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A Beauty Glossary of Brittish Hair Styling Terms

Brits, They’re Just Like Us


I've always been fascinated by the way two countries can speak the same language, yet somehow have different words for the exact same things. You know, like trunk of a car in the U.S. is a "boot" in the U.K., and you'd certainly wonder what on earth was happening if a Brit offered to bring you a "torch" during a power outage in the States.

I remember being in hair school and learning that "bangs" should really be referred to as "fringe" because of the negative connotations associated with the word "bang" across the pond in England. Although, admittedly, I always wondered when on earth I'd ever manage to find a British woman to insult while doing hair in the heartland. Even though I honestly think "fringe" is a better word, I still use the word "bangs" because I'd just rather not have to explain myself.

I honestly had no idea that the differences in American English and British English were as vast as they are until British Hairdresser of the Year (not once, but twice), Mark Hill explained it to me. He opened up a whole new world of British Hairstyling terms by putting together this Beauty Glossary for me to share with you. I was only aware of one in this list, see how many you knew.

You can also check out this British to English Translator for other words that don't make sense if you're traveling abroad.



Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Knows as a braid in the states, a plait is defined as a complex structure or pattern formed by intertwining three or more strands of flexible material such as textile fibres, wire, or hair.



Photo by Jason Merrit/Getty Images
They call it a quiff, we call it a coiffe (or I often call it a pompadour). You get a coiffe style when the front pieces of hair are brushed upward and backward from the forehead.   The hairstyle was a staple in the British 'Teddy Boy' movement, but became popular again in Europe in the early 1980s and is currently facing resurgence in popularity.



Halle Berry
Photo by Jason Merrit/Getty Images

Shortening hair in the U.S. is determined by inches, in the U.K. it’s requested by grades. Example: “Please shorten my hair by grade one (3mm); grade two (6mm); grade three (9mm); grade four (12mm).”


Photo © Deanna Bean
A weft is a method of lengthening one's hair by incorporating artificial hair or natural hair collected from other individuals, or as we call them in the United States, extensions.



Photo © Price Grabber
If you asked me to hand you tongs, I'd start walking toward the kitchen, but in the UK, they're asking for your curling iron, or that heated rod used for rolling a person's hair into curls or waves.



Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images

The area of hair hanging over the forehead that is often cut shorter than the rest of the hair are bangs in the US. As I said earlier, I actually like the term fringe better. I'm not sure where the word bangs came from to begin with, but it really makes no sense.



Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber
The little sprung hairpins or small clips, typically used to secure a fabulous updo in place, are referred to as bobby pins in my neck of the woods, but in the U.K. they are grips.



Photo by Nicola Tree/Getty Images

If you were going make someone,  yourself, or something attractive, tidy, or stylish you'd be spiffing them up in the U.K., in the U.S. you're getting gorgeous, beautified, or even "gettin' your hair did."

More About Mark Hill

Photo © Mark Hill
Mark Hill is one of the defining influences on British hair styling. He is still the only hair stylist outside London to have won the title of ‘British Hairdresser of the Year’ twice and the only UK hair stylist to have ever won the prestigious ‘International Hairdresser of the Year’ accolade twice in succession, firmly establishing his global status as the ‘Master of Sexy, Wearable Hair.’  He creates beautiful and wearable styles that women across the world want to emulate and he is applauded by the industry for his re-invention of glamour.  He has also worked with many international celebrities, including Olivia Palermo, Lake Bell and Molly Sims.


You can check out all of Mark Hill's fantastic hair products now available at Walgreens.


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