how-to-ask-for-a-fade-haircut-in-spanish

How to Get a Haircut in Spanish

One of the biggest challenges I have encountered in South America is to get a good haircut. 

My hair, once thick and wavy, has lost a lot of volume with the time. Not to mention all the grayness that has covered my once redhead.

My mousy and frizzy hair is completely unlike a typical Latina’s. What genes do these women have! Their strong, thick, stark black, shiny hair still makes me envious after so many years. While they proudly wear their hair long and loose, I have had to compromise for a short bob.

Do you wonder why I am telling you all this? 

To warn you, of course! If your hair is anything like mine, it will not be easy to find a South American hairdresser who knows what to do with it. 

But if for any reason you want to get a haircut while roaming Chile, Argentina, Perú, Colombia, Spain, or any other Spanish speaking country – and you don’t speak the language too well, you’ll indeed find this post worth your while. 

Getting a haircut – essential Spanish vocabulary 

  • 🇪🇸 cortar – 🇬🇧 cut
  • 🇪🇸 peinar – 🇬🇧 to comb, to style 
  • 🇪🇸 alisar – 🇬🇧 to straighten
  • 🇪🇸 teñir – 🇬🇧 to dye, to color
  • 🇪🇸 lavar – 🇬🇧 to wash
  • 🇪🇸 secar con secador – 🇬🇧 to blow dry
  • 🇪🇸 cabello / pelo – 🇬🇧 hair
  • 🇪🇸 un peluquero / una peluquera – 🇬🇧 a hairdresser
  • 🇪🇸 una peluquería – 🇬🇧 a hair salon
  • 🇪🇸 una barbería – 🇬🇧 a barbershop
  • 🇪🇸 un corte de pelo 🇬🇧 a haircut
  • 🇪🇸 un peinado –  🇬🇧 a hairdo
  • 🇪🇸 un secador de pelo – 🇬🇧 a hairdryer
  • 🇪🇸 una tijera – 🇬🇧 scissors

For those of you who are just starting to learn Spanish and wonder why some words use the article un and others una, it’s because nouns and adjectives in this language have two genders! Some are masculine (un), and some are feminine (una).

Entering a hair salon or a barbershop – what to say in Spanish

Ok, so here you are – having finally made up your mind to trim your beard, freshen your look, change your hair color, or get a complete makeover.

Standing face to face with a receptionist, whose English will most likely be between non-existent and poor, what is it that you say?

🇪🇸 Hola, tengo hora con Margarita.
🇬🇧 Hi, I have an appointment with Margarita. 

🇪🇸 Hola, quiero cortarme el pelo.
🇬🇧 Hi, I’d like a haircut. (literally: I want a haircut, which in Spanish is an acceptable form of  asking for a service, placing an order, etc.)

🇪🇸 Hola, quisiera teñirme el pelo.
🇬🇧 Hi, I’d like to have my hair dyed.

🇪🇸 Buenas tardes, vengo a peinarme, hacerme las uñas y maquillarme.
🇬🇧 Good afternoon, I’m here for a hairdo, nails, and makeup.

🇪🇸 ¿Alguien me puede atender ahora?
🇬🇧 Is someone able to see me now?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto cuesta un lavado y un corte?
🇬🇧 How much for a wash and a cut?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto sale un lavado y un brushing?
🇬🇧 How much is a wash and a blowdry?

Good job! I guarantee with these few phrases you’ll make yourself understood.

Next challenge – the receptionist / hairdresser speaks back to you.

Time to practice your listening comprehension! 

🇪🇸 ¿Tiene hora?
🇬🇧 Do you have an appointment?

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién tiene hora?
🇬🇧 Who is your appointment with?

🇪🇸 Espere un poquito, por favor.
🇬🇧 Wait a little while, please.

🇪🇸 La atiendo en seguida.
🇬🇧 I’ll be with you shortly.

🇪🇸 ¿Se quiere lavar el cabello por mientras?
🇬🇧 Would you like to have your hair washed in the meantime?

🇪🇸 ¿Le ofrezco algo para tomar? ¿Un cafecito?
🇬🇧 Can I offer you something to drink? A coffee perhaps.

One of my recent posts has been about ordering a coffee, tea, or a beer. Make sure to have a look at it if you wish to learn more about this topic. 

Explaining what haircut or a hairdo you want in Spanish

One of the biggest problems I have when getting a haircut is to explain in Spanish what I want. Part of the reason is that I usually don’t know what I want, but that is a whole different story.

With time, I have learned some of the keywords, which I am gladly sharing with you. 

Sitting on the hairdressing chair, protective gown around your neck, you finally hear the question you’ve been waiting for:

🇪🇸 ¿Cómo se quiere cortar / peinar?
🇬🇧 What kind of haircut / hairdo would you like?

