Would you like to know how to talk about getting your hair cut in English?
This is my essential guide on how to talk about going to the hair salon or barber.
You may need to talk about getting your hair cut for the following reasons:
- a school presentation
- a talk
- the IELTS speaking test
- a job interview
- a college interview
Talking about getting your hair cut could be something you did recently.
You may be asked to talk about something you did recently in an interview or in the IELTS test.
Or you might be asked to talk about the process of something. Or a service that you regularly use. Or something that you see and use in your neighbourhood.
Or maybe you live in an English-speaking country and just want to know what to say when you go to the hair salon.
So let’s take a look…
Where We Have Our Hair Cut
There are two main places where people can have their hair cut
the hair salon
What are the differences between these two places?
The hair salon is for men and women.
Both men and women can get their hair cut in the hair salon. It is often bigger than the barbers. It also appears more fashionable or modern in style.
It is also more expensive. Getting your hair cut in the hair salon will often cost you more money than going to the barbers.
And the hair salon usually plays music quite loudly. It has a more energetic atmosphere inside the hair salon shop.
The barbers is for men only.
We can call this place the barber, the barbers or the barbershop — all three names are used.
This place is often smaller than the hair salon and much less modern in style. The appearance inside usually has a more traditional style.
There has been a re-emergence of the barbershop in recent years in Western countries but the style is still old-fashioned.
It is usually cheaper for a man to get his hair cut at the barbers than at the hair salon.
How to talk about it in English
Let’s look at some examples, using vocabulary from the descriptions above.
I like to get my hair cut and styled at the hair salon on my High Street.
It is always very busy on a Saturday with many people inside. Whenever I get my hair cut there, I always have the same stylist — she has cut my hair for many years and understands what I need.
And they serve great coffee while I’m getting my hair done!
I always go to my local barbershop to get my hair cut. It’s been there for years!
When I go in, there might be some other local guys I know also getting their hair cut. Because we are all men, we might end up talking about football.
- Where do you get your hair cut?
- What kind of place is it?
- Why do you like it?
- How long has it been there?
Who Works in the Hair Salon or Barbershop?
In either place you can find the following staff:
But in the hair salon, you will also find other people, such as
- hair washer/shampooist
The hairstylist is the person who cuts and styles your hair in the hair salon.
This person can be a man or a woman. And there are different levels of hairstylist. You might see the senior hairstylist — this person has a lot of experience cutting hair.
Then there is the junior hairstylist and the trainee.
If you have your hair cut by the senior hairstylist, the cost may be much higher than the junior hairstylist and certainly the trainee.
The barber is the person who cuts your hair in the barbershop.
Usually, a man and maybe the owner and manager of the shop. There may only be two or three barbers in a barbershop.
They could also have many years of experience but they may charge a lot less than a hairstylist in a salon.
The hair washer/shampooist is the person who washes your hair in the salon.
Usually a young person, and quite often a young woman. She may be in training to cut hair later on in the salon.
In a big hair salon, you might see a cashier. This person takes the money from the customers. They also book appointments for customers in the salon.
In a busy hair salon, you may also see a cleaner.
This could be a young person, might also be a trainee. This person sweeps up the cut hair from the floor and makes sure all the sinks and cutting areas are clean and tidy.
This person may also double as the hair washer/shampooist.
And many busy hair salons will have a manager.
This person may also be a stylist, but may just manage the day to day running of the hair salon. Making sure all the customers are being taken care of and that the shop is running according to plan.
How to talk about these people in English
Let’s look at some examples of how people talk about all these jobs.
I always use the same hairstylist at my salon. Her name is Kelly, and she has been doing my hair for years.
The hairstylists at my local salon are very much in demand. I have to make an appointment two weeks in advance to make sure they can see me.
My local barber is called George. He’s been cutting my hair for years now. He knows me very well and knows what I like every time I go in. We usually end up talking about football or politics!
They have two girls to wash hair at my hair salon. They’re both very good. It’s very relaxing to let someone else wash your hair.
