Hair & Hairstyling Terms & Definitions (4)

Woman with short hair wearing a buttoned shirt
Photo: Pixelshot/Canva
Whether you're an experienced stylist, a newcomer, or just seeking a deeper understanding of hair care, this guide is your key to unraveling the terminology often encountered in the domain of hair and hairstyling.


What is a double process hair color?

Double process hair coloring
Double process hair coloring - Photos: Getty Images Signature/Canva
This term refers to hair color procedures requiring two steps to achieve the desired color.
Typically a lightener is applied to dark hair, to decolorize the hair to the desired level, shampooed and rinsed away, and then a tint or toner color is applied in the second step of the process.

What is elasticity?

Elasticity of your hair
Checking out hair elasticity - Photo: Moose/Canva
Elasticity refers to the hair's ability to recover its natural shape. The average person's hair can be stretched to 150% of its normal length and return to its natural shape without breakage. The level of the hair's elasticity affects how well the hair will hold a curl.

What are emollients?

Shea butter and cocoa butter emollients
Emollients - Images via Canva
Emollients are the ingredients used in shampoos, conditioners, skin lotions, oils, and other cosmetic products that are designed to smooth and soften. Cocoa butter and shea butter are common emollients found in skin lotions.

What is a follicle?

What a hair follicle is
Graphic of a hair follicle - Image: Science Photo Library/Canva
The hair follicle is a cylindrical cavity in the skin where you find the hair root and from which the hair shaft grows. There are millions of hair follicles found on the human body. An average person has about 100,000 hair follicles on the head.

What is a humectant?

The natural humectant, honey
Humectant - Photo: Tatyana Aksenova/Canva
A humectant is a substance that imparts moisture and is found in products designed to restore moisture to dry skin and hair. Shampoos, conditioners, facial masks, body soaps, and lotions often contain humectants. Honey is a natural humectant.

What is a melanin?

Women's hair with eumelanin and pheomelanin
Hair with different levels of eumelanin and pheomelanin - Photo: Artem Varnitsin/Canva
Melanin is a naturally occurring substance. It gives hair (or skin) its color, and provides natural protection from harmful solar rays.
Pheomelanin and eumelanin are two types of melanin found in hair. Pheomelanin is responsible for blonde color and eumelanin gives red and brown colors. The two melanin types combine to create all natural shades and colors of hair.

What is a natural?

The term "natural" refers to a substance derived from plants, minerals from the Earth, or animals (such as those produced by the human body), as opposed to substances that are created synthetically by humans.

What is a non-comedogenic?

Non-comedogenic refers to substances and products that do not clog the skin's pores and will not promote the formation of acne blemishes.

What is sebum?

What a sebaceous gland is
The sebaceous gland of a hair - Image: Getty Images Signature/Canva
Sebum is an oil produced by glands in the skin and hair follicles, called sebaceous glands, that serves to lubricate and protect the skin and hair from drying and damage.

What is SPF?

Different sun protection factors
Sun Protection Factors - Image: Getty Images/Canva
'SPF' is an acronym that stands for 'Sun Protection Factor'. It refers to the level of protection offered by different formulations of sunscreen. The average person should always wear sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 15 or higher.
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