Are You Shampooing Well? – Shampoo And Conditioner In French Posted by on Apr 3, 2019 in Vocabulary

It’s important to know how to se laver (wash yourself) in any language, but sometimes buying the right products can be more difficult than you would expect when there’s a language barrier.

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

Il y a (there is) a word in French that I pronounced wrong for a while without realizing it, and it wasn’t because of mon accent (my accent):

Le shampooingShampoo

The word looks like many other words that end in -ing in French. The use of the English suffix is often used to create new nouns in ways that never happen en anglais.

I clearly remember one of the the first times I encountered a new French -ing word. I was talking with mon voisin (my neighbor) about meeting up later and the -ing word surprised me in an otherwise mundane conversation:

Salut ! Ça va ?
Oui ça va et toi ?
Ça va. On va sortir à quelle heure ?
Euh… dans une heure peut-être. Je vais faire un footing et après avoir pris une douche on peut y aller.
D’accord… dans une heure…

Hi! How are you?
I’m good and you?
I’m fine. What time are we going out?
Uh… maybe in an hour. I’m going jogging and after I take a shower we can go.
Alright… in an hour…

I had no idea what un footing was, but I just accepted that I needed to wait une heure and moved on. Over time I learned how there are a lot of similar words that seem strange to les anglophones (English speakers), but are perfectly normal words en français.

Un footing – a walk
Un camping – a campsite
Un parking – a parking lot
Un dressing – a walk in closet
Un lifting – a facelift
Un pressing – a dry cleaner’s
Un planning – a schedule
Un smoking – a tuxedo
Un zapping – Channel surfing

Le shampooing is a little different however. Even if it follows the same idea of adding -ing and creating un nouveau mot français (a new French word), the pronunciation does not follow the same pattern as the other words.

La fin du mot (the end of the word) sounds like the word poing (fist) and its similar spelling may be the source of the change in la prononciation (the pronunciation).

Le shampooing – Shampoo
Le poing – Fist

That’s not the end of la confusion (the confusion) though. Conditioner kind of looks like le mot français (the French word) would be similar to the English word, but that is wrong:

L’après-shampooing – Conditioner
Litterally: The after shampoo

Of course, when it comes time to actually prendre une douche (take a shower) and se laver les cheveux (wash your hair), knowing how to say le shampooing ou l’après-shampooing is less important than making sure you rinse off la mousse (the foam)!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Jill Hancock:

    Wonderful blog, merci beaucoup j’aime beaucoup et j’apprendre lentement.

  2. D Smith:

    Merci. J’apprécie ce blog.