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English vocabulary for getting a haircut Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in English Vocabulary

If you are like me you get a little nervous before a haircut. For me the nervousness comes from the fear that I may not like what my hair looks like after the cut and then there is nothing I will be able to do about it. There is no way to put the hair back on after it is cut off!

Image by Kevin McGrew on Flickr.com.

Image by Kevin McGrew on Flickr.com.

It is even more nerve wracking to get a haircut when you have to communicate with your hairdresser or barber in a foreign language. To help make this process a little easier, this post introduces a number of important English vocabulary words and phrases related to getting a haircut. I hope this helps ease your nerves next time you get your haircut in the English-speaking world.

First of all, you need to know where to go to get your hair cut.
If you are a man you can go to a hair salon or barbershop, for a haircut.
If you are a woman you can go to a hair salon for a haircut.

The people who cut hair at these places are called:
a hairstylist (or stylist) – a person who cuts men’s or women’s hair
a hairdresser – a person who cuts men’s or women’s hair.
a barber – a person who cuts men’s hair

Before you get your hair cut you are going to need to make an appointment. Here are some common phrases to use when scheduling with a barber or hairdresser.

Do you have any openings today?
What times do you have open for appointments today?
Is there anyone free who can cut my hair now/at 3:00pm/in the next hour?
When is your next opening?
Can I make an appointment for a haircut today?

At your appointment your hairdresser, stylist, or barber is likely to ask one or more of these questions:

What are you looking to do today?
What are you looking for today?
What do you want me to do to your hair today?
How much do you want taken off?
When was your last haircut?
Do you want a wash/a shampoo?

Now, you are going to have to talk with your hairdresser, stylist, or barber about what you want them to do to your hair! Here are some basic requests you can make (all of these requests/questions can be phrased as statement too):

Start your request with: I would like…

… a cut (This means you want some amount of hair cut off and you will have to be more specific about how much.)

… a trim (This means you only want a little bit of hair cut off, to make your current hairdo neat, but you don’t want to change your hairstyle entirely.)

… a wash and cut. (This means you want your hair washed before it is cut. The wash usually costs extra.)

… a wash, cut, and dry (or style). (If you want your hair to be dried and styled before you leave the salon, you will want to ask for that.)

Other hair treatments you can ask for include:

I would like…

… to get a perm. (This is a treatment that makes the hair curly)
… to have my hair straightened. (This is a treatment that makes curly hair straight.)
… to have my hair dyed or colored. (This involves changing the color of ones hair.)

Lastly, here are some other commonly used terms at a hair appointment:
bangs = This is a hair cut with short hair across the forehead. (This term is used for women’s hair only.)
buzz cut = This is when hair is shaved very short. (This term is used primarily for men’s cuts.)
layers = This is when hair is cut in many different lengths.
split ends = This means the ends of your hair are split in two and damaged.
 “Chop it all off.” = Chop is another word for cut. This is a request to cut off all of one’s hair and make it very short.

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About the Author:Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


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