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Hair Styles Vocabulary: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know about Hair in English

By Jacqueline Schaalje


Just when you’ve grown your hair long and luscious (= full), the new spring fashion calls for short hair.

Wait, it’s not completely short, but a bob.

What’s a bob? That’s the kind of hairstyle that first became popular in the 1920s with the emancipation of women, who also stopped wearing corsets around that time and started wearing shorter dresses. (Corsets are the pieces of clothing that make a woman’s waist very small.)

Here is a link to a celebrity slide gallery with all the latest bobs of actresses, models and such. Even Beyoncé has a bob now!


If you’re interested, this article talks about the history of the bob.

So, what is the new hairstyle for men this spring?

Well, nothing special.

Check out this gallery.

Hair Words to Know

Anyway, what I’d like to discuss with you is some hair words that I think you should know, in case you go to a hairdresser or just when you’re reading a book or talking to people.

The Most Popular Hair Cuts

Women often have long hair.

It can be hip-length

hair hop
or shoulder-length.

hair shoulder

Whoa, this is not a woman!

Or only to the jawline, in which case it is a bob.


Men typically wear short hair.

A popular cut is the buzz cut.

buzz cut

Yeah, well, this is a woman as you can see.

A buzz cut means very short hair. The name comes from the noise the electric clippers make that are used to create this haircut. (Normally, haircuts are achieved with scissors.)

This cut was first used for soldiers, to prevent lice, but later also because it is such an easy haircut to maintain.

A variation of the buzz cut is the crew cut. This is another easy cut, common amongst athletes.

The hair is slightly longer on top, but gets shorter to the back. The sides are cropped short with the use of clippers.

hair crew cut

If women have short hair, it’s called a pixie haircut.

A pixie is a kind of fairy that looks childish due to her large head. However, as far as I know fairies don’t always have short hair…

In a pixie haircut, a woman’s hair is longer on top, but short at the sides and back.


Kinds of Hair

Hair can appear in a lot of natural colours or shades, and not long ago blue, pink and green dyed hair was in fashion. But now most people seem to have gone back to blond, brown, black and red again.

There are some more shades that are used for hair, for instance treacle. This is a syrupy-brown colour. (Treacle is molasses, a syrup.)

Or auburn, which is red-brown.

Undoubtedly, you know platinum blond. This is white blond hair.

People can also have ash blond hair. This is a greyish kind of blond.

Blond hair is the same as fair hair, by the way.

Brown or black hair is called dark hair.

Red hair may be called copper. In English, you don’t say that a person has orange hair, even if this is common in other languages.

Blond or blonde?

Blond or blonde is the adjective, whereas blonde is a noun. So a blonde means a blond woman. (A blond can mean a blond man, but that isn’t used often.)

So you could say: My neighbour is blond, he is married to a blonde, and they have two adorable blond children.

Take note: If you decide to use blonde with an e as an adjective, this can only be for a woman. This is a correct sentence: He came to the party with a blonde woman on his arm.

For a woman with brown hair you can use the word brunette.

For a person with red hair, the word redhead can be used.

Personally, I don’t like the words blonde and brunette too much, because they sound sexist to me.

Fringe or Not?

If you have hair over your forehead, you have bangs or a fringe. Means the same.

hair fringe

If the fringe is blunt, in the way that a knife can be blunt (= not sharp), the hair is cut off straight.

Wavy, Curly or Straight?

If hair is straight, it doesn’t have any curls.

If hair has curls in it, it’s curly.

If hair neither has big curls and it isn’t completely straight, it has waves. That kind of hair is wavy.

If (usually black, but not always) people have lots of tight little curls, it’s called afro-textured hair.

hair afro

If it’s a problem to calm hair down and make it soft, this is called frizzy hair.

hair frizzy

Thin Hair or Thick Hair

If you look at the individual hairs on a person’s head, they can be thin, or thick. If they’re thick and not soft, it’s called course hair.

Also the volume (how many hairs a person has on their head) can make it thin or thick. If a person doesn’t have that many hairs on his head, it can look thin. If they have a lot of hair strands but the hairs themselves are thin, it can still look thin.

An individual hair is also called a strand of hair.

hair strand

Neat hair or Tousled Hair

If hair is not brushed or combed and it looks messy, it’s tousled or messy hair. To tousle means mess it up. You can pronounce tousle touzel or tousel (with the ou like in out).

What to Do with Your Hair?

Obviously, you can do a lot with hair without cutting it.

If it’s straight, you can curl it.

If it’s curly, you can straighten it.

People always want to have the hair that they don’t naturally have, don’t they?

You can put your hair in a ponytail.

hair ponytail

If (usually) a child has two ponytails on the side of the head, these are pigtails.


Or you can braid or plait your hair in braids or plaits (same meaning).

hair braid

Just for a change, you could try to roll your hair into dreadlocks, or dreads for short. This will be a lot easier if you have afro-textured hair. Contrary to belief, dreads don’t have to be dirty at all.

hair dreadlocks

You can also comb your hair back.

Or you can part your hair in a side parting or a middle parting. In that case your hair is parted.

hair part

Hair can also be side-swept, which is combed to one side of the head. A fringe can also be side-swept.

You can also put your hair up. For some reason, brides often have their hair done up.

hair up

If hair is up for ballet class, it’s in a bun. (A bun is also a word for a round breadroll.)

hair bun

O yeah, when people don’t have hair they are bald. Pronounce bold.

Well, I hope I’ve covered all the main things in the wondrous world of hair in English for you.

What’s your favourite kind of hair?

6 thoughts on “Hair Styles Vocabulary: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know about Hair in English

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