Practical French vocabulary for a haircut in France

Practical French vocabulary: Chez le coiffeur

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Even fluent French speakers sometimes have to ask: Comment dit-on…? Our French teacher gives you practical vocabulary for getting your hair done in France.

This feature is intended to serve as an easy French lesson for both beginning and accomplished French speakers to provide practical vocabulary for common life scenarios. Here are some commons French words to help you at a hair salon.

Describing how you want your hair done can be a challenge, even in your native tongue. In French, it can be a real casse-tête. The best back-up is always a picture of how you'd like to look, but here are some common questions and vocabulary to help you communicate about getting your hair cut in French. The small talk is up to you!

Basic hairdressing services in French: Prestations de base proposees

Haircut: une coupe
Shampoo: le shampooing
Colouring and highlights: les couleurs et mèches
Set or styling: la mise en pli
Perm: la permanente
Haircare and treatments: les soins et traitements
A blow-dry or straightening: le brushing

Top salon: un coiffeur haut de gamme
Local salon: coiffeur de quartier

Basic French 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
Damaged: abîmés
Dyed: colorés
Permed: permanentés
Dandruff: pellicules
Cowlick: un épi
A lock of hair: une mèche

French terms for getting a haircut

Short or long: la coupe courte ou longue
Layered: en dégradé
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 tout en dégradé
Short 'windblown' layered look: dégradé déstructuré
'Just out of bed' look: indiscipliné
Highlights or streaks: les mèches
Hair weaving or foiling: balayage
Bangs: une frange
Hair part: une raie
Hair ends: les pointes

Hair treatments and styling in French

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

Blow dry for a curly look: un brushing bouclé
Slightly turned up at the ends: un brushing avec un léger mouvement sur les pointes
Straightened: un brushing raide
Hairdryer: un casque

French hair terms for men

Sideburns: les pattes
Beard: une barbe
Clippers: une tondeuse
Crew cut: coupe en brosse
Nape of the neck: la nuque
Hairline: l'implantation

Possible questions or comments in French

What can I do for you today? Qu’est-ce que je vous fais aujourd’hui?

I cut this out of a magazine. Do you think it would suit me? J’ai découpé ça dans un magazine. Vous pensez que ça m’irait?

I’ve come to have the colour touched up. Je viens pour me refaire ma couleur.

I just want the roots redone. Je veux seulement une coloration des racines.

I haven’t made up my mind about the colour – a permanent or semi-permanent colour. J’hésite pour la couleur – une couleur permanente ou une simple coloration.

Can you give me highlights? Vous pouvez me faire des mèches?

Is that possible with my hair type? C’est possible avec mon type de cheveux?

Would you prefer it to dry naturally or shall I blow-dry it? Préférez-vous un séchage naturel ou un brushing?

Perhaps just tapered or layered? Peut-être un simple effilage ou encore un dégradé?

What’s the difference? Tapering lightens the cut by thinning, with layering you get a more structured, shorter cut. Quelle est la différence? Un effilage allège la coupe en enlevant la masse, avec un dégradé, vous avez une coupe plus structurée avec des mèches plus courtes.

To avoid frizziness, I could lift the roots. Pour ne pas friser, je peux vous faire un décollement des racines.

Shall I cut it short and towel dry? Je vous fais une coupe courte avec un séchage à la serviette?

Should I set your hair? Je vous fais une mise en pli?

Could you take a bit more off at the nape/ the sides? Vous pouvez diminuer sur la nuque / sur les pattes?

It’s too puffed up. Could you flatten it down a bit? C’est trop gonflé, vous pouvez aplatir un peu?

A touch of gel to finish off? Un soupçon de gel pour finir le tout?

Marie-Alice Laulo-Smith / Expatica

Marie-Alice Laulo-Smith is French from Martinique. She has a PhD in English and a teacher-trainer certificate. She has lived in Ireland and taught English and French for many years. She and her husband are the directors of Laulo-Smith Language Services. 

Photo credit: John Steven F. (thumbnail).

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3 Comments To This Article

  • June posted:

    on 17th December 2015, 00:04:22 - Reply

    This was SO incredibly helpful- thank you!!
  • Kyle posted:

    on 11th April 2013, 19:51:23 - Reply

    How would you say " I'd like a number 3 back and sides" if I went to a barbers
  • EditorCH posted:

    on 24th November 2009, 15:10:11 - Reply

    A reader named Caroline recently asked: “How do you ask for a trim in the hairdressers? I just want them to trim my split ends but I'm unfamiliar with the vocabulary. I wish this had come up in school! Merci.”

    Marie-Alice Laulo-Smith responded:
    "Pouvez-vous me tailler les pointes fourchues?" - This is when there are split ends.
    "Pouvez- m'égaliser les pointes?" - for layered hair.