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Стрижка – A Haircut in Russia – Vocabulary Lesson

Published: August 22, 2019

In Russia, there is no distinction between the words for “barber” and “stylist;” the word “парикмахер” in Russian refers a person who cuts hair for both men and women.

A person visits a парикмахерская (barbershop; where the парикмахер works) to подстричься (have his/her hair cut), although some people do стригут себя (cut their own hair).

In Russia, the average cost of a haircut is 450-600 rubles for men and 500-1000 for women in bigger cities. Some парикмахерские эконом-класса (economy class barbershops) can подстричь (provide a hair cut) for much cheaper, even as low as 100 rubles if you just looking for a military-style buzz cut.

Of course, there are many more stylish shops that also offer haircuts for much more. Increasing popular are shops specializing in мужская стрижка (men’s hair cuts), which also typcially have beard services. These shops and other more upscale establishments often charge much more: from 1500-3000 rubles.

It is not customary in Russia to tip the person who cuts your hair.

There are many different basic hairstyles, such as: for men – короткая стрижка (buzz cut), стрижка под горшок (bowl cut), стрижка ёжик (crew cut), ирокез (mohawk), а-ля Битлз (mod-top), маллет (mullet), and стрижка-шапочка (shag); for women – гарсон/под мальчика (crop), каре (bob cut), стрижка перьями (feathered cut), стрижка боб (pixie cut),  гаврош (razor cut), and стрижка под стрижкой (undercut).

There are also practical terms to describe specific actions that a парикмахер might take. For example, it is possible to simply подравнивать волосы (to trim hair), i.e. to убрать немного по краям (cut off a little bit at the ends). The парикмахер might ask, especially to men, if the hair should закрывать уши (cover the ears). Some people prefer their hair собраны сзади (blocked in the back) while others prefer распущены сзади (feathered in the back). Some people like their hair все одной длины (all one length) while others prefer слоями (layers). Some wear чёлка (bangs) and others don’t.

There are many ways to describe hair: длинные волосы (long hair), короткие волосы (short hair), волосы до плеч (shoulder-length hair), кудрявые волосы (curly hair), прямые волосы (straight hair), вьющиеся волосы (wavy hair), лысый (bald), and лысеющий (balding). Мужчины, старающиеся прикрыть лысину (men trying to hide bald spot) may try a зачёс (comb-over).

Besides different types of стрижки (haircuts) there are also many types of причёски (hairstyles): конский хвост (ponytail); бабетта (bun); коса (braid); косичка (smaller braid, often used for little girls); and французская коса (French braid). In Russia, it is fashionable for women to have a French braid go all the way around her head, in other words, заплетать косу вокруг головы (to braid one’s hair around one’s head). Women will hold their hair in place with a variety of means including заколка (a barrette/hair clip/bobby pin), резинка для волос (elastic hair tie/scrunchy; sometimes referred to as a “резиночка” in conversational Russian), ободок (a hairband), лента для волос (hair ribbon), or, of course, лак для волос (hair spray), гель для волос (hair gel) or пенка/мусс для укладки волос (mousse).

A person can also go to a парикмахерская in order to сделать химическую завивку (to get a perm; sometimes referred to as сделать «химию» in conversational Russian), сделать укладку / сделать прическу (set hair or arrange hair), or сделать наращивание волос (get hair extensions). Another option is to use a плойка (curling iron) or бигуди (hair curlers) at home. Some Russians делают прическу «гофре» или гофрируют волосы (crimp their hair), some делать пробор посередине или на боку (part their hair in the middle or on the side).

For men, there are several ways to fashion facial hair. Men can подравнивать/ побрить бороду (have their beard trimmed/shaved), постричь усы (style a mustache), or have бачки (sideburns).

In terms of hair color, a person can be блондин (a blond), брюнет (a brunette), с темными волосами (with black hair), or рыжий (a redhead). When красить волосы (dying hair), it is possible to красить волосы самому (color your hair yourself) or to красить волосы в парикмахерской (have your hair dyed by a stylist). Instead of dying all of their hair, some people get мелирование (highlights).

To keep your hair stylish, you’ll need some of these basic hair products: расческа (comb), щётка для волос (brush), предохранительная завязка для волос (hair tie for ponytails/braids), фен (hair dryer), and выпрямитель волос (hair straightener/flat iron).

Culturally, there may be some significant differences to expect from a парикмахер, primarily in that you may not receive at all what you asked for. Obviously, some of this may come from linguistic difficulties in trying to convey what you want. Very few парикмахерскы, no matter what they are charging or where they are operating, will speak English. The terms above should help you. However, there seem to be many парикмахеры who really only know a few basic cuts and tend to give you whichever seems to most approximately match your current style. This tends to be more frequent among older парикмахеры charging low rates. However, younger парикмахеры charging higher rates seem to sometimes think that they are artists well versed in the science of hairstyles and thus provide you with what they believe would suit you best. Of course, again, much of this can be avoided if you clearly state your desires in Russian and keep an eye on the progress and provide commentary.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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