover: Removing artificial hair color from clothes or skin where color may have stained. 

Strand Test: Adding lightener or hair color to an isolated section before committing to an entire color service to see how the lightener reacts. 

Stripping: Removing color from hair, usually artificial.

Salt- and- pepper: Hair that has not completely turned white. It is a mixture of black and white hair.

Secondary Color: the combination of mixing primary colors to make, purple, orange, and green.

Semi-permanent hair color: Hair color that does not completely penetrate the cuticle layer, used to tone pre-lightened hair.

Sensitivity: skin reactions to chemical processes.

Shade: variable of the same color.

Sheen: reflection or shine of hair.

Single-process Hair Color: doing one color service in an appointment. 

Softening agent: product used prior to chemical services to help absorption during the chemical process. This product will swell the cuticle, making it more readily to absorb.

Solvent: Liquid that allows other components to dissolve.


Temporary Hair Color: Hair Color that will fade within a few washes. This hair color does not penetrate the cuticle layer.

Terminology: Words used to describe.

Tertiary Color: Colors that have been mixed on the color wheel, originating with mixing primary and secondary colors together.

Texture: How the hair feels.

Tint: Permanent color that is able to remove natural pigment and deposit artificial color.

Tint back: Using artificial color to go back to hair’s natural color.

Tone: The hue or underlying shade of hair color

Touch-up: coloring of your new growth, usually about an inch from the scalp.

Translucent: Sheer


Unpigmented hair: Hair that has lost melanin.

Undertone: See tone.

Urea peroxide: Type of peroxide that when mixed with an alkaline liquid, will release oxygen.


Vegetable color: Hair color that is derived from vegetable plants.

Virgin hair: Hair that has never had any chemical processes done to it.

Viscosity: How thick a solution is.

Volume: How big the hair grows from the scalp.


Warm: Describes the tone of the hair. Warm colors usually have a red, orange, or yellow undertone.