French Language Blog

Happy Movember! Facial Hair Styles in French Posted by on Nov 24, 2016 in Vocabulary

November is coming to an end, and that means on December 1st, millions of men will be shaving their faces. Throughout the month of November, the Movember Foundation Charity encourages men all over the world to let their moustaches grow out to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues such as suicide, depression, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. The name is a combination for the Australian slang term for moustache, mo, and the month of November. It’s not just a bunch of furry fun – the Global Journal listed Movember as one of the world’s top non-government organization. Pretty cool!

While la moustache is customary for Movember, some men prefer to grow out their beards entirely. Others like to shave their facial fur into different styles – the goatee, the Klingon, the Fu Manchu, the Van Dyke, the Mutton Chops. If you’ve got the hair and a steady hand, you can pretty much make any design you’d like. Le monde est à vous (the world is your oyster!) !

When I studied abroad in Angers as an undergrad, I eventually needed to get a haircut. I think this was probably my first stressful vocab experience that year. I had to look up the word for sideburns, know which guide comb to use for the clippers, and prep for all that small talk at the hair salon. I’ve since gone bald and can do my own hair at home in front of the mirror with some clippers, but once upon a time, that wasn’t possible.

Everything was going well until I explained what I wanted done with my sideburns. I said I wanted mes rouflaquettes trimmed, and la coiffeuse (hairdresser) looked at me in consternation. Had I used the wrong word? I eventually pointed to them, and she informed me that I had les pattes (feminine) and not les rouflaquettes (feminine). So what’s the difference? Les rouflaquettes are much larger and bushier than what I had going on. Think Elvis and John Lennon, and you’ll see that there’s a difference.

So you’ve got a goatee or a soul patch and want to know how to talk about it in French? Look no further:

La Barbe – Beard

Full beards are definitely back in fashion. Whether they’re well-groomed or scraggly, they’re everywhere now (including in your language – check out this post by Tim about beard expressions in French). Since I lost my hair, I’ve kept my beard full. That whole ‘your face looks like a baby without facial hair’ thing is definitely true for me.

Other terms with barbe:
la barbe de 3 jours – (designer) stubble
la barbe courte – short beard
la barbe longue/complète – long beard
la barbe naissante/la barbe du soir – five o’clock shadow


Le Bouc – Circle Beard

Got a round face? A circle beard will fit you perfectly. Shave your cheeks and neck but leave the moustache, the hair on your chin and the hair beside your lips. Pretty easy look to pull off. I have to say – I’ve always heard of this style as a goatee, but all the style guides online say I’m wrong. Turns out a “circle beard” and a goatee are 2 different things. Which brings us to our next words:


La Barbiche / La Barbichette – Goatee

Growing out the facial hair on your chin? That’s a goatee, and it’s clear where it got its name from. When it’s short, it’s called une barbichette, and it’s often accompanied with a moustache. If it’s longer, it’s une barbiche.

La Mouche / Le Timbre – Soul Patch

If you shave everything off your face except a little tiny bit of hair under your lower lip, you’ve got a soul patch. This guy has a lot of names – flavor saver, douche tag, dork tuft, but whatever you call it, it’s a classic.

La Van Dyke – Van Dyke Beard

This style was named after 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck. It’s similar to a circle beard in that there’s a goatee and a moustache, but the rest of the hair is gone. I couldn’t pull this off if my life depended on it.

L’ancre / La Balbo – Balbo Beard


Named after Italian politician Italo Balbo, the Balbo beard consists of a moustache and a large goatee. The difference between a Van Dyke and Balbo is that the Van Dyke’s goatee is generally longer, but the Balbo goatee goes further up the jaw line. It’s also called l’ancre because of its resemblance to an anchor.


Shaving Vocabulary:

un miroir – mirror
un rasoir – razor
un rasoir jetable – disposable razor
un rasoir droit – straight razor
la tondeuse – clippers
la crème/gel à raser – shaving cream/gel
l’après-rasage / l’after-shave – after shave
une lame – blade
un poil – hair (any hair not on your head)
l’irritation – irritation

se raser – to shave
tailler – to trim
raser dans le sens des poils – shave with the grain
raser à rebrousse-poil – shave against the grain

poilu(e) – hairy
lisse – smooth
irrité(e) – irritated

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!