How to Get Your Haircut in Italy

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When I first moved to Italy, I was 19 and fearless.

One of the things I did during my six months in Italy that had the other girls in my program shaking in their new leather boots , was the oh-so-simple act of getting my hair cut.

You see, the early 2000’s were an awkward time for hair-do’s in Europe and that, coupled with a language barrier, meant my friends truly couldn’t believe I was even considering it. I was met with endless questions like, “how will you explain what you want?” And, “what if they chop it all off or shave your head or dye it green?” Or, perhaps the most concerning, “didn’t you notice? Mullets are in style here!”  

Among the sea of questions, I was admittedly only a tiny bit afraid of the dreaded “mullet” (pronounced moo-lay…as if that makes it somehow chic). However, being young and carefree, one day I strolled confidently into a random salon.

I said four words, “no mullet, non corti” and let them get to work.

And do you know what?

I emerged two hours later with the best haircut of my life.

I felt like a million euro.

Now, years later I am just a little less fearless and so erring on the side of caution, I decided to learn all the words needed to ensure the stylist and I really understand each other every time I need a cut.

So, if you’re heading to Italy and want to try out a European salon experience, here are some key words to help you avoid the mullet and really own the “ciao bella!”

Step 1: Making an appointment

The first step is to determine if you need a parruchiere (more adapted for women, like a salon) or a barbiere (your run-of-the-mill barber shop). Then once you’ve found your desired salon, start by making an appointment. Salons fill up, and the appointments can take some time so be sure to book ahead.

Step 2: Knowing the prices & services

It may be worth visiting the salon/barber in person to see the list of prices (la lista) and also to inquire directly about the prices if there isn’t a list.

In Italy, the options are often a-la cart, and you pay extra for things like blow drying or straightening. It’s best to know ahead so you’re not shocked when you go to pay, and don’t be afraid to deny a blow dry or other add-on services that they offer.

Feeling brave yet? Here are your must know words and phrases!

— Buongiorno, vorrei fare un appuntamento per un… – Good morning, I would like to make an appointment for a…

— Taglio – Cut

— Spuntatina – Trim

— Colore or tinta – Color

— Piega – Blowdry or blowout

— Stile – Style, can be for an important event

— Mesh – Highlights

— Corto – Short

*Remember capelli (hair) is plural in Italian so if you’re referring to your “hairs” vs. a style, then you should make the adjective plural too, in this case, corti

— Lungo – Long

— Fare un taglio scalato – To get a layered cut

— Tagliere le doppie punte – To cut off the split ends

— Vorrei le frangia. – I would like bangs.

— Vorrei copli di sole. – I would like natural looking highlights (often these are just around the face. For regular highlights ask for “mesh parziale” (partial) or “mesh tutta la testa” (full head).

-Shatush  – The popular “ombre” in America

– Schiarire – To bleach

– Fare ricci – To curl the hair

– Fare lisci – To straighten the hair

– Potrebbe farmi pulito? – Can you just clean it up? (Mostly for men or those who want their short style freshened up, but kept the same)

– Taglia solo un pochino sopra. – Cut just a bit off the top.

Other key words:

Shampoo – Shampoo

Balsamo – Conditioner

Balsamo intensivo – Conditioning treatment

Piegare – To blow dry

Lavare – To wash

La riga – Your part (of your hair)

*Hint: You would say for example, “faccio la riga a sinistra” (I part my hair on the left) 

How does it all come together? Consider this interaction and see how it’s done:

You: Buongiorno, vorrei prendere un appuntamento per una spuntatina e tinta.

Nice hair lady: Benissimo, lei vorrebbe anche la piega?

You: Sono in vacanza, perche no?! Ma…quanto costa la piega?

Nice hair lady: Venti euro.

You: Sì, ok! Include anche il shampoo?

Nice hair lady: Si, il taglio include anche il shampoo e balsamo, però il balsamo intensivo costa 5 euro in più. Lo vuole?

You: La piega sì, pero non ho bisogno del balsamo intensivo. Grazie.

Nice hair lady: Ok, nessun problema. Per quando? 

You: Domani pomeriggio?

Nice hair lady: Hmm, alle 15 ok?

You: Si, perfetto! Grazie!

Nice hair lady: Prego. A dopo.

You: Good morning. I would like to make an appointment for a trim and color.

Nice hair lady: Great, do you also want a blowout?

You: I am on vacation, why not? Oh, but how much does the blow dry cost?

Nice hair lady: Twenty euro.

You: Oh ok. Does it also include the shampoo?

Nice hair lady: Yes, the cut includes a shampoo and conditioner, but the intensive conditioner costs 5 euro extra. Do you want it?

You: The blow dry, yes, but I don’t need the intensive conditioner. Thanks.

Nice hair lady: Ok, no problem. For when?

You: Tomorrow afternoon?

Nice hair lady: Hmm at 3pm?

You: Yes, perfect!

Nice hair lady: You’re welcome. See you later.

Have you gotten your hair cut in Italy? How did it go? Do you any questions?