Update: Now with Video

—Update: Video and Podcast recently added to this blog post. Blog below does not match up exactly to the content of the video. Click here for video lesson notes—-

 This article was written in Taiwan, so some of the words used might differ, but feel free to leave any words in the comments down below. 

Note on tones: the “fa” in tou fa (hair) is pronounced as a 3rd tone in Taiwan.  On MDBG it is written as a neutral tone, and in the Mainland is used mostly as a fourth tone.

Grammar from Video

V 一 V (Verb reduplication with “yi”)

Video Lesson Notes Direct Download (English/Simplified/Traditional/Pinyin)

Screenshot 2014-08-03 15.49.02


For starters there are several words for hairdressers much like in English.

  • Salon 沙龍 shālóng – this is probably the easiest one to remember and will be understood by most young people.
  • Hair salon / hair dresser’s shop 髮廊 fàláng  / CL: 家, 間|間
  • Hairdresser / beautician 美髮師/美發師 měifàshī

The 3 examples above will all be understood, and are typically slightly up-market, although still much cheaper than western countries.  Expect to get well pampered.

Then there are the slightly cheaper places where you will most likely have your hair cut by an older lady ( 阿姨 āyí).

  • Barber’s shop 理髮廳 lǐfàtīng (Taiwan)   CL: 家 (Mostly men only.  Expect a buzz cut and a wet shave).
  • Beauty salon / Lady’s hair parlor 美容院 měiróngyuàn   ( not commonly said these days.)
  • 曼都髮型 màn dōu fǎ xíng (This is a Taiwanese company I believe, but you see the sign everywhere.  Typically slightly cheaper than the designer salons.

Now, as you enter the building you will want to know if there are spaces available.  Try these phrases:

  • I would like a haircut.  我要剪頭髮 Wǒ yào jiǎn tóufǎ
  • Can I get it cut right now? 現在可以剪嗎  Xiànzài kěyǐ jiǎn ma
  • I don’t have an appointment. 我沒有預約 Wǒ méiyǒu yùyuē

Once sitting down and sipping a coffee, you could try asking for a magazine.

  • Do you have a magazine? 有雜誌嗎 Yǒu zázhì ma

Try these 3 simple phrases that will get you through 95% of all situations:

  • 像這樣 Xiàng zhèyàng (pointing at picture – I want it like this).
  • 到這裡 Dào zhèlǐ  (pointing at your shoulders or ears, I want it cut to this length).
  • 這麼多 Zhème duō(using fingers to show how much you want cut off).

Other phrases to help you out:

  • I want it a little bit shorter 我要短一點 / 我要短一點 wǒ yào duǎn yī diǎn.
  • What style can you recommend me. 你建議什麼樣的髮型 / 你建議什麼樣的髮型 nǐ jiàn yì shén me yàng de fā xíng.
  • Don’t change the length of the hair, (meaning you just want a tidy up maybe). 長度不要改變 / 長度不要改變 cháng dù bú yào gǎi biàn.
  • I would like to get my hair dyed. 我要染頭髮 / 我要染頭髮 wǒ yào rǎn tóu fā.

Bonus Vocab:

  • Hair highlights 挑染 tiāorǎn.
  • Cut and wash 洗加 剪 xǐ jiā jiǎn.
  • To blow dy your hair 吹頭髮 chuī tóu fǎ.
  • To blow dry it straight 吹直 chuī zhí.
  • To blow dry it curly 吹捲 chuī juǎn.
  • To trim ones eyebrows 修眉毛 xiū méi máo.
  • To tidy your hair up a bit 修一修 xiū yī xiū.

Some colours you could ask for:

  • Blond 金色/jīn sè.
  • Brown 棕色 zōng sè.
  • Red 紅色 /紅色 hóng sè.

Things to note:

many places, even high end, won’t accept credit cards, and only cash such as in the example below.

  • We don’t accept credit cards, only cash. 不收信用卡, 只收現金 bú shōu xìn yòng kǎ, zhǐ shōu xiàn jīn。
  • Would you like conditioner put in? NO.  要不要護髮。不要 yào bú yào hù fǎ. bú yào
    (sometimes they can change between $300-1000NTD so ask what the price is before getting it done. How much? 多少錢?Duōshǎo qián?

Specific to Men (or women):

  • I want it a little bit shorter 我要短一點 / 我要短一點 wǒ yào duǎn yī diǎn.
  • a cut and wash: 洗加 剪 xǐ jiā jiǎn.
  • To get you hair completely shaved off 理光頭 lǐ guāng tóu.
  • To get a shaved head: 理平頭 lǐ píng tóu.
    or 小平頭 xiǎo píng tóu (píng means flat, and this would be much like a soldier’s buzz cut).

Grades are either 3 or 5 (much like when ordering a steak)

  • 3 = fingers width 三分 sān fēn
  • 5= just longer than finger width  五分 wŭ fēn
  • Just blow dry it until it’s dry. 吹乾就好。chuī gān jiù hǎo.
  • To add wax/putty 抓髮蠟 zhuā fǎ là


This should cover just about every situation I can think of, but if you have any more phrases or words you know, or use slightly different phrases out in China, then feel free to leave them in the comments.


Thanks to KD salon for letting us film: Check out their FB page here