How to Get a Haircut in China

Posted by Mollan Mo on 28/02/2016 7:00 PM 1219

Getting a haircut in China is always an adventure due to the language barrier. If your Chinese is not good enough, some embarrassment may happen. Even after a long process of communication with the hairdresser, you may get the haircut you does not want and go out of the salon with tears.

Below is the list of the basic hairdressing terms

  • Barbershop Lǐfǎ diàn 理发店
  • Barber Lǐfǎ shī理发师
  • Hairdresser zàoxíng shī造型师
  • Haircut lǐ fà 理发
  • Hairstyle fàxíng 发型
  • Cut your hair jiǎn tóu fɑ 剪头发
  • a quick trim xiūjiăn 修剪
  • fringe liúhăi 刘海
  • thinning your hair dǎ báo 打
  • wash and blow-dry xĭjiănchuī 洗剪吹
  • Shampoo Xǐ fǎ lù洗发露
  • wash hair Xǐ tóu 洗头
  • Wash Xǐ yīxià洗一下
  • dye your hair răn tóufà 染头发
  • Shave guā hú zǐ刮胡子
  • Blow dry - Chuī gàn 吹干
  • Perm - Tàng tóufǎ 烫头发
  • Trim here - Jiàn zhèlǐ 剪这里

If you like to keep your existing hairstyles as it is, simply ask for a quick trim(xiūjiăn, 修剪), this will simply remove slit ends from your long hair. If you still want to crop off a bit more after the person finish the cutting, feel free to ask them to cut a bit more(再剪短).

Basic Phrases for Haircut in Chinese

As you walk in the door, one of the salon workers may ask:

Nǐ yào jiǎn tóu fà ma?
Do you want a haircut?

Alternatively, you could also say…

I would like a haircut
Wǒ xiǎng jiǎn tóu fa

When you get inside, listen for one of these words, as it means it's time to get your hair shampooed:

Shampoo - Xǐ fǎ lù 洗发露
To was hair - Xǐ tóu 洗头
Wash - Xǐ yīxià 洗一下

Common Phrases for Haircut in Chinese

The most common phrase you may need for haircut in Chinese Salon

I do not want to change my hairstyle, please just cut it a little short.
Wǒ xiǎng bǎ tóufǎ xiūjiǎn yīdiǎn dànshì bù gǎibiàn fǎxíng

A little short - Duǎn yīdiǎn 短一点

Don't cut it too short: bùyào jiăn tài duăn, 不要剪太短

I want layers - Wǒ xiǎng jiǎn de yǒu céngcì gǎn 我想剪得有层次感

Don't change my style - bù găibiàn wŏ de fàxíng, 不改变我的发型

I want to grow my hair out: wŏ yuànyì bă tóufà zhăng cháng, 我愿意把头发长长

This might not work like a charm every time, if you could not memorize something, you can always take the memo with you, writing the characters and show them to the hairdresser. (Note: Please not take the notes in pinyin, since it's not common for Chinese to read it).

If you want to change your hairstyle, the simple way is to take a picture with the style you want. However, do not think you can take a rest when the hairdresser starts cutting your hair. The person may misunderstand your meaning, you would direct him/her to finish the job.

If possible, you can ask a Chinese friend knowing English to go to salon with you to avoid being misunderstood and ending up with a hairstyling disaster.

Common Conversation in the Salon in China


Barber: Do you want your hair cut, sir?

Mike: Yes.

Barber: How do you want?

Mike: Just the same as usual.

Barber: Do you want your face shaved?

Mike: Yes, and I'd like my moustache trimmed.

barber: Please come here to have your hair washed. Do you like some pomade while drying?

Mike: Just a little.

理发师: 好了,您看可以吗?
Barber: How do you like it now?

Mike: Very well.

If you come up with other phrases useful, please feel free to comment below.

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About The Author

Mollan Mo

Mollan holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Experienced and skilled, she utilizes a variety of activities and methods to keep her classes lively. She loves her job and her passion to share her language and culture with others drives her to help her students succeed. Learn Chinese online with Mollan Mo >>