Your options are endless, but I hope with the ones below you’ll save the day. 

🇪🇸 Solo las puntas, por favor.
🇬🇧 Just trim the split ends, please.

🇪🇸 Quiero un bob asimétrico, más corto en la nuca y más largo en los lados. 
🇬🇧 I want an angled bob, shorter neck, and longer sides. 

🇪🇸 ¿Me lo puede dejar escalonado, por favor? 
🇬🇧 Can you layer it, please?

🇪🇸 ¿Le puede dar un poco más de volumen? 
🇬🇧 Can you give it a little more volume?

🇪🇸 Estoy pensando en hacerme un flequillo / una chasquilla. ¿Qué opina?
🇬🇧 I’m thinking of getting bangs / a fringe. What do you think?

🇪🇸 Quiero dejar el cabello arriba de los hombros.
🇬🇧 I’d like to have my hair cut just above my shoulders.

🇪🇸 ¿Me lo puede cortar hasta la barbilla?
🇬🇧 May I have it cut down to my chin?

🇪🇸 Quiero cambiar de look por completo. 
🇬🇧 I’d like to change my look completely.

🇪🇸 Estoy indecisa. ¿Qué corte me vendría bien?
🇬🇧 I’m not sure. What haircut would look good on me?

Before asking that last question, make sure you are in the hands of a professional and experienced hairdresser. Too many times did I trust a small hair salon across the street and ended up with a hair disaster.

Additional services and how to request them in Spanish

As we all know, there is much more to a hair salon than just a haircut and knowing how to request it in Spanish. But don’t worry; I have it all covered:

🇪🇸 Quisiera hacerme una permanente. 
🇬🇧 I’d like a perm.

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto se demora un alisado con keratina? 
🇬🇧 How much does it take to have it keratin straightened?

🇪🇸 ¿Me lo puede dejar ondulado? 
🇬🇧 Can you curl it with iron?

🇪🇸 Quiero teñirme un poco más claro, por favor. 
🇬🇧 I’d like to dye / color my hair a little lighter, please.

🇪🇸 ¿Me puede retocar las raíces? 
🇬🇧 Can you touch up my roots?

🇪🇸 ¿Hacen masaje capilar?
🇬🇧 Do you do head massage?

🇪🇸 Quisiera hacerme unos visos / unas mechas rubias.
🇬🇧 I’d like blond overtones / highlights.

🇪🇸 Hágame un moño alto con unas mechas sueltas.
🇬🇧Do my hair in a high bun with some loose strands.

🇪🇸 Vengo a hacerme un peinado elegante para una boda.
🇬🇧 I’m here for an elegant hairdo for a wedding party. 

🇪🇸 ¿Le puede hacer una trenza francesa a mi hija?
🇬🇧 Can you braid my daughter’s hair?

🇪🇸 ¿Me puede hacer un corte desvanecido?
🇬🇧 Can I get a fade haircut? 

🇪🇸 Mi hijo quiere un corte militar.
🇬🇧 My son wants a crew cut. 

🇪🇸 Me quiero rapar. 
🇬🇧 I’d like a buzz cut.

At a barbershop – useful expressions in Spanish

Those last two examples take us straight into the masculine world of hairdressing. 

Here in Latin America, most of the hair salons are unisex. Most of the times, you can read on their window all these three signs together: 

🇪🇸 Corte dama
🇬🇧 Hairdresser’s for women (literally: haircut for ladies)

🇪🇸 Corte varón / Corte caballero
🇬🇧 Hairdresser’s for men (literally: haircut for gentlemen)

🇪🇸 Corte niño
🇬🇧 Hairdresser’s for children

Yet, since beards and mustache have become trendy again, more and more specialized barbershops are popping up.

If a nice beard trim or a clean shave is what you are after, the words and phrases below will come in quite handy:

  • 🇪🇸 una barba – 🇬🇧 a beard
  • 🇪🇸 un bigote – 🇬🇧 a mustache
  • 🇪🇸 las patillas – 🇬🇧 sideburns
  • 🇪🇸 afeitar – 🇬🇧 to shave
  • 🇪🇸 recortar – 🇬🇧 to trim
  • 🇪🇸 espuma de afeitar – 🇬🇧 shaving foam
  • 🇪🇸 una máquina de afeitar – 🇬🇧 an electric shaver
  • 🇪🇸 una navaja – 🇬🇧 a straight razor
  • 🇪🇸 una brocha de afeitar – 🇬🇧 shaving brush
  • 🇪🇸 una toalla caliente – 🇬🇧 a hot towel
  • 🇪🇸 un aceite para barba – 🇬🇧 beard oil
  • 🇪🇸 una cera para barba – 🇬🇧 beard wax

