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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.


Comments:

  1. ana:

    hi¡

    i’m an english teacher, in this moment i’m teaching to english to a hairdresser, and i would like to know where ai can get morr vocabulary related with this profession

    Thakns

  2. Peter Tan:

    Some of the terms will of course be different in British English. ‘Bangs’ will be ‘fringes’. ‘Buzz cut’ would be ‘crew cut’.

  3. Vincent:

    That’s useful and many thanks for you.
    By the way, I am also an teacher of Oral English Speaking and Listening in China. I will have a lesson very soon about the haircut topic.
    I wonder whether you are able to provide more information about it, such as various haircut (bowl cut, ponytail and dreadlocks…) and some products related to (hair dryer and hair conditioner ..)
    Regards

  4. :):

    These phrases are very useful! Thank you!

  5. John:

    I would like to thank you for publishing this.
    🙂 Merry Christmas, Gabriele!

  6. Sally:

    very useful blog. Thanks a lot.

  7. Chamini:

    Thanks

  8. Elnour Elmadani:

    Thank you for your helpful blog. I really benefited from the vocabulary you used here.
    Best Regards.
    elnourelmdani.
    Sudan

  9. Eiz:

    Thank you for such great information
    I am an English teacher, and I have a couple of questions. Is it correct to say “I’d like the sides to be cut on number two and the top on number six”?

  10. Sahel:

    Thank you very much it was absolutely helpful, I would be grateful if you could tell me
    1.in a situation when I’ve got to the hair salon earlier than my appointment is due and I’m sitting there waiting for the hairstylist to be free then what should I say? Like should I say I’m waiting for my turn, appointment or what?
    2. What is the name of a very short haircut (like that of men) for women in a feminine style?
    Your feedback is highly appreciated.

  11. Sahel:

    Thank you very much it was absolutely helpful, I would be grateful if you could tell me
    1.in a situation when I’ve got to the hair salon earlier than my appointment is due and I’m sitting there waiting for the hairstylist to be free then what should I say? I’m waiting for my turn, appointment or what?
    2.what is the name of a very short haircut (like that of men) for women in a feminine style?
    Your feedback is highly appreciated.

  12. Gill:

    Great notes
    Thanks buden joy your life

  13. Mohsen Ebrahimzadeh Hassanabadi:

    Dear Gabriele,

    I would like to highly appreciate the useful materials you share on your blog as they are notably useful for people like me. I am 34 years old civil engineer from Iran and I live abroad, currently in Portugal. I have been attempting to improve my English to sound natural when I am speaking daily English. As you may know, people like me are to some what familliar with academic English though not good at common everyday English. I would be glad to know your recommandations to deal with these aspects.

    My best regards.

  14. Yan:

    Thanks a lot Gabriele! This post was very helpful to me.

  15. Rena Phillips:

    Hi
    Re your vocabulary for getting a hair cut.
    I live in Scotland and have become a volunteer for Syrian refugee families who have settled in central Scotland. One of them, Zhara is a qualified hairdresser, and I would like to help her get a job, but her english at present is very limited. So I will use what you have written to teach her. Is there anything else you can point me to?

  16. Augusto Castro:

    Thank you very very much!!

    Just one question, would the expressions change whether its British, American or Australian?

    Thanks!