A small dictionary of going to the barbers in St Petersburg

For a gentleman, straying away from your regular barber can be a pretty harrowing experience. It feels like cheating on your life-long companion. There’s also always that worry about trying something new with somebody else. Will they know what you like? Will they be experienced?

The sort of haircut you may stumble across on Dumskaya.

When I left England to come to Russia I had no choice but to break-up with my barber. The long-distance relationship would never have worked. So arriving here, I knew that the time would eventually come when I had to move on…and I was petrified. Particularly considering some of the haircuts I had seen when out and about on Dumskaya.

So, I waited a month. My previously fresh trim had become fluffy, my hairline, unshaped. I had no other choice. I decided to try a barber just off of Nevsky and I must say… I was incredibly impressed.

“Tattoos, cut-throat razors and seriously good haircuts”

There was a chilled-out electronic beat in the background. Fresh coffee waiting to be served and an incredibly friendly and attentive team. My barber, Ivan, was nothing short of a magician. The place I went to was called Headbashers, and it was really cool. The barbers all had a really hipster vibe, were clad in tattoos and were busy perfecting beards with old-school razors. And yes, everyone in there had great hair. Yet, I still struggled a little bit. My Russian was just simply not good enough to explain what I wanted him to do, in the end I simply said “на ваш вкус”.

I thought to myself… I could really do with a small dictionary of going to the barbers… and so here it is.

  • Коротко/короче = short/shorter

The basics. If you can at least say what kind of length you’re looking for you should be able to avoid a total disaster. There are few worse experiences, if you’re precious about your long luscious locks, than watching a new barber shaving a line through the middle of your head.

  • Затылок = back of the head, бока = side of the head, спереди = top of the head, чёлка = fringe

The areas of the head. Better to know these than to simply point and grunt.

  • Побрить = to shave
What happens if you mess about with your fringe.

“Бока и затылок побрить” is a close translation to the English ‘short back and sides’. The modern-day man’s standard request. Apologies if you’re the man-bun type…but if you are, maybe you should consider getting a short back and sides anyway?

  • Оставить = to leave

So you could say оставить чёлку длинной, which means ‘leave the fringe long’. Always best not to mess around with with that fringe too much…

  • Подстричь = to cut

Chances are you’ll want some shape on the top. Say, “спереди постричь ножницами” to ask for the top to be cut with scissors.

So there you have it. Five useful words and phrases that will make your first trip to the barber that less scary.

Another thing to look out for is a мужской салон. Headbusters was one of these. Essentially it’s a hair salon which specialises in male grooming. As well as knowing the latest male hair trends they often entice their clientele with whiskey and games of Fifa while you wait.

I hope this small dictionary was helpful. If you’ve found a good barber in St Petersburg (or one to avoid), let us know. Write your comments below!

Marcus Rapacioli

Posted by Marcus Rapacioli

Hi! I'm Marcus, a student from London. I'm currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz and exploring my interest in Russian history and culture. Hope you enjoy the blog!

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