If you’re studying English in San Francisco for more than a few weeks, you are probably going to need a haircut! Many people have close relationships with their hair stylist, and going to a new person for a haircut (or color) is frightening . . . but doing it in another language? That’s another level of worry! Not to fear: we have the vocabulary words you need to express what you want when you get your hair cut or colored, and also have some suggestions (from local stylists in SF) for the best places to go for hair care.

Haircut Vocabulary

To trim/A trim

Definition: to cut a very small amount (verb); a small cut/just the ends (noun)

Example: I just need a trim. (noun)

Example: Could you please just trim the ends? (verb)



Definition: the shorter hair that covers the forehead

Example: I would like to get bangs.

Example: I would like to get side bangs.



Definition: thick bangs that usually cover the eyebrows.






Definition: different lengths of hair

Example: Could you please add some longer layers in the back?

Example: I am thinking about getting some shorter layers in the front.




Definition: a short haircut (above the shoulders) usually at a slight angle so that the hair in the front of the face is longer than the hair in the back.


Definition: a combination of the words “long” and “bob,” this is a longer bob (near or just below the shoulders).





Definition: a haircut that does not have layers: the ends are very straight.




Definition: a combination of the words “wavy” and “bob,” this is a wavy, short haircut (above the shoulders).




Phrasal Verbs

Take off

Definition: to remove

Example: Can you please take off about two inches?

Grow out

Definition: to grow longer

Example: I’m trying to grow my hair out, so please only give me a trim.

Hair color Vocabulary

If you’re planning on getting your hair colored, you will need to know these hair color trends!


Definition: Hair color is darker at the roots and then gradually fades into a lighter color.






Definition: A combination of the words “soft/er” and “ombré,” with this hairstyle the fade from one color to another is more gradual.



Hair melting

Definition: Even more subtle than the sombre, this technique very, very gradually blends the color of the roots with the color of the hair’s tips.


Definition: a haircolor that is dark blonde/light brown . . . so we combine the two words “blonde” and “brown” and get “bronde!”


Definition: streaks of a lighter hair color when the rest of the hair is darker.



Definition: very soft highlights






Definition: go crazy with your hair! Add blue, pink, green . . . hair with colors is the trend right now!



Suggested Hair Salons in SF

Where should you go to get your hair cut and colored when you are studying English in SF? We asked a local stylist for her pics on the top salons.

Patrick Evan Salon (Union Square)

The beautiful loft style studio, just off of Union Square, is a great place for a day at the salon. Patrick Evan Salon (founded in 2003) has over 20 stylists who specialize in different types of coloring techniques, extensions, and cuts. The salon was voted “Best Salon” by Allure magazine and has been featured in magazines, on the news, and online.

55 Grant Ave. level 4
San Francisco Ca.



The Woodbridge Salon (Marina District)

Art, beautiful decor, and incredibly talented stylists come together at The Woodbridge Salon. The warm and welcoming environment is the perfect place to get your hair cut in the U.S. for the first time!

The Woodbridge Salon
2072 Chestnut St. 
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-1362


Bladerunners (The Haight)

Since opening the studio in 1992, Australian David Wilson has provided beautiful hair cuts and color to San Franciscans and has also created a collaborative community of hair stylists, many of whom often travel to New York and Los Angeles to remain on the “cutting edge” of hair trends.

1792 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 751 1723



Salon Tips for ESL Students

Here are a few things that might be different about getting your hair cut in the U.S.

  1. Make sure to make an appointment (and be a few minutes early). It’s common courtesy: hair stylists are busy, and if you’re late, then the person who has an appointment after you will have to wait.
  2. Bring photos to show what you would like to do. A picture really is worth a thousand words! Of course, your hair type might be different, and in the end, it might not look exactly like the photo, but it’s a great way to communicate the style you want.
  3. Be ready to speak English! The most fun part about going to the hair salon is talking to your stylist. We joke that they are like therapists! Ask your stylist about San Francisco, get some recommendations for fun places to visit, cool restaurants and bars, etc. You are with a local for a few hours, so enjoy all his or her tips. And have fun! Hair stylists are friendly and love to chat. Enjoy the experience.
  4. Convert centimeters to inches before arriving. Remember that in the U.S., inches are used (not centimeters). This can be a big problem when talking about hair length! Make sure that you know the amount you want cut (in inches) before arriving.
  5. Don’t forget to tip. In the U.S., tipping for hair is expected: plan on tipping about 15% for cuts or colors. For more information on tipping in the U.S., read our article here.

Thank you to The Woodbridge SF for supplying all of the beautiful photos.