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Hair Care Glossary

When you do the homework on your hair, passing the test is easy.

Activator - A chemical ingredient added to hair bleach to speed the process without creating extra damage.

ALS - (Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.) A common ingredient in shampoos that are used for breaking down oil and dirt which can take away the hair's moisture and become extra damaging to color or chemical treated hair.

Alopecia - Hair loss, either naturally or from a disease.

Amino Acids - Organic compounds that help your hair along in the growing process.  

Ammonia - The main ingredient found in hair color that opens the cuticle, allowing color molecules to enter.

Anagen - The growing phase of the hair growth cycle. Typically, this phase lasts around 7 years in a healthy person.

Balancing Shampoo - A type of shampoo specifically formulated for balancing the natural moisture levels of the hair and scalp (sometimes hair is oily while scalp is dry, or vice versa).

Biotin - An essential vitamin necessary for metabolic health and turning food to energy, best known for promoting healthy hair, skin, and nail growth. 

Bleach - Bleach, for hair, works by raising the hair cuticle, going into the hair and dispersing color molecules, which lightens the hair. If done correctly, it shouldn’t cause too much damage.

Breakage - Refers to hair shedding, or the amount of strands that break off the ends of the hair.

Bulb - The root of the hair.

Canities - The scientific name for grey hair.

Catagen - The resting phase of the hair growth cycle.

Chelating Shampoo - It works by binding to minerals and metals and removing them from the hair. This is good for removing hard-water buildup or chlorine.

Chemical Haircut - Hair that has been processed so many times by bleach, color or perms that it has broken off. 

Clarifying Shampoo - Shampoo that is stronger than normal shampoo, designed to remove buildup from hair products, hard water, etc. It has a strong pH level and should not be used more than once or twice per week. 

Coarse - Refers to the diameter of the hair, meaning the hair is large in diameter and feels rough to the touch.

Conditioner - A creamy hair product used after shampoo to soften and detangle hair. 

Cones - Short for silicones, these are plastic-like coating that prevents moisture and humidity from penetrating the hair shaft, and can make the hair frizzy.

Cortex - The body of hair, consisting of 90% of the weight. This is where the color molecules are found.

Crown - The area on top of the head.

Cuticle– The outermost, scale-like surface of the hair shaft that helps strengthen and protect hair. 

Dandruff - A condition caused by excessive cell production causing the scalp to flake.

Deep Condition - Process that aims to deeply heal and restore damage, and bring back needed moisture in the hair.

Density - The number of strands on your scalp. Thinner hair contains less strands of hair per square inch, while thicker hair contains more strands of hair per square inch.

Depth - The lightness or darkness of a hair color. 

Developer - Peroxide that is added to any permanent or demi-permanent hair color or bleach. It works by lifting the cuticle and allowing the color to enter the hair.

Dimethicone - The most widely used silicone in the hair care industry, and the main ingredient in 2-in-1 shampoos. Dimethicones are hydrophobic, thus able to protect your hair from water loss, improving hair strength.

Elasticity - The ability of hair to stretch and then return to its natural shape without breaking.

Essential Fatty Acids - These are ingredients in hair products that preserve the resilience of the hair.

Emollient - Moisturizing ingredients that form an oily layer on top of the skin to trap in hydration and to help smooth the skin.

Fly-Away Hair - Thin, fine hairs that have been statically charged and will not lay with the rest of the hair.

Follicle - The hair follicle houses the root of the hair.

Gray Hair - Hair that has naturally lost all pigment.

Hair Sebum - Natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands — the hair’s natural oil that can make it appear greasy.

Hair Shaft - The non-growing part of hair above the skin.

Humectant - An ingredient in hair products that draws in moisture.

Ionic - Ionic hot tools emit negative ions, which disperse water quickly, drying your hair faster and causing less damage.

Isopropyl Alcohol - A chemical solution that can be very drying to natural hair and is often used in lotions, shave creams, and cosmetics.

Jojoba Oil– Oil extracted from the seeds of an American Shrub, commonly found in hair products, adding a great deal of moisture to the hair.

Keratin - A fibrous protein forming the main substance of hair.