My hair salon has a cashier. It’s her job to take people’s money and to answer the phone and make appointments. She doesn’t cut anyone’s hair.
The girl who washes peoples hair at my local salon also has to do some cleaning. She sweeps the floor every hour or so to get rid of all the cut hair. She also makes sure all the counters and chairs are clean.
There’s a manager at my local hair salon. She takes appointments and advises people on who to see to get their hair cut.
- Who cuts your hair?
- Is the person who cuts your hair well-trained? Did they go to college or learn on an apprenticeship?
- How long has this person cut your hair?
- Do they know you very well? What do you talk about?
- What other people work in your local hair salon or barbers?
- What do these people do?
- Have you seen a special stylist at the hair salon? What did they do to your hair?
What We Have Done at the Hair Salon or Barbers
There are many things we can have done at our local hair salon or barbershop.
These are some of the services they provide:
- hair cut
- eyebrow styling
- waxing and hair removal
- nail treatment
- facial care
- skin treatment
- nose hair removal
- beard cutting and styling
How to talk about these things in English
I get my hair cut by the same stylist every time. He knows what I like, and he knows me very well.
I went to a wedding last month and so I got my hair styled for the day. The hairstylist washed my hair, gave me a little trim and styled it. It looked great at the wedding.
Sometimes I like to put some colour into my hair. The last time I did this, my stylist recommended a red colour. It looked fantastic for a couple of weeks — but then it started to grow out.
Perms are really old-fashioned but my stylist recommended I have a perm treatment to give my hair a wavy look.
My eyebrows grow so quickly and out of control. So I always get my eyebrows done at the hair salon when I cut my hair.
If I feeling particularly stressed, I might have a massage at the salon. It’s a little expensive, but very soothing.
I am terrified of waxing and hair removal treatment, but I have to get it done on my legs or the hair grows out of control!
Sometimes I have my nails done at the hair salon. They have a young woman there who can style people’s nails too.
Every now and then, I have a facial. It gets rid of all the toxins in my skin.
My hair salon has a tanning booth at the back of the shop. I can get my hair cut and get a tan at the same time.
There’s a hair salon in my neighbourhood that does skin treatment too. They can treat people’s skin if it is too dry or oily. Or if they suffer from too much acne.
My barber cuts all my nose hair too. It grows so quickly! He uses some small scissors to cut the hairs out. It’s kind of gross!
I grew a beard and I get it treated and trimmed at my local barbershop. The barber massages my face and then puts some special oil in my beard. Then he trims it to make it look all even.
My local barbershop offers a special deal at the weekend. Hair cut and a beard shave. They shave your beard using a real razor. It makes my face sting a bit!
- What do you have done at the hair salon or barbershop? Try to write some sentences about it. Or talk about.
- Are there any services you have done that are not mentioned above? What are they?
- How much does it cost for all these treatments in your country? Is it expensive?
What We Can See in the Hair Salon and Barbershop
Of course, there are many objects and things we can see in the hair salon or barbershop.
Here are some of them.
- styling chairs
- pictures of hairstyles on the walls
- combs and brushes
- hair clippers
- hair straighteners
- hair clips
- mixing bowls (for colouring)
- water spray bottles
- cans, tubs and bottles of hair product
Some of these things you may already know — chair, mirror, comb — but others you may not know at all.
You can check this website to see the kind of equipment hair salons use — Samvilla.
How to talk about these objects in English
In my local hair salon, they have these really comfortable styling chairs. They can rotate all the way around, but also they can make the seat go back so I am in a reclining position.
The walls of my local hair salon are covered in mirrors and pictures of people with cool hairstyles. It’s all you can see!
My stylist uses so many things to cut my hair — scissors, combs, brushes — then there are all the hair products she uses. She has so many different gels, mousses and sprays for hair.
My barber uses a pair of clippers to cut my hair. He cuts my hair very quickly, it only takes about 15 minutes.
- What kind of objects does your hairstylist or barber use?
- Are there any other items you can think of not mentioned in the list above?
