How to Always Leave the Salon With the Exact Hair Colour You Want

Updated 12/05/18

Learning any language is hard, but learning how to speak the language of a hairdresser is difficult for everyone involved. Have you ever tried to describe the hair colour you want only to be left with a slightly baffled looking hairdresser? (Or what you thought was a clear and descriptive term that actually translates to something completely different?)

In fact, there are so many hairdresser-coined adjectives out there that when it comes to trying to explain what the exact shade and style is that you want to achieve, it's hard for your hairdresser to truly interpret what on earth you actually mean. After all, they describe hair colour every day. We, on the other hand, do not.

Believe me—I've been dyeing my hair pretty much the exact same shade of blonde for around 15 years, and I still struggle to explain what I mean. I've got it down to a "bright and creamy baby blonde" that's not too platinum but not too warm. However, it's taken me years to discover the type of lingo that's hairdresser approved and understood.

We spoke to Jenna Norman, colourist extraordinaire at Hershesons, who provided us with a handy thesaurus of hair colour terms, so you can know exactly what to ask for next time you head to the salon.

Platinum hair: Cara Delevingne


"Think Cara Delevingne," says Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Bleached all over, pale silvery blonde.


Baby Blonde

"Baby blonde is more yellow than platinum but more pale than gold," explains Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Creamy baby blonde.


Dirty Blonde

"Camille Charrière is a good example. The blonde shouldn't be too bright," notes Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Dirty, dark blonde with slightly grown-out roots.


Honey Blonde

"Kate Bosworth is a good reference for a honey blonde," says Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Warm, rose-gold blonde.


Strawberry Blonde

"For strawberry blonde, use Emma Stone as a reference," advises Norman. "Strawberry blonde shouldn't be one solid colour."

What to tell the hairdresser: Mid-light copper base with pieces that are one shade lighter.



"For Auburn, Julianne Moore is your go-to," suggests Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Dark copper gold. (Norman says you should ask for it in that particular order.)



"Bronde hair is like Jessica Biel's. There shouldn't be a massive amount of contrast between the brown and the lighter highlights," says Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Brown base with pieces that are two to three shades lighter.


Ash Brown

Norman notes that "ash brown is Kendall Jenner's colour."

What to tell the hairdresser: Flat brown shade with no warmth or red tones.


Golden Brown

"Think Elizabeth Olsen," says Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Golden brown/chestnut or rich, warm brown.


Blue Black

"Think Katy Perry before the bleach," says Norman.

What to tell the hairdresser: Black with an inky blue hue.

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