And here are a few samples of short conversations you might have with the barber: 

🇪🇸
A: Buenos días, necesito rebajarme la barba.
B: ¿Qué tan larga se la dejo?
A: Medio centímetro, por favor.
🇬🇧
A: Good morning, I need to trim my beard.
B: How long would you like me to leave it?
A: Half a centimeter, please (approx. 0.2 inches)

🇪🇸
A: Hola, me quiero afeitar la cara completamente.
B: ¿Con máquina de afeitar o con navaja, señor?
A: Prefiero una navaja, pero tenga cuidado, por favor.
🇬🇧
A: Good morning, I‘d like to clean shave.
B: With an electric shaver or a straight razor, sir?
A: I prefer a straight razor, but be careful, please. 

🇪🇸
A: Señor, ¿quiere que le coloque un poco de aceite o cera en su barba?
B: No, así está bien, gracias. / Si, claro. Muchas gracias.
🇬🇧
A: Sir, would you like me to apply some oil or wax on your beard?
B: No, I’m good like this. / Sure, thank you. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Qué tan largas le dejo las patillas?
B: Hasta la mitad de la oreja, por favor. 
🇬🇧
A: How long do you want your sideburns?
B: Mid-ear, please.

Getting a haircut in Spanish – the instructions and questions you can hear

Latin Americans and Spaniards are chatty. Waaay chattier than we – Eastern Europeans – are. And a hair salon is one of the places where small talk and chitchat are almost part of the etiquette. 

If you don’t feel very confident with your Spanish, I recommend reviewing some of the common conversation starters.  Also, do check out the essential phrases that will allow you to participate in any conversation in this language

At the very least, make sure you’ll be able to follow the simple instructions the hairdresser gives you. 

🇪🇸 Pase por acá.
🇬🇧 This way, please.

🇪🇸 Tome asiento.
🇬🇧 Take a seat.

🇪🇸 Agache la cabeza.  
🇬🇧 Bend your head forward. 

🇪🇸 Cierre los ojos.
🇬🇧 Close your eyes.

🇪🇸 No se mueva.
🇬🇧 Don’t move.

🇪🇸 Incline la cabeza hacia la derecha / izquierda.
🇬🇧 Tilt your hair to the right / left.

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cómo está de temperatura el agua?
B: Está bien / está demasiado fría / está demasiado caliente.
🇬🇧
A: Is the water temperature OK?
B: It’s OK / it’s too cold / it’s too hot.

🇪🇸
A: ¿Así o más corto?
B: Un poco más corto, por favor.
🇬🇧
A: Like this, or shorter?
B: A little shorter, please.

Praising and complaining about hair service in Spanish

You’re all done! You just got yourself a new haircut. And you spoke Spanish all the time! Congrats! 

Now you can start admiring your new self in the mirror. A big, happy grin on your face.

What is it that you’re saying? You’re not happy at all? It is not at all what you had in mind? It is actually an utter disaster?

Whatever the case, it’s good to have a couple of useful phrases in your sleeve. 

🇪🇸 Me encanta, muchas gracias.  
🇬🇧 I love it, thanks a lot. 

🇪🇸 Me gusta mucho.
🇬🇧 I like it a lot.

🇪🇸 Volveré de todas formas.
🇬🇧 I sure will come back. 

🇪🇸 Le voy a recomendar a mi amiga a que venga a atenderse con usted.
🇬🇧 I’ll recommend my friend to get an appointment with you. 

🇪🇸 Me está tirando el pelo.
🇬🇧 You’re pulling my hair. 

🇪🇸 Me manchó la frente con la tintura.
🇬🇧 You’ve stained my forehead with the dye. 

🇪🇸 ¿Me lo puede cortar un poco más? 
🇬🇧 Can you cut it a little shorter, please?

🇪🇸 ¿Puedo ver como se ve la parte de atrás? 
🇬🇧 Can I see what it looks like at the back?

🇪🇸 Me pica el cuello cabelludo.
🇬🇧 My scalp feels itchy.

🇪🇸 No es lo que pedí.
🇬🇧It’s not what I asked for.

🇪🇸 ¡Es demasiado corto!
🇬🇧 It’s too short!

🇪🇸 ¡El color quedó demasiado oscuro! ¿Lo puede aclarar?
🇬🇧 The color is too dark. Can you lighten it?

🇪🇸 Me está quemando con la plancha.
🇬🇧 You’re burning me with the iron.

Ouch, that must have hurt!

I sincerely wish you only successful hairstyling experiences and great haircuts in Spanish, until next time!  

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Joanna Lupa

Joanna Lupa

Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.