Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

When was the last time you went to a wedding or any fancy event?

Do you usually get all dressed up? How do you usually do your hair?

Believe it or not, the topic of hair comes up quite a bit. If you are going to get your hair done, or just talking about a hair style, you want to be prepared for this conversation.

Today we’re going to talk about fancier hair styles, and how you can talk about this or ask for what you want.

If you’re on Instagram, you probably saw that there were some posts recently about hair—it just seems to come up a lot for some reason.

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A question came in through Instagram from a listener about a post where she shared a style from a wedding she went to.

Hi Michelle!

I really can’t remember the last time I had my hair styled, though I do enjoy it. My hair tends to be extremely straight and rebellious, so it’s not always easy. This seems like a great topic! Could you guys record an episode about hairstyles?

Thank you for everything you’re doing for English learners!

Greetings from Argentina,


Some Background On This

This is a great question about something that comes up a fair amount.

Hair and styling is something that comes up in conversation, and you want to know how to talk about it.

Here are some episodes we have done on hair that may be quite useful.

AEE 1166: Want a Bob, Layers, or Bangs? How to Talk to Your Stylist in English

AEE 1174: Don’t Like Your Haircut? How to Request Changes at the Stylist and Elsewhere

So you can see that we’ve had conversations and episodes about hair in the past, and so it’s a common topic.

Today we are going to take this in another direction–since the focus of the Instagram post was wedding hair, we will focus on fancy hair!

Though you can talk about hair from many different angles, looking at it from a fancy level is an interesting twist.

This Is A Source of Connection

You may not realize it, but just the act of getting your hair done is a point of connection.

This is so important– to connect and be able to get your hair done and discuss your style with a stylist.

There are conversations that are going to take place in this situation, and you want to know what to say.

This episode would be great for hair stylists, people going to an event, and those looking to compliment styles.

If you go into get your hair done, you want to know the right terms and the types of conversations that you might have.

Some of these terms have to do with long hair specifically, so keep that in mind.

If however you aren’t going to an event, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you.

These are conversation starters, and also ways to describe what you see.

Words and Phrases You May Use

So if you are in this situation, as many of us will be from time to time, you want to know the right terms to use.

If you are sitting in the stylist chair, doing somebody’s hair, or just starting a conversation about a fancy hair style, these terms can be quite useful.

Here is some of the vocabulary and phrases that you need if you find yourself in this situation.

1. Half up half down: This basically means that you pull half the hair up, and leave the remainder down. This may also be referred to as “pulling the two sides up” as it’s a partial updo.

2. Loose waves/curls: It’s a more natural or casual look that you can dress up. These aren’t tight curls or waves, but rather a very loose and relaxed type. It’s perfect for an event out on a beach for example.

3. Braid: This is pulling the hair together and then weaving it one side over another. The end result will be a braid that combines the hair together into a weaved pattern throughout.

4. Updo: This is more of a general term that refers to anytime you get your hair done formally. It can cover a lot of different styles, but it’s a fancier hair style that you would likely go get done before an event. There are many variations of this where the hair is pulled up and back for a more formal look.

5. Bun: With this style, all of the hair is pulled up, often to the top of the head. It is then wound around until a bun is achieved where all the hair is up in this on top of your head.

6. Ponytail/low ponytail: This is pulling all the hair back and behind. This can be achieved for a formal event with a slick ponytail or a lower ponytail that looks elegant.

7.Wear it down: If you just wear your hair down, you may opt to have it blown out as straight as possible. This goes above and beyond your typical hair style on a daily basis. This is usually sleek and well put together so that it looks beautiful.

There are plenty of other hair styles, but these are the type that you can expect to talk about in this area.

If you have a fancy event, these are all hair styles that you may talk about.

How A Conversation About Hair Like This May Go

So you know what the terms and vocabulary are, but now you want to put it to good use.

When you find yourself in this situation where you need to get your hair done, you want the conversation to be natural.

You also want to be sure to get what you want, and so it can help to see how a conversation may go in this scenario.

It could go something like this, check out this example to help you. “Have you ever had your hair done for an event and hated it? Sometimes I don’t like it because I feel like it’s not me!”

“When I had my wedding hair trial done, I didn’t like it. I had kind of a low bun with curls and I didn’t like it. The morning of my wedding I still didn’t know what to do! I had changed my mind and wanted it to be “sleek” rather than curly. I had it in a low ponytail all to one side. I had a little clip too. It was a little bit hectic that day.”

You see that using the right terms is so important, and eventually this will become second nature to you.

You will also learn what you like and what works for you, and what you would rather skip next time.

Great Ways To Use This Vocabulary In Useful Conversations

You may wonder what sort of scenarios these words and phrases are best used for.

You will likely find yourself in a situation where you want to get your hair done professionally.

If you have a formal event or if you just want something a little fancier, then these can all be times when you might use such terms.

Here are some instances where you may have this sort of conversation.

-Talking to a stylist: You are trying to get what you want, and so you may be sitting in the stylists chair. You might say something like “I was thinking of trying a ________ (bun/updo/ponytail) today.”

  • Complimenting someone: You may see somebody’s hair style and just love it .This would definitely make you want to say something to the person you are talking to. You might say “I love your hair! What a gorgeous updo!”
  • Sharing what you might want to do with your hair with a friend: You may be in conversation with your friend and you are sharing what sort of look or style you might want. It could be something as simple as you saying “I’m thinking of wearing it half up half down.”
  • Discussing what you see or saw: This may be somebody that you saw firsthand or it may be a picture in a magazine. You might often see a celebrity style and want to replicate it, as that happens often. You might say to a friend “Adele had the most beautiful updo at the Grammys.”

These are all conversations that you could easily have, and the times when they may come up.

As you can see this is a common topic of conversation, and now you know how to prepare for it.

Roleplay To Help

Since this is such an interesting and common topic, you want to be sure that you know how to use it in the right way.

Let’s take it one step further so that you have a roleplay to help you with how you can move forward using this sort of vocabulary in your everyday life.

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are going to a wedding and are discussing how we will wear our hair- won’t use all!

Lindsay: “I’m thinking of an updo. What about you?”

Michelle: “Maybe…but I may do half up half down instead.”

Lindsay: “That would be nice. Hmm. Maybe I should wear it down and get it blown out.”

Michelle: “You could do that. I think with mine I will also get a small braid.”

Lindsay: “That would look great!”


Whether or not you are going to a fancy occasion, this vocab can be very helpful to you.

Try to describe hairstyles you see on TV or in movies for practice!

Listen to the other episodes where we have talked about hair for some helpful background.

Everyone likes their hair to look good, so you want to know how to communicate about it and ask for what you like.

This is a great thing to practice and then when you go to get your hair done, you will know exactly what to say.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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