Moving abroad presents some obvious vocabulary challenges. The tourist phrases books aren’t much help when opening a bank account and getting medical insurance. However, some of the hardest situations involve professionals providing more intimate services – dentists, opticians, gynecologists and yes, hairdressers!

Sometimes, even with an example photo and in your native language, describing how you want your hair done isn’t straightforward. Here we share some of the most common terms used when you visit a hairdresser in France.

At the hairdresser’s

Top salon: un coiffeur (ou salon de coiffure) haut de gamme
Local salon: un coiffeur de quartier
Unisex salon: un salon mixte
Haircut: une coupe
A trim: couper les pointes
Shampoo: un shampooing
To color: colorer
High or low-lights: des mèches
A complete restyle: un relooking
To touch up the roots: refaire les racines
Set or styling: une mise en pli
Perm: une permanente
Haircare and treatments: des soins et traitements
A blow-dry: un brushing

Basic hair terms

Your hair: vos cheveux (always masculine, plural)
Fine: fins
Thick: épais
Oily: gras
Dry: secs
Mixed: mixtes
Normal: normaux
Curly: bouclés
Frizzy: frisés
Smooth: lisses
Going bald: devenir chauve
Damaged: abîmés
Dyed: colorés
Permed: permanentés
Dandruff: pellicules
Cowlick: un épi
A lock of hair: une mèche

Getting a haircut

Short or long: courte ou longue
Layered: en dégradé
Bangs/Fringe: une frange
Parting: une raie
Hair ends: des pointes
Blunt cut: au carré
Clean cut/well-defined: bien dégagée
Asymmetrical: asymétrique
Square tapered: style carré effilé
Layered on top: dégradé sur le dessus
Short, layered look: une coupe courte toute en dégradé
Short ‘windblown’ layered look: dégradé déstructuré
‘Bedhead’ look: indiscipliné
Highlights or streaks: des mèches
Hair weaving or foiling: balayage

Hair treatments and styling

Hair conditioner: une crème ou après-shampoing
Deep-conditioning hair mask: un masque (capillaire)
Anti-dandruff treatment: un traitement antipelliculaire
Hair loss treatment: un traitement antichute
Hairspray: de la laque
Blow dry with curls: un brushing bouclé
Slightly turned up at the ends: un brushing avec un léger mouvement sur les pointes
Straightened: un brushing raide
Overhead hairdryer: un casque
Hair Dryer: un sèche cheveux
Straightening irons: un lisseur
Put in curlers: mettre en bigoudis

Barbershop terms for men

Sideburns: des pattes
Beard: une barbe
Clippers: une tondeuse
Crew cut: une coupe en brosse
Nape: la nuque
Hairline: l’implantation

Now you are salon-ready – the small talk is up to you!

Dennelle Taylor Nizoux

Dennelle is the President of Renestance and a bilingual American who’s lived in France since 2000. She loves so many things about France, its language, culture, geography, quality of life... that she started a business to help others realize their dreams of living in this incredible place.

All articles by: Dennelle Taylor Nizoux

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