- Does the hairstylist really need all these things?
How Often We Have Our Hair Cut
It really depends on each person, but it could be:
- every few weeks
- a few times a year
- once a month
- once a week
- for special events or ceremonies
Things to say in English
I get my hair cut about eight times a year, I’m not sure. I just get it cut when I feel like it.
I go to the hair salon about once a week. It’s very important to me to look my best so I go to see my hairstylist every week.
I think I go to the barbers about once a month. I don’t need anything done more than that.
I have to go to a lot of important functions so I always get my hair done if I have an event coming up.
- How often do you have your hair cut?
- How often do you go to the hair salon?
- Do women go more than men? Why/why not?
- Do young people go more than older people? Why/why not?
Here is a list of vocabulary for getting your hair cut or going to the hair salon/barbers in English.
Basic Vocabulary for Cutting Hair
Cut — we go to the hair salon or barber to have our hair cut or to get a haircut.
Wash — before we have our hair cut, the hair washer might wash our hair.
Blow-dry — and after we have our hair cut, the stylist will blow dry our hair with the hairdryer.
Trim — this is where the barber or stylist just cuts a little hair off. Just to make our hair tidy.
Dry cut/dry trim — the barber cuts the hair while it is dry. No hair wash.
Thinning — the stylist cuts the hair to make it appear less thick or bulky. To make the hair more manageable.
Parting — a line that appears in our hair where the hair is parted. Could be a side parting or a central parting.
Perm — a treatment used on the hair to make it curly or wavy.
Vocabulary for Hair Styles
- Long, short, medium length hair
- Straight, curly, wavy
- Side parting/centre parting
These are some very common words used to describe hairstyles.
The best way to find out what these words mean for the different hairstyles is to look for images or pictures online.
Do this and in your own words write down what you think the hairstyle looks like to you.
Making an Appointment at the Hair Salon
These are some expressions you can use in English to make an appointment at the hair salon.
- Can I make an appointment today?
- Do you have any free openings today?
- Can you squeeze me in today?
- Are there any stylists available today?
- Can I make an appointment to do my hair around 10am today?
- Can you fit me in this afternoon?
- What times do you have available today?
English Phrases or Expressions the Hair Stylist Might Use with You
- What are you looking for today?
- What do you want me to do for you today?
- What would you like done today?
- Do you want a wash and cut?
- Do you want your hair styled?
- When was the last time you had your hair cut?
- How much do you want taken off?
- Who usually does your hair?
- Would you like anything on it? (this is asking if you want any gel, spray or mousse on your hair)
And These Are Some Ways to Reply in English
- I would like…
- a cut
- a trim
- a wash and cut
- a wash, cut and dry/style
- a perm
- to have my hair straightened
- to have my hair dyed or coloured
- Can I get a haircut, please?
- Can you just cut my hair, please?
- I’d like a haircut, please
- How much for a wash and cut?
- Just a trim, please
If you are a teacher, you can use these questions in class during a discussion session.
If you are a student, you can practice these questions with classmates or friends. Or you can use the questions to practice alone.
What kind of hairstyle do you have? Describe it in two or three sentences.
How often do you go to the hair salon or barbers? What do you have done? When was the last time you had your hair cut?
Are you happy with the way your hair looks? Or would you like to change it? What kind of hairstyle would you like to have?
Do you like going to the hair salon or barbershop? Why/why not?
Have you ever changed your hair colour? What colour was it? Why did you do it?
Do you ever use hair products like gel, hair spray or mousse? Why do you use these products?
Have you ever had very short hair?
Have you ever had very long hair?
Have you ever had a really bad haircut? What happened? Why was it so bad?
Do you think it is hard work to be a hairstylist or barber? Why/why not?
How were hairstyles different when your parents were young? How about when your grandparents were young?
What kind of hairstyles do you think your children will have? Your grandchildren?
So that is that.
Just go over each section one-by-one. No need to review all of this in one day. You can and should take your time.
And let me know your views in the comments below!