Spanish Vocabulary: Going to the Barber

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

You are ready for a new look so it's time to go to the barber. So that your Spanish-speaking barber does not do exactly the opposite of what you wanted, this lesson gives you the vocabulary and basic phrases you need.

Avoiding Disaster at the Barber Shop

John finds a barber in Madrid right on time because he wants to get his hair cut. He gets to the barber shop and imitates scissor movements with his fingers. The barber asks ¿Lo quieres bien corto? John nods his head then sits back and relaxes.

By the time the barber finishes his left side, John realizes it is way too short. This is bad news for John because his hair is thick and, when cut too short, tends to stick out making it look like punk style. He only has himself to blame... even if he had the words to ask the barber to stop, it is too late since one side is done. Hopefully his date, a beautiful Spanish girl, won't mind the punk look.

So, let's locate a 'barber shop' first. You want a sign that reads barbería (bahr-beh-REE-ah). Some use peluquería (peh-loo-keh-REE-ah), which means hair salon, in which case it should be obvious if it is for girls only, guys, or unisex. The barber is el barbero (ehl bahr-BEH-roh). Just call him señor (seh-NYOR), which means 'sir'.

Haircut Basics

John learned a lesson. Next haircut, he will know better and say:

Quiero cortarme el pelo (kee-EH-roh kohr-TAHR-meh ehl PEH-loh), which means 'I want a haircut.' From there, it's time to specify what he wants, and the options are as follows:

You Say You Pronounce Means
Lo quiero bien corto loh kee-EH-roh bee-ehn KORH-toh I want it very short
Lo quiero corto al frente y largo atrás loh kee-EH-roh KORH-toh ahl FREHN-teh ee LAHR-goh ah-TRAHS I want it short in the front and long on the back
Sólo las puntas SOH-loh lahs POON-tahs Only the ends
Sólo la parte de atrás SOH-loh lah PAHR-teh deh ah-TRAHS Only the back
Sólo los lados SOH-loh lohs LAH-dohs Only the sides
Quiero este estilo kee-EH-roh EHS-teh ehs-TEE-loh I want this style (if you have a photo to show)

Other Options

Of course, the barber can do more than give John a simple haircut. John can learn a few more phrases to have more options next time he ventures into the barbería.

You Say You Pronounce Means
Quiero lavado y corte kee-EH-roh lah-BAH-doh ee KORH-teh I want a wash and haircut
Quiero hacerme la barba kee-EH-roh ah-SEHR-meh lah-BAHR-bah I want a beard
Quiero rasurarme la cabeza kee-EH-roh rah-soo-RAHR-meh lah kah-BEH-sah I want to shave my head
Quiero rasurarme la cara kee-EH-roh rah-soo-RAHR-meh lah KAH-rah I want to shave my face
Quiero hacerme el bigote kee-EH-roh ah-SEHR-meh ehl bee-GOH-teh I want a moustache

el bigote

Quiero igualarme el bigote kee-EH-roh ee-goo-ah-LAHR-meh ehl bee-GOH-teh I want to trim my moustache
Quiero dejarme las patillas kee-EH-roh deh-HAR-meh lahs pah-TEE-yahs I want to leave the sideburns untouched

las patillas

Beard Options

If John wants a specific shape for his beard, he can tell the barber quiero la barba... (kee-EH-roh lah BAHR-bah), which means 'I want my beard...' and then add any of the following basic shapes:

You Say You Pronounce Means
rectangular rehk-tahn-goo-LAHR rectangular
triangular tree-ahn-goo-LAHR triangular
redonda reh-DOHN-dah round
con punta kohn POON-tah pointy

la barba rectangular

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