Hair & Hairstyling Terms & Definitions (3)

Woman with long hair before she gets it cut
Photo: Getty Images/Canva
Whether you're an experienced stylist, a novice, or just seeking to deepen your understanding of hair care, this resource will help unravel the often complex terminology prevalent in the field of hair and hairstyling.


What is a Rachel hairstyle?

What a Rachel haircut looks like
Rachel hairstyle - Photo: Brand X Pictures/Canva
Celebrities have long been influential in creating trends and setting fashion among the general population. Marilyn Monroe made women of the 1950s rush out and buy peroxide and pencil in beauty marks to imitate her look. Likewise, the 1990s brought us the television show "Friends" which became wildly popular worldwide and whose character "Rachel Green" (played by Jennifer Anniston) caused millions of women and girls to flock to their hairstylists for the long-layered, medium-length, razor-cut shag hairstyle she wore on the show.
The style's popularity is well-deserved. It is a soft, romantic style that looks good on a wide variety of faces. The haircut is characterized by inward-swept, curving layers and wispy bangs that frame the face, while still having enough length to be versatile in styling. The overall effect is a look that appears both carefree and carefully done.

What is big hair?

Woman with big hair
Big hair with curls - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
In the Southern United States, this phrase is often heard: "Praise the Lord, and pass the hairspray". The Southern U.S. is also considered the birthplace of "Big Hair" or "Pageant Hair" because of the fact that most beauty queens and pageant contestants seemed to favor bigger, more voluminous hairstyles.
In general terms, though, "Big Hair" refers to very full hairstyles, and those styles can be as varied as the women who wear them. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, "big hair" meant high cresting bangs and out-swept sides. Earlier generations had their own "big hair" styles, like the "Beehive", the "Bouffant", and even the "Bubble" (though not all "big hair" styles had names beginning with a "B"). While the earlier "big hair" styles were generally shorter (with hairlines above the collar), they seemed to grow longer as the decades passed. The common factor for these styles through the years seems to be that they were held firm against the winds by gallons of hairspray, and were often believed to be better and more beautiful the bigger they were.
Today's "big hair" styles are more curled than coiffed, but volume is still the key. Gels, mousse, and countless other products are used to create masses of cascading curls and layers of flowing waves, all of which have "big hair" written all over them.

What is root lift?

What straight hair with root lift looks like
Straight hair with root lift - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
The term "root lift" refers to the technique of adding (or maximizing) the hair's volume through the use of products and/or styling appliances. "Root Lift" can be achieved in a number of ways, but most commonly by using hair product on damp or wet hair and using a blow-dryer to dry the hair at the scalp while holding it perpendicular to the scalp with the fingers.
The main benefit of the "Root Lift" technique is that it leaves the hair looking fuller and thicker. Other than the blow-dry with fingers method for creating "root lift", wrapping the hair in rollers using "on-base" placement (where the roller ends up resting on top of the section of the scalp from which the hair being wrapped grows) is another option. Curling irons and flat irons can also be used to create "root lift". While hairspray, mousse, and gels are all good products for creating "root lift" in a hairstyle, there are now new products available specifically for adding root lift to the hair.

What is body for hair?

Long hair with a lot of body
Long hair with body - Photo: Getty Images/Canva
When used to describe hair, the term "body" refers to the springiness of the wave pattern of the hair and is a measure of its ability to hold a curl or style. Often, permanent waves are used to add body to the hair (typically being rolled on the largest available perm rod), and many shampoos and conditioners are formulated to add body.

What is depilatory?

Depilatories are chemical formulations (usually creams or lotions) designed to remove unwanted body or facial hair. Most depilatories work by dissolving the hair. Some depilatories use formulas that are stronger than others and should be used with caution as they can irritate sensitive skin.
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