ITALIAN HAIRDRESSING VOCABULARY: cutting and styling hair in Italy

This morning, Graziana’s hair was a total mess! Because of this, she decided to go to her trusted hairdresser, Annagrazia, in the hope that she might fix it and make a miracle! Come with us to find out together what are the words and most used Italian expressions when you go to the hair salon!

How to talk about hair in Italian?

Thanks to this article, you’ll discover all the words you need to get a haircut and to better explain what you want! Ready? But first of all… some clarifications!

Parrucchiere or barbiere?

Annagrazia is a parrucchiera (hairdresser). The parrucchiera (or parrucchiere, if he’s a man) is in charge of cutting and fixing women’s hair.

The barbiere (barber), on the other hand, (or barbiera) is in charge of styling men’s hair. It is more and more common, anyway, to see unisex hair salons, which have got both men and women as clients.

The place where these people work take its name from their profession (es: “Ha aperto un parrucchiere nuovo in centro” – “A new hairdresser’s has opened in the centre”, “Vado dal barbiere” – “I’m going to the barber’s), or you can also call it “salone da parrucchiere” (hair salon).

– Hello, I’m here to get my hair done.
– Goodmorning, sure! Do you want a spuntatina (trim) or a proper taglio (cut)?
– No, no, it’s short enough, I’d prefer to give it a spuntatina and get a nice piega (crease).
– Perfect! Have a seat in the room. When you turn comes, I’ll call you for the shampoo.

Vocabulary to cut, blow-dry and get your color done

Dare una spuntatina = to only cut your hair tips a couple of inches, to revitalize the hair.

Taglio (di capelli) = to cut the hair, to get the desired length and shape.

Fare la piega (o messa in piega) = to make your hair straight, wavy or curly, after washing. Normally, to do this, you use some tools such as a hairdryer, brush, comb, curlers, hair straightener, hair iron.

Fare lo shampoo = to wash your hair using specific products, as a shampoo and, if necessary, a conditioner, which makes them soft.

– Alright! So we accorciamo (cut) just a bit?
– Yes, exact. Then I’d like to give it a twist… What could I do? Maybe dyeing it (fare la tinta)?
– If course I can farle una tinta, but this may be a bit too drastic, don’t you think? I rather suggest other treatments… Like meches, colpi di sole (highlights), or shatush. What do you think?
– Ah yeah! I’d love to have hair like Hollywood stars! Go for colpi di sole!
– Perfect! Good choice! We lighten then?
– Yeah… Maybe some riflessi color miele (honey-coloured reflections)?
– Alright!
– I recommend! Don’t put on extensions like last time! I suffered a lot removing them…
– No no… Today a permanente (perm), what do you say?
– *shocked face*
– I’m joking! Hahaha

Fare la tinta (o il colore) = treatment that allows you changing your hair color.

Meches = treatment technique which consists in dyeing only a few strands. In most of cases, you lighten locks some shades lighter than your natural hair color (decolorazione), but lately you can see different types of meches, like green, blue or fuchsia ones.

Colpi di sole = this fanciful name actually refers to a technique whereby the hair is darkened or lightened only in some parts or in some locks, generally much smaller than the locks on which the meches are made. The shades, moreover, with the highlights, are less intense.

Shatush = treatment that consists in lightening the hair with a more natural effect (generally) than the locks, because it creates a nuance in the length and with three different shades.

– Good… After this nice hairstyling, do you also want a acconciatura? Do you want to raccogliere (pull hair)?

– No, no… I don’t have to attend any event… But maybe… a chignon (bun)? Something elegant…

– Let me do it!

– *eyes to heaven*

Styling the hair

Extension = treatment that allows you to lengthen your hair as you like and make it thicker, through the application of fake locks, which can be removed whenever you want.

Permanente = a long-lasting treatment that makes your hair curly and fluffy. The opposite treatment, which makes the hair remain straight for a long time, is called contropermanente or stiratura capelli permanente.

Acconciatura = a way to pettinare and/or raccogliere (tie your hair) to create a specific style.

The most famous acconciature are:

Chignon (o crocchia o cipollotto) = hairstyles made by pulling the hair into a knot on the nape, in the back or the top of the head with accessories such as rubber bands, clips or hairpins. The half chignon, on the other hand, has the same shape but only part of the hair.

Treccia = hairstyle that consists in crossing three strands of hair alternately passing on top of each other so as to bring them together into a single element. There are different types: three-strand braid, French braid, Dutch, fishtail braid, waterfall braid, rope braid.

Coda di cavallo = hairstyle in which the hair is collected in a single large lock and tied on the back of the head. The tail can be “high” or “low” depending on the height at which it is tied.

Codini = smaller version of the ponytail: normally there are two pigtails, one on the right side of the head and one on the left side.

Dread = strands of hair combed and knotted with a crochet. For “rasta“, however, we indicate the person who has them as a whole.

Frangia = short lock of hair cut which falls on the forehead up to the level of the eyebrows. It can be: a tendina, berlinese or lunga.

Ciuffo = large lock of hair, more or less long, which falls laterally on the forehead.

Riga / Divisa = line that separates the hair. When you are at the hairdresser, you may be asked “Dove porta la riga?”. You can answer “A destra”, “A sinistra” o “Al centro”.

Cresta = hairstyle characterized by tall hair, made with the gel.

– What do I owe you?
– 50 euros.
– Geez! Did you raise prices?
– Actually we didn’t. But earlier, while I was washing your hair, I noticed that you had some forfora (dandruff), so I used a specific product for this problem. This raised the price.
– Ah… You should’ve warn me… Anyway, here you go.
– Thank you! Look, if you want, you can buy our shampoo for oily hair, at only 15 euros. I promise you won’t regret it.
– Alright. I’m going to try it. But if the dandruff doesn’t go away, you’ll have to cut my hair for free next time!
– *worried face*

Most frequent problems

Forfora = dry white flakes in the hair that detach from the scalp and which are caused, among other things, by stress, excessive sebum production or even particularly aggressive shampoos.

Doppie punte = hair ends that split in two halves, because they are weakened.

Capelli grassi = hair that tends to be oily and shiny, which often feels wet.

Capelli secchi = hair that appears dull and dry (“effetto paglia“). They also tend to break easily and to cause split ends very easily.

Capelli piatti = “schiacciati” (flat hair), without volume, “attaccati” (attached) to the head.

Capelli crespi = hair which, unlike the previous ones, is poofy, electric, dull, without luster.

Capelli fini = very thin hair compared to normal, which tends to be weaker and more difficult to manage, as they cancel the effects of a normal styling.

In short, what do you think of today’s styling? Annagrazia passed or failed? Let us know here in the comments! As for you, how do you like to style your hair?

And if, now that you have learned the vocabulary from the hairdresser, you want to know more about the vocabulary at the supermarket, do not miss the video and the article that we have created about this topic.

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