One of the challenges of moving to a new place is always finding new services: a doctor you like, a cheap dry cleaner, a place to get your haircut where you won’t leave looking like this, etc.  Living abroad you can sometimes avoid the first two: many people I know here keep their primary GPs back home, and dry cleaners can be avoided by judiciously choosing what to pack.  It’s a bit harder to avoid needing a haircut, though, particularly if you have a job that requires looking somewhat nice.  Getting a haircut with a new person, much less in a foreign language is always stressful–hair does grow back, but not necessarily immediately.  I was rather apprehensive about getting my hair cut here for the first time, so I reached out to some fellow foreigners for help.  I’ve been pleased with the results (and low prices!) so far, but I should note that my hair is more or less the same texture as most Georgians’, and the cut I’m going for is a popular one among Georgian women.  This may be far more difficult for people with more diverse hair-styling needs.  Here are some tips in case you find yourself in need of a trim in Tbilisi.

1) Haircuts in Georgia have names.  If you can figure out the name of the haircut you want, you’re golden.  Georgian friends may be able to help with this.  For example, long layers is called an “Italianka”.  This resulted in an amusing conversation in which I kept insisting that, no I’m American…please cut my hair in long layers!

2)Pictures are your friend–beauty magazines tell me this is good practice in America, as well.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and I certainly don’t know a thousand haircut-related words in Georgian.

3) I do know a few haircut-related words, though.  Here’s a mini-glossary to help you get things headed in the right direction:

  • თმა (tma) = hair
  • ვარცხნილობა (vartskhniloba) = hairstyle
  • ხაზები (khazebi)= layers (literally, lines)
  • ფერი (peri)= color
  • ბოლო (bolo)= end
  • ცოტა (tsota)= a little bit
  • გრძელი (grdzeli)= long
  • მოკლე (mokle)=short
  • შეჭრა (shedjra)=cut.  You may hear this root used in either verb or noun forms
  • დაბანა (dabana)= wash (likewise)
  • გამშრალება (gamshraleba)* = (blow) dry (likewise)

If you need a particular recommendation, my friends and I have had good experiences with the “Image Academy” (training center) of the Natali salons, who are the hairstylists for some Imedi TV shows.  Because your hair is cut by students, it takes a long time but the teacher ensures the quality, and it’s only 4 lari for a cut.  Usually one of the students speaks a little bit of English, too.  They’re located near the Philharmonic on Melikishvili Street.