TAPIF Tip: How to Get Your Haircut in France

Without a doubt, the most daunting task in France to date has been getting my haircut.

I’ve battled with my hair for over 20 years. It’s naturally curly, thick, and hard to cut and style. It cannot be treated or cut or styled like straight hair. I cannot use a hair dryer on my hair, nor can I use normal shampoo, conditioner, or leave-in cream. Throughout my years I was always trying and changing hair products as well as styling my hair in various different ways. I have also seen and changed both stylists and salons countless times, until I finally found my savior, aka my current hair stylist, back in early 2012. She helped me make my hair what it is today, with both the cut and the right products. In 2013, after landing a full time job, I also started professionally coloring and highlighting my hair blonde. After 21 years of tears, frustration, and connecting with other culy-haired people on Twitter, I am finally happy and more accepting of my hair.

As I said, my hair is special and complicated. When I was packing for France, I brought along enough of my preferred brand of conditioner and shampoo (the conditioner lasted until January, the shampoo until March), as well as leave in cream (3 bottles and then I bought a 4th bottle in Wales!) products to last me awhile. For the meantime, I have found a decent (but not perfect) conditioner substitute, but if I were staying in France long-term I would buy and import my products from Amazon.

I was very nervous about cutting and dying my hair in France. I asked various colleagues about places they could recommend, and then made sure to subtly interview the stylist at each salon in regards to their experience with curly hair. My first haircut back in December was a slight disaster, not so much because of the cut but because of the color- French stylists have the reputation of just doing what they want instead of what the customer asks for. My second time to the coiffure, I changed locations. Although the cut and color were more successful, the highlights were still nonexistent.

My advice for you is this: Before going to the coiffure, be sure to research your vocabulary ahead of time. I did not know how to say “roots” (les racines), “highlights” (les reflets, les mèches), “hair color” (la teinture), “trim” (rafraîchir), “split ends” (les fourches), or “layers” (Les couches), much less describe what I wanted done. However, having all of these words in front of me helped me to somewhat communicate my needs. One other specific thing I did was have my American stylist, write down my highlights and hair dye formula in the United States, and then I brought and kept this piece of paper with me here in France, and was able to bring it with me to the coiffure (after converting the ounces to grams, of course, with a nifty iPhone app.) Although my colors and highlights are still not perfect, having the formula helped immensely! Finally, it may help to bring in a headshot of yourself or what you want in order to demonstrate the colors, highlights, or cut you desire. Just go in with an open mind and be proactive– and in any case, it is just hair; it will grow back!

Do you have any other piece of advice, or haircut horror stories in other countries? I’d love to hear about it below!



12 thoughts on “TAPIF Tip: How to Get Your Haircut in France

  1. Hey! After 8 months, I’m finally ready to tackle getting my hair cut in France (how is this so hard??). I’m like you with unmanageable curly/frizzy hair that quickly becomes triangle shaped and fairly disastrous. Anything specific you’ve asked for that’s worked well? I guess curly hair experience is the most important thing like you said. It’s tough to work up the courage!

    1. oh goodness! curly hair woes for the win! Again, look up the vocabulary ahead of time, bring a photo of what you want, and communicate! 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Ok your tips are just too good, thanks so much for writing this. I’ve shared your blog in a facebook page for the assistants in the area! Also, I need to have my mom ask my hairstylist for my color formula. That’s genius!!

    1. Thanks for sharing my blog! I want to continue to grow my readers!

      Getting my haircut in France is one of my least favorite activities so I thought I’d write about it in case it helps anyone else 🙂

  3. I just cut my hair fairly short before leaving for France and let it grow out the whole time I was there. I was too nervous to get my hair cut in France for similar reasons, plus I found the prices quite expensive.

    1. Haha yeah, the length my hair is now has taken six years to get here. If I cut it too short I’d have a poofy triangle thing going on. (Though I made sure get a final cut and color before arriving). Many of my friends just got haircuts when they went home for Xmas but obviously that wasn’t an option for me. Bises

  4. Actually I’ve always thought I’ve gotten better haircuts in France than in the States but I don’t dye or highlight my hair (and I don’t plan to unless I get more gray hairs, I have one or two floating around on my scalp). I have really thick wavy hair and I usually keep it around shoulder length with long layers. The French hairdressers were always able to match what I wanted. However I never got a haircut while in Spain, I was too scared!

    1. Haha but aren’t you bilingual in French 😉

      My hair is naturally brown but since I started dying it and highlighting it I can’t really stop. It doesn’t look awful but for me I personally can see the difference since I see myself everyday, but hey life could be so much worse. 🙂

      I have to cut off the split ends every four months or so otherwise my hair becomes and unbearable frizzy hot mess 🙂

  5. What a coincidence! I just got my hair cut today and thought, “I wonder how this would be in France?” Writing it down is a great idea!

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