Hairdressing vocabulary can be confusing for non-native speakers. From different cuts and styles to the equipment used and finishing products, getting the right haircut can be a confusing business.
We have collected some of the most common hairdressing vocabulary and phrases to help you when you visit the hairdressing salon or barber’s.
Vocabulary for hairdressing
Hairdresser, stylist, barber (the professionals that cut your hair)
Hairdressing salon, the barber’s (the barber’s is specifically for men)
Haircut, cut, trim, blowdry, wash, towel dry, dry trim, wet trim, highlights, lowlights, relaxed
Hairdryer, scissors, clippers, trimmers, razor cut, straighteners, curling tongs, curling irons
Shampoo, conditioner, deep heat treatment, gel, mousse, wax, cream, hair lacquer, hair spray, hair clips, hair slides
Men’s hairdressing vocabulary
A salon for specifically men in called a barber’s. For men’s typically short hair, a grading system is used for the length of hair when cut using an electric razor:
Grade 1 (3mm)
Grade 2 (6mm)
Grade 3 (9mm)
Grade 4 (12mm)
Buzz cut – hair that is cut short all over using electric clippers, usually very short like in the army
Undercut (the top hair section is left longer than the hair underneath, creating an overhang effect)
Tapered – hair that fades gradually from one length to another, often used around the sides and back
Hairdressing vocabulary and meanings:
Wash, cut and blowdry – this is when hair is washed, cut, dried and styled at the salon
Trim – a small amount of hair cut off the ends of the hair to neaten your existing style
Blowdry – hair is dried with a hairdryer
Towel dry – hair dried with a towel
Dry trim – hair cut while dry, without washing first (some salons do not offer this)
Layers – hair cut in different lengths, shorter on the top layers and longer underneath
Razor cut – hair cut with an angled razor to achieve a smooth, soft finish instead of a sharp finish
Highlights – hair is lightened in thin streaks all over the head (highlights can be done for the ‘whole head’ or ‘half head’, which lightens just the top layers of hair)
Perm – a treatment that makes hair curly permanently
Parting – the place on top of your head where the hair parts to the left and right
Relaxer / relaxed hair – a treatment for very tightly curled hair that ‘relaxes’ the hair and straightens it
Long, short, medium length
Straight, curly, wavy
Fringe (American: bangs) – hair at the front that comes down over the forehead
Bob (cut around shoulder length or shorter all the way around)
Coloured, dyed, bleached
Layered (the top layers of hair shorter than the bottom layers)
Side parting, centre parting
Pixie cut (very short)
Bun (a hair style that is a pulled into round knot behind your head)
Cornrows (multiple plaits/braids tied close to the head)
To wear (put / tie) your hair up
An ‘up do’ (any hair style that is pulled up and back off your face – common for formal events, such as weddings)
To wear (let) your hair down (any style that is worn loose and not ‘up’ – ‘to let your hair down‘ is also an idiom that means to relax and have fun)
Plait (American: braid), French plait, ponytail, bunches (two ponytails, one on each side of the head), pigtails (two plaits, one on each side of the head)
Phrases you may want to use at the hairdresser’s
Can I get a haircut, please?
I’d like a haircut, please
How much do you charge for a wash, cut and blowdry?
Do you offer a dry trim?
Do I need to make an appointment?
Can you see me now?
I would like a new style / fringe / dry trim / perm /
I’d like it coloured
I’d like some highlights
Just a trim, please
Just an inch off the ends, please
A bit of hair spray, please
Just a bit of gel
A little wax
At the barber’s:
Could you trim my beard / moustache, please?
I’d like it short at the back and sides, please
Phrases you may hear at the hairdresser’s
Would you like to make an appointment?
We can see you next Wednesday at 2pm
When did you last have your hair cut?
Do you want a particular style?
Would you like anything on it? (asking if you want hair spray or another finishing product)
What do you want doing today?
How do you want it cut?
Do you want any layers / layering?
How much do you want off (the ends)?
Would you like it blow-dried?
Do you want it styled straight or wavy?
You have some split ends (split ends are hairs that are damaged at